Craig Calcaterra

Rob Manfred’s statement on Yogi Berra

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Yogi Berra signed with the Yankees in 1943. The Commissioner at the time was Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Which means that Berra was in baseball in some actual capacity though every single Commissioner in the game’s history.

  • He signed under Landis;
  • Won his first MVP under Happy Chandler;
  • Managed his first team to a pennant under Ford Frick;
  • Coached under Spike Eckert;
  • Won his second pennant as a manager under Bowie Kuhn;
  • Left his last manager job under Peter Ueberroth;
  • Coached the Astros under Bart Giamatti;
  • Retired from uniformed service under Fay Vincent; and
  • Reconciled with the Yankees under Bud Selig.

Now, the current Commissioner, Rob Manfred, issues a statement on Berra’s passing:

“Yogi Berra’s character, talent, courage, extraordinary experiences and inimitable way with words made him a universally beloved figure in Baseball and beyond.

“Born to Italian immigrant parents in St. Louis, Lawrence Peter Berra grew up to serve his country on D-Day as a member of the U.S. Navy.  Upon his return from his service, he often played in the substantial shadows of Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, and yet he quietly became no less than one of the most accomplished players in baseball history himself.  The slugging catcher was an anchor of 10 World Championship Yankee teams, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player and a 15-time All-Star.  The Hall of Famer played on more World Championship and pennant-winning clubs than any player in the history of our National Pastime.  

“Renowned as a great teammate, Yogi stood for values like inclusion and respect during the vital era when our game began to become complete and open to all.  With his trademark humility and good humor, Yogi represented only goodwill to baseball fans.  His proud American story will endure at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Little Falls, New Jersey.

“Yogi Berra was a beacon of Americana, and today Major League Baseball and all of its Clubs stand together in mourning his passing and celebrating his memory.  On behalf of the game he served with excellence and dignity, I extend my deepest condolences to Yogi’s children and grandchildren, his many friends throughout our game and his countless admirers.”

Yogi Berra: not just a relic of the so-called Golden Era

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I was 100% sincere with my earlier obit about Yogi Berra. Go read that if you’re looking for something without snark. But I do have a snark quota to meet today, so that’s why this post is here. Anyway:

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that we don’t have much reverence for the so-called Golden Era. Only one of us writing here is anything approaching old and none of us were alive when Mickey Mantle was active, so that’s probably to be expected.

Oh, sure, it was cool. All baseball eras are cool in their own way. There were great players, teams and games between the 20s and 60s. But there are great players in every era. It’s just that, unlike the Golden Era people, fans and proponents of eras that either followed or preceded the Golden Era aren’t so hellbent on claiming that baseball was never better than it was when one team won the dang World Series every year, teams weren’t integrated until the tail end of it and big slow dudes played boring station-to-station baseball dominated as Golden Era fans are.

It’s OK, though, Baby Boomers like a lot of things that would be considered super lame if not for the strength of their numbers and the fact that they’ve controlled the media for the past 40 years. Let us let them have their blind spots in this regard. As they tell us about how the grass was greener, the balls were whiter and the crack of the bat was louder in 1956 we will all just nod and realize that these are the same people who think a derivative schmaltzsmith like Eric Clapton is a god of some sort. Aesthetic judgments are not their strong suit.

But let us not allow them to claim Yogi Berra for themselves. Yes, his legend was built in the 40s and 50s and his career wound down just before the Beatles hit America and that makes him one of the most Golden Era players ever. But he didn’t just walk into some lame cornfield the moment the world got weird and more interesting and wool and fresh grass made way for doubleknit polyester and astroturf. Berra kept doing the do well into baseball’s strangest couple of decades.

And the best evidence of this is here. In this picture, in which Yogi Berra, wearing an Astros uniform while standing on fake grass in a domed stadium accepted a picture of himself in a Mets uniform he donned while featuring some groovy sideburns. And, to top it off, the man presenting it to him is an Expos legend:

Berra Staub

It was a photo taken in 1986, so the weirdness of America had receded and we were starting our long sad walk back toward boring traditionalism, but there are fewer things in the world less Golden Era than this photo. The only thing that would make it less Golden Era is Dock Ellis scraping the pigments off of the Mets-Berra photo, drying them in the sun and then smoking them while wearing hair curlers and listening to Funkadelic’s “Free Your Mind . . . And Your Ass Will Follow.” On 8-track.

Man, I wish that had happened.

Anyway, I have no idea what Yogi Berra thought of the world after 1965 or so. If he was like my similarly-aged grandfather he may not have cared much for it. But he rolled with the changes as far as baseball went. And even if he or the purists didn’t much care for the changes, everyone gets to claim Berra to some extent.

When his name is mentioned I will always first think of him jumping into Don Larsen’s arms or arguing with the ump after Jackie Robinson stole home, but I will always keep part of my Berra-Space free for him coaching the gosh darn Houston Astros.

Settling the Scores: Tuesday’s results

Bird homer
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Sorry this is late and sorry it’s not a full set of recaps. Such things happen, however, when there’s a death in the family, and as a wise person who lurks here said a bit ago, Yogi Berra was everyone’s baseball grandpa. I wrote about him a little bit ago. We’ll likely write more about him as the day goes on.

In the meantime, the last Yankees game to happen before we all learned of Berra’s ascension to Valhalla was a triumph, with the youngest and newest Yankees star — Greg Bird — hitting a three-run homer in the 10th inning to lift the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Blue Jays.

And it really was a lift. Andrew Miller, who had been close to perfect in save situations this year despite what ignoramuses think about him, coughed up a one-run lead in the ninth. This, coming a day after a defeat to the Jays, after weeks of mounting injuries and after a sense that the Yankees’ hopes of winning the division would end before the raucous thousands in Rogers Centre, show that the Yankees are a Rasputin of a team. Or a cockroach if you don’t care for them, I guess. They seemingly can’t be killed even though they have had every excuse to roll over and prepare themselves for a wild card game.

Maybe this year that’ll give Joe Girardi some real consideration for the Manager of the Year Award for which he is almost always given short shrift? Hahaha, who am I kidding? Girardi will never get the kind of credit he deserves for keeping the Yankees competitive despite his roster looking like an ICU ward. Sometimes I make myself laugh out loud.

The rest of the scores below. The box scores are here.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4
Braves 6, Mets 2
Tigers 2, White Sox 1
Rays 5, Red Sox 2
Phillies 6, Marlins 2
Cubs 4, Brewers 0
Mariners 11, Royals 2
Cardinals 3, Reds 1
Twins 3, Indians 1
Pirates 6, Rockies 3
Angels 4, Astros 3
Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 0
Rangers 8, A’s 6
Giants 4, Padres 2
Orioles 4, Nationals 1