December 2010

Damn

Saw this Big League Stew first thing this morning.

Cubs legend Ron Santo dies at 70

The year 2010 has been full of bad headlines for the Chicago Cubs, but this latest news is worse than everything else combined: Third base legend and radio broadcaster Ron Santo died on Wednesday night from complications due to bladder cancer. He was 70.

Because his health was never the best — he battled diabetes all his life and later had both of his legs amputated — we always knew this day would be coming. Still, it’s hard to wake up to learn that the franchise’s true heart and soul has left us for a better place.

Bleed Cubbie Blue has a post.

For those of us who grew up in the era when Cub icons Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Santo led the team achingly close to the World Series we all wanted — and still do — this is tremendously sad news. Ron Santo played baseball with passion and skill; he was the best third baseman of his era and in 1966 and 1967, arguably was among the top players in the game at any position.

He did all of this while suffering the effects of juvenile diabetes, which he kept secret from all but a few close friends and teammates until 1971, when it was revealed on Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field on August 28. Traded away when the team was broken up, his heart appeared no longer in the game. His talents faded after one sad year with the White Sox, he retired after 1974.

Sixteen years later, he became the Cubs radio color commentator, first with Thom Brennaman and then Pat Hughes. His style was unique — it wasn’t for everyone, but you could tell with every game that his passion for the Cubs as a broadcaster and fan was the same as it is for every one of us. He exulted in victory, was crushed in defeat. And during this time, he suffered health problems including the amputation of both his legs. As shown in his son Jeff’s fine documentary “This Old Cub”, he faced these things with unfailing good spirits.

I have Santo’s TRADED card in my collection.
santotraded.jpg
Two of the things that I mention when writing about enjoyment of sports and broadcasting is joy and passion. Ron Santo definitely had both. That Bleed Cubbie Blue post mentions probably the most obvious (and definitely the most obvious Brewers related) example of passion about when talking about Ron Santo.

The year is 1998. The date is September 23. The Cubs are fighting the Giants for the Wild Card late in the season. They are at County Stadium. It is the bottom of the ninth. The Brewers, who had trailed 7-0 after the top of the seventh, have the bases loaded with two outs and they trail 7-5 with Rod Beck on the mound and Geoff Jenkins at the plate. Here is the dry recounting from retrosheet.

Jenkins reached on an error by Brown
[Loretta scored (unearned) (no RBI), Cirillo scored (unearned)
(no RBI), Burnitz scored (unearned) (no RBI), Jenkins to
second]; 3 R (0 ER), 2 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Cubs 7, Brewers 8.

I can’t find a good recording of the calls by Pat Hughes and Santo, but here is the transcript (and a little commentary) from a 2005 ESPN article.

HUGHES: “Two down, the Brewers have the bases loaded, and a 2-2 count on the hitter. Here’s the pitch. Swung on. Fly ball to left field. Brant Brown going back. Brant Brown … drops the ball!”

SANTO: “Oh, nooooooooo!”

HUGHES: “He dropped the ball!”

SANTO: “Nooooooooo!”

HUGHES: “Three runs will score, and the Brewers have beaten the Cubs.”

Hughes spoke flatly. Santo wailed. Listening to their broadcast, you could feel the sincere disappointment, a savage hatred for Brant Brown, and — perhaps more than anything — a profound desire to console Santo. The noise he emitted was the sound of pure grief.

No joy. But, passion, you bet.

Back in September of 1998, I was just starting with the Green Bay Gamblers hockey team.  I had not found a place in Green Bay yet, so, I was commuting 2-1/2 hours to my parents’ house.  Some of those late evening drives were spent flipping back and forth between broadcasts of the Brewers on WTMJ and the Cubs on WGN.  Those long drives didn’t seem so long with baseball on the radio.  And Ron Santo was a part of that.

Cubs fans have my sympathies today.

Rattlers Alumni Report: Games of December 2, 2010

Venezuela:

Lara 6 @Aragua 5

Lara:
Luis Valbuena (’06): 2-for-3, RUN, RBI
Oswaldo Navarro (’05): 1-for-5, 2 RUNS
Edilio Colina (’08): 3-for-4, RBI
Caesar Jimenez (’03): IP, 2H, R, 0ER, 2BB

Margarita 5 @Caracas 4

Caracas:
Asdrubal Cabrera (’05): 1-for-5, RUN
Carlos Maldonado (’99): 0-for-3

@Caribes 6, Magallanes 0

Caribes:
Mike Wilson (’05): 0-for-4

Puerto Rico:

Caguas 15 @Mayaguez 2

Mayaguez:
Johan Limonta (’06): 0-for-3, RUN
Martin Maldonado (’09): 1-for-3

@Ponce 3, San Juan 0

San Juan:
Rene Rivera (’03): 0-for-2

Dominican Republic:

Aguilas 1 @Escogido 0

Aguilas:
Edward Paredes (’08): .2IP, 0H, 0R

@Toros 6, Licey 0

Licey:
Carlos Peguero (’08): 1-for-4
Jorge Sosa (’01): 2.2IP, H, 2R, ER, 2BB, K

Australia:

@Canberra 3, Adelaide 1 (Game one)

Adelaide:
Jamie McOwen (’07): 1-for-4

@Canberra 11, McOwen 6 (Game two)

Adelaide:
McOwen: 0-for-3, RUN

Thursday Program cover post (1991)

This week’s program cover post is of the 1991 program.

The first pro baseball team in Appleton came into being in 1891 that is the reason for the Season of the Century tagline at the top.

Paul Birling also drew this cover for the Foxes.

The Foxes were known for saving money back in that era and they really liked this cover.  So, they reused it in 1994…without the Season of the Century tagline and with a slight color alteration to coincide with the teams affiliation with Seattle.

I really like this cover and the way that it catches all of the eras of pro baseball in Appleton.

91Cover.jpg

Extra Wild Card?

Interesting piece by Dave Brown over at Big League Stew about the possibility of adding a second wild card to both leagues in MLB.

He takes a look back to see which teams would have made the playoffs had there been a second wild card ever since the start of the current playoff format back in 1995.  He also has a lede that does what it is supposed to do…grab you attention!!!

If Bud Selig’s new round of playoff expansion is motivated by another sinister and unstated goal –
to give the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox more chances to win the
World Series — the honchos at Major League Baseball probably ought to
think of another way.

By checking regular-season win-loss records
since 1995, the overlords would find that the Red Sox and Yankees would
have made the playoffs only one additional time each because of an extra wild
card spot. Both of those instances came in the past three years — the
Red Sox this season and the Yankees in ’08.

On two other
occasions, the Red Sox finished with the best record among non-playoff teams, but
would have needed tiebreakers to make the playoffs. And only one other
AL East team — the 1998 Toronto Blue Jays — would have benefited from a second wild card spot.

So, the Yankees and Red Sox franchises in this way aren’t much
different from the Angels, Indians and Athletics; those teams “missed out” on
two AL playoff spots apiece since ’95.

You’re going to have to go to the article to see which team would have made the playoffs the most as the second wild card had there been one since ’95.

I don’t see how adding a second wild card is going to do anything (I believe one person on twitter said the tagline for a potential matchup between two wild cards should be: Stay tuned for a matchup between two teams that weren’t good enough to win their division!) that is good.

Almost everything that I think about an expanded playoff format for MLB was said by Duk in this other post at Big League Stew.  It is titled: Wait: Baseball is serious about this expanded playoff thing?

You will want to click on that last link for a good read.

Tender, Non-tender, or Rumble

Ryan Rowland-Smith (’03) had a tough year for the Seattle Mariners in 2010.  According to this article at the Seattle Times, he is on the bubble as to whether he will receive a contract for 2011.

According to the same article, RRS is mixing in a new training technique as he prepares for whatever may come:

He’s undertaken mixed martial arts workouts up to five times a week
in Los Angeles at a gym owned by Lynnwood native Randy Couture, a
six-time world Ultimate Fighting champion. Rowland-Smith’s training
partner is FOX Sports NFL analyst Jay Glazer — a part-owner of the gym –
and the pitcher says the benefits extend beyond the physical.

“You have to be psychologically tough to do mixed martial arts,” he
said. “You have to build confidence. Not that I wasn’t psychologically
tough before, but I lost my confidence last season. I lost my edge. As a
professional athlete, it’s basically earning your space and earning
your place in the field around you. You have to have that arrogance,
that edge.”

RRS is an affordable option – in baseball terms – for either the bullpen or the rotation…If he can get it right in 2011.

Rattlers Alumni Report: Games of December 1, 2010

Venezuela:

@Caracas 5, Lara 2

Caracas:
Asdrubal Cabrera (’05): Pinch hitter, 1-for-1, 3RBI
Carlos Maldonado (’99): 0-for-2, RUN

Lara:
Luis Valbuena (’06): 0-for-2
Michael Saunders (’06): 0-for-4
Oswaldo Navarro (’05): 0-for-4, RUN

Puerto Rico:

Mayaguez 7 @San Juan 4 (11)

Mayaguez:
Johan Limonta (’06): 1-for-4
Martin Maldonado (’09): 1-for-3

San Juan:
Rene Rivera (’03): 2-for-5, RBI
Efrain Nieves (’10): 5IP, 5H, 4R, 4BB, 3K

Current All-Star. Future Rattler?

TOPPS released their 2010 All-Stars for the Short-Season/Rookie League classifications yesterday on MiLB.com.

A member of the Helena Brewers was on the list.

Cody Hawn, 22, of Knoxville, Tenn., drove in 61 runs for the Helena Brewers, tied for second in the classification. The first baseman hit .308 and ranked among the top five in the Pioneer League in RBIs, homers (13), doubles (20), slugging percentage (.542) and OPS (.948). The Milwaukee Brewers selected Hawn in the sixth round of the June Draft out of the University of Tennessee.

It should be noted that Hawn is not definite to start 2011 with the Timber Rattlers…but it sure would be nice if he did.

Remember, remember the First of December

With apologies to the English

Remember, remember the 1st of December
Cloud cover, snowfall, and cold.
I see all reason why cloud cover, snowfall
Will always get old.

Yes. It is snowing in Wisconsin today.  Yes. It is sticking to the ground.

Ballpark in Winter.JPG

Ballpark in Winter2.JPG

Ballpark in Winter3.JPG

No fireworks or pennies for the Guy today. Just the hope that this is a quick winter and Spring gets here early in 2011!

Rattlers Alumni Report: Games of November 30, 2010

It was a very light day on Monday with only one Caribbean League game played and there were no former Rattlers in that one game.

Pretty light day on Tuesday, too.  But, there were a few ex-Rattlers in action.

Puerto Rico:

@Ponce 1, Carolina 0 (11)

Carolina:
Jeffrey Dominguez (’06): 0-for-5

Dominican Republic:

@Licey 6, Estrellas 5

Estrellas:
Ryan Ketchner (’02): 5.2IP, 5H, R, BB, 2K

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