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.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.