The arrival of the 2014 baseball season means 20 years have passed since the old Albuquerque Dukes won the last of their eight Pacific Coast League championships. The franchise joined the Triple A PCL in 1972 with a dominant team managed by Tommy Lasorda and featuring future big leaguers like Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Burt Hooton, Charlie Hough, Larry Hisle, and more. The Dodgers’ minor league system was well-stocked during the years the O’Malley family owned the Dodgers, and Albuqerque, often the final stop for players on their way to the majors, reaped the benefits time and time again. Continue reading
Gehrig. Feller. Williams. Musial. Banks. Stargell. Yastrzemski. Bench. Yount. Ripken. The list goes on and on. Many of baseball’s all-time greats never changed uniforms in their lengthy big league careers. Of course that’s a rarity now, which makes present-day Yankees greats Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter all the more unusual.
I grew up in an era when baseball was changing dramatically. In the 1970s, as the DH rule and free agency hit baseball, longtime stars suddenly started moving from team to team. I remember thinking how strange it was to see Catfish Hunter become a Yankee, but superstars changing uniforms quickly became the norm. Continue reading
It was painful listening to the decidedly Phillies-flavored telecast on FOX today of the Giants-Phillies game. It’s not that I mind watching the opposing team’s telecast. I do that often, and enjoy learning about the other team that way. After all, I watched countless Braves games games back in the TBS Superstation days in the ’80s, and a lot of Cubs games on WGN too.
What got to me was that this was a Saturday afternoon national broadcast, one in which the broadcasters supposedly are neutral and unbiased. Yet in an exciting game filled with big moments for both teams (a 6-5, 10-inning Giants win after two lead changes), broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Mitch Williams made it sound like a bad version of a Phillies broadcast, without the local flavor such a broadcast would have if it was the real thing. Continue reading
With the retirement today of Tony LaRussa, there’s lots of talk about the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2014, which could (should?) include managers Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox along with first-time eligible players Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. Thanks to some interesting rules for managers, LaRussa, Torre, and Cox will all be eligible for the first time in 2014, alongside two 300-game winners and a 500 home run club member (not that 500 homers necessarily means Hall of Fame anymore). It certainly would be great to see Atlanta Braves stalwarts Maddux, Glavine and Cox enter the Hall together, and Torre’s body of work (both as a player and manager) deserves first-ballot induction beyond question. LaRussa’s 33 years of success as a manager are equally deserving. Continue reading