November’s First Blog: Quick Items

BOB PRINCE…Spoke with Steve Blass recently and he had nice things to say about Bob Prince, Pirates broadcasting legend. As a kid I remember listening to Prince and I learned a lot of baseball from him. I think he interviewed G.M. Joe Brown and from that show I learned that in most baseball games the team which wins will have scored as many or MORE runs in one inning than the losing team scored in the entire game.

Who else besides Prince would mention some facts, nicknames, and even middle names of players often enough that, to this day, I remember that Willie Stargell’s full name is Wilver (not a misspelling) Dornell Stargell or that the Pirates once had a pitcher named Alvin O’Neal McBean! Prince liked to call reliever Billy O’Dell, Digger O’Dell (if my memory holds true), Billy McCool became “Cool” Billy McCool, and he would speak of a Braves pitcher as “Cecil Upshaw and His Band,” or something along those lines.

Prince often made it a point to inform his audience that the term “ground rule double” was used incorrectly at times. If a ballpark had a quirk which resulted in special ground rules being enforced, THAT was a ground rule for THAT park. However, if a rule that is, in fact, in the rule book for ALL parks–notably a fly ball which bounces into the stands results in an automatic double–then THAT is a BOOK (not a ground) RULE.

WHY I HATE THE WILD CARD…There are many reasons why I hate the wild card although I know why it came into being which is mainly because of money–baseball is, of course, a business. That aside, here’s one prime example of why I, as a traditionalist, hate it: in 1992, the Padres went 82-80, a mediocre record for sure. The ’87 A’s and the ’84 Angels both played .500 ball all season long (81-81).

All of these teams played back when there were two divisions in each league. The teams that proved themselves over the long grind of a 162-game schedule were rewarded with a playoff berth–everyone else went home for the winter. Of course, I actually liked it better before division play, back when you either won your league and went to the World Series or, too bad, you didn’t earn a right to play for the championship.

Now, here’s the thing: beginning in 1994, MLB split teams into three divisions in both leagues and suddenly, not two or four teams were in the playoffs. Now, the total rose to eight, and you no longer had to win your league or division to have a shot at the world championship. So, getting back to the Padres, A’s, and Angels mentioned earlier, an article I read stated that those teams, had they played under wild card rules set up in ’94, would have made the playoffs! Consider, too, the ’73 Mets who did win their division but with a record dangerously close to .500 (at 82-79) proving to me that once baseball went to multiple divisions in 1969, there would be teams I felt didn’t deserve to go to the World Series who could and would go–AND by 2018, many teams like that have won it all. Too watered down for me as a purist!

DIRTY PLAYERS…There was lots of talk about Manny Machado being a dirty player. If you can recall others such as Ty Cobb who were worse, you might send a comment to my site.

 

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