Saturday evening, April 30th, 1904: “Brilliantly played Game”

The millers won a tight one in Louisville yesterday, 2-1, a “brilliantly played game,” according to our man in Louisville, though there were four errors in the game. Gene Ford got the win, giving up 6 hits and a walk while striking out five. Ford also scored the winning run in the sixth, getting a hit, going to second on a sacrifice, to third on an error, and coming home on a fielder’s choice. It’s miller time!

The colonels lone run came in the second. Brashear singled, then went from first to third on an infield out, a grounder to short. Not sure how that’s possible, but there it is, black and white. Brashear must have blazing speed? Anyway, he then scored (probably easily) on a fly-ball out. Denny Sullivan tied it up for the millers in the bottom of the frame (YES, the millers are batting last, though the game’s in Louisville. What’s up with that?) hitting a long home run (!) into the center field pasture.

Catcher Weaver has a cannon for an arm, apparently, catching four of the five colonels attempting to steal. McNichol was at third again, and handled eight changes without “a skip.” He also dazzled in a double play in the ninth: with runners on first and second, Hart hit a stinger down to McNichol. He stepped on third for one and tossed across to Lally, but too late to catch the speedy Hart. Lally, though, noted that the runner from first had rounded second and was headed to third, and he gunned the ball back across the diamond to McNichol, who applied the tag for the out. Score that 5-3-5, folks, and some heads-up ball by the millers. The colonels love to run too, apparently.

Meanwhile, our scribe gets a few column inches to provide analysis, and, yes, the millers are speedy. Speedy speedy speedy. Everybody agrees. Can we give it a rest for awhile?

Our scribe is highly optimistic that the club will come home from this road trip above the .500 mark. It’s a shame that they only got to play one game against the Columbus team, because the millers clearly outclassed the Ohioans, and they probably would have won two or three games, if they could only have been played. (Instead of just losing the one game, which was, I guess, an anomaly.)

The pitching has been good, though Ford reported late, so he’s still a question mark. (Analysis apparently done pre-game, as Ford rocked the colonels.) Katoll’s arm, meanwhile, is still said to be in good shape, but Watkins “intends to save Big Katoll until warm weather arrives.” But his arm is fine. But he doesn’t want to take any chances. But his arm is healthy. (Why do I think that Katoll’s got a bad arm? I don’t know, but I suspect he won’t make it through the season. Watty should be looking for more pitching.)

McNichol and Demontreville are having a good contest for third base, with McNichol playing a bit better, but Demontreville has not been released yet because of Fox’s sickness. It looks like Watty will hang onto them both for two or three weeks. Fox is in there playing, yesterday, but I guess Watkins like to have a little depth on the bench.

Hitting is a concern. Only 51 safeties in six games, our analyst reports, which, using a little 1904 sabremetrics, breaks out to just eight and a half hits per game: “This is not good enough batting to suit the fans entirely, but six games is hardly a criterion of the team’s real strength.”  Yes, I think I get what he’s trying to say. He’s right. Hardly a criterion.

Finally, catcher Weaver looks good, as does Leslie. Our reporter thinks that Leslie will probably play most of the games, as long as he keeps hitting.

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Meanwhile, at UW Madison, it’s the same old same old.

“Seranaded the professors?” I can imagine what that was like. But I’m not sure what happened with the “vaudeville performance.” Why do I suspect that beer was heavily involved with this? Anyway, thank the lord that the police were on hand to break up the shenanigans. I suspect that that’s the last we’ll hear of Mr. Larue of Chicago and Mr. Davies of Davenport.

29 April 1904 – Louisville

newsboy-minneapolis-1904-b“MILLERS FALL DOWN WITH STICK”

Read all about it!

The millers lost yesterday to the colonels in Louisville, by a 3-1 margin.

Watty’s colts only managed four hits off the colonel’s Egan, while the elongated Stimmel also tossed a fine game, giving up only six hits himself. Sad to say, poor base running may have played a part in the loss. Watkins can’t be happy about that. Apparently Maloney got caught napping at second base. I assume that billy-maloney-brg-bmeans he got picked off? Ouch! Maloney also got a couple of hits and sparkled out in right field, but I would think that Watkins will overlook those redeeming points and talk to him seriously about the importance of being highly alert while on the base paths.

I’m a bit concerned about the miller’s offence. (As I’m sure we all are.) Here’s the miller rally yesterday, as described by Our Man in the Field:

“The millers’ one score was secure in the fifth, when Oyler lined out a single, Stimmel sacrificed him along, and the shortstop stole third. McNichol bunted, and Dexter fielded the ball home, but Schriver dropped it, making the only miscue of the game.”

That’s probably going to be the nature of the millers’ offence this season: bunts, sacrifices, stolen bases, maybe an error thrown into the mix. I guess, in 1904, that was pretty much the nature of the game. Nowadays we think of the pre-Babe Ruth years as the Dead Ball Era, but back then it was just baseball. Nobody even noticed that the ball was dead. It was just part of the Great American Pastime. It’s a good thing that Watty has assembled a stable of speedsters.

On that note there was an interesting comment by Watty, in yesterday’s paper, I think it was. His theory is that it’s very difficult or impossible, really, to find much good hitting at this level of the game. If a guy shows he can hit, he gets snapped up by the big leagues. And that’s why he’s so focused on speed. Hitting across the league will be weak, and so he believes that the fastest team will create the most runs and thus come out as champions in the end. As long as they are awake out there on the base paths.

Yesterday, more bad weather, but they played anyway and played well. One error for the colonels, none for the boys from Minneapolis. Demontreville was sick, but McNichol played well at 3rd. Oyler was excellent at short. Watty says he will release both Ludwig excerpt-tacoma-times-12-april-1909-wm-ludwigand Roach shortly. Ludwig is apparently not fast enough, while Roach’s work “has been indifferent.” I wonder why he hasn’t released them already. Must be no fun for them. I hope he’s talked to them, and they don’t just read it in the papers. Maybe he’ll yet change his mind about Ludwig, who’s a fan favorite, a game player, and a fine young man, though perhaps not so fast.

Young Munch may twirl for the millers today. Census records seem to indicate that Gustave was born in 1876, which would make him about 28 in 1904. Which makes me wonder how old the rest of these guys are, if he’s “young” Munch?

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And in other news of the day:

excerpt-minneapolis-journal-29-april-1904-speed-mark-for-train-b

 

Diamonds are Forever

With baseball season just right around the corner, I’vediamonds-are-forever picked up a copy of Diamonds Are Forever at my local pre-owned book retailer. This is a good-sized book published in 1987 by the Smithsonian Institute, 159 pages full of baseball art and stories about the game we love.

The writing is mostly excerpts from longer works. Writers include John Updike, (“Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,”) Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway, Roger Angell, Thomas Boswell, W.P. Kinsella, William Kennedy, Donald Hall, Steven King, and more. I hope Philip Roth is in there, but I haven’t spotted him yet. (Which reminds me, perhaps it’s time I re-read his The Great American Novel again. It’s been a good long while.)

baseball-and-becket-b-sm

I really bought this book for the art. Some of these are familiar, and some I’ve never seen before. I loved this picture, to the left, of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett going toe-to-toe with an umpire. A lot of people don’t know that Beckett managed the White Sox for a few years back in the late 40s. Those were very dramatic years for the White Sox, though they didn’t win a lot of games. They were more focused on illuminating the tragi-comic nature of the human condition, by means of a legendary gamut of absurdist plays. One of the most well-known of these was the play of second-baseman Sonny Godot, who would take the cut-off throw from the outfield, but then keep the ball in his glove, pretending that he didn’t have it, though the whole crowd knew it was there. All the opposing runners would round the bases and score. Even though he did this every time, he continued to get cut-off throws, game after game. This was baseball for the thinking fan, the deeply thinking and ruminative fan, and, thus, the White Sox did not draw so well in those years. Which was just the way Beckett liked it. “The end is in the beginning and yet you go on,” he would say to the baseball reporters. In the end, a lot of the White Sox fans complained that they no longer understood the point of the game, and eventually Mr. Beckett got canned, which is the fate of all of us. Beckett-ball had its brief moment in the sun, and then that was it, back to Paris for Mr. Beckett. He never managed a professional club again, and, in his later years, denied that he had ever managed at all.

Anyway, back to the book. What’s not to like? Classic baseball prose. Any kind of baseball art you can think of. And it’s springtime. What could be better? Play ball, already.

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Speeding up the game; pitchers and catcher report!

I heard a brief spot on the radio this week about how baseball’s new commissioner, Robert Manfred, has announced some new rules to speed the pace of the game up. These include:

  • batters have to keep one foot in the batter’s box.
  • timers will measure the time between innings, allowing 2:25 for locally televised games and slightly longer for nationally televised games.
  • Pitchers will need to complete their warm up tosses at the 30 second mark, and batters will “be encouraged” to be in the batter’s box with 20 seconds remaining on the clock.

These rules will be enforced with a system of warnings and fines, with further discipline “for flagrant violators,” and there’s naturally a list of specific exceptions to these rules. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

I haven’t thought about any additional ways that the game could be sped up. I suppose they could limit the number of  relief pitchers in an inning; I suppose there are a lot of things they could do. Perhaps limit the number of people who can meet at the mound. What do they talk about anyways?

mtg d fr - mtpmcg714 sm - 5610

As long as they are making up rules, I really would like it if they would do something about the constant, unceasing, never-ending, repetitious, non-stop barrage of deafening and distracting sound that we have to endure at the ballpark. Does anyone feel like this contributes to their baseball experience? Does there really need to be loud rock and roll at every momentary break? At every new at-bat? Between every stinking pitch? Do we really need to have commercials on the big scoreboard? Sponsors for every small fragment of the broadcast? Meaningless “contests” between innings? Bugle calls and “clap your hands!” animations to tell the crowd when they should clap?

Let me think about this a moment… okay, I say no. No, we do not. In fact, it’s positively detrimental to my enjoyment of the game, the reason I paid money to come to the ball park.

Perhaps the Twins could occasionally have some silent throwback games, where all that noise is eliminated. I am sure it would really create a startlingly different – and better – ballpark experience.

At least for me.

Pitchers and catchers reported yesterday. Nice long article about new Twin’s manager Paul Molitor in the Star Tribune today – you can find it here. Should be an interesting spring training. New managers and coaches. Pitchers battling for the fifth spot in the rotation. (Ironic for a staff that was so poor last year.) The return of Torii Hunter. The mystery of Aaron Hicks. Buxton and Sano, healthy and close?

Happy Birthday, Garrabrant Ryerson Alyea!

Brant Alyea was born on this date in 1940. His name came up a bit when Chris Colabello was having his great start last season, and I can still remember when Brant Alyea had his moment in the sun. As a 29-year-old journeyman who landed with the Twins in 1970, Alyea came out of nowhere (i.e. Washington Senators, 1969) to open April in left field for the Twins, and he had a pretty good April, hitting .415 in 17 games, with 5 HR and 23 RBI. Pretty good. Good enough to make the cover of the Sporting News.

Brant Alyea - 1970 - Sporting News b

Then-manager of the Twins Bill Rigney starting platooning guys in left then; I guess there was some question about Brant’s fielding out there. So Alyea shared time in left field with Jim Nettles, Rick Renick, Cesar Tovar, Charlie Manual, Jim Holt, Bob Allison, Steve Brye, and Herman Hill. And the bat boy, probably.

Too bad, because that was Brant Alyea’s season to shine.. In 94 games and 258 at bats he hit .291, with 16 HR and 61 rbi. I might have let him play out there a bit more, I guess.

Alyea played six years in the majors, and his batting average goes like this:

1965 – .231
1968 – .267
1969 – .249
1970 – .291
1971 – .177
1972 – .180

I guess he got hurt pretty bad in 1972, and that was the end of Alyea’s career in baseball. I still remember that month of April he had, though. Those were the years when the Twins rocked, and Alyea looked like he was going to rock with them. And he did, for a while.

Brant Alyea - 1971 Topps b sm

Happy birthday, Brant Alyea. Thanks for April 1970. Good game.

 

The Giants. And welcome Paul.

Well, I guess it’s all over and settled for 2014. Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on their championship. They are a heckuva team and they have perhaps the second best ballpark in the majors. I only managed to catch one game, or most of one NY Giants pennantgame. I met Ghost at a St. Paul bar to watch the game and toss back a few tots. The bar was a serious disappointment. Bad call on my part. We went to the Bulldog. Most of the TVs had something called “hockey” on. There were 3 TVs that had the game on. None of the TVs had sound on; instead some barely audible unrecognizable music was playing, because everyone comes there for the music? And then the Trivia game started. So, yes, mistakes were made.

Fortunately it was a 10-0 game, so there wasn’t a lot of need for sound on the TV. Plus the beer was good. And I hadn’t seen Ghost for a few weeks. So it was good. We watched some baseball and caught up.

I had been rooting for the Giants all the way, but at about game six I thought, hey, Royals! No one was expecting this! And they weren’t the Red Sox or the Yankees! Go Royals! But in game 7 I was going for the Giants, I’ve always liked the Giants, since Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Chris Speier and Juan Marichal and… Bobby Thompson? Almost. So I’m happy with the series. Seven games. Giants win. No Red Sox nation. No Yankees. All is good.

And then there’s the Twins, who limped their way to another totally forgettable season. Ron Gardenhire gone, the Twins searched high and low for a new manager. No stone unturned. They looked everywhere. They talked to everybody. They talked to managers of cricket clubs in the UK and India. They googled “Good Young Baseball Managers +Winner.” They used Bing. They LinkedIn. They networked, asking other owners, hey, you know any good managers looking for work? They put ads on Craigslist. They ran a Kickstarter campaign: Help Us Find a Manager for Our Small Market Team.

No Stone UnTurned.

Everywhere.

And, of course, there he was, hiding in plain sight.

Hey! Hey! What about Paul Molitor?Paul-Molitor coach b

Yeah! Molitor! Why didn’t I think of that? Call him up!

Twins manager? I have no opinion. Molitor will be fine, if the Twins get better pitching. And I believe the Twins will get better pitching.

(There is no basis in reality for that belief. It’s rather like religion.)

The Twins will get better pitching in 2015, and some of their vaunted, near legendary, prospects will show up in the majors next season.

This I Believe.

Good luck Paul!

 

The End of the Gardy Era

Well, the Twins fired Ron Gardenhire today, after 13 year of good and diligent service. It kind of brings me down.

Gardy caught a lot of flack, but I always liked him. He always seemed to be a straight-talking kind of guy, who had a good perspective on the game. And I appreciated his perspective. Even today, from what I heard on the radio, it was rather a mutual “parting of ways,” and I heard Gardy say that it was time for these players to hear somebody else. Probably, after four bad years, Gardy saw this coming; I don’t think you can say that he played a major role in the four bad years, not with the players he had to work with. But he was a part of the mess, and part of the manager’s job is to get fired.

Todd Tichenor, Ron Gardenhire

That, and to get tossed out of games every once in a while.

Good job, Gardy. I will miss you next season, and I hope you find another job managing. Your a guy that respects the game, and you deserve a good team and a world series.