On This Strange and Mournful Day
Earlier this month, the A’s called up Barry Zito from the minors. Zito was drafted and began his career with the A’s, winning a Cy Young and earning a giant free agent contract from the Giants. His time with the Giants was mostly poor, but they likely do not win the 2012 World Series without his great performance in the NLCS, so Giants fans can forgive the other mediocre (and worse) seasons he had while with the team. A’s fans, of course, look back on Barry’s time in Oakland fondly, as he was a member of the Big Three – Hudson, Mulder, and Zito, that led the early-aughts A’s to a number of division titles. Zito took 2014 off, and then signed with the A’s, surprisingly accepting an assignment to AAA and spending the entire season there. When the news of Zito’s call-up broke, excited A’s and Giants fans looked at the schedule and noticed that former A/current Giant Hudson was scheduled to start for San Francisco in Oakland on September 26. Fans began to clamor for the A’s to start Zito, for a Big Three reunion, of sorts. Immediately, the A’s squashed it. But, a couple weeks later, it is on. Hudson vs. Zito, in Oakland, this Saturday. Mulder will be in attendance (and all three will throw out the first pitch on Sunday). Jonah Keri takes some time to look back at the Big Three – how they came together and where they went – in advance of this throwback game. -TOB
Source: “Baseball’s Big Three: “A Look Back at Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito in Oakland”, Jonah Keri, Grantland (09/23/2015)
PAL: It’s cool how each of the guys were so distinct while all having sustained success. The undersized southern bulldog in Hudson (most impressive), the Golden Boy in Mulder (oh yeah, he was really good for a while), the guitar-strumming California boy in Zito (most compelling). Keri also brings up a great point – how are none of these guys even mentioned in Moneyball when they were integral to that team’s success? With regards to Zito – this dude’s all right by me, despite the contract with the Giants. He showed up big-time in ‘12 for the Giants – “In two combined starts between the NLCS and World Series, Zito fired 13.1 innings and allowed just a single run, winning both games…” – and by all account he never bickered, always worked hard, and was a solid teammate for the entirety of what was considered a horrible contract. It didn’t work out how it was supposed to, but he never appeared to lean into it. This Hudson – Zito matchup is a fitting punctuation to the trio’s story.
A Full Life: Yogi Berra (5/12/1925 – 9/22/2015)
Yogi Berra’s pop culture persona overshadowed the fact that he was a fantastic player. A legit all-timer. While he was portrayed as an idiot savant, that wasn’t close to the truth. As Robert Lipsyte wrote in 1963, “He has continued to allow people to regard him as an amiable clown because it brings him quick acceptance, despite ample proof, on field and off, that he is intelligent, shrewd and opportunistic.” And how about this – the man appeared in 21 World Series as a player, coach, or manager. You read that correctly. 10 World Series championships as a player. The 8th grade dropout from St. Louis also took a break from baseball to serve in the Navy, was at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Add to all of this that he and his wife had a 60+ year marriage. We reach to make the connections – I know – but while reading about Berra I kept thinking of my grandpa – the limited formal education, the WWII service, the marriage…a remarkable life. Collier’s magazine may have described Berra as someone who “could pass easily as a member of the Neanderthal A.C.”, but in the end the ledger shows he was a winner in every way that counts. Make sure to check out the slideshow for incredible photos covering Yogi’s career. – PAL
Source: “Yogi Berra, Yankee Who Built His Stardom 90 Percent on Skill and Half on Wit, Dies at 90”, Bruce Weber, The New York Times (9/23/15)
TOB: As a baseball fan, I didn’t realize how much Yogi Berra had seeped into American pop culture. I know he did those GEICO commercials over the last few years, but I figured many non-baseball fans had no idea who he is, other than a memorable name they had heard a few times. And then he died. Wednesday, my mom sent me not one but two articles she read about Yogi. That evening, Yogi’s death was mentioned on TV and my wife exclaimed, “Yogi Berra died!? I liked him.” I didn’t even realize she knew who he was, but Yogi was that famous. Though, as Will Leitch notes here, Yogi was a real human being, not just a witticism juke box. By all accounts, he was kind and wise, a great person. The world could use a lot more people like Yogi.
Ragnar Might Have Overestimated Negotiation Position
A part of me wants to agree with KNBR’s Kate Scott’s theory that perhaps some Viking employee leaked Joe Juranitch was seeking a $20K/game (up from $1,500/game) over 10 years (over $2M if you include pre-season games). Yet, if it wasn’t true why wouldn’t Juranitch dispute it publicly now that it’s over? Here’s what I want to know: Who was in his ear saying, “Come on, Joe! You’re freakin’ Ragnar! You’re worth 10x what they’re paying you, man!” Bottom line – you’re an unofficial mascot, Joe. Take the field level pass, ride your Hog onto the field in front of 60,000 berserk fans, and drink it in. There are a lot of Norseman in Minnesota with beards and bikes who will jump at the chance taking your place for half the price. Lastly, it chaps my ass that an AP writer penned a story for the St. Paul paper about the local football mascot! Times are indeed tough for the Pioneer Press. – PAL
Source: “Ragnar no longer Vikings mascot after contract dispute”, Jon Krawczynski, St. Paul Pioneer Press (9/22/15)
TOB: That pic up top of this post? That was posted by Ragnar during the Vikings’ home opener, with the caption: “It doesn’t feel right sitting at home. This is not by my choice…I don’t make those decisions..At this point it was made for me. I miss all my fans and your support …let’s all stay positive as we move forward. I gotta say: I like his gusto. Asking $20k per game to ride a friggin motorcycle onto the field pre-game? Blaming others for not paying you that $20k? That takes brass.
Bing Crosby: Baseball Hero
Kinda, anyways. I found this article, published 5 years ago this week, on my Facebook Memories feature. I shared it on Facebook back then, and it’s just as cool of a story today. Decades after Bing Crosby’s death, the only known recording of Game 7 of the 1960 Yankees/Pirates World Series was found in Crosby’s wine cellar in his Hillsborough, California home. Bing was part-owner of the Pirates and was extremely superstitious. He was afraid to watch the game live, because he thought he might jinx the team. So he and his wife flew to Paris (rough life) and ol’ Bing listened to the game on the radio. But, he knew he’d want to watch the game later, so he had someone record the game on a kinescope, and kept the recording all these years. The discovery of the recording has allowed the game to be seen for the first time since the broadcast – the networks discarded game recordings immediately after airing until the 1970s. But thanks to Bing, and a lucky discovery in 2010, MLB now has the recording and in 2010 put together a retrospective on what many consider to be the best game ever played. -TOB
Source: “In Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar, Vintage Baseball”, Richard Sandomir, New York Times (09/23/2010)
Video of the Week
PAL Song of the Week: Baby Huey & The Baby Sitters – “Running”
Check out our all of our picks here. This playlist will make you more attractive to the attractive people.
Like what you’ve read? Let us know by following this blog (on the right side, up near the top), or: