And That Happened: Classic


Note: due to the All-Star break, we now bring you a special “Classic”
version of “And That Happened.” The following originally ran on July
14, 1956.*

Glad that All-Star break is over. Man, Griffith Stadium leaves a lot to
be desired! Only 28,000 in attendance? Maybe they’d draw
more people if they stretched the event out a bit and made a bigger
to-do of it. For example, perhaps they could do some sort of
radio-friendly skills competition the day before the game. Like a pepper
contest or a bowling tournament. Whatever is decided, I’m about
through with this All-Star business. Charlie Maxwell made the squad but
didn’t even get in the game! History will remember that slight. Anyway,
on to the yesterday’s scores:

Red Sox 5, White Sox 4: Sure, the
BoSox take this one, but there’s no reason to believe that they’ll
finish the year ahead of Chicago. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a
thousand times: the Pale Hose play in a bigger city and have ownership
that simply cares more about the team. For that reason, they will be a
better team than Boston for decades. Boston lost one team a few years
ago, and I won’t be surprised if they lose the other sometime soon.

Braves 8, Dodgers 6: It’s gotten to the
point where I simply can’t listen to Dodgers games anymore. Red Barber
was, bar none, the best in the business, and his putative replacement
— this Vincent Scully character — saps the broadcast of all of its fun
and enjoyment. No one’s tearing up the pea patch anymore. No more
rhubarbs. No more catbird seat. Nothing but phony erudite
professionalism from this new kid. Trust me: he won’t be broadcasting
in Brooklyn much longer.

Braves 6, Dodgers 5: And Milwaukee
sweeps the doubleheader. The second half was delayed a bit, as the
between-game entertainment ran long. Seems that some local hood was
worried that he was “losing his cool” and thus attempted to break a
world record and leap his motorcycle over 14 garbage cans. The whole
thing was filmed by the “You Wanted to See It” show. The filming itself
went fine. The delay came when some local high school kids with
strangely long, and seemingly blow-dried hair, launched into an
impromptu performance of “Blueberry Hill” while playing electric
instruments that weren’t plugged into anything.

Cubs 7, Pirates 6: That Bob Clemente
(3-4) and Ernie Banks (2-4, 2 RBI) sure can rake. Quite the credits to
their race, they are. And hey, here they are now! What say you, Bob and

Ernie: Thank you, Craig! Bob and I are just here to
thank you for all the hard work you do. And to tell you and your
readers that lighting up a PALL MALL just naturally goes with that
feeling of satisfaction you get from a job well done.

Bob: That’s right, Ernie. For PALL MALL pays you a rich reward
in smoking pleasure — an extra measure of cigarette goodness.

Ernie: You said it, Bob. PALL MALLS are made longer – to travel
the smoke further – to make it cooler and sweeter for you.

Bob: So let me get this straight, Ernie; if I smoke a pack of
PALL MALLS, I won’t have a scratchy throat or have to deal with an
unpleasant after-taste?

Ernie: That’s right, Bob. PALL MALLS have a such smooth, rich
tobacco flavor, you’ll want to smoke two!

Phillies 6, Redlegs 4: Insult to
injury here, in that immediately after the loss, the Redlegs were the
subject of a speech by the recently-disgraced Senator Joseph McCarthy
who, in what appears to be a shot at redemption and renewed relevance,
said “The Cincinnati clubhouse is infested with communists. I have here
in my hand a list of names that were made known to the Commissioner of
Baseball as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless
are still playing baseball in Cincinnati.” Redlegs manager Birdie
Tebbetts in response: “We must remember always that accusation is not
proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear
into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine,
and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”

Athletics 3, Orioles 2: A short day
for Connie Johnson, as he only goes seven innings. Back when I was a
kid, starters didn’t beg out so early. They stayed in, threw their 175
pitches, and were ready to go the day after tomorrow. I tell ya, things
aren’t like they were back in the Golden Age. By the way, keep the
name Lou Skizas (2-4, HR, 2 RBI) in mind, because that’s a fellow who’s
really gonna set the world on fire one day. I can just feel it.

Yankees 10, Indians 0: Tom Sturdivant
(CG SHO 2 H) dominates the Tribe. Lock him up to a long term contract
now, Messers Topping and Webb, because the last thing you want is to see
him wearing another uniform. From the game story: “Young Mickey Mantle
declined this writer’s offer of dinner after the game, stating that he
was due to go on a ‘beaver shoot.’ While I find it strange — there
aren’t any woods close to gotham — it’s good to know that the slugger
is out getting some fresh air instead of staying cooped up in an
apartment building. I asked him to get a pelt for me, as I would love a
nice winter hat, but the Commerce Comet found my request humorous for
some reason.”

Senators 12, Tigers 11: No one
represented themselves well in this one, but Steve Gromek and Duke Mass
led the ignominious charge for the Tigers’ bullpen. Say what you want
about this Senators team — and their record says plenty — but baseball
is only one half skill. The other half is something else. Something
bigger! They’ve got hope! They don’t sit around and mope. Probably
because nuthin’s half as bad as it may appear. They wait’ll next year
and hope. When their luck is battin’ zero, they get their chin up off
the floor. Mister, they can be heroes. They can open any door.

Cardinals 7, Giants 5: Musial’s first
game in 1941 featured him getting two hits. He had two hits again
yesterday. Seems he hasn’t improved at all.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be taking the following ten days off
from writing this feature, as I recently won a contest for an
all-expenses-paid cruise on a swanky Italian ocean liner.
The missus and I will be returning to New York on the 25th.

*Not only is this a repeat from 1956, it’s also a repeat (in reality) from last summer, when I posted it over at The Hardball Times.  I was going to do an original “Classic” for this morning focusing on 1984, but (a) it was my birthday yesterday and I had other things I wanted to do last night; and (b) there were only so many “Where’s the Beef” jokes I could think of.  Anyway, if you were one of the relative few who saw this last year on ShysterBall, apologies for the rerun. If not, I hope you enjoyed it.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza
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Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the one of the best compliments I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my opinion — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play by play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.