Thursday, February 17, 2011

#10: Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders by Rob Neyer

I love the baseball. I agree with Robert Creamer in that "I don't think that there is anything magical in it, it's just fun."

Rob Neyer is an excellent baseball writer, and I own four of his books. This particular tome details what Neyer believes to be the greatest blunders in the greatest of sports. Segregation is NOT one of them, and I agree that it should not be. Between 1884 (Moses Fleetwood Walker and Welday Walker) and 1947 (Jackie Robinson) no African American player appeared in major league baseball. As Neyer says, "That's not a blunder. That's a crime."

A blunder is a cold night in October of 1986, when John McNamara does not replace Bill Buckner at first base with Dave Stapleton. A poor outing by Calvin Schiraldi leads to Buckner and his shitty ankles making an error at first. What makes Neyer great is that he rewinds the game to the 8th inning, where McNamara could have pinch hit for Buckner with two men on base. Mets manager Davey Johnson brings in Jesse Orosco (a poster man for having any child of yours who is left-handed learn how to pitch; the man pitched in the majors during the Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations) to pitch to the lefty Buckner. Can McNamara pinch hit for him? Does he have a right handed hitter on the bench? Only Don Baylor who hit 31 home runs that year. McNamara doesn't pull the trigger, which is arguably where the game was really lost.

Or the Cleveland Indians having a 10 cent beer night on June 4, 1974. That is, 10 cent beer night....with no limit on beer purchases! Jesus Christ! Fucking Billy Martin was the manager of the opposing team! And what happened? After two fights, fans charging the field and stealing the hat off the head of Ranger left fielder Jeff Burroughs, Martin leading his team on the field wielding bats like scab-busting Teamsters, the umps call the game a forfeit.

It should be noted that my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates (consecutive losing seasons: 18 and counting) make only one appearance in the blunders book: trading some bozo named Hazen Cuyler (called Kiki by his friends in the Hall of Fame) for a couple of warm bodies and selling some other ass named Joe Cronin (Yep. He's in the Hall of Fame) in the space of 5 months. Two hall of fame players sold or traded in five months. What did they get?

1.Roughly $5000 for Cronin
2.Sparky Adams and Pete Scott for Cuyler.Cuyler out homered those two jack asses 17-5 in 1927.

Might I add that the Pirates are heading in the right direction. Yes, yes, I know that last season they lost more games than any Pirate club since 1952. But, like than (Dick Groat, Bob Friend, Elroy Face) there is young talent now (Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutcheon, Jose Tabata). The 2010 team was also the youngest since 1988. Who was on the 1988 club? Ohh, Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek. You know, the guys that won three consecutive NL East titles from 1990-92?

Check out Neyer's book if you like the game.

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