Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gambling or fantasy? The only fantasy is people pretending it's not gambling.

Image result for Casablanca movie
Casablanca (1942) (movie)
Humphrey Bogart ... Rick Blaine
Ingrid Bergman ... Ilsa Lund
Claude Rains ... Captain Louis Reault

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!


Aren't we all?  Shocked that is.

Sunday, July 26, 2015
Major League Baseball "an investor in the “daily fantasy sports” website DraftKings".

Monday, July 27, 2015
DraftKings gets more money from Major League Baseball.

Monday, July 27, 2015
Pete Rose today: Draftkings addict? What player and/or manager is?

Sunday, August 2, 2015
DraftKings ads now on baseball-reference.com

Monday, August 3, 2015
DraftKings "free" offer on 
baseball-reference.com requires a deposit.

Scandal Erupts in Unregulated World of Fantasy Sports
By JOE DRAPE and JACQUELINE WILLIAMS OCT. 5, 2015 The New York Times

Well, maybe some of us are not so shocked.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Yankees wildcard roster and lineup: some thoughts.

The Yankees host the Houston Astros in the American Conference wildcard game tomorrow night at Yankee Stadium.  The winner then goes to Kansas City to play the top seeded Royals two days later in round one.

I haven't paid attention to what wildcard teams did the last couple of years in the do-or-die elimination game but here are some thoughts for the one game roster and lineup against the Houston lefty starting pitcher Dallas Kuechel.
Photo of Dallas Keuchel
1. Carry at most two starting pitchers: Masahiro Tanaka, who will start, and maybe Micheal Pineda to act as a shadow starter and possibly come out of the bullpen.  Swing man Adam Warren will, of course, be in the bullpen.  I don't want CC Sabathia coming out of the pen and I see him starting game one in the first round five game series, then Luis Severino in game two.  Tanaka three, Pineda four.

2. Carry a third catcher but hold him out only for an emergency.

3. Load up on extra non-pitchers, definitely that pinch runner Rico Neol.  And OF Slade Heathcott.

4. Maybe an extra lefty reliever or two like James Pazos.


Bench lefties, especially catcher Brian McCann who is slumping, tired, choking: take your pick; start J.R. Murphy Start fielder Brendan Ryan or hitter Rob Refsnyder at 2B.  Stephen Drew is not available.  We saw Sunday how a weak 2B fielder (Dustin Ackley) can be exposed, so I don't think Refsnyder starting is automatic.  How about Ryan at SS in place of Didi Gregorius?

I'd bench both lefty batters LF Brett Gardner and CF Jacoby Ellsbury if Yanks had another righty OF but bench one and play Chris Young.  That would leave the Yankees with only one other lefty batter starting: rookie 1B Greg Bird, who is the word.

Force Kuechel out ASAP.  He's never started on three days rest before as he will in this wildcard game.

Push the better batters up in the batting order.  Definitely do not start Gardner and Ellsbury at the top as they usually do.  If Refsnyder starts, then bat him leadoff and come right along with DH Alex Rodriguez and RF Carlos Beltran.  After that it's problematic.  Apply maximum pressure on Kuechel immediately.

How about this almost all righty lineup?

Refsynder 2B
Rodriguez DH
Beltran RF switch hitter
Headley 3B switch hitter
Young LF
Bird 1B lefty
Gardner CF lefty
Murphy C
Ryan SS

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Maris homer was replayed on CBS in 1961 during the Giants football game.

Ken Singleton has a memory of it similar but different than mine.  Singleton was born June 10, 1947, so he's about 10 months older than I.
Photo of Ken Singleton
Ken Singleeton
Oct. 1 was the anniversary of Roger Maris breaking the season home run record of Babe Ruth in the new 162 game season, which resulted from the American League expanding by adding the Los Angeles Angels and new Washington Senators with the old Senators moving and morphing into the Minnesota Twins.   During a showing of the film of Maris hitting home run number 61 at Yankee Stadium on the final day of the 1961 season, Singleton recounted his recollection of that on Oct. 1 2015 while announcing the Yankee game.

Both Singleton and I recall that we were watching, in our respective homes, the New York (football) Giants NFL game on CBS.  They were called the football Giants to distinguish them from the recently departed baseball Giants who had more history and weight in New York in 1961.  The football Giants had been 6-4-2 in 1960.  The National Football League (NFL) also expanded in 1961 by adding the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, so the Giants were playing the new 14 game schedule in 1961 when they would go 10-3-1 under new coach Allie Sherman but ultimately lose the championship game in Green Bay to the Packers.  The Giants played their 1961 home games in Yankee Stadium.

New York Giants 24 at Washington Redskins 21
Sunday, October 1, 1961
District of Columbia Stadium

That win made the Giants record 2-1.

But here is where our memories diverge and I'm pretty sure that Singleton is incorrect and he is combining two things into one: watching the Giants and not the Yankees and much later, maybe even a later day, seeing the film of Maris hitting number 61.  A digital file of that film can easily be found on youtube.com

Singleton stated that he switched from the Giants game to the Yankee game.  Stop right there.  Television sets back then did not have remote controls, at least not the TVs in my house in the Cambria Heights section of Queens in New York City and I'm guessing also not in the Singleton house in Mt. Vernon, NY in Westchester county to the north, which the Singleton family bought from the family of Ralph Branca.  Yes, that Ralph Branca.

Wednesday, October 3, 1951,, Polo Grounds V
Attendance: 34,320, Time of Game: 2:28
Giants 5, Dodgers 4

HR: Bobby Thomson (32, off Ralph Branca, 9th inn, 2 on, 1 out to Deep LF).

Giants announcer Russ Hodges on radio: "The Giants win the pennant!  The Giants win the pennant!  The Giants win the pennant!  They're going crazy!"

That Ralph Branca.

Back to the tale of the video tape.  In addition to a lack of a remote control the old knobs for changing TV channels were often loose and required the deftness of a safe cracker to fine tune the position just to get a picture.  That's in conjunction with the adjustment of a "rabbit ears" antenna attached to the TV, which often required movement when the channel was changed.  Believe me, Singleton was not switching back and forth between the football Giants and Yankees.

What I have recalled all along is that the Giants game was interrupted as if a breaking news story had occurred and CBS showed Maris hitting the home run.  Then right back to the football game.  I've mentioned this to people over the years but until yesterday nobody had a similar recollection.  My friend Joe says that he remembers it as I do.

How likely is it?


While the first near-instant replay system was developed and used in Canada, the first instant replay was developed and deployed in the United States.

During a 1955 Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC Television, producer George Retzlaff used a "wet-film" (kinescope) replay, which aired several minutes later. Videotape was introduced in 1956 with the Ampex Quadruplex system...

CBS Sports Director Tony Verna invented a system to enable a standard videotape machine to instantly replay on December 7, 1963, for the network's coverage of the Army–Navy Game... After technical hitches, the only replay broadcast was (Army QB) Rollie Stichweh's touchdown.


So, it seems likely that CBS had the necessary primitive technology to quickly replay the homer.  But how did CBS quickly get access to the replay medium.  Here's a guess.  Both the Giants game in Washington televised in New York and the Yankee game at the Stadium went through a common New York distribution facility and CBS had access to that.  CBS must have been recording the Yankee as it passed through the transmission facility and then replayed the brief portion on its own network in New York.

Any specific recollections or information on the 1961 technology are welcome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mickey Mantle was benched for not hustling in 1960.

Bryce Harper has not hustled this season.  Harper was benched earlier in the season for that and was benched yesterday for his part in a fight started by teammate Jonathon Papelbon, which Papelbon instigated in part because Harper did not hustle; also because Harper publicly criticized Papelbon for hitting Manny Machado Sept. 23 after Machado had homered off Papelbon.

Harper is 22 years old and may be voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the National Conference.  Mickey Mantle had been American League (AL) MVP in 1956 and 1957.  In 1960 Mantle was in his tenth season, all managed by Casey Stengel, who unbeknownst to Stengel, was in his final as Yankee manager.  Mantle was the undisputed king of the AL.  Stengel pulled Mantle from a game for not hustling.

Sunday, August 14, 1960, 6:02PM, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 29,970, Time of Game: 4:26
Second game of doubleheader

Senators 6, Yankees 3 in 15 innings

Bottom of the 6th, Yankees Batting, Behind 0-1, Senators' Jack Kralick facing 1-2-3
b60-10---NYYC. BoyerJ. Kralick-6%55%Single to LF (Line Drive)
b60-101--NYYR. MarisJ. Kralick-16%39%Single to RF (Line Drive); Boyer to 3B
b60-101-3RONYYH. LopezJ. Kralick3%42%Groundout: SS-2B/Forceout at 2B; Boyer Scores
b61-111--OONYYM. MantleJ. Kralick8%50%Ground Ball Double Play: 3B-2B-1B
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Senators 1, Yankees 1.
Top of the 7th, Senators Batting, Tied 1-1, Yankees' Eli Grba facing 4-5-6
Joe DeMaestri replaces Roger Maris (RF) playing SS batting 2nd
Bob Cerv replaces Mickey Mantle (CF) playing LF batting 4th
Tony Kubek moves from SS to CF 
Hector Lopez moves from LF to RF 
To make matters worse Roger Maris was injured sliding into second trying to break up a double play, allowing the tie run to score.  Then Mantle grounded into a DP but did not hustle running out the ball.  Stengel benched Mantle.  Both Maris and Mantle left the game after the 6th inning.  To make matters even worse, the Yankees lost 6-3 in 15 innings.

Worst of all, Maris did not play again until Aug. 26 and hit only four more home runs in the regular season, none in his final 14 games, which gave Mantle a chance to rally and pass Maris by one (40 to 39) and win his fourth and final AL home run crown.

Maris had hit two homers Aug. 6 giving him 35.  Mantle had last homered July 31 and was stuck at 27.  Mantle hit nine homers in September.  Maris hit number 39 Sept. 16; Mantle had hit number 34 five days earlier.  Mantle finished with two homers in Washington Sept. 28 off lefty Chuck Stobbs, giving Mickey the lead 40 to 39, which is how they finished.  Yes, Stobbs is the guy off whom Mantle had hit his legendary "565" foot tape measure home run in Washington in 1953.

In game one of the Sunday doubleheader Yogi Berra caught even though Berra had become the regular left fielder with Elston Howard as the starting catcher.  Maris and Mantle, of course, played the entire game, won by the Senators 5-4, which may have had Stengel in a bad mood.  Howard caught all 15 innings in game two, going 0 for 7, including the final out.  Berra was forced into action because two starting outfielders, Maris and Mantle, had unexpectedly left the game after the 6th.  The Yankees scored a run in the 9th to tie it 3-3; Berra then pinch hit in the 9th for relief pitcher Bobby Shantz and was walked intentionally.  Because of the shortage of outfielders, Berra remained in the game and played right field with three plate appearances.

The night after being benched Mantle was back in a makeshift starting lineup.

Monday, August 15, 1960, 8:14PM, Yankee Stadium I
Attendance: 24,233, Time of Game: 1:56

New York Yankees

Glossary  · SHARE  · Embed  · CSV  · Export  · PRE  · LINK  · ?
Tony Kubek SS-RF4000004.287.325.423.748-0.0961.010.000-0.096-0.835
Hector Lopez LF3210114.282.358.384.7430.0951.440.147-0.0520.310
   Joe DeMaestri SS0000000.
Mickey Mantle CF4224004.276.401.573.9740.6621.870.703-0.0412.9202·HR
Bill Skowron 1B4020014.319.349.576.9240.0680.970.113-0.0450.51722B
Yogi Berra RF-LF2000214.305.378.487.8660.0701.140.102-0.0320.710
Johnny Blanchard C3010004.261.292.413.705-0.1081.350.018-0.126-1.110SH,GDP
Clete Boyer 3B3000003.263.315.426.742-0.1701.560.000-0.170-1.305
Bobby Richardson 2B3000003.256.298.300.598-0.1341.660.000-0.134-1.005
Art Ditmar P3010003.
Team Totals294743333.241.313.483.7950.3891.411.130-0.7410.32718
Mantle was criticized in the press and booed by Yankee fans when he first batted.  However, fans are fickle and Mantle turned the boos to cheers with a pair of two run homers.  The first tied the game 2-2 in the 4th and the second put the Yankees ahead 4-3 in the 8th.  That was the final score.

I remember a New York Daily News cartoon by Bill Gallo the next day.  In a series of boxes, two cartoon characters sitting in the bleachers represented the Yankee fans at the game.  Initially, they expressed their annoyance with Mantle.  One is hit on the head by a ball, then the second is also hit, both with Mantle's home runs.  Then they are reconciled with Mantle.

1960 AL MVP:

Voting ResultsBatting StatsPitching Stats
1Roger MarisNYY225.08.067%7.51364999814139112270.283.371.581.952
2Mickey MantleNYY222.010.066%6.3153527119145409414111.275.399.558.957
3Brooks RobinsonBAL211.03.063%4.1152595741751488235.294.329.440.769
4Minnie MinosoCHW141.02.042%2.815459189184201051752.311.374.481.855
5Ron HansenBAL110.01.033%3.9153530721352286369.255.342.440.781
Mantle had two more first place votes than Maris.  One more and Mantle would have been MVP.  Maybe the benching incident cost Mantle that award.

Maris homered in his first World Series plate appearance; it was off Vern Law, who won the Cy Young award in 1960:

Wednesday, October 5, 1960,, Forbes Field
Attendance: 36,676, Time of Game: 2:29

Pirates 6, Yankees 4

The Pirates beat the Yankees 4 games to 3 despite the Yankees outscoring the Pirates 55-27.  Mantle had three homers and 11 RBI in the WS.  That would have broken Berra's 10 RBI record except that Yankee teammate, Bobby Richardson, had already gotten 12 RBI by the time that Mickey reached 11.

Mantle became an icon in 1961, playing hurt and being the "old school" Yankee to the newcomer Maris who had the audacity to challenge the record of 60 homers in a season held since 1927 by Yankee Babe Ruth.  Mantle was considered the rightful player to break the record and some fans resented Maris.  Maris won that home run race over Mantle, 61 to 54.

What would Gil Hodges and Billy Martin do about Didi Gregorius? Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yankee manager Joe Girardi ...

Billy Martin game 7 saving catch
1952 World Series
front cover Baseball Digest Oct. 1958

via Wikimedia Commons
Girardi, Gil Hodges and Billy Martin all played for New York World Series champions and each later managed a New York team to a single championship.  Hodges and Martin must have learned something in the 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956 World Series in which the Brooklyn Dodgers played the Yankees.  All but 1953 went seven games.

Years later both did the same thing: pulled an outfielder and replaced him with the other team still batting.  As manager of the Mets Hodges slowly walked from the home dugout toward the pitcher's mound and continued out to left field where he asked Cleon Jones if he was injured.  When Jones indicated that he was not Hodges returned to the dugout with Jones, who had not hustled enough for Hodges.

Martin had the same reaction while managing the Yankees years after the Hodges move.  During a nationally televised Saturday afternoon game in Boston a Red Sox batter dropped a pop fly in front of right fielder Reggie Jackson.  Reggie returned back to regular depth and turned to face the next batter only to see Paul Blair coming out to right.  Reggie asked why but Blair simply referred Reggie to manager Martin.  A dugout confrontation ensued complete with Billy trying to get at Reggie while Billy was held back by coach Yogi Berra and Reggie influenced but hardly restrained by coach Elston Howard.  For all his street tough style Billy Martin wanted no part of the much larger and younger Reggie Jackson, at least not while Jackson was facing Martin.  Reggie was no marshmallow, salesman or otherwise.

Both Hodges and Martin intentionally humiliated a starting player.  Each was sending a message to that player, to all the other players and to the media that certain minimal expectations must be met or there will be consequences.