The Pinetar Rag

February 22, 2014

The last plot twist in the 1951 Giants Win The Pennant story, and why Bobby Valentine doesn’t want you to hear it

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I am an artist who sculpts life size, solid wood statues of ballplayers.  My Jackie Robinson statue is currently on display at the Yogi Berra Museum on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, NJ.  While checking their website recently, I found an event there that piqued my interest.  It was a film called Branca’s Pitch with a Q&A with Ralph Branca, the Dodger pitcher who gave up the pennant-winning home run to Bobby Thomson of the Giants on Oct 3, 1951.  We’ve all seen the film of Thomsom bounding around the bases at the old Polo Grounds and Russ Hodges screaming, “The Giants win the pennant, The Giants win the pennant…etc.”, so when I saw that Ralph Branca would be at the museum where my statue was, my wheels began turning.  Since Branca was the last living 1947 Dodger, I thought, “…wouldn’t it be great for him to take a picture with the Robinson statue?”  That would be a good shot for my art website, so I felt compelled to go and try and get the photo.

In preparation, I pulled out my copy of Josh Prager’s 2008 book, “The Echoing Green”, and ran some You Tube videos on the topic.  In 1951, the Giants found themselves 13.5 games back of the Dodgers in early August.  And then they got hot and put on the pennant run for the ages.  It ended up with both teams having identical records at the end of the season and National League rules called for the teams to play off in a three game series to determine who would go to the World Series; “the pennant”, if you will.  In those days, the pennant doubled most player’s salaries for the year.  Grown men, playing for money; a zero sum game.

The Giants and Dodgers split the first two games and played the third and deciding game on Oct 3, 1951, at the Polo Grounds.  On Ralph Branca’s second relief pitch, Bobby Thomson hit a three run homer to give the Giants the win, 5 to 4, in the bottom of the 9th inning.  Since it was the first live, coast-to-coast baseball telecast in history, and since Russ Hodges broke all decorum by memorably screaming “The Giants win the Pennant”, four times over, this event became iconic, probably out of all reasonable proportion.

GiantsCelebrate

In January 2001, it came out publicly for the first time that the Giants had picked off the Dodgers’ signals.  They had a man with a telescope out above the center field fence and he would see the catcher put down the sign and he’d use a buzzer that they had installed by an electrician, to signal the pitch to the bullpen and then on to the batter.  Branca claimed that he had been told of this telescope system as early as 1954, by a team mate in Detroit when he was pitching for the Tigers.  He kept silent about it, probably because if he was the one to break the story, it would look like he was trying to shift blame off of himself.  So he wisely kept quiet until the article in 2001.

After that article, Branca came out swinging and did the talk shows and declared that the Giants had cheated; that they had stolen the pennant in 1951, and, he added, they had even stolen the 1954 pennant and World Championship as well, even though he was not involved in the 1954 pennant–he was pitching in Detroit.  He demeaned the home run as “cheap” due to the odd dimensions of the Polo Grounds as well as claiming that it was based on a stolen signal and therefore should be invalid.  He said that the Commissioner should retroactively award the 1951 pennant to the Dodgers and their heirs.

With all that said, there is one very material item that has not, to my knowledge, been written about in the proper context, and that is the question that I posed to Mr. Ralph Branca and his son-in-law, Bobby Valentine, in person, at the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, NJ, Feb 19, 2014.

When I was in college in the 1980’s, I had found an old Sports Illustrated article by Dick Young written in 1955:  “The Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch”.

The article features Dodger starting pitcher Preacher Roe detailing how he, “threw spitballs the whole time I was with The Dodgers.  Seven years in all”.  Spitballs were against the rules of baseball in 1951.  Preacher Roe went 22-3 for the 1951 Dodgers.  And that was my question to Branca and Valentine and filmmaker Andrew Muscato.  I asked basically: how can you call entire Giant teams “cheaters”, when, (1) they weren’t cheating by the rules of baseball and (2) you profited from a guy who admittedly cheated?

I had no sooner gotten the words out of my mouth when Bobby Valentine began speaking quite loudly and quickly.  He nervously asked rhetorically whether I was not mistaken; that perhaps spitballs were not illegal in 1951?  He continued talking and referenced that the spitball ban included some pitchers who were “grandfathered” and could legally throw them.  Now I knew that the spitball was banned in 1920, and the last legal, grandfathered spitball, was thrown by Burleigh Grimes in 1934.  Valentine was tap dancing; protecting his nice, old, father-in-law by spouting patent nonsense, but doing so very professionally so as to let everyone know, “…well, we’re not going THERE!”

And then Ralph Branca asked me somewhat patronizingly, “…you don’t know what a spitball looks like”, and I said, “spinless, or nearly so”.  And he said, “yes…” and proceeded to describe how you hold it and squirt it out of your fingers and he then reminisced that Preacher Roe had this great spitball that would come in waist high and Campy would have to dive down and catch it almost off the ground.  So while Bobby Valentine tried to completely squash the topic, there was 88 year old Ralph Branca basically telling us all, “yes, Preacher had a dandy spitball”, and insodoing, he made my point for me.

For the record, I immediately felt bad.  I felt I gave an old man a hard time.  But I couldn’t help myself because only minutes before, I was angry at this same old man and the film maker and executive producer Bobby Valentine, for leading people to a false conclusion; for sullying the reputations of people, living and dead; folks who could not necessarily defend their reputations.

It angered me that they were all making money off what are basically cherry-picked “facts”.  I think what turned my annoyance into action was when he went after the 1954 World Champion Giants, because he had nothing whatsoever to do with them.  In the end, while I know I’m tilting at 60 year old windmills, it is about fairness, and Ralph Branca is not being fair–neither are Andrew Muscato and Bobby Valentine.  Here you have people weaving a false narrative and profiting by it.  They have a good thing going and I wasn’t going to be permitted to spoil it.

But on the stairs on the way out, as folks were crowding around Branca and Valentine to get their autographs and handshakes, a guy turned to me and stage-whispered, “you are RIGHT!”, and I said quietly to him, “I know, but I feel bad for asking it”.  And we talked a bit.  He was a nice guy.  Further down the stairs, I met a baseball writer who I know and I said the same thing, “I shouldn’t have opened my mouth” and he said, “no, it was a good question”.

At some point during the film, I decided that I would not hang around and try to get a photo with Ralph Branca and my Jackie Robinson statue.  Sure he was the last living member of the 1947 Dodgers and had been instrumental in his acceptance.  I had come to the simple, disappointing conclusion that I didn’t want it because I didn’t respect him.  Sure, he helped integrate baseball and sure, I enjoyed his talk about Durocher vs Dressen and Jackie and Hodges and Pee Wee and “the era”.  He’s a nice old man and he’s funny and his stories and place in history are great, but I just can’t reconcile it.  He’s in one of the bigger glass houses and he’s throwing stones and I guess, hoping no one will notice.  The trouble is, I noticed.

And I think the shame of it all is that Ralph Branca’s legacy should be that he was perhaps the first white ballplayer to accept Robinson and befriend him.  Instead, the focus will be somewhat splintered with too much attention being drained off in the direction of his biased narrative of this single pitch.

May 21, 2013

Artist Brian Birrer’s talk at Yogi Berra Museum

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Click here to see the talk

The talk went well this Sun May 19, 2013, at the Yogi Berra Museum on the campus of Montclair State University. We had a nice turnout and folks really seemed to enjoy it. I’ve posted the talk above. The audio is not great but if you turn it all they way up, you will be able to hear it.

If I knew how well it was going to turn out, I would have worked on the sound. Thanks to everyone who came and/or sent their wishes. We may do it again later this year so stay tuned.

April 30, 2013

Artist Birrer – Jackie Robinson Statue at Yogi Berra Museum – talk: Sun May 19, 1pm

Press Release:

Sun May 19, 2013, 1 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Yogi Berra Museum
On the campus of Montclair State University
8 Yogi Berra Drive – Little Falls, NJ 07424

Background information:

http://www.birrerart.com

http://www.yogiberramuseum.org

A one-of-a-kind, life-sized, solid-wood, hand-carved and painted statue of Jackie Robison will be on public display at the Yogi Berra Museum, Sunday, May 19, 2013, on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls, NJ.

Sculptor Brian Birrer will be on hand and will speak at 1pm about the Robinson statue, his art technique and his various experiences showing these unique, hand crafted statues in some of the most famous sports venues in the country.

The statue, weighing over 250 lbs and standing 6′ above the base is lifelike in all details. It took over 900 hours of painstaking labor for sculptor Brian Birrer to transform over 50 pieces of Walnut, Pine and Basswood into a figure so realistic that many stand only inches from it without realizing that the clothing, shoes, hat, etc. is made entirely of wood!

The sculptor of the statue, Brian Birrer, is an accountant & computer programmer by trade and education and is a completely self-taught artist who works in acrylics on canvas in addition to his wooden sculptures. He has been carving life-sized statues for over 20 years. Some of his past works include statues of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. He has displayed his works at such venues as Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Turner Field, Hofstra University, Nabisco Galleries and the Gaylord National Hotel & Resort in Washington, DC.

April 25, 2012

Dodger fast start? Swami nervous…

Spoke at length with the Swami this morning. He was up late waiting out the game on the coast so he was slow getting started, but with the McCourt thing cleared and new owners there and the super-hot-start they have going, I expected the Swami to be all made up about things and he wasn’t. He was nervous about needing another pitcher at the break and that certain things weren’t right. Oh sure, he said some positive things but he was cautious overall.

He ripped Uribe’s hitting, especially his apparently unorthodox foot movements in the box, and that lead to the inevitable comparison to the Boys of Summer all-glove, no-hit 3rd baseman, Billy Cox. “But that team was loaded”, was the refrain, and that led to “Hodges should be in the Hall”, which made me think, “why don’t they just put the whole 1953 Dodgers in the Hall and get it over with?”, which led to the old idea that one pitcher, either way, would have made the Dodgers win all those world series in the era (1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956 I include 50 because with another pitcher, they would have beaten the Philly Whiz Kids and in 1951, they would have beaten the Giants with one more arm). And that led to the agreement that the worst trade for the Dodgers of that era was when the Yankees traded Joe Gordon to Cleveland for Ali Reynolds, which, he and I agreed on finally, but, that he added, of course: “…but they had Raschi…”

And the takeaway is how great it is to have this discussion at all. Most of it well before I was born but Swami doesn’t care about that if you know your stuff and can keep up with him. Like last Summer when he casually added to a discussion an anecdote about a Chinese home run he saw hit at the Polo Grounds off Rex Barney? Or was it Karl Spooner? He was there with the CYO. He probably remembered the count too.

Taking my sons to Citizens Bank Park the other day made me realize that they will never see Shea Stadium and to them, it will be as The Polo Grounds was to me: just this ancient and unattainable thing that you see pictures of. Thinking about it from my new perspective makes me realize that it isn’t all that. It’s just a concrete bowl of seats more or less, give or take. Like when you go to your first world series game or playoff game and sit down and realize, “it’s just another game”.

It was great talking to the Swami, but I have to say I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t happier about things. He was crying when the team was in a funk and now he’s nervous. Fandom. He did admit to spending like all his time in the garage. That’s the man-cave where the XM radio is and the hotplate and the beer. The he-man woman haters club, basically, for the neighborhood guys. I’ll have to get down there to see it.

April 20, 2012

Jackie Robinson Day CBP April 15, 2012, Brian Birrer

My brother was in the box seats for the intros and he sent me over a couple of grainy screen grabs, and I’m very glad that he did because I had no photos of this as my wife had to be with the statue, and my youngest, in left field.

I was told to be behind the plate on the concourse at 12:50pm for a radio spot on the Phillies pregame. I had done that last year, so I knew where I had to be and what would take place. Just before heading down there, a Phillies employee with a clipboard, came up to me and asked if I was Brian etc.? I was then being whisked to the area by the dugout and told I was going to be introduced on the field. This was a surprise as no one had mentioned it, but I was willing.

I thought I could make the radio spot and still get back down there but they literally wouldn’t let me leave! Then, another Phillies person came and got me and I did the radio spot and still got back to the plate.

No sooner had I reached the holding area by the end of the screen beside the Mets dugout, they said “go out there” and pointed to a spot on the field and I did as directed and a cameraman took a closeup for a few moments as they did the intro, which was a spoken introduction followed by my 2 minute movie playing on the Phanavision. To add to the surrealness of it, I am standing on a big league field getting intro’d and listening to my voice blare out of the PA and seeing shots of my crummy shop on the Phanavision. Look close behind the head sequence, and you’ll see my Mickey Mantle statue in the background. He has since been beheaded, as he is getting a face…er…headlift.

This is what it looked like.

It was a lot of fun and a nice surprise as I never imagined that it would go that way. I was also very grateful to my brother, because he collected my oldest boy, who’s 4, and brought him down close to where he could see everything from the box seats nearby, so you love that. Thanks Bob! And Thanks Kenny!

All day long it was the same: folks lined up to take photos with the statue

April 18, 2012

Jackie Robinson Day 4/15/2012 Citizens Bank Park


For the 2nd straight year, we were guests of the Philadelphia Phillies on the occasion of Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, 2012. The statue is a one-of-a-kind, hand-carved, solid-wood statue, depicting Robinson in a 1955 home Dodger uniform. Everything you see on that statue is wood; the shoes, shoelaces, hat, skin, uniform: everything. Fans enjoyed taking photos with it all game long. It was a great experience and I want to thank the Phillies, particularly Kenny Johnson and Deb Rinaldi, for their work in making this come off so easily.

Jackie’s next stop is scheduled to be the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO, in time for this Summer’s All-Star game, which is in KC this year.

The Phillies crew gets some close ups of Jackie right off the bat.

The boys eat lunch behind the sign. It’s a long drive down for them and they need some fuel.

The boys each got a Phillie Phanatic from the guys at the Phillies. It was a very generous gift for them and they loved them! All day, they were our constant companions.

Here’s Gregg Murphy of the Phillies going over our in-game spot in the 5th inning. They could not get a camera to show the statue live, so they used the shots they had gotten earlier and we did the spot from the standing room section behind the left field foul pole. Murphy was very nice and put me at ease and the spot came off nice and relaxed.

The boys were tired but rallied in the suite. We only had an inning or two up there, because we have to be with the statue mostly, but we did get up there. The two gentlemen in the background are the fellows who played for the Phildelphia Stars in the early 1950’s. They signed the ball we got last year and we were glad to see them again. The Tuskegee Airmen were in a different suite and I got over there in time to speak to a few of them and that was a real nice treat. They are great guys and the country should be aware of their sacrifices under trying conditions.

The boys pose with their Phanatics.

The boys loved the doughnut car and even got some freebies.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. Both boys were old enough to go and really enjoyed it. The Phillies’ staff was just great as always and we hit all of our marks during the day. Many, many people said very nice things about the statue and it’s always great to get the statue out in front of baseball fans and hear their comments. It makes all the hours spent covered with sawdust seem worth it. Thanks, everybody. Hope to see you next year.

March 31, 2012

Auction to benefit Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City

Buster Olney had tweeted this and I want to put it out there as well. This is an auction of items that will benefit the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Here is the auction link.

I have been in discussions with the curator of that museum to have my Jackie Robinson statue displayed out there this Summer in conjunction with the All Star game. It is a great museum. There is also a Jazz museum near that (16th & Vine) and that is very appropriate as KC was a huge hub of Jazz; as much as New Orleans and Chicago certainly. All Jazz roads led to, or through, KC at one time.

Please support this worthy and most excellent museum with whatever you can. Every little bit counts in preserving some important chunks of our history.

February 2, 2012

Unique Curt Schilling life size “bloody sock” sculpture to be auctioned for ALS

Click here to go to the site in a new window

Recently completed: a solid-wood, hand carved, life size statue of Curt Schilling’s leg (yes, leg). The sculpture will be auctioned off to benefit ALS at a future date to be determined.

I had a ball making this item and I really like it although it generates some interesting responses, from bemused to, “who’s Curt Schilling?” from the non-sporting crowd. I have had it in front of people and the responses have been nice.

I got so tired of people not understanding that my art was 100% wood, even, at times, when they were standing in front of it and being told by me that it was wood. You would be surprised. So with this piece, I put it right out there and I plan on doing that with all of my pieces from now on.

* And before anyone asks me, I’ll tell you. ALS is handling the auction. It’s not on any fast track right now. Yes, I have tried to contact Curt Schilling through social media to propose the idea that he sign it to give it legs in the auction. Since I’m not making a dime off of it, I figured that I’d at least be acknowledged and to date I have not been. Am I disappointed in that? Well, to be completely honest, I am a little, I have to admit, but, I know he’s doing this huge launch to a product that his company has sweated blood to produce, so I understand the busyness.

I know he has people coming at him from all angles with his gaming company and on and on, so I do respect the demands placed on him, however, when someone spends the time I did, meticulously creating an art object for a charity auction for a cause that he champions, then I would hope for an acknowledgement at least. Even if the answer is “no”, which it could easily be. He may be uncomfortable getting too close to something that might appear self-serving. I would totally respect that. But I would like to at least hear, “message rcvd. great work. sorry, no can do good luck”. That’s it. Would that be too much? I read 10 tweets a day from him about the video games and sundry so it’s not like he’s not plugged in. Oh well, everything happens for a reason. So don’t ask me this question again! Got it? haha. Thanks.

Addendum: The Jackie Robinson statue looks like it will be appearing at Citizens Bank Park for the Mets-Phils on Sun April 15, 2012, but I do not have confirmation on that as of right now. It’s a strong possibility however. Love to see everyone there. Day game! Very pleased that the schedule makers did that.

Also, I am in talks with the Negro League Baseball Museum to have Jackie shipped out to Kansas City and displayed at the museum through the All-Star Game period. I’m very happy about that as well. Jackie belongs there and I hope a lot of folks get to see him.

April 17, 2011

Jackie Robinson Statue Tour of Philadelphia

After 3 hours of sleep, it was up at 3am and driving down from NY with the Jackie Robinson statue to do the first of many interviews and appearances at Fox. Ably assisted by Kenny Johnson and Deb Rinaldi of the Phillies, we hit our marks out in front of Fox at 7:20am. A few teaser shots and then a short interview with Fox 29’s John Anderson. Click here to see the interview in a new window

Then it was immediately over to CBS3 for another interview with Uke Washington and Kenny and Deb of the Phillies. Click here to see the interview in a new window

Here’s a small clip my brother took from a little way away during the Uke Washington interview:

Then it was on to a community Jackie Robinson Event at the Philadelphia Stars Memorial at Belmont and Parkside Aves, in Philadelphia. That crossroads was the location of the Philadelphia Stars ballpark. The Stars were Philly’s entry in the old Negro League. Later this day, my family would get to meet two of the last surviving members of that franchise.

There were many groups attending and special promotions from the Phillies. The children were having a ball and posed for this photo.

There were several groups and this particular group did a dance number before posing.

There were many nice monuments marking the site and those who were a part of it. I really enjoyed meeting regular folks from this community and just listening to the older fellows tell me how much Jackie Robinson and Monte Irvin and Larry Doby meant to them growing up. You know, when you do an event like this, those dusty pages in a history book become real live anecdotes and recollections and it was amazing to take it all in. It was also very flattering to hear the very sincere compliments for the statue. When you spend that long covered with itchy sawdust, it is very gratifying to hear these things and see the sparkle in their eyes, as opposed to words on a page.

Here we are finally at The Bank. It’s early; well before batting practice and my amazing handlers with the Phillies (Kenny Johnson & Deb Rinaldi) lined up a couple of more interviews. The first was with John Mayberry, the man who’s hit won the exciting Phils opener. I don’t have any photos of that interview but it went very well and it was nice to see and hear John’s reaction to the statue. It was probably the first time I had spoken to someone who was directly in line with Robinson’s courageous work, so it was extra special for me.

After that piece, we did a short interview with Comcast out in dead center field. What a beautiful backdrop! I have been to 40 different major league ballparks in my lifetime and Citizens’ Bank Park is my favorite building. Everything about it just feels right.

All night it was the same thing: folks lined up in a semi circle around it, taking photos and asking questions. It never gets old. I met some really tremendous people and heard just an amazing array of stories and anecdotes about Robinson, Civil Rights, baseball, art and on and on. This part of it is easy and never feels like work.

By this point in the day, I’m feeling my 3 hours of sleep and nonstop itinerary pretty acutely, however, a great subplot was that my 3.5 year old son, Thomas, came to the game and it was his first time in a big league ballpark! What a way to break in! His uncle Bob, shown below, was holding him up to see the Phillies take batting practice and he caught a BP homer left handed while holding Thomas in his right hand! So on his first game day, Thomas gets a ball!

Later on this evening, Thomas got the ball signed by the last two remaining Phildelphia Stars and for that I am very grateful and want to thank both the Stars and again, my Phillies guardian angel, Kenny Johnson. Kenny is just a pro’s pro and he hit his marks (and kept me hitting mine) all day long with aplomb. He put on a clinic. It’s a pleasure to watch someone do something that they are so good at, whether it be art, or sports, or even business.

Below is Thomas showing off his baseball. How great is that?

Here’s the family; my wife Carol and Thomas (Jack Benny is too little and is spending the day with his grandparents). I’m looking a bit tired by this point and perhaps a bit cold as the temp dropped towards gametime, but on April 15th in the East, you are going to have that. I was just thanking God all day that there was no rain as that was the one thing that would have given us a problem.

Since my statues are 100% solid wood, they will not hold up to weather, so it was a concern. All around baseball, there are many life size statues that honor players but they are all bronze. Bronze is great for holding up to weather and can be outdoors permanently. But Bronze is one color. The great thing about the wooden statues is that I can show color and isn’t baseball a colorful thing anyway? Add to that the color component of the Robinson story and it makes a nice fit. There are currently no color statues such as this permanently residing in any major league ballpark. Wouldn’t it be nice (and somehow fitting) for this statue to be the first?

After a little breather, I did two more spots thanks to Deb Rinaldi and Kenny Johnson. The first was a spot right behind the statue that went very well. It was what they call a “talkback”, which means, I wore an earpiece and had to listen for a cue from an unseen host. It was hard to hear with the crowds and I was worried that I would miss the cue or not be able to make out what the host was asking me, but it turned out to be the best one all day just about. I think I was too tired to be nervous! I’ll tell you, I have new respect for anyone who makes their living with a mike and a camera. They make it look easy–it isn’t.

Here is a link to that spot: Click here to see the NBC interview in a new window

Here’s what it looked like. I sure look rigid in this shot, but I felt pretty loose, all in all.

After that, I had to run halfway around the stadium and do a pregame radio spot and that was fun and went really well. By then I suppose, it didn’t seem so strange to be doing this stuff.

On the way back to the statue from the plate area, I heard my voice on the PA and quickly ran down the tunnel to the seating area, so that I could see the Phanavision screen. They were showing my 2 minute video which I had narrated. It was the strangest sensation to hear my voice blaring around Citizens Bank Park like that, but there it was. It was a day of things like that and one that I’ll never forget.

Here is a quick video of the end of it:

Click here to see the full 2 minute video in a new window

I mentioned that two of the old Philadelphia Stars had signed Thomas’ ball and here are their names on the statue by their old stomping grounds which we had visited earlier.

The gentlemen who signed were Mahlon Duckett and Harold Gould. I also got a chance to meet some of the Tuskegee Airmen and that was a big thrill. My father and just about all of my uncles were WWII vets. Men of that generation shaped me more than any other and I have read a great deal about that war and so it was just tremendous to shake the hand of men who flew Jugs and P-51’s against the Germans in those dark days.

Guys like that gave us a lot of freedom and I think it gets taken for granted sometimes, unfortunately. The Tuskegee Airmen, not only had to deal with bombs and bullets, but the institutionalized racism of the day: a double whammy. They are great men for having done all of that and children should know their story.

And again and again, all night, folks stopped by to talk, take photos and ask questions. It was great.

April 15th 2011, a day in which the Jackie Robinson statue went many places and met many nice folks, hopefully, making them happy and spreading awareness of what went on, not that long ago. The statue is tentatively slated to visit the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City later this Summer but as of right now, there are no details.

I want to thank the Philadelphia Phillies for all of their support. I have worked with various organizations and baseball clubs through the years, but I have never seen the professionalism and can-do spirit that I did these past few weeks while working with the Phillies. As I have said, much of that was through the hard work of Kenny Johnson and Deb Rinaldi, who made it easy to do all of these things without one single hitch. As I look back at the itinerary and see all the marks we hit from 7am to 10pm, I am amazed that it went so seamlessly and that is a testament to their diligence. I hope to work with them again in the future.

Here’s my takeaway shot for the day: the first time my little buddy is at a big league game. It was filled with memorable things. I have to wonder, however, that at 3 and a half, will he remember it years from now? I hope he does. I know I will.

Thanks for all the kind words and stories! Enjoy the game.

This was the basic scene all night:

October 14, 2010

208. 55. 153. Tinker-to-Evers-to-FAT CHANCE!

Yankee Payroll: 208 Million
Texas Payroll: 55 Million

Difference: 153 Million.

I was listening to Michael Kay today on the radio. He went through the playoff stuff and golly, he just didn’t ever mention that there’s a 155 Million dollar difference between the teams. Why is that? I’m serious. Isn’t that a material fact about this matchup that folks ought to know before they tune it in? Baseball does an amazing job of obfuscating the ELEPHANT in the room, that is, the Yankee payroll.

The obfuscation talking points are well worn:
* They don’t win it EVERY year
* They pay other teams salaries with their revenue share and luxury tax
* Other teams spend a lot too, you know. The Phillies spent 142 million this year.

208. 55. 153. Tinker-to-Evers-to-FAT CHANCE!

And I find it just hilarious that the dopey Yankee callers are just apoplectic about Cliff Lee. You dump out a piggy 208 million and yet you STILL are INSECURE enough to cry about a pitcher that might actually give your All-Star team a game? bahahaha!

And inevitably, you hear, “well, he’s ours next year”. Yup. If at first you don’t succeed, buy, buy, buy.

Then I had to hear Michael Kay running the Mets organization. He was whining in a high pitched wail that the Mets HAD to hire the 62 year old Sandy Alderson. That’s it. Case closed. Because Michael Kay said so, that’s why. His sidekick asked him for reasoning–he got shouting and chanting and repeating in return. They had to hire him. HAD TO! No detail. No cogent arguments. It was like Joy Behar. There will be no reasoning here: I’m right!

Memo to Kay: If you’re going to be that adamant about something, dontchathink you should have some specific points to back up your strong opinion? Because, “…the Wilpons are dummies, I know better”, wouldn’t win a high school debating team gig.

And he also doesn’t distinguish between running a business and managing it and keeping tabs on it with knowledge in a specialty. Look, I’m no fan of the Wilpons, but even if they don’t know ANYthing about baseball, they still have the right to interview people and run their BUSINESS!~ It’s their business, guys. If the P&L says “L”, it’s THEIR “L”, not yours, Michael Kay.

What if they want to talk to Stan Kasten? I would. What if they don’t want someone 62 years old? Why is the commisioner foisting a guy on them? Would his buddy Steinbrenner like that? Ooooh nooo0, he’s “The Boss”, it says so on the garish, tasteless uniform patches above every Yankee’s breast.

I’d stitch a big red 153 there. The interlocking NY is interlocked with insecurity. –fog

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