Sam

Posts Tagged ‘american league’

Harmon Killebrew: Gentleman farmer

In Uncategorized on May 17, 2011 at 5:15 pm


One of the icons of my childhood, Harmon Killebrew, died yesterday. Along with Frank Robinson, Frank Howard, Mickey Mantle et. al Killebrew was one of the preeminent sluggers of the game in the 1960s and early 1970s. Year in year out his name was near the top of the list of American league HR leaders and only Babe Ruth had more consecutive 40 hr seasons than Killebrew (eight).

Growing up in the Bay Area I had limited opportunity to see Killebrew play. I probably went to a few A’s – Twins game as a kid but I don’t really remember. I was after all a Giants fan. However, several years after he retired, Killebrew became the color man on the A’s telecasts. Killebrew was a pleasure to listen to on the A’s broadcasts. He had a mellifluous voice without ever so much as a hint of anger or indignation –at a blown call or a mental mistake by a player on the field. As a player Killebrew shunned wrist bands and batting gloves when they became popular in the late 1960s and stepped into the batters box with the austerity of a monk. So as a broadcaster with the A’s did he refuse to clutter pauses with meaningless statistics or incessant chatter but simply offered his analysis of play when necessary.

After several years of broadcasting A’s games Killebrew retired to his farm in Oregon. Somehow the image of Killebrew as gentleman farmer seemed to fit. Harmon Killebrew was a minimalist, and this came across in everything he did, his tape measure home runs and 9 kids the exceptions.

When I read this morning of Killebrew’s death, the first thing that came to mind is how different the game is now. Nowadays a player of Killebrew’s stature is inevitably involved in contract disputes, free agency, the occasional paternity suit, or, as is more likely, steroid use.

Soft spoken sluggers like Harmon Killebrew belonged to another, better era.

Thanks for the wonderful memories Harmon. You will be missed.

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The morally bankrupt Texas Rangers

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm

The big story in baseball today is that Texas Rangers Manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last year.  The bigger news, to me at least, is that the Rangers are standing by Washington and allowing him to keep his job. This is a reprehensible stance on the part of the Rangers management. 

Just a few days ago an American couple who worked at the US Embassy in Mexico were brutally gunned down as they returned home from a child’s birthday party.  Their own 1-year-old child, in the back seat of the car, was unhurt but there was a profoundly tragic image of a Mexican policeman holding the child as his colleagues went through the bullet riddled SUV. The violent mexican drug wars that the media have been reporting recently are the direct result of an insatiable US demand for Cocaine among other drugs. This is acknowledged by both the US and Mexican governments.   In a sense then it is recreational Cocaine users like Ron Washington who are indirectly responsible for the murder of the US diplomat and her husband. For they are the ones creating the demand.  Not only is it absurd to allow Washington to keep his job after he tested positive for Cocaine ( he is after all a manager and managers are not supposed to fail drug tests), but given the fact that the spate in drug related violence is happening on the Texas-Mexico border one would expect  the Rangers management would have terminated Washington’s contract immediately,  if  for no other reason than to send a message to their own community that they do not condone any activity that has led, even indirectly, to the deaths of thousands of innocent Mexican and American citizens since the drug wars began in 2006.  

A final thought on this post: I wonder what the Rangers’s first ever manager would say about all this were he still alive. That would be Ted Williams of course.

Interleague Play; not for the connoisseur

In Pet Peeves on June 30, 2009 at 8:09 am

Well, another season of inter-league play has ended. The world is right again. The Giants are playing the Cards, The A’s are playing the Tigers, The Red Sox are playing the Orioles etc etc.

Inter-league play is something I wish would just go away.  It has not only deprived the World Series of considerable mystique – there used to be much anticipation before the Series because it was the first time teams from the AL and NL met in any given season excluding an occasional match up in Spring Training – but inter-league play has generally sucked the romance out of the game.

In the “old days”  if you followed a National League team you did not even remotely consider the American League.  If you grew up in NY, for example, and were a Mets fan you followed the Mets and probably never even so much as glanced at an AL box score. Heated arguments would arise occasionly with your friends who were Yankees fans, about which was the better league, the NL or the AL ?  But that was the great unknown and in this respect baseball mirrored life in that there were some questions we would never have the answers to. For an 11 year old kid the question of whether the NL or the AL was the superior league was as important as the question of whether there was life after death ? Call it the Beauty of the Unknown.

Ah..the good old days…when the AL teams played only AL teams and the NL teams played only NL teams. And then in October the best AL team would meet the best NL team in a 7 game series. There was a purity to this arrangement.  It was as classic as Scotch on the Rocks. Interleague play, on the other hand, resembles a Long Island Ice Tea, a drink popular with tourists and frat boys, but most definitely not something for the connoisseur.