The Ghoulville Halloween Baseball All Stars

October 31, 2014
Hunter Pence Stars As - The Right Fielder from Hell!

Hunter “The Giant” Pence is now the only Ghoulville Goblin with two World series Championship rings on his fingers!

 

Starting Nine for the Ghoulville Goblins and Their Nutshell (and we DO mean nut-shell) Scouting Reports – A Halloween Fugue into Fantasy:

Bela "Count Dracula" Lugosi, Pitcher ~ Before he got knocked out of the box ~

Bela “Count Dracula” Lugosi, Pitcher
~ Before he got knocked out of the box ~

MORE ON Pitcher Bela “Count Dracula” Lugosi:  Only available for night games; often sucks; and sometimes, when he gets knocked of the box, he really gets knocked out of the box!

Rosie O'Donnell, Catcher ~ Yogii Berra said that he couldn't hit and think at the same time. Rosie O'Donnell says she can't speak and think at the same time.

Rosie O’Donnell, Catcher
~ Yogi Berra said that he couldn’t hit and think at the same time. Rosie O’Donnell says she can’t speak and think at the same time. ~

MORE ON Catcher Rosie “League of Her Own Mind” O’Donnell: As a self-absorbed center of the universe, Rosie tends to only bat when she feels like it – and that happens often out of turn.

Boris "The Creature" Karloff, 1st Base ~ His ability to hold runners at 1st is positively electric! ~

Boris “The Creature” Karloff, 1st Base
~ His ability to hold runners at 1st is positively electric! ~

MORE ON 1st Baseman Boris “The Frankenstein Creature” Karloff: Not much speed afoot, but all of his homers are monster shots.

 

Forrest "Spook" Jacobs, 2B ~ Spook doesn't have a ghost of a chance at the Hall of Fame, but he is a demon on the base paths.~

Forrest “Spook” Jacobs, 2nd Base
~ Spook doesn’t have a ghost of a chance at the Hall of Fame, but he is a demon on the base paths. ~

MORE ON 2nd Baseman Forrest “Spook” Jacobs: (MLB, 1954-56: A friendly ghost off the field, Spook plays with an unworldly ability to get on base and haunt pitchers and catchers as a base runner.

Alex "The Mummy" Rodriguez, 3B ~ The Mummy is all wrapped up in the job of making sure his own power at the plate never goes out, but he does not believe in the use of PED's. ~

Alex “The Mummy” Rodriguez, 3rd Base
~ The Mummy is all wrapped up in the job of making sure his own power at the plate never goes out, but he does not believe in the use of PED’s. ~

MORE ON 3rd Baseman Alex “The Mummy” Rodriguez: Next to Rosie, Alex is more wrapped up in himself than any other member of the team.

"The Blob," Shortstop ~ THE BLOB'S debut bubble popped as a bubble gum ingredient at Wrigley Field, but his success as a shortstop has proved that it's OK to be ugly if you can also get the job done. ~

“The Blob,” Shortstop
~ THE BLOB’S debut bubble popped as a chewing gum ingredient at Wrigley Field, but his success as a shortstop has proved that it’s OK to be ugly if you can also get the job done. ~

MORE ON a Shortstop known as The Blob: No person here – just the sticky living substance that fell to Earth in 1958 from outer space. No ground balls get past this shortstop, but infield teammates have to be careful not to follow high pop flies into his area. The Blob also makes it tough on runners going from 2nd to 3rd base, with many cries of fielder interference. The Commissioner is considering a ban or serious restriction on the game use of The Blob, but he doesn’t want to come off like a rank “substanist” when it comes to using extra-terrestrial chemical compounds as actual fielders , so, he’s taking his time. Look for The Blob to be in uniform today for the Ghoulville Goblins. 

Lou "The Mad Russian" Novikoff, Left Field ~ As a Houston Buff, Lou once left his position in LF during a late inning pitching change to take a leak, but failed to return before a ball was hit to his vacant area of defense. He wasn't the only mad man at Buff Stadium that night..

Lou “The Mad Russian” Novikoff, Left Field
~ As a Houston Buff, Lou once left his position in LF during a late inning pitching change to take a leak, but failed to return before a ball was hit to his area of defense. He wasn’t the only mad man at Buff Stadium that night. ~

MUCH MORE ON Left Fielder Lou “The Mad Russian” Novikoff: Lou acquired his nickname early for his eccentric personality. Later, at Houston, he came close to acquiring a second slang identity as “When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go.” In Warren Brown’s post-1945 history of the Cubs, he describes Novikoff as having been a defensive liability  for Chicago because of his aversion to the ivied walls at Wrigley Field. Lou believed that the vines might affect him like poison ivy, if he made contact with them. Cubs trainer Bob Lewis tried to break Lou’s fears by taking him out to the walls at practice and rubbing the vine leaves all over his body – and even chewing and eating some of them in good spirits. The trainer’s idea worked. Lou dropped his fear of the ivy immediately, but he saw the happiness that Lewis seemed to derive from eating the plants and wanted to know: “Is it OK to smoke them too?”

Kevin "The Pod Man" McCarthy, Center Field ~ A great defensive guy, but sometimes he goes to sleep in center field and immediately stops caring whether or not he makes the plays that come his way. ~

Kevin “The Pod Man” McCarthy, Center Field
~ A great defensive guy, but sometimes he goes to sleep in center field and immediately stops caring whether or not he makes his next catch. ~

A LOT MORE ON Center Fielder Kevin “The Pod Man” McCarthy: Prior to his playing days, Kevin was a gregarious, well-liked young country doctor who lamented the loss of his own baseball career due to bad knees. Then, one memorable night, a mysterious visitor sneaked into his house and left a watermelon-sized, equally enigmatic seed pod from another world under Kevin’s bed. While McCarthy slept, the seed pod began to morph into a new physical impression of him. By wake up time the next morning, the seed pod had completely transformed, DNA and all, into an exact replica of Kevin McCarthy and it had replaced the sleeping body of the original subject. The latter body simply disappeared, as these things conveniently do in low budget movies. – The Kevin that awoke seemed essentially the same in physical form, with two big exceptions: he no longer had knee problems, but he now had baseball abilities that would have made a combination player of Willie Mays and Babe Ruth envious. On the mental side, he sadly had lost all affability and feeling of love or concern for others, especially for those who had been his patients. His only motivation in life now was to play baseball and to “win, baby, win!” Some began to describe him as baseball’s version of the NFL’s late Al Davis. – It was a trade-off acquisition for the Goblins when Kevin joined the team early this season. Kevin does not care to hear what’s going on with his teammates, nor does he do tit-for-tat jokes with them as he had as a pre-pod days, high-spirited  fan. He simply plays center field like the Tasmanian Devil. His family plans to seek a cure for his new personality issues, but only after the horrific season of the Ghoulville Goblins has been played to an end through Kevin’s last big league pay check and bonus pay opportunity.

Hunter "The Two-Ringed Giant" Pence ~ At the start of 2014 World Series Game Seven, Hunter reluctantly accepted the advice of teammates that this was not the time to try wearing his uniform pants pulled up to mid-thigh. ~

Hunter “The Two-Ringed Giant” Pence
~ At the start of 2014 World Series Game Seven, Hunter reluctantly accepted the advice of teammates that this was not the time to try wearing his uniform pants pulled up to mid-thigh. ~

MORE ON World Series Champion and Spirited Right Fielder Hunter “The Giant” Pence: The Goblins tried to sign the real giant from the “Jack and the Beanstalk” tale, but had to settle for the right fielder from the new World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. Hunter now has two World Series rings with the 2012 and 2014 Giants, but his sizzling bat in the just concluded Series with the Royals is only exceeded  by his hot pursuit of more uniform sock exposure until he  succeeds in becoming the first big leaguer apparently to suit up in short shorts and leotards. – Now there’s a picture for the mind, but welcome to the Goblins, anyway, Mr. Pence. You are due a monster shout-out for all the success in baseball you have enjoyed since the Astros traded you away for being projected as over-ripe in age by the time the club reteaches their outer limits year of 2017 for winning a first World Series.

________________________________

Nightmare on Em Street

Home of the Ghoulville Goblin Corporate Office.

POSTMORTEM THOUGHTS ON THE FACT THAT HALLOWEEN AND HOUSTON BOTH START WITH THE LETTER “H”: Maybe the real horror question  here is not so much our Halloween Starting Position Lineup for the Ghoulville Ghosts, but how well are the Houston Astros doing on their time-scheduled way to scientific resurrection from the dead as a serious contender to be? As Astro fans, we are hoping for the best, but we cannot guarantee our patience forever in waiting for our club’s  brightest farm club  talent to ripen into a crop of superior MLB material.

Hurry Up and Ripen the Talent Inside Those Orange and Black Uniforms, Astros!  ~ And to the Houston Astros, the Ghoulville Goblins – And Everybody Else Too ………….>

Halloween-21

 

BILL Gilbert’s 2014 World Series Observations

October 30, 2014
Veteran SABR Baseball Researcher & Writer Bill Gilbert Wraps Up His Thoughts on the 2014 World Series as something we may never see again on the big stage.

Veteran SABR Baseball Researcher & Writer Bill Gilbert Wraps Up His Thoughts on the 2014 World Series as something we may never see again on the big stage.

It’s bonus story moment at The Pecan Park Eagle as Bill Gilbert, our sage veteran SABR observer of baseball, checks in today also with his own per usual well considered thoughts on the World Series that just concluded in Kansas City last night. Thank you again, Bill Gilbert, for your insightful commentary. Appreciatively, The Pecan Park Eagle.

World Series Observations – 2014

By Bill Gilbert

          We will probably never see another World Series pitching performance like we saw with Madison Bumgarner this year.
          Even If the Royals win the World Series, Bumgarner of the Giants should be the MVP. (written after game 6).
          Every great pitcher has an occasional bad game (ask Clayton Kershaw).  I thought Bumgarner was due for one in Game 5.  Didn’t happen.
          Bumgarner started 6 of the Giants 17 post-season games and had quality starts (6 or more innings and 3 or fewer earned runs allowed) in all 6 of them.  The rest of the staff started 11 games and had 2 quality starts.
          I would have been more impressed if Bumgarner had been credited with a 5-inning save rather than a win in game 7.
          The 2 wild card teams put on a memorable show.  Under the previous format, with one wild card team from each league, the Giants would not have been in the playoffs.  The Royals incredible post-season run put them back on the baseball map after a 28-year absence.
          Three players participated in the World Series who didn’t make their major league debuts until September, 2014 (Hunter Strickland of the Giants and Terrance Gore and Brandon Finnegan of the Royals.  Finnegan also participated in the College World Series in 2014.
          Can anyone not enjoy watching Hunter Pence play?
          Lorenzo Cain is an excellent all-around player.  Who knew?
          Joe Panik must have had some outstanding coaches while growing up.  He does everything right, including the little things that win ball games.
          Bruce Bochy has had much more success as a manager than he did as a backup catcher. (.239 batting average).
          Is it a coincidence that both World Series teams have outstanding catchers and former catchers as managers?
          The Royals should have known that Brandon Belt could beat the shift by bunting since he played for Augie Garrido at Texas.
          The Royals should have used Billy Butler to pinch-hit for James Shields in the 5th inning of Game 5.  That was the only real chance that the Royals had to score in that game and Butler is one of the few players that have hit well against Bumgarner.
          By the way, whatever happened to Butler’s great nickname (Country Breakfast)?
          Why do left handed pitchers like Bumgarner bat right handed, exposing their pitching arms to being hit by pitches?
          Did anyone miss Tim McCarver?
          Which looks worse, Pence’s short above-the-knee pants or Alex Gordon’s beard?
          How far does Pence plan to take his Jayson Werth homeless look?
          Having Armed Forces personnel sing “God Bless America” in the seventh inning stretch was a nice touch.
          It’s unfortunate that the networks pay so much money for the right to broadcast the games that they can dictate the pace of the game by allowing a 2 ½ minute commercial break between innings (when most people, including me, hit the mute button).  This results in about a 3 ½ minute gap between the last pitch of the prior inning and the first pitch of the next inning.
Bill Gilbert
10/30/14

Mark Wernick: My World Series Take

October 30, 2014
... AND FOR THE 3RD TIME IN 5 SEASONS!!!

… AND FOR THE 3RD TIME IN 5 SEASONS!!!

Editorial Note: Mark Wernick, a SABR colleague, is one of the brightest, most intuitive, deeply history-steeped people we have ever had the pleasure meeting in the cyber world. Upon awakening this morning to his  e-mail take on the World Series, we could not resist the urge to run what he wrote, verbatim, as The Pecan Park Eagle wrap on what we also think now stands as one the most exciting World Series of all time. The Eagle said at the start that the Royals’ chances rode on how well they handled the potential of facing phenomenal pitcher Madison Bumgarner three times in seven games and, last night, the Giants ace provided the final nail to the firmness of that prophetic guess. Lefty Bumgarner is living proof that there must be more than one 25-year old talented pitcher in the world that isn’t controlled by the 100 pitch count of today’s baseball culture, but, so far, he seems to be the only one who has shown up to prove that theory on baseball’s biggest stage. Congratulations to you too, Madison Bumgarner! Your career ERA of 0.25 is now the best of all time for pitchers who have worked a minimum of 30 World Series innings.

And thank you, Mark Wernick, for presenting us with an e-mail that was truly a spot on timely article with its own legs:

 

My World Series Take

By Mark Wernick

Mark Wernick Today's Columnist

Mark Wernick
Today’s Columnist

A friend just wrote to me to express the notion that this could be one of the top 3  of all world series.  Here is my reply:

          To me these are the top World Series played to date:   1926,  1932,  1941,  1946,  1947,  1949,  1955,  1956,  1957,  1958,  1960,  1962,  1964,  1965,  1968,  1969,  1973,  1975,  1979,  1985,  1986,  1991,  1993,  1996,  2001,  2002,  2011,  and  2014.
          There are  28  World Series on this list,  and  24  of them went  7  games.  1932  (4),  1969  (5),  1993 (6),  and  1996 (6)  went in less than seven games but were thrilling for other reasons.
          I have a hard time picking any three of these as the top three.  Both  1957  and  1958  were pretty thrilling if you were from Milwaukee or New York,  and for lots of others also.  And  1955  and  1956  were pretty thrilling if you were from New York.  I found  1962,  1965,  1969,  1996,  and  2002  pretty awesome.  I was enthralled with  1973 and  1985,  and  my heart was broken by  2001.  I was quite worked up and a bit infuriated with  2011.
          Many agree that  1960  might have to be  # 1 on any list,   including me,  even though that world series almost ruined my childhood.  And I guess I’d have to include  1986  and  1991  on a top  3  list.  So those might be my top three – 1960,  1986,  and  1991.
          But this one was definitely a great World Series.
          I kind of wanted them to send Gordon all the way because I had no faith that Cain would hit Bumgarner.  But it also occurred to me that you don’t want a World Series to end by getting thrown out at home.  I also think Yost was slightly out-managed.  I would not have had Escobar,  one of their tougher hitters,  bunt with no outs and Infant e on first in the 5th inning.  I don’t think you can afford to give away a free out – especially by a strong bat – in the 7th game of a World Series when you’re behind by a run against a pitcher like Bumgarner.
          Isn’t it great to have all the benefit of hindsight with no accountability?
          For the past  5  years,  the San Francisco Giants have been a great team.  I tip my hat to them.  Hunter Pence has two World Series rings in the last three years!
         The Kansas City Royals won my abiding admiration and respect. Before the series started I had heard of only three players on their roster, and they were far from ‘A’ list draftees. (Infante, Shields, and Gordon.) What odds were given for the Royals to make it to the World Series in spring training – 5,000 to 1?
          During the ALCS (Orioles-Royals playoff series), the broadcasters noted that Baltimore led MLB in homers while the Royals had the fewest homers in all of baseball. That is when I began to look at both teams more closely.
          I noticed that with respect to SB and SB% they could be flipped. The Royals were tops, and the Orioles were at the bottom. Apparently they were, respectively, the fastest and slowest teams in MLB. Also, while the Royals’ offensive numbers didn’t attract any attention, they were the only MLB team under 1000 Ks. A team that makes a lot of contact can enjoy a certain advantage in a short series against filthy sliders and splitters and fastballs. In almost every category, their pitching was equivalent, except for one: HRs allowed. Baltimore yielded 151, among the most; KC yielded 128, among the fewest.
         Without a lot of flash and without a superstar batter or pitcher in their lineup, the Royals did nothing to beat themselves, they had an intimidating bullpen, their speed was awesome, and their defense was impeccable.
          No one can take the Kansas City Royals for granted anymore. Their years in baseball’s after-thought bin are over.

Leo Gorcey: A Figure of Missed Speach

October 29, 2014
Leo Gorcey & Huntz Hall ~ Where Misplaced Words Meet Missing Thoughts. ~

Leo Gorcey & Huntz Hall
~ Where Misplaced Words Meet Missing Thoughts. ~

(Factual corrections in  paragraph one of this article are the welcome contributions of Houston pop culture historian Roy Bonario. Thanks, Roy!)

Leo Gorcey and his gang of young New York street toughs made their debut as a group in the 1937 Humphrey Bogart movie “Dead End.”  Mostly background characters in their first film go-around identity, their chemistry as “The Dead End Kids” apparently was too good for Hollywood to resist. In 1938, the boys were back on the screen in the James Cagney film, “Angels with Dirty Faces, and in 1939 with Ronald Reagan in a movie entitled as “The Angels Wash Their Faces.” The principal actors of the “juvenile delinquent” group that worked with Gorcey included his real co-star, Huntz Hall,  plus brother David Gorcey, Gabriel Dell, Bobby Jordan, Billy Halop, and Billy Benedict, plus a few others every now and then over the 18 years of their existence (1938-56) as a group that quickly mutated from supporting roles in big star dramatic flicks to the main characters of their own Grade “B Movie” comedy series.

Like many kids of the 1940s and 1950s, your humble Pecan Park Eagle writer grew up watching these guys perform at the Saturday double feature plus serial program at The Avalon Theater on 75th Avenue in the Houston East End. We watched Gorcey and the Gang transform from “Dead End Kids” to “East Side Kids” (We liked that one a lot.) to their most famous surviving identity as “The Bowery Boys.” Over time, we watched Leo Gorcey’s character transition from Mugs McGinnis to Slip Mahoney. – Leo Gorcey’s actual father, Bernard Gorcey, even joined the ensemble, playing Louie Dumbrowsky, the owner of “Louiie’s Sweet Shop,” where the boys hung out in their movies and planned their misadventures.

Leo Gorcey as either Mugs or Slip or whomever else, was famous as the English language usage-butchering of words in strange context throughout this priceless series. Friend and blog column reader Mike McCroskey brought this fond memory home to roost yesterday when he responded to the article we published on the Houston Babies’ doubleheader loss last weekend. In mock defense of my using him in that column as the star of an all-in-fun aging joke, Mike namelessly used one of Gorcey’s famous words of protest in his public comment on the article. That led to my reply – and then a further exchange between the the two of us in which we each fired off another Gorcey jewel.

How about all the rest of Leo’s great expressions? Sometimes memory fails, so please help us, if you can.

We just want to bring our examples to brighter light here in the hope that some of you may remember others that we cannot immediately recall. If I could justify the usage of my time, I would personally go back and watch all those Gorcey movies again to compile a lexicon of his misused words, but I just can’t do all the little projects I’d like to cover. Other new commitments of effort are already beginning to fill my research and writing dance card, even as I write this column.

So, our best bet for recovery of these lost jewels is up to all of us who even care. Here’s the comment exchange between Mike McCroskey and yours truly on that recent Babies thread, “Houston Babies Drop Two, 14-4, 13-8.” We uncovered three of Gorcey’s most  famous malaprops – and these occurred long before a comedian named Norm Crosby started making his living with an act he built around mis-used words:

McCroskey Comment No. One: “Hey, I resemble that remark!”

MeCurdy Response: “Leo Gorcey could not have said it better!”

McCroskey Comment No. Two: “And I depreciate your comment.”

McCurdy Response: “And pardon me for protruding.”

If you can think of any other great Leo Gorcey examples of word misuse – or even things he could have said – please post them below as comments.

Hey! We all need something worthwhile to do with our time in the now only a little less than ten hours that separate us from Game Seven of The World Series!  – Don’t we?

___________________________

Addendum to Article: Thank you, Roy Bonario, for your same day corrections of fact in this article – and thanks for your life as a pioneer of cultural and artefactual preservation in Houston!

Noted Houston movie and pop culture historian Roy Bonario caught me in some factual misremembrances, but we were able to resolve them through this corresponding posted comment that also resides in the comment section that exists at the of all our WordPress publications. The Pecan Park Eagle to also bring t up here as an addendum so that others will ot perceive the need to flag the same “deflected arrows.”

Thanks for the help, Roy, – and thank any of you who may ever choose to write and point out our mistakes of fact. We welcome getting the chance to get things right. We will not necessarily change our opinions in some matters of subjective perception, but we are always open to dealing with anything written as fact which cannot be supported by objective factual confirmation.

Here’s the exchange between Roy Bonario and Yours Truly:

Roy Bonario Says:

Bill. I grew up with the Dead End Kids in all their different titles. Your article brought back a lot of memories for me and I thank you for posting it. A few corrections: The Dead End Kids made their debut in the 1937 movie “Dead End” from which they got their name. The Garfield movie was “They Made Me A Criminal” and “Angels Wash Their Faces starred Ronald Reagan.

  • Bill McCurdy Says:
    Thanks, Roy, for the correction of how I “misremembered” history. I am totally mummified by my arrows of thought. I really do know the the group’s name came from the “Dead End” Bogart movie – but I had forgotten Ronald Reagan was the star of “Angels Wash Their Faces.” Also, John Garfield’s movie resemblance in “They Made Me a Criminal” hurts too like a steak that went straight to my heart because I had forgotten that one too. As Chester Riley once put it so elongatedly, “What a revolting development this is!” :-)

Thanks again, Roy! – Also, I may not have told you this previously, but I’m probably just one of the many Houstonians who do remember and miss “Roy’s Memory Shop” on Bissonett.  What a great awakening you brought to Houston forty years ago as an awareness of pop cultural artifacts. No one had done it before you did it in 1970 (or thereabouts) – and no one has done it better in the time that has passed since then.

Thank you, Roy Bonario, for the intangible gift you brought to  all of us in this city! You are appreciated as a pioneer of social connection to the past and of commitment to preservation.

NCAA Football Playoffs: A Field of 16 Will Be Best

October 28, 2014

college football

The new Selection Committee for the “College Football Playoffs” meets today and will announce their present running order of leaders for the four playoff opportunities that will be there at season’s end of the NCAA Division I 2014 season. This 7:30 PM CDT announcement today, 10/28/14, and like all others to come, from here to the end, is likely to remain politically argumentative, subjective, and insufficient from now until the last ballot is taken.

Why?

It’s largely simple math. The increase to a 4-team committee selected field from the 2-team championship game picks selected for years by the BCS does little to cover the much larger field of schools with comparable records and similar strength of schedule situations that will still believe at season’s that they have been out-politicized in the “red zone” at final ballot crunch time.

They will be correct, of course. The new committee cannot pick 4 teams at season’s end at the risk of leaving out another 4 to 12 other schools that appear just as deserving on the basis of their records and comparably as strong playing schedules.

What can be done to improve the situation to a greater state of equity?

Another simple answer occurs, but it is only so in mathematical terms. Egos in the power structure struggles of NCAA sports and the new elite super-conferences simply cannot allow anything to be simple until they are absolutely sure it will not decrease their control of opportunities in the college football money stream. Equity is certainly not the goal of the new elite super conferences. Their goal is to establish themselves even more firmly as the only true prime time players while all others joust about as the club fighters of boxing do. – The latter will be allowed to improve their statuses as gate attractions and worthy opponents to smear in early season and homecomings for the high and mighty – but they will never be quite good enough for an invitation to the club’s big dance,

Without the fore-stated political reality, the mathematical answer really is simple. It’s the same one that people have been arguing for years: Expand the playoff field to 16 teams and then rearrange the meaningless bowl games that these extra teams would be playing anyway to accommodate the four-round, fifteen game schedule it would take to go from 16 to 8 to 4 to 2 final teams playing for the national championship. The current committee could still function as the selection monitor for the 16 entrant schools, but there would be far less grumbling at season’s end that a potential national champion had been denied its obvious opportunity by a pejorative  selection process via the committee.

A glance below at the AP Top 25 Rankings through Week 10 of the 2014 College Football Season should make it abundantly clear, if this were the end of the season, that a field of 16 teams in the future would be much fairer by its inclusivity of most, if not all serious contenders than the field of only 4 schools that will be picked in 2014.

If you think that 4 teams is enough, take a look at the list here and ask yourself these two questions: (1) Are there four teams here that are unarguably better than all the rest? (2) If the system expanded to 16 teams in the future, hasn’t college football greatly reduced the chance that some potential national champion has been left out of the contending field?

As per usual here at The Pecan Park Eagle, if you are someone  who follows and cares about college football, we would like to know what you think on this subject. Does this suggestion make sense to you? Do you think the 4-team new system that’s in play this year is good enough? Or would you suggest some other solution?

AP Top 25
RK TEAM RECORD PTS
1 Mississippi State (46) 7-0 1486
2 Florida State (14) 7-0 1453
3 Alabama 7-1 1290
4 Auburn 6-1 1267
5 Oregon 7-1 1199
6 Notre Dame 6-1 1161
7 Ole Miss 7-1 1095
8 Michigan State 7-1 1086
9 Georgia 6-1 1074
10 TCU 6-1 1030
11 Kansas State 6-1 930
12 Baylor 6-1 839
13 Ohio State 6-1 676
14 Arizona 6-1 669
15 Arizona State 6-1 667
16 LSU 7-2 574
17 Nebraska 7-1 535
18 Utah 6-1 524
19 Oklahoma 5-2 430
20 West Virginia 6-2 379
21 East Carolina 6-1 366
22 Clemson 6-2 265
23 Marshall 8-0 184
24 Duke 6-1 121
25 UCLA 6-2 106

 

Oscar Taveras is Dead: The Clock of Life Ticks On

October 27, 2014
His Last Home Run Oscar Taveras NLCS Game No. 2 October 12, 2014

His Last Home Run
Oscar Taveras
NLCS Game No. 2
October 12, 2014

Today the baseball world awakens to the sad news that Cardinal outfield prospect, 22-year old Oscar Taveras is dead, perishing in a car wreck yesterday with his 18-year old girl friend, Edilia Arvelo. The young couple was en route from Jamao to Oscar’s hometown of Sosua, near Puerto Plata on the Atlantic Coast of the Dominican Republic. Taveras was driving, but no further details have been made public at this time. One local official speculated that the recent heavy rains in that area may have contributed in some way.

My Cardinal fan son Neal brought me the news last night as I watched Game Five of the World Series, and a few minutes prior to the brief mention it received over the telecast. Neal then delivered the circumstantial observation that usually comes when people, especially young people, die a sudden violent death. “If the Cardinals only had beaten the Giants in the NLCS,” Neal said, “Oscar Taveras would still be alive and playing in the World Series against the Royals!”

Maybe.

Then, this morning, we heard these sounds of the “other shoe dropping” in the digital print words of Cardinal President Bill DeWitt, Jr.: “Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”

The trouble is – we never know the time that death will come. Young Oscar Taveras died when his time had come. Maybe a Cardinal victory could have spared him for now, but maybe not. And youth is no guarantee of longevity either. We all get up each day with only the present moment to breathe in the name of either love or ambition. If it’s “love”, even the goals we seek with our natural talents are a giving back to life of what we were born to give. If it’s ambition, we shall misuse our talents and others to achieve the aims we seek for ourselves. It’s better to belong to the love group than the latter, and, although none of can really, completely know the heart of another, my sense of young Mr. Oscar Taveras was strongly on the side of him as a young man who gave of his talents in the name of his love for the St. Louis Cardinals and the game of baseball.

Rest in Peace, Oscar Taveras – and Edilia Arvelo too ! – Oscar’s gifts to baseball will not be forgotten or misunderstood by the fans who loved him in return! And may Edilia’s grief-stricken family survive to know too that all the love she shared with them, as is also true with Oscar and his family, still lives on!

We leave you now with the original version of the poem, “The Clock of Life”, by Robert H. Smith that I first discovered only this morning. For years I have been referencing a shorter version by a supposedly anonymous author – who now turns out be someone who simply modified the original. Although they both are good, I now prefer Smith’s original expression (presented here) to the modified version:

Today, and everyday, the clock of life ticks on for us all!

The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali 1931

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali
1931

The Clock of Life

By Robert H. Smith

 

The Clock of life is wound but once,

And no man has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop

At late or early hour.

 

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,

To lose one’s health is more,

To lose one’s soul is such a loss

That no man can restore.

 

The present only is our own,

So live, love, toil with a will,

Place no faith in “Tomorrow”

For the Clock may then be still.

10_14_07-039

Houston Babies Drop Two, 14-4, 13-8

October 26, 2014
Yesterday, 10.25/14, the Houston Babies proudly took the field at George Ranch for the first time ever in their brand new blue and white vintage baseball uniforms.uniforms. ~ Photo Courtesy of Bill & Jo Hale ~

Yesterday, 10.25/14, the Houston Babies proudly took the field at George Ranch for the first time ever in their brand new blue and white vintage baseball uniforms.uniforms.
~ Photo Courtesy of Bill & Jo Hale ~

Another View ~ ~Photo Courtesy of Bob & Brigitte Blair~

Another View ~
~Photo Courtesy of Bob & Brigitte Blair~

 

You couldn’t make this up. … Well, you could, but none of the team’s many fans would want to read it, The Houston Babies lost their second straight doubleheader to the Katy Combine yesterday by the horrific scores of 14-4 and 13-8. Unfortunately, the ancient infants’ latest collapse took place on one of those beautiful periwinkle blue sky days in late October Houston – and in the heart of the George Ranch Texian Market Days celebration – when mirth, merriment, and good feelings abounded on a day that imaged up Louie Armstrong singing “It’s A Wonderful World.” *

* A Post-Publication Correction, 10/26/14, 7:12 PM: Babies Manager Bob Dorrill  e-mailed The Eagle to remind us that, although the Houston Babies did lose a single game to the Katy Columbine when they last met at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas on 06/20/14, the Babies actually won a previous doubleheader from the Combine in Sealy, Texas on 04/06/14. – Thank you, Bob Dorrill. We apologetically stand corrected. – The Babies losing streak to the Combine is “only” three games, not four. – Bill McCurdy, Publisher & Editor, The Pecan Park Eagle

MEGHAN McCROSKEY LISTENS as Babies Manager Bob Dorrill tries hard to find the attention span of his players prior to the first game at George Ranch yesterday.

Meghan McCroskey listens intently as Babies Manager Bob Dorrill tries hard to find the attention span of his players prior to the first game at George Ranch yesterday.

Sad to note too, it all unfolded (or came unwound) on a day that spawned also of commitment to new beginnings. Babies Manager Bob Dorrill had passed out the beautiful new club uniforms – with their long white socks, dark blue pants with buttons and string laces for leg bottoms, white belts, white jerseys with a dark blue Old English letter “H” on the heart front side – and also with collars and string laces on the front neck side, and flat top dark blue caps with white stripes around the crowns.

The Babies were disappointed to learn that they would not be allowed to take their lawn chairs onto the field as essential equipment for those in between plays gaps of time.

The Babies were disappointed to learn that they would not be allowed to take their lawn chairs onto the field as essential equipment for those “in between play” gaps of time.

The Houston Babies never looked better than they did on this inspirational and  gorgeous autumn day near Sugar Land.  – They also never played worse.

The Babies simply could not catch the ball yesterday, nor could they resist hitting up-swing on the descending pitches  for more one bounce flies than any vintage team can ever afford. And add to the facts too, the obvious: The Katy Combine club continues to get younger, faster, more powerful and more agile in the field with each renewed meeting between the two clubs. The Houston Babies, with the exception of Mark Hudec, Alex Hajduk, Josh Hajduk, and a couple of other guys who weren’t there yesterday, on the other hand, are simply getting creakier, but more lovable as time goes by.

Sadly for the Houston Babies, the Katy Combine deserves the credit for bringing their "A" game to yesterday's DH at George Ranch.

Sadly for the Houston Babies, the Katy Combine deserves the credit for bringing their “A” game to yesterday’s DH at George Ranch.

In Game Two, the Babies did rally for 5 runs in the bottom of the 6th to pull within one-run of the combine, but their defense again cratered in the top of the 7th to complete the 13-8 Katy trouncing of their foes from Houston. On top of the 14-4 bashing the Babies absorbed in Game One, Houston starters Larry Hajduk and Bob Blair had little to cheer about their lack of support on defense.

It wasn’t all bad. Mark Hudec, Larry Hajduk, and Alex Hajduk all collected three hits each on the day. And Mark Hudec played one heck of a game in center field, shagging down just about every ball that was hit his way. – And lead off hitting demon Phil Holland also managed to reach base an incredible eight times in a row.

EXCITING ACTION! - In Game One,  Babies pitcher Larry Hajduk snares a comebacker and prepares to make the throw to first. - Had it been caught, it would have been an out.

EXCITING ACTION! – In Game One, Babies pitcher Larry Hajduk snares a comebacker and prepares to make the throw to first. – Had it been caught, it would have been an out.

The Babies also want to welcome one new player to the roster. – “Welcome, Mark Rowan! The Babies will take all the help you can give them!” The club is also grateful for the adulation and autograph attention they received from fans, even if some of the signing requests may have been due to a slight misunderstanding from the game’s introductions. Word got around the crowd as the games played on that these vintage players were actually alive in 1860 – and that they had survived this long just to make sure that no one ever forgot how the game was played back then. That makes sense. It is also the most plausible explanation for why one old fellow, Mike McCroskey of the Babies, received more autograph requests than any other single player.

In the end, Babies Manager Bob Dorrill of the Babies was generous and upbeat, as per usual, in his post DH comments. “Other than (the fact) we couldn’t catch, it was a fun day,” Dorrill said.

Along with vintage baseball, Texian Market Days was an educational expereince in many other ways, as the featured sign here attests.

Along with vintage baseball, Texian Market Days was an educational experience in many other ways, as the featured sign here attests.

The Houston Babies and the Katy Combine meet again on Saturday, November 22, 2014 in Homestead, Texas as part of the annual Civil War Battle Reenactment program. Stay tuned for further details, but mark the date to come see the team and so much more on that date. Til then, please note that our Houston Babies club’s situation was perfectly described in the song “Heart” from “Damn Yankees” ~~~~

“We gotta get better ’cause we can’t get worse!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concussive Ironies in American Sports

October 25, 2014

 

Who says football doesn't care about concussions? Their leadership has been testing helmets for greater protection since 1912.

Who says football doesn’t care about concussions? Their leadership has been testing helmets for greater protection since 1912.

1) Football Cares About the Presence of Concussions. Football’s a violent game and concussions are going to happen, but hopefully, as only a side effect of playing the game. In the past couple of years, leaders at all levels of thee organized sport have been adjusting the rules of contact, approving better protective equipment, and defining more stringent ways in which teams handle all cases in which a game-participation concussion is suspected. Football is violent physical contact game. The realistic goal is a reduction of concussions and other life-altering injuries. Football will never be chess – without changing most of what fans like about the game.

Boxing thrives among those who enjoy watching someone else receive a concussion that they trust was for real.

Boxing thrives among those who enjoy watching someone else receive a concussion that they trust was for real.

2) Boxing Cares About the Creation of Concussions. The whole objective of any fight worth drawing a gate is the hope of fans that have come to see a concussive end to a fight called a knockout in a match that is both on-the-square honest for some stakes that matter (like the heavyweight championship) between two fighters who matter as good guys or bad guys. Nobody goes to a big fight hoping to watch boxers dance and jab at each other a few times in each round. The boxing fan wants to see somebody other than themselves knocked into an unconscious state that keeps a fighter down for the count of ten. Somewhere in the last twenty years, changes in the culture and boxing’s longtime reputation for fight-fixing and other shady dealing have suffered a head-on collision of their own. May among this fans group hasn’t  given up on their desire for violence; they’ve just taken it somewhere else – somewhere they trust the knockout violence that they  no longer see in boxing. All those martial arts and boxing mixes now performed in caged arenas are the new home of many boxing fans. The irony to the football example is fairly obvious. These other combat sports are not looking for ways to avoid concussions, but for ways to make their knockout concussions more credible.

Pete Rose of the Reds slams into catcher Ray Fosse of the Indians in the 1970 All Star Game.

Pete Rose of the Reds slams into catcher Ray Fosse of the Indians in the 1970 All Star Game.

3) Baseball Cares About the Avoidance of Concussions. Baseball has never been tea and crumpets. If you’ve ever played the game, you know how physically demanding it can be – and how collisions between two outfielders – or your nose catching the throw from a catcher on your attempted steal of second feel. – Those were my personal examples. They pain was only delayed by the star burst in my head that, in turn, preceded the state of unconsciousness that set in prior to an awakening into a temporary state of pain and disfigurement. We also didn’t bat with helmets back in my day. I’ve often wondered how much those beanings I took had to do with some of my subsequent life decisions, but I was luckier than most. Baseball took a major step to the curtailment of serious injury this season with the new rule that prevents the catcher from blocking home plate. It’s too late to help Ray Fosse of the Indians avoid his legacy blast into baseball history as the catcher who got the bajeebers knocked out of him by Pete Rose in the 1970 All Star Game, but maybe it will save a life or career or life-altering concussion to someone else along the way. I have mixed feelings about the change because it creates runs that rarely would have scored against the likes of Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella, or Bill Dickey, to  name a few of the great plate blockers, but progress is what is.

Manager Bob Dorrill preps his Babies club prior to a game with the Katy Combine at George Ranch last spring. - The place just reeks of a real trip to the 19th century.

Manager Bob Dorrill preps his Babies club prior to a game with the Katy Combine at George Ranch last spring. – The place just reeks of a real trip to the 19th century.

4) Avoid Concussions! – Come See The Houston Babies Play at George Ranch Tomorrow, Saturday, October 25, 2014! We cannot guarantee the absence of concussions when we take the field of play tomorrow at 10:00 Am and again at either 12 Noon or 1:00 PM, but we can promise a game of interesting 160’s rule, vintage baseball on a bright sunshiny day at the Texas Heritage Festival (They may have another formal name for it) – an all day exposition of Texas history by food drink, ad activity at the authentic George Ranch Park south of Sugar Land. As participants in this fun sport, our players all put their bodies at risk in a world that is primarily governed by the laws of physics and chemistry. Prime Example: Two objects of matter cannot occupy the same space at the same time, especially if both objects weigh close to 200 pounds and they are moving unknowingly toward each other at 15 MPH in pursuit of a baseball. The probability of a concussion in these cases is about 51.4%. The probability of you having fun at tomorrow’s Babies Games is 99.5%.

At any rate, whatever you do, have a nice Saturday – and stay on your feet – whenever possible! :-)

 

Dedication of the Dickie Kerr Statue at the Dome

October 24, 2014
Stan Musial was at the Dome for the Dickie Kerr Statue Dedication August 20, 1966 Photo Contribution from Mike Acosta of the Houston Astros

Stan Musial was at the Dome for the Dickie Kerr Statue Dedication
August 20, 1966
Photo Contribution from Mike Acosta of the Houston Astros

Thanks to Mike Acosta, Authentication Manager of the Houston Astros, The Pecan Park Eagle is now in possession of a photo and story from August 20, 1966 that makes this primary source column possible about how the Dickie Kerr statue  came to be – and how it reached dedication on August 20, 1966 at the Astrodome. The event was supported by a brief All Star Game between the MLB “Stars of the Forties versus the “Houston Old Timers.”

Regardless of their team assignments, the list of participants in the Old Timers’ Game included Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean, Carl Hubbell. Bob Feller, Allie Reynolds, Johnny Mize, Ernie Lombardi, Eddie Joost, Terry Moore, Howie Pollet, Enos Slaughter, Red Munger, Joff Cross, Gus Mancuso, Frank Mancuso, Johnny Keane, Harry Gumbert, Red Murff, Johnny Keane, Hal Epps, Nellie Fox, Mike Higgins, Monty Stratton,  Stan Hack, John Berly, Johnny Rizzo, Dingle Croucher, Pidge Browne, Larry Miggins, Jerry Witte, Grady Hatton, Johnny Temple, and Hal Smith. Frankie Frisch and Joe Medwick may also have been there, but the article is written in a way that allows some doubt about the attendance and participation of a few names – and it presents an equally unclear picture (to The Eagle, at least) in some cases about which players played for which team in the Old Timers’ Game. In the end of things, it didn’t matter. All these stars came to Houston that day to honor Dickie Kerr and to celebrate the history of the game of baseball.That mattered.

Wow! What a lineup any manager could form from a roster of these guys in their hay-days! And what a big Saturday Dome Date that must have been! 40,765 fans showed up to watch the dedication of the Kerr statue, the Old Timers’ Game, and the losing 1966 Astros as they defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2, behind the complete game pitching of lefty Mike Cuellar. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much  about this big day beyond some vague hearsay memory until now because it occurred shortly before my return to Houston from graduate studies elsewhere – and at a time in my life in which my head was pretty much buried in an academic haze of other commitments by my attention span.

If you received our normal column notice, you also received an attachment copy of the “Old Timers’ Day” story about the Old Timers Game and the Dickie Kerr statue dedication. You will have to print it out in 8X10 to read it easily. If you did not receive the attachment, just e-mail me at houston.buff37@gmail.com and I will send it to you. The more this piece gets out there, the greater its chances for survival to the research needs of others in the future (with some caveats – as described below under NOTES.)

For the record, here’s how “Old Timers’ Day” described the Dickie Kerr Statue Dedication:

DICKIE KERR STATUE MEMORIALIZED TONIGHT

Wee Dickie Kerr, the little man who stood so tall in baseball’s most difficult hour, will be memorialized tonight.

A life-size statue of Kerr has been sculptured and will be unveiled and dedicated tonight by Stan Musial, Dick Peebles, Clark Nealon, Bob Ruhle and members of the Oldtimers lineups.

Kerr became famous in 1919 when he refused bribes by gamblers during the “Black Sox Scandal” and managed to win two games in that year’s wrld series despite the fcat that the other eight players in the lineup were deliberately trying to lose the game.

Wee Dickie passed away on on May 4, 1963, at the age of 69, and Bob Ruhle, then Sports Editor of the Houston Press, with the cooperation of Clark Nealon and Dick Peebles bean a campaign to collect money for a statue to memorialize Kerr. Fans donated mre than $3,000 that was turned over to the Houston Astros, who have recently arranged for the statue to be completed.

The Musial-Kerr relationship began in in 1940 when Kerr was managing the Cardinals Daytona Beach Farm Club. Due to a shoulder injury and Kerr’s insistence, Musial switched from the pitcher’s mound to the outfield when Musial was playing for Kerr. From there Musial went forward to become one of baseball’s greatest stars. Musial has always felt a great allegiance toward Ker and (he) purchased a home for the Kerrs when Dickie and Mrs. Kerr moved to Houston.

The Kerr statue will be permanently displayed in an appropriately in an appropriate location in the Astrodome and the names of the donors will be enraved on the base of the statue.

~ Old Timers’ Day, a Publication of the Houston Sports Association, August 20, 1966.

Former Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal Larry Miggina - a current member of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR - played in that 8/20/66 Old Timers' Game at the Astrodome.

Former Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal Larry Miggina – a current member of the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR – played in that 8/20/66 Old Timers’ Game at the Astrodome.

NOTES: The 1919 Black Sox Scandal remains as the arguably most arguable subject in baseball history. The brief description of Dickie Kerr’s role glosses over factual questions about how much he may have known about any fix in motion and it also dramatizes Kerr’s role on the field with an “eight men out” that never happened as “Dickie and his fielders.”

Just to speak briefly about some of the less solid representations about the circumstances of Dickie Kerr’s virtuous role in the Black Sox Scandal, it is probable that Kerr was never offered a role in the alleged conspiracy by eight teammates to throw the 1919 World Series in exchange for money. Those eight men who were indicted for the alleged fix – and then found not guilty in a court of law – but then banned from baseball for life by Commissioner Landis in his dedication to making examples of those involved in baseball’s biggest reputaional black eye, even if it meant punishing the innocent with the guilty. also did not fill all the other positions on the field when Kerr pitched, as this report implies. Two of them, Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams, were pitchers. And Catcher Ray Schalk and 2nd baseman Eddie Collins were every ounce as innocent as Dickie Kerr.

Also note that most permanent commitments in baseball, as in most of life, are temporary. The Kerr statue did not even stay in place at the Astrodome through its own reign as home of the Houston Astros. At some point prior to 1999, the Dome’s last  year as an MLB venue, the Kerr statue moved to the Houston Sports Museum at Finger Furniture on the Gulf Freeway. We don’t know what happened to its plaque of sponsorship names – and the Pecan Park Eagle also remains in the dark, even now, as to the identity of its sculptor.

When the Houston Sports Museum was forced to close in 2013, because the Finger store was closing, the Kerr statue was taken over for display at Constellation Field by the Sugar Land Skeeters. Any new plans are unknown at this writing, but we are hoping that the piece will someday serve as one of the featured artifacts of a true Houston Baseball Museum.

Our Early World Series Observations

October 23, 2014
A 3rd World Series win in 5 years as Manager of the Giants could put Bruce Bochy on the running board for a "tears of joy" eventual ride to the Hall of Fame.

A 3rd World Series win in 5 years as Manager of the Giants could put Bruce Bochy on the running board for a “tears of joy” eventual ride to the Hall of Fame.

After two games at Kansas City, the 2014 World Series moves to San Francisco for three, starting Friday night, October 24th. Here are the broad swipe observations that jump off the page to us here at The Eagle, so far:

1) With Madison Bumgarner a possible three-time starter in a seven game World Series, the Giants have to remain the slight favorites until KC proves they can get to him.

2) Never count out the Royals on the road, The Orioles apparently did.

3) Both clubs have their own brands of never-give-up team drive. It’s fun to watch them go after each other, even if some pundits are always bored when a small franchise team from the Midwest reaches the Series, especially if their city’s initials are “KC”. Kansas City will never live down two facts: (a) The city is not located on either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans; and (b) the city was once noted for being the small town club that functioned as the MLB-level talent supplier and virtual farm club of the New York Yankees.

4) The stoic, mostly expressionless, sometimes puzzled look on KC manager Ned Yost’s face makes him an easy target for blame if the Royals don’t win the Series.

5) The grizzled, longshoreman port boss look of Giants manager Bruce Bochy keeps me looking for Terry Malloy to show up with blood on his face and jersey to pinch hit for the Giants at some crucial point in one of these games. (If you don’t know who Terry Malloy is, order a Netflix copy of the 1954 movie, “On the Waterfront.”

6) Hunter Pence seems well on his way to an eventual “leotard look” in the way he wears his uniform pants. Those Pence pants are now  worn well above the knees as those long black socks continue to demonstrate their apparently endless elasticity to the job of rising higher and higher.

7) The Kansas City Royals play the kind of baseball that the Houston Astros are hoping to play. They are fast and powerful on offense, fast, smart, and athletic on defense, and their Game Two pitching proved it was all that we knew it could be.

8) Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain may be the fastest guy in the big leagues. Unless I misunderstood, one of the TV guys said last night during Game Two that Cain was clocked at 20 MPH running the bases during the big 6th inning 5-run scoring explosion by KC.

9) Hunter Pence says he heard nothing from the fans as he was running the  bases following his 1st inning HR in Game One – and we believe him. That kind of hearing loss is common among intense people with normally short attention spans. Once they achieve their riveting goal, the neurological shock to the system may often cause a brief shutdown to the senses, particularly to hearing, because the person is going through an intense sensory overload in the wake of accomplishment and they cannot take on any more new information.

10) Something’s wrong with Tim Lincecum of the Giants. On the verge of getting through two scoreless relief innings in the 7th and 8th, he did something to hurt his arm and had to leave the game. The guy appears to have lost his mechanics and has now hurt himself trying to force his way back to the incredible level he used to occupy. The mop-up, look-see first Series appearance by Lincecum in Game Two was likely his last. We haven’t seen the reports on his injury, but it didn’t look good.

11) The Pecan Park Eagle has no dog in this fight. We just just want some good close action and a seven game contest. If Kansas City wins, it’s a win for Cinderella. If San Francisco wins, it will be their third World Series victory in five years (2010, 2012, and 2014) – and all with different player mixes under manager Bruce Bochy. By winning his third World Series in four tries (He got there once with the Padres) Bochy may have found his running board for an eventual “tears of joy” ride to the Hall of Fame.

 

 


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