Tag Archives: giants

Jean Shepherd on New York Baseball Fans, 1963

On the way to work this morning, I listened to a Jean Shepherd radio show from April 1963 in which he discussed the attitude of New York baseball fans in general and Yankees fans in particular. The reason I listen to 50-year-old radio shows is because of how amazingly prescient Shep was, especially when discussing philosophy or commenting on media and show biz. He was no less insightful on the “lesser” topic of sports and fandom.

In this clip, you’ll hear Shep (a Chicago native and lifelong White Sox fan) talk about how nutty the WIN NOW! attitude of New York fans looks to outsiders. He relates the grumbles of a Yankee fan friend who couldn’t stand the thought of his team not winning a pennant in 1959. He also shares memories of a trip to Yankee Stadium with his old pal and fellow Chicagoan Shel Silverstein, when the two of them witnessed Mickey Mantle get booed for the audacity of not hitting a home run that afternoon. Shep provides a passable Shel Silverstein impression to boot.

Shep tops things off with some thoughts on the then-fledgling Mets, the real reason the Dodgers’ and Giants’ move to California was lamented by the press (their gravy train stopped running), and how the New York WIN NOW idea extends to all sports.

I find this fascinating because it is a contemporary account of what fan attitudes and fan experiences were like during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In our cemented memories, this era is rendered in Ken Burns-ian sepiatone nostalgia. But when Shep was speaking, the era was still The Present, and thus could be discussed in an unvarnished way.

When studying most aspects of history we accept that, in order to really understand a time, you have to get as close to contemporary accounts as humanly possible. When it comes to sports, however, we often let ourselves be swayed by myth-making. That makes this Shep clip even more rare, and valuable. I hope you enjoy it.

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Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: NL West

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2010 record: 65-97

Biggest offseason acquisition: Armando Galarraga, who will bring with him all the luck of a man who was denied a perfect game by an indecisive umpire.

Biggest offseason loss: Mark Reynolds. Now that he’s in the AL East, could he become the first man to strikeout 300 times in a season?

How can a team with this much talent perform as badly as it did last year?: With just the right amount of counterbalancing suck.

Best name on 40-man roster: Leyson Septimo, master of darkness!

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Take your pick. Melvin Mora, JJ Putz, Aaron Heilman, Xavier Nady, Mike Hampton…it’s like the bargain bin at the Ex-Mets Yard Sale.

Spring standout: In a typically Diamondback-esque performance, Justin Upton already has 7 RBIs, 3 homers–and 13 strikeouts.

Probable Opening Day starter: Ian Kennedy, presumably due to his ex-Yankee pedigree. It certainly ain’t for the 25 hits he’s given up in 17 innings pitched.

Biggest question for 2011: Is this the year Arizona’s young core makes the transition from promising to disappointing?

Strengths: Well-regarded GM, no actual snakes on premises

Weaknesses: Copious amount of strikeouts can cause brief cyclones

Semi-serious assessment: The “young” Diamondbacks are rapidly becoming middle aged, in baseball years anyway, with little to show for the promise shown way back in 2007. In fact, much of that “young” lineup has been whittled away, to where it’s essentially Upton and Chris Young. The pitching has disaster potential written all over it. It doesn’t take much to compete in this division, but the Diamondbacks don’t have it.

Continue reading Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2011 MLB Preview: NL West

“The Giants Win the Pennant!” Brought to You By Smooth Chesterfield Tobacco!

In honor of the San Francisco Giants earning a trip to the World Series, here’s a pic of an item I spotted at the WFMU Record Fair last weekend:

IMG_20101023_142758.jpg
It’s a limted edition 78 of Russ Hodge’s famous call of Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard Around the World”, which propelled the then-New York Giants to a World Series appearance, and also capped a monumental, nigh-Mets-ian collapse by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The record was a special gift for members of the Chesterfield 3-in-1 Club. Google held few answers about the nature of this club; I assume it was some sort of loyalty/points-type offer (like Camel Cash decades later). I do know that Chesterfield had an enormous ad at the Giants’ home stadium, the Polo Grounds, on the face of the entrances to the clubhouses (which was curiously located in the stadium’s cavernous centerfield). Chesterfield also sponsored their radio broadcasts. Notice that the announcer is referred to as “Chesterfield’s Russ Hodges,” with no mention of the Giants next to his name whatsoever. Also notice he has a Chesterfield firmly clamped in his left hand.

Just six short years after Thompson went deep, the Giants packed up and moved to the left coast, which still seems completely insane to me. People remain angry about the Dodgers moving away and taking their insigina, uniforms, and history with them, but the Giants had an even longer (and more successful) legacy, and yet when they left Harlem, they completely vanished from New York’s baseball consciousness.

None of this will prevent me from rooting for them in the upcoming World Series. What might do so is a disturbing number of Met killers on their roster, like Cody Ross and Pat Burrell. And while I appreciate Brian Wilson’s work against the Phillies, his laughably fake black beard is the worst facial hair in the playoffs since Scott Spiezio’s red chin-snatch. Not to mention that the Giants are Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s favorite team, and the thought of him being happy sickens me.

The Rangers seem a slightly more likable team on the surface. It would be great if Vlad Guerrero–a player whose insane dominance has already been forgotten–could get a World Series ring. Then again, I consider myself an NL guy, and the Rangers have another Met killer on their bench (albeit one who barely plays, Jorge Cantu). And if Jeff Francoeur smiled his way to a championship, the New York sportswriters corps might spontaneously orgasm with glee.

Truth be told, more than anything else, I’m rooting for a long, enjoyable, well-played series, which we have not had (arguably) since 2002. And I am grateful that this year, I don’t have to choose between the evil of two lessers.

MLB Playoffs YouTubery: Giants

To celebrate the advent of this year’s MLB playoffs, which I am looking forward to with rapt anticipation (no, really), I’d like to do a few posts featuring YouTube finds representing each team that’s made their way to October. Last but not least, the Giants.

I know it’s hard to believe, since the game has been poisoned by Buck and McCarver for the last 10+ years, but there was once a time when national baseball coverage wasn’t a complete shit-show. Seriously! I long for the days of NBC’s baseball coverage, and it’s not simply nostalgia. Back then, NBC employed excellent play-by-play men like Vin Scully, Marv Albert, and Bob Costas. (Whatever else you think of Bob, he’s a great baseball play-by-play guy, and I wish MLB Network would use him in that capacity.) And even their color/sideline guys like Tony Kubek and Joe Garagiola were, at the very least, unobtrusive.

To see what I mean, check out this pregame footage from the 1987 NLCS between the Cardinals and the Giants. It makes today’s game reportage look even worse in comparison. Somehow, NBC was able to broadcast competent baseball coverage without the music of Kid Rock or Frank TV promos. Also, check out Whitey Herzog getting snippy with Marv Albert.

ABC also had the rights to some playoff games back in them days, and their coverage–featuring Al Michaels most prominently–was not too shabby either. Here’s the open of game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Giants and A’s, which is notable for being the only postseason game ever delayed by earthquake. This one of those “where were you when it happened?” moments for people of a certain age. Except I can’t really remember where I was.

As a young’un, I devoured all three volumes of The Baseball Hall of Shame, which was pretty much exactly what it sounds like. The fact that the cover art was drawn by Mad Magazine‘s Mort Drucker should give you an indication of the intended audience. One book had a chapter dedicated to the worst mascots ever. The Giants’ Crazy Crab was high on their list. He made a few appearances in the early 80s, went over like a lead balloon, and was quickly relegated to the dustbin of history.

For some reason, the Giants revived him a few years ago, and he make some kooky appearances at AT&T Park. Some people were happy about this. Some, as seen in this video, were not.

Earlier this year, the Giants had a “Wearable Blanket” giveaway, a rather transparent euphemism for Snuggies. I do not approve of this, but the ad for said giveaway gave me a chuckle nonetheless.

Mike Francesa on How to Properly Disgrace Yourself

francesa.jpgI know I’ve said this many times, but it bears repeatin. The Jets are a uttah disgrace. I’m gonna say it an additional time, because I feel so strongly about it: The Jets are a uttah disgrace. And I’m gonna say this yet another additional time, just in case you forgot what I said while I was saying this sentence: The Jets are an uttah disgrace.

First of all, they did nothin but tawk all offseason. Tawk and tawk and tawk about how great they are. I’ve never heard anyone tawk for so long about so little. Sounded like a broken record. They gotta take a cue from me. I talk five hours a day, and I never repeat myself. Ever. Never, ever repeat myself. Ever.

First they got themselves on this Hard Knocks thing, and Rex Ryan’s cursing like a longshoreman. You don’t hafta work blue to motivate men, Rex. Just look at me. I don’t say a single cuss word on this show, and millions of people hang on my every word. These idiots could just go comment on a blog or the Tweetah or whatevah, and yet they wait on hold for three hours just to hear me yell at em. That’s called powah. Take a tip from the mastah, okay?

Then they harrass this reportah who’s just tryin to do her job. Whethah or not she was an actual reportah or actually felt harassed is not important. The point is, we were all talkin about it for weeks. Therefore, somethin bad happened.

Then you got Braylon Edwards blowin a 2-point-whatevah on the blood alcohol thing. You don’t get behind the wheel when you’re tanked on the sawce, Braylon. You’re lucky you didn’t kill a man like your buddy Donte Stallworth; then you would spent a whole 30 days in jail! You make a lotta money, fella. You can afford to get a drivah. Or to get your car outfitted with an IV drip of Diet Coke, like mine. That sobahs you up real quick.

If the Jets wanna know how to be a disgrace, they should take a page outta the Giants’ book. They were an uttah disastah on Sunday, but at least they had the decency to be quietly undisciplined and sloppy. None of this mouthin off, none of this showboating. They just went out and stunk up the joint. With class.

Eli Manning is a professional. When he throws a dumb interception with his left hand, he just hangs his head and walks off the field. And you don’t see none of this stupid celebrating on defense neither. Nobody was poundin their chest or doin the dougie when they commit an idiotic chop block in the end zone to give Tennessee a safety.

Rex Ryan could learn somethin from Tom Coughlin, too. He don’t curse at his playahs. He just bends at the waist and slowly gets reddah and reddah. A man’s skin tone can convey a lot more than a man’s words. That’s why I paint myself bright orange for Mike’d Up every week.

Folks, there’s a right way and a wrong way to disgrace yourself. The wrong way is the loudmouth, classless, criminal Jets’ way. The right way is the Giants quiet, dignified sucking. Of course, it’s best of all to not suck, but if you do have to suck, the Giants way is the way to do it.

Comin up, I’m gonna go over all the other NFL action this weekend. We’ll talk the Cowboys’ big win, and then I’ll covah all the othah games based on the same two-minute segments on SportsCenter that you saw last night. Then, I’m gonna talk about the Yankees for four hours. Back aftah this.

Mike Francesa Can’t Say Anything About the Jets

francesa.jpgAlright, NFL week two is almost in the books, and I gotta man up here. I gave Rex Ryan and his team a lotta grief last week when they came up small against the Ravens. I was rough on him with my words. I did not treat him kindly with my mouth.

I called Rex classless. I said he was a joke. I said Mawk Sanchez was not an NFL quawtaback. I said some terrible things about Darelle Revis, and LaDainian Tomlinson, and Curtis Martin, just to be safe.

But let’s face it, the Jets had a big game yesterday against the Pats. A hu-yuge game. An enawmous contest. A gargantuan other-word-for-game. A game that they really had to win, if you wanna be honest. But they did, and I gotta give ’em credit.

They shut me up. After trashin em all last week, I cannot say one thing about the Jets, because I was wrong about em. They did their job and then some, and also more. So I can’t talk at all about the Jets. They are a team that I can not uttah a single word about. I gotta just shut my mouth about the Jets. You will not hear anothah syllable from me in regards to the Jets. If there are sounds coming out of my windpipe that resemble the patterns of speech normally associated with language, you can guarantee they will not be about the Jets, for that is a team that I can say nothin about.

Alright, let’s go to the phones. Paulie is callin from Ho-Ho-Kus. Paulie, what’s going on?

Hey Mike, hu-yuge Giants fan here, but I gotta agree, you can’t say nothin about the Jets after Sunday.

You can’t. You just can’t. Listen, the Jets shut me up. I’m done talkin about the Jets.

I was sayin a lotta the same things you was sayin about em…

I’m sure you were. We all were sayin things. You know the things we were sayin. I can’t say em no more, but you know what I was sayin.

Exactly. But now, I gotta just keep my mouth shut about the Jets.

You will not hear a peep outta me about the Jets this week. Not one. Of course, if they stink up the joint in Miami next weekend, I’ll be screamin at em again. But I can’t talk about that, because it hasn’t happened yet. For now, I will not say anything about the Jets. Don’t ask me to talk about the Jets. I’m done!

On last question, Mike. I got this buddy at work, huge Jets fan. He’s been givin me crap all day about how the Giants did against the Colts. Can I beat him savagely with a tire iron?

You not only can, you must. Alright, we got a go to a break, but when we come back, I’ll have Jon Heyman on, and he’ll tell me stuff that other writers tweeted three hours ago. Stay tuned for that.

2010 NFC East Preview, with X47-21A

With the NFL season about to kickoff, Scratchbomb has asked a few luminaries to give us their takes on the upcoming football season. Next up, Monsanto’s experiment number X47-21A, also known as the Cow-Boy.

cowman.jpgDespite my appearance, I enjoy football as much as any other red-blooded American male. I say ‘male’ rather than ‘man’ because I can not technically call myself a man. I’m not sure what I can call myself, as what I am exactly has not yet been determined by the FDA. Also, the UN has yet to decide if I have a right to exist, but until then, I will continue to watch the ol’ pigskin being tossed around.

Of course, it’s not an actual pigskin. The NFL uses a synthetic pigskin, made from a real synthetic pig. One of them used to stay in the same lab as me. His name was Gerald. I was real proud when he got into a Chargers-Raiders game a few seasons ago.

I watch lots of football in my room on the Monsanto Dynamic Solutions campus. I like it almost as much as when Dr. Tarsus allows me to stretch and graze in my lawn-pen. Naturally, people assume I’m a Cowboys fan, but I like the Texans better. We see them more often in our local market, and I love Andre Johnson. He moves like a gazelle. In fact, he moves a lot like this half-gazelle/half-jaguar creature that used to live here, last seen leaping the walls in a vain attempt at freedom. I heard they had to call in black helicopters to take him down.

However, I can recognize the Cowboys’ strengths, and I feel they shall prevail in the NFC East this season. I’m afraid they have too many offensive weapons, and their defense is too formidable, to be overtaken in what may shape up to be a weak division. Tony Romo finally proved he can win a playoff game, and though he faltered against Minnesota in the divisional round, he gained a lot of valuable experience.

I know there’s a lot of Cowboys haters out there, but please don’t shoot the messenger! I’ve gotten enough shots today as it is. I require 37 daily injections so my four stomachs won’t consume themselves.

There used to be a nice lady in a white coat who fed me from a bottle and stroked the nape of my neck. She is gone now.

I look up and down this division and see so many question marks. The Giants’ defense has been wracked by injury and ineffectiveness, and Eli Manning–despite having a Super Bowl ring–makes mistakes that a quarterback of his experience really should not. Much like my old keeper, Dr. Crenshaw, was devoured by his worst mistake, the fearsome Raptor-Man.

The Redskins, I’m afraid, having little going for them to begin with, and they certainly don’t need the Albert Haynesworth mess distracting them even further. Donovan McNabb might have something left in the tank, but who knows how long he can stay healthy.

I’d also like to call on Washington to eschew their racist nickname, as it is degrading and dehumanizing. I know what it’s like to be dehumanized, or at least to be never fully humanized.

As for the Eagles, regardless of the year McNabb has, I believe they will miss him. Relying on Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick to turn in a solid season is like relying on my fingers to stop reforming themselves into hooves.

Sometimes life seems like a cruel joke played on me and me alone.

I can’t say how far the Cowboys will go this year. Injuries can ruin any team’s chances, and perhaps some young rookie will emerge and energize another team into contention. But I think it’s safe to say they’re the team to beat in the NFC East. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to submit to my thrice daily nutrient-rich spine injection to prepare for the blood quickening.

The Parallel Universe Fake Mets: Games 29-31

Game 29: Giants 2, Mets 1
The Fake Mets could only scratch out one meager run against Fake Barry Zito, and that came on a ground-out double play by Fake David Wright in the first inning. Meanwhile, to further emphasize the inherent unfairness of MLB10:The Show, the Fake Giants tied the score in the fifth when Fake Bengie Molina hit a two-out triple (!) (no, seriously, (!)) that just eluded Fake Jeff Francoeur’s glove, then went ahead immediately thereafter on a Fake Freddy Sanchez RBI single. Fake Brian Wilson struck out the side in the ninth (around a Wright single that briefly gave the Fake Mets hope) to preserve the win.

In real life: K-Rod wasted a fine effort by Mike Pelfrey when he gave up a two-out, pinch-hit homer to John Bowker in the top of the ninth, but they salvaged a victory with a two-run walkoff homer by Rod Barajas in the bottom half.

Game 30: Mets 4, Giants 3
The Fake Giants took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth when a botched sac bunt play was followed by an inside-the-park home run by Fake Edgar Renteria (aided by the goblins inside MLB10:The Show, which refused to let me switch to the right fielder, who might have actually fielded the ball). But the Fake Mets rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth, the last scoring on a walkoff RBI double by Fake Jason Bay.

In real life: Once again, the bullpen allowed a starter’s fine outing to go by the wayside (Santana in this case) and let the Giants tie up the game late. And once again, a Mets catcher came to the rescue, as Henry Blanco hit a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 11th.

pufm031.pngGame 31: Mets 1, Giants 0
The Fake Mets could do almost nothing against the immortal (fake) Madison Bumgarner until Fake Jeff Francoeur hit a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh to plate Fake Jason Bay. Meanwhile, Fake Johan Santana flirted with history as he was perfect through 8 2/3 innings, but pinch hitter Fake Andres Torres hit a parachute single into shallow left field to break up the no-no. Johan stayed on to get the last out and give the Fake Mets a series win.

In real life: The Mets fought back to overcome an early 4-0 deficit (and the supremely crappy pitching of Oliver Perez) and tie the game, but Jenrry Mejia gave up a two-run shot to Aaron Rowand in the top of the ninth, which proved the difference in a 6-4 loss.

Parallel Universe Fake Mets record: 14-17
Real Mets record: 17-14

Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: NL West

Thumbnail image for dbacks2.jpgARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

2009 record: 70-92

Local weather: Ball-meltingly hot

Namesake: Venemous rattlesnake responsible for the majority of fatal snakebites in northern Mexico, thus explaining why the Diamondbacks are Lou Dobbs’ favorite team.

Do they really play for the entire state of Arizona?: Yes, except for small pockets of Tempe. They know why.

Perpetually overused team-related headline: Raising Arizona. Cease and desist letters from the Coen Brothers have proven ineffective.

Best name on 40-man roster: Clay Zavada (also owner of best mustache on team)

The That Guy’s on This Team? Award: Billy Buckner. Not the former Dodgers/Cubs/Red Sox first baseman, but a young relief pitcher. Still, you’d think teams would shy away from anyone named Billy Buckner.

Spring standout: Justin Upton, whose .324 batting average and 16 RBIs are an obvious attempt to shame his brother B.J.

Probable Opening Day starter: Dan Haren, whose hitched delivery is almost as confounding as his facial hair.

Biggest question for 2010: Will their talented core of young players once again prove woefully outmatched, or merely disappointing?

Advantage to start the season: Close proximity of spring training facility removes the disorienting effects of jet lag.

Semi-serious assessment: The Diamondbacks lineup is full of stars, near stars, or should-be stars like Upton, Stephen Drew, and Mark Reynolds (all of them born in years I actually remember, which depresses the shit out of me). But their rotation is Haren and not much else until Brandon Webb comes back from shoulder surgery. They’ll score a lot of runs, but they’ll give a lot up, too, especially in their home park. Even in a relatively weak division, I don’t see how they finish much better than .500 this year.

Continue reading Scratchbomb’s Thoroughly Compromised 2010 MLB Preview: NL West

Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez Star in, Mixed Messages!

* knock knock *

eli.jpgHey Mark, it’s Eli from next door.
sanchez.jpgWhat’s up?
eli.jpgYou know how the mailman is always mixing up our deliveries? Well, I got this package and I opened it, but I didn’t realize it was for you. Sorry about that.
sanchez.jpgNo problem, it happens. What’s in the package?
eli.jpgA really shitty performance in a must-win game to close out your stadium.
sanchez.jpgWeird. I didn’t order one of those. In fact, the UPS guy just dropped off a surprisingly dominant performance in a must-win game to close out a stadium.
eli.jpgHuh. You sure that wasn’t for me?
sanchez.jpgThe label said “Jets” on it.
eli.jpgYou’re sure it said “Jets”?
sanchez.jpgPositive.
eli.jpgAw geez…now that I look at this package closer, yeah, it does have my name on it. I just, you know, was hoping maybe it didn’t. It seems like the kinda thing you’d get.
sanchez.jpgWell, I didn’t, so…
eli.jpgLike maybe the labels got mixed up at the…factory…or something…
sanchez.jpgSo that’s why you waited a week to bring it by?
eli.jpgIt’s the holidays. You know, everybody’s out of town, and parties…and stuff…I’ve just been so busy, you know?
sanchez.jpgListen, I gotta go pack for the playoffs, so…
eli.jpgPlayoffs, huh? Those are fun. I won a Super Bowl, you know.
sanchez.jpgThat was like three years ago, right?
eli.jpgI still won it!
sanchez.jpgAnd that was awesome! But I gotta split, okay? See you at the new place, okay?
/ slam
eli.jpgYou’re still gonna help me move, right?