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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

CHB: National Treasure

The best CHB effort in years…

Mister High Standards Posted: June 20, 2006 at 04:24 PM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, red sox

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   1. Toolsy McClutch Posted: June 20, 2006 at 04:53 PM (#2069685)
Articles like this make me hate old people.
   2. Paul M Hates Krispy Kreme Posted: June 20, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#2069698)
I love the part where they talk about him crowding the plate. If he did that today, people would whine about how today's players crowd the plate, blah blah blah.

I do like Robinson's honesty though. He knows he doesn't have to pull punches for anyone.
   3. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 20, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#2069703)
Toolsy:

I have to admit sometimes my peers annoy me as well.

But there was nothing here I thought outrageous. Folks have to remember that 50's and particularly 60's baseball WAS a rough time. Just check out the career leaders in HBP. Since that is Frank's frame of reference of course he is going to look askance at today's game.

As for Frank crowding the plate, he wasn't wearing 10 pounds of armor doing it. There is NO WAY Craig Biggio lasts this long without that additional plastic keeping him from serious harm. It's easy to dismiss as "in my day" but Frank Robinson was legitimately one of the toughest, nastiest players of all time. The only middle infielder who stood his ground against Frank on the double play was Maz. Period. Imagine if when Vlad came into second base he was flying at full speed, sliding at the last possible moment with spikes high finishing with a rolling body block.

You see that at times and especially come playoff time. Frank did it all the time. And really didn't give a blanekty-blank what anyone thought of it.
   4. 44magnum Posted: June 20, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2069706)
Here's (from Rhodes and Erardi's fascinating "Crosley Field" quoting "My Life in Baseball")Robinson explaining why and how he changed his batting approach during Spring Training of his rookie year:

"In the minors I stood deep in the box and away from the plate, and that worked well against minor-league pitching...But in the majors I would be up against pitchers who were much smarter than me, who had been around a long time, who had much more experience and better control, especially on their breaking pitches. I asked myself, 'What am I going to do to neutralize the experience pitchers have over me?' I decided to move up on the plate. Pitchers like to have the whole plate to work with-to come in on you and then go away from you. I decided I wouldn't give them the complete plate to shoot at...I stood about even with home plate with my feet up against the chalk line in front of the batters box, bent slightly from the waist, hanging my head in what they call 'concussion alley,' so I could get a good look at the pitch...Right away that spring, I began to hit the ball good."

Robinson's disgust with his Expos lack of understanding the infield fly rule a few years back was awesome.
   5. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 20, 2006 at 05:34 PM (#2069713)
Articles like this make me hate old people.

Responses like this remind me once again that some people just don't get it. And I'm sure as hell not talking about Frank Robinson. Age is as age does, whether you're 17 or 71.

I love the part where they talk about him crowding the plate. If he did that today, people would whine about how today's players crowd the plate, blah blah blah.

They'd be less likely to say it if certain batters didn't walk up to the plate dressed like an armadillo, and if they didn't want to start a war every time a pitcher threw three inches inside. You never hear anyone complaining about players like Jeter crowding the plate, because you never hear Jeter whining about being brushed back.

Robinson reacted to getting hit in the best possible way: By getting up and taking it out on the next pitch.

The only minor flaw in that article was that it referred to Robinson's strong arm. In fact, Robinson's arm was inured at a very young age, and after that it never amounted to much.
   6. Steve Treder Posted: June 20, 2006 at 05:39 PM (#2069716)
Robinson's disgust with his Expos lack of understanding the infield fly rule a few years back was awesome.

It was hysterical. It was against the Giants in SF. I can't remember the exact circumstances, but basically a pop fly was hit in an infield fly situation, the Expos infield botched it somehow, and then were all screaming at the ump. Robinson proceeds to come out of the dugout, yell at all of his own players to shut up and get back to their positions. And maybe learn something about how to play baseball while they're at it.

Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, the Giants' broadcasters who both played for Robinson (Kuiper in Cleveland and SF, Krukow in SF) still frequently talk about how intimidated they were by him then, and pretty much still are. Robinson is a very, very tough guy.
   7. Steve Treder Posted: June 20, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#2069718)
In fact, Robinson's arm was inured at a very young age, and after that it never amounted to much.

Yes, his arm was below average. Indeed his sore arm was the reason the Reds played him at first base quite a bit in 1959-60, at ages 23 and 24.
   8. TomH Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:11 PM (#2069736)
Was it a shame to leave Frank R off the 30-man all-century team? Sure it was. But....

a. the fans voted, what did you expect?
b. it wasn't the biggest travesty. Tris Speaker didn't make it. Tom Seaver didn't. Stan Musial and Lefty Grove and Honus Wagner had to be ADDED ON by a special committee at the end; you wish to dis one of THEM for Frank Robbie?. Another Robinson, Brooks, made the team, while Wade Boggs didn't even crack the beginning 100. Joe Morgan, who has a better argument to be in the starting lineup than Frank, didn't make the team, either.

Most polls have put Frank Robbie among the top 30 in MLB history. He is not significantly underrated.
   9. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:14 PM (#2069740)
I have to admit sometimes my peers annoy me as well.

HW, you are sui generis.
   10. Steve Treder Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:20 PM (#2069747)
HW, you are sui generis.

No, he isn't. If you think HW is the only person over 70 who's smart, quick-witted, and knowledgable about current events, then you don't know very many people over 70. Seriously.

There are more than enough self-important bores in every age group.
   11. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:22 PM (#2069750)
Dr. Memory:

Thanks for the compliment. (Making an assumption of course)

By the way, do I read as grumpy or grouchy? Because now that the Pete Rose/Dick Allen nonsensical crap isn't happening I don't recall getting that worked up around here lately.

Maybe about Yost. Because the Brewers are enjoying a LOT of things going RIGHT this year. And they are a game under .500. Just really disappointing.........
   12. Bob T Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:29 PM (#2069758)
Yeah, so Robinson was tough. He was very good player.

But he is a horrible manager. And I'm amazed he's been given as many teams to manage with as poor a track record as he has.

And he really seems like a miserable crank now more than anything else.

He may be wise, but he still resorted to the argument of "He started it!" when he got suspended for his set-to with Scioscia last year.

I appreciate that you were a good player, Frank. No go away and leave us alone.
   13. Chris Needham Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:32 PM (#2069762)
He's a terrible manager, but I don't want the SOB to go away. That's a bit much.
   14. Bob T Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:39 PM (#2069773)
I didn't mean die. Just go into retirement and find a nice place to fish.

I'm not that mean!
   15. Ron Johnson Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:44 PM (#2069778)
Robinson reacted to getting hit in the best possible way: By getting up and taking it out on the next pitch.


I'm pretty sure it was Gene Mauch who prohibited his pitchers from throwing at Robinson. Didn't work (either in terms of getting Robinson off the plate or in getting him out the next time) and it was annoying to constantly have to peel his second basemen off of the left field fence (which is where they tended to end up after brushing Robinson back)
   16. Chris Needham Posted: June 20, 2006 at 06:50 PM (#2069787)
That's OK, Bob. Sometimes, after watching him send reliever up to pinch-hit, I secretly root for a mild (VERY mild_ stroke. ;)
   17. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:04 PM (#2069834)
Frank Robinson is quite possibly the most underrated player in the history of baseball.

Quite possibly. It's hard to be underrated when you're a Hall of Famer, but Robinson would qualify. Although I'm not sure how many younger people have an idea of how great Stan Musial was...
   18. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:17 PM (#2069847)
No, he isn't. If you think HW is the only person over 70 who's smart, quick-witted, and knowledgable about current events, then you don't know very many people over 70. Seriously.

The older I get, the sharper old people get. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) However, with all due respect to old people (I should live so long as to be one), I've never met one who followed baseball that bought into anything other than the conventional wisdom. It's hard to find 'em of any age, but I'm guessing that HW is the only one here over 60. Sui generis.
   19. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#2069854)
I appreciate the kind words.

I think Andy is getting close. Of course, he is nowhere near as handsome. And he's a Yankee fan. So that's two strikes right there.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:31 PM (#2069855)
Under .500, true, but only 3.5 out of the Wild Card, with Cincinnati dropping like the proverbial rock. Things are looking up for the Beer-Men.
   21. TerpNats Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:37 PM (#2069859)
Quite possibly. It's hard to be underrated when you're a Hall of Famer, but Robinson would qualify. Although I'm not sure how many younger people have an idea of how great Stan Musial was...

If only John Updike had lived in Missouri.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:43 PM (#2069867)
Vlad:

I appreciate the positive outlook. But this team has four(!) guys in the lineup with slugging percentages of .500 or greater (Hall, Fielder, Lee, Koskie), two kids playing better then anyone could have hoped (Fielder/Weeks), a 36 year old catcher having a career year at the plate, and bench guys playing way over their heads (Cirillo, Hart).

Thanks to the lack of defense and the bullpen collapsing this very solid lineup is being wasted.

Daggummit.........
   23. Rally Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:48 PM (#2069872)
Somebody fill me in on what CHB is supposed to mean? It sure ain't the author's initials.
   24. DCA Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:49 PM (#2069874)
Thanks to the lack of defense and the bullpen collapsing this very solid lineup is being wasted.

The defense is kinda the lineup's fault though.
   25. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:54 PM (#2069878)
   26. Rally Posted: June 20, 2006 at 08:54 PM (#2069879)
Thanks to the lack of defense and the bullpen collapsing this very solid lineup is being wasted.

Ben Sheets would help too. Do you think he'll be able to do anything this year?
   27. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 20, 2006 at 09:01 PM (#2069884)
DCA:

Well, I think the firing of Rich Dauer has something to do with it. As much as I like Yount and Gantner I think the team defense has regressed from last year. And again, it's not ALL Weeks. But I understand what you are saying.

Anaheim:

No. As I wrote last week, I doubt Ben will pitch on a competitive basis this year.
   28. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: June 20, 2006 at 09:02 PM (#2069886)
It was hysterical. It was against the Giants in SF. I can't remember the exact circumstances

Source

The crazy play highlighted the Giants’ four-run fifth inning as they tied the game.

With Montreal ahead 4-3, the bases loaded and one out, Barry Bonds popped up the ball between the mound and home plate.

Plate umpire Jim Joyce signaled an infield fly, meaning Bonds was out and runners could advance at their own risk after the ball either was caught, or was dropped and touched.

The ball fell on the infield grass in front of home plate, between catcher Michael Barrett, pitcher Dan Smith and third baseman Fernando Tatis.

Neifi Perez tagged up at third and ran home after Tatis picked up the ball and touched home plate, thinking it was a force play. Tatis then flipped the ball to Barrett, who also stepped on the plate.

The teammates were chatting, with their backs to the plate, as Perez came across with the tying run. The play was ruled a fielder’s choice, without an RBI.

“I just wanted to make sure, I was a little confused,” Barrett said. “I stepped on the plate. It was just a wacky play. I have had times in my career when I was embarrassed and that was the most embarrassing. I’ve just got to learn from it. …

“When I tagged the plate, I thought everything was all right and all of the sudden I saw someone running behind me, and I saw Jim Joyce give the safe sign.”

The three Expos began arguing with Joyce, prompting Robinson _ who formerly worked as vice president in charge of discipline in the commissioner’s office _ to scold them and set them straight. They then dispersed.
   29. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: June 20, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2069888)
Neifi Perez probably has a record of trying to do things to another team when their guard is down. Such as running for home on an infield fly, and bunting with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.
   30. 44magnum Posted: June 20, 2006 at 09:09 PM (#2069894)
Thanks, Brandon.
   31. AndrewJ Posted: June 20, 2006 at 09:43 PM (#2069927)
Frank Robinson is quite possibly the most underrated player in the history of baseball.

Either him or Yogi Berra.

I respect Frank Robinson most of all for this: As a player-manager, he didn't keep himself in the lineup for another year or two to get the 14 homers and 57 hits he needed to join Aaron and Mays in the 600/3000 club. Unlike his old Cincinnati teammate Pete Rose, F.Robby put his team's needs ahead of his ego.
   32. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: June 20, 2006 at 09:50 PM (#2069933)
Neifi Perez probably has a record of trying to do things to another team when their guard is down. Such as running for home on an infield fly, and bunting with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.

I know that it's cool to bash on Neifi around here, and most times he deserves it, but in the above situation, that was actually a heads-up play. He tagged up, meaning that he knew exactly what was going on and took advantage of the situation.
   33. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 20, 2006 at 10:17 PM (#2069960)
No, he isn't. If you think HW is the only person over 70 who's smart, quick-witted, and knowledgable about current events, then you don't know very many people over 70. Seriously.

The older I get, the sharper old people get. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) However, with all due respect to old people (I should live so long as to be one), I've never met one who followed baseball that bought into anything other than the conventional wisdom.


Depends on what you mean by the "conventional wisdom," as opposed to enhanced wisdom (or whatever), but you might try reading Roger Angell, or the late Leonard Koppett. You might be surprised.

You have to remember this: The older folks who get brought into the public spotlight for commenting on baseball tend to be hired either for their baseball playing reputations or for their 21st century TV-style personalities. That doesn't mean that more people like Angell or Koppett don't exist; it just means that you're far less likely to know about them than you are to know about the baseball versions of Dick Vitale.

And BTW Harvey, not only am I over 60 but recently I've discovered a magic aging pill on the internet which claims it will age me two years for one. So I'll catch up with you yet out there in Geezerland, even if it's in the Andy Etchebarren wing rather than the Jim Palmer one.
   34. RichRifkin Posted: June 20, 2006 at 10:29 PM (#2069970)
My views on Frank Robinson, the person, were shaped when he was the Giants manager. He came across as a very surly, unfriendly, almost unlikeable guy. After he was canned, his former players (to a man, I think) said he was an a$$hole. However, I have to say that in recent years, he seems to have softened and developed the ability to show some decency. In light of his emotional reaction to the Matt LeCroy situation, I think more highly of him as a human being.

As a player, I have always esteemed him. However, insofar as he was underappreciated, I think it was due to the fact that he was a power hitter (among other things) in two small cities (Cincinnati and Baltimore), playing in the shadows of three of the greatest power hitters of all time, all of whom were playing in much larger markets: Willie Mays (NYC and SF); Hank Aaron (MIL and ATL); and Mickey Mantle (NYC).

Milwaukee of course is and was no mega-metropolis. But in the 1950s, Milwaukee was a big draw. In 1954, Aaron's rookie year, when the Braves won 89 games and finished in third place, Milwaukee drew the most fans in the NL, twice what the Dodgers and Giants drew. In '55, Milwaukee again drew twice what first-place Brooklyn drew. The third place Giants only had 40 percent of Milwaukee's attendance. In 1956, Frank Robinson's rookie year in Cinci, the Reds, Braves and Dodgers finished third, second and first, all within 2 games of each other. Yet the Braves again had twice as many fans as the other contenders. In 1957, Milwaukee won the NL, and yet again drew twice as many fans as the Cards, Dodgers, Reds and Phillies. 1958 was the first year that any NL team came close to drawing as many fans as Aaron's Braves. The Dodgers, transplanted to Los Angeles, drew 1.85 million fans to the LA Coliseum. That was still almost 150 thousand fewer fans than the Braves. It wasn't until the early '60s, when the Braves began to suck, that they fell back to the pack in attendance. In 1965, their last year in Milwaukee, the Braves drew about 1/4 of the fans they were attracting in the late 1950s. It is notable that when Aaron's Braves moved to Atlanta, they never drew as well as they had when he was in Milwaukee. Atlanta took until 1983 before they drew more than 2 million fans. And it was not until 1992 when Atlanta finally surpassed the Milwaukee gate in 1957.

The Reds really were a lousy draw -- especially compared with today's games -- when Robinson was in Cincinnati. They never once even drew 1.25 million fans in a season, and most years drew fewer than 1 million. The same was essentially true of Robinson's Orioles. They drew 1.2 million one year, but most were just under or just over 1 million fans per year. It wasn't until Robinson went to the Dodgers, in 1972, when he was 36, that he played before 1.8 million fans. Frank's final years as an Angel and Indian all were badly attended teams.
   35. TerpNats Posted: June 21, 2006 at 02:39 AM (#2070390)
Attendance figures, like any numbers, have to be taken within the context of the times. In that era, marketing was far less sophisticated; few teams had partial season-ticket plans, and advance sales were limited. With player salaries and team income both far lower than today, the stakes were necessarily lower. Moreover, few teams made attempts to draw fans from outside the immediate metropolitan area; I would bet that when Robinson played in Cincinnati, the Reds didn't even market their product in Dayton. It would probably shock people to know that for much of the '50s and '60s, teams like the Red Sox and Cubs never drew a million. Market size also changes; for most of the time when the original AL Senators played, Washington was one of baseball's smallest markets. Now it's among the top five or six markets in the country.

And Aaron was nearly as overlooked as Robinson for much of his career, perhaps because he shared the team spotlight with Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn, and also because his personality was nowhere as sparkling as, say, Willie Mays, and he didn't have Mantle's flair. Hank was sort of the Harold Baines of his day.

It wasn't until the early '60s, when the Braves began to suck, that they fell back to the pack in attendance.

The Braves never had a losing season in the 13 years they played in Milwaukee. Their worst was better than the Kansas City Athletics' best (the A's never had a winning season in K.C.). Perhaps Milwaukee had it too good too soon, and the bloom fell off the rose in the early sixties.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2006 at 02:59 AM (#2070414)
TerpNats, you're right that marketing wasn't nearly as extensive as today (and for a long time the Yankees were the only team to promote season ticket plans among corporate customers), but nevertheless many of the midwestern teams, particularly the Cardinals and the Cubs, and to a lesser extent the Reds and the Tigers, drew fans from hundreds of miles away for Sunday doubleheaders. The Sporting News on at least one occasion in the decade after WWII ran a picture of the cars parked outside of Sportsman's Park, showing license plates from nearly every state in the midwest and Great Plains. The clear channel AM station KMOX made the Cardinals our first "national" team, much as for several decades the Redskins extensive broadcasting network made them the favorite NFL team all over the South.
   37. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 21, 2006 at 12:47 PM (#2070564)
Depends on what you mean by the "conventional wisdom," as opposed to enhanced wisdom (or whatever), but you might try reading Roger Angell, or the late Leonard Koppett. You might be surprised.

Sorry, I wouldn't be surprised a bit, I'm on the wrong side of 40 just like you, and I simply don't share your and Mr. Treder's rosy views about the mental flexibility of older folks as a class. My style is to look it in the eye and meet it head on so I don't get complacent in the winter of my years (I should live so long). I mean, sure, you can always find someone somewhere who'll say something off the beaten track. But they're rare, and I ain't met 'em (although I sometimes hear about them and read them, e.g., the late Robertson Davies).

Perhaps Milwaukee had it too good too soon, and the bloom fell off the rose in the early sixties.

You could also possibly blame the Packers for being so good at that time and raising expectations for the baseball team.
   38. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2006 at 02:37 PM (#2070617)
Depends on what you mean by the "conventional wisdom," as opposed to enhanced wisdom (or whatever), but you might try reading Roger Angell, or the late Leonard Koppett. You might be surprised.

Sorry, I wouldn't be surprised a bit, I'm on the wrong side of 40 just like you, and I simply don't share your and Mr. Treder's rosy views about the mental flexibility of older folks as a class.


"As a class," you're probably right. But "as a class," you can generalize just as easily about the dumbassed herd instincts of the 18-24 demographic set. Ask the advertising industry if you seriously doubt this, since they make many billions of dollars channeling this dumbassed instinct towards their dumbassed products.

There are exceptions, of course. There are probably about as many 18 to 24-year-olds who resist peer pressure and really think for themselves as there are old-timers who realize that the baseball of 2006 is a big improvement over the baseball of 1956.

But the bottom line isn't that generalizations are insulting, since they usually reflect more on the generalizer than the generalizee. It's just that they're lazy and stupid. Whether you're talking about old farts or young punks.
   39. GGC for Sale Posted: June 21, 2006 at 02:57 PM (#2070633)
Thanks for post #37, Andy. BTW, does post 34 mean you're the anti-Ponce?
   40. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: June 21, 2006 at 02:59 PM (#2070635)
Uh oh, he said punk. Don't go throwing that term around in the Guillen slur thread.
   41. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2006 at 03:06 PM (#2070639)
Uh oh, he said punk. Don't go throwing that term around in the Guillen slur thread.

The real Teddy F. Ballgame would know what I meant within the context of what I wrote, even if Lenny Randle wouldn't.

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