Results tagged ‘ Jackie Robinson ’

One Profane Man

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Yesterday afternoon, the Twins and Red Sox hooked up for a pretty intense duel, with the Sox coming out on top 3-1.  Things really got interesting in the seventh inning, for both clubs:

Top: With the Sox batting, a close play at the plate from Kubel (a great throw) to Redmond was called “safe” for the Sox when replays seemed to show that he was actually out.  Redmond popped up and did his best “Yogi Berra after Jackie Robinson steals home” impersonation.  He was immediately run from the game (which hurt the Twins by losing the DH and thus not pinch hitting for Matt Tolbert in the game’s key moment an inning later) and closely followed by manager Ron Gardenhire.

Bottom: Up until the seventh inning, Josh Beckett had been absolutely mowing down the Twins’ batters (besides the one Joe Crede bomb).  Yet, throughout the game I noticed that he was incredibly angry and often (even after a 1-2-3 inning) would stomp off the mound uttering terrible profanities.  I never really got the feeling that he was being squeezed at the plate, but obviously he thought differently.  Thus, in the seventh, a very close pitch was called a ball and Beckett immediately told the umpire that he could “go have carnal relations with himself” (to put it nicely).  Boy, was Beckett ever hot, almost throwing a temper tantrum right on the mound!  Within minutes, both Jason Varitek and Terry Francona were joining Gardy and Red Dog in the bowels of the Dome.  Why Beckett didn’t get the old heave-ho as well is completely beyond me.  Personally, I lost some respect for him for that little tirade.  I have rarely seen a pitcher get so angry out on the mound (especially when dominating the opposing team) and it makes Beckett seem like just a hot-headed jerk who happens to have some nasty stuff.

All in all, though, a sweep with the Sox isn’t the end of the world by any means.  The real test now will be going into Tampa Bay and trying to play just as tough.  Much like last year, the Twins won’t become a legit contender unless they can even just play below-average (not God-awful) ball on the road.

Notes:

-Joe Crede is coming around.  His defense alone is darn near enough to keep him in the lineup every game, especially considering the struggles of Brian Buscher, while his bat is showing good pop.

-Glen Perkins may not have a job when he gets healthy.  Anthony Swarzak has been VERY impressive in both his starts in the majors so far.

Preview (24-25, 2nd, 3.5 GB DET): Scott Baker (2-5, 6.32) vs. James Shields (3-4, 3.63).

Leo The Lip Gets It Right

JackieLeo.jpgToday, baseball celebrated the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier back in 1947.  I wanted to quickly recount my favorite story of that entire experience:

When Jackie Robinson first came up to the then-Brooklyn Dodgers, their manager was Leo “The Lip” Durocher.  Of course, there was fallout just within the clubhouse walls as to whether Jackie should be allowed to wear Dodger blue, and a petition was passed around on which a signature declared a person’s opposition to Robinson.  I believe it was during Spring Training of 1947 when this issue came to a head, and the petition (including at least half the clubhouse) was given to Durocher.  As legend has it, he studied the paper document for a moment, then proceeded to give a heartfelt speech as to how HIS club would feature the best baseball players based on talent, not skin pigmentation.  He concluded by telling the players exactly where they could stick that petition.

So thank you, Leo, for combating the bigotry/racism that permeated the game of baseball at that time.

The Japanese Revolution

japan%20flag.jpgFor all the apathy I have shown towards the World Baseball Classic this year (not commenting on it once on this blog until now), there is one thing that both installments of the tournament have clearly shown me: the Japanese style of baseball is the most effective at winning ballgames.

Now, of course I realize that if the United States team really did choose all our best players, and if guys like Johan Santana and David Ortiz wouldn’t bug off the Dominican Republic squad, the tournament may play out much differently.  However, even if each team’s best possible squad was on the field every day, I think Japan could compete with any of them.  Their small-ball, advance-the-runner style of play (plus, nearly every player can run the bases effectively) has really become the sought-after way to win games.  I mean, how fitting was it that Ichiro Suzuki (the player who best personifies the Japanese game) got the game-winning hit against Korea?!  I’ve never seen a batter where luck plays as big a role at getting him out.  Since he never strikes out, retiring him requires the luck of the ball-in-play being hit right to a defender…that’s about it.  Pitchers may have learned his tendencies a wee bit, but now he “just” hits .320 every year instead of .350, and has 220 hits instead of 257.

When Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier back in the 1940s, it completely changed the way baseball looked, as it allowed black players to increase the quality of play.  What’s interesting is that you can almost say that the same sort of thing happened to the Japanese market in 2001 when Ichiro hit the major leagues and brought his much more exciting brand of baseball to a game then bogged-down by steroid oafs.  Now, Japan is continuing to get the recognition they deserve, and you can bet that many more single-hitting, base-stealing, wacky-delivery Japanese players will be popping up on rosters all over MLB.

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