Monday, September 08, 2003

Cue The Lounge Music

Due to relocation to The West Midlands, Sports Amnesia will be temporarily unavailable during the rest of September.

In the meantime, the Red Sox will probably not relive 1918 and become World Champions.

Nor will there be an All-Chicago World Series.

Game Called
by Grantland Rice

Game called...across the field of play,
The dusk has come, the hour is late,
The fight is done, and lost or won,
The player files out through the gate.
The tumult dies, the cheer is hushed,
The stands are bare, the park is still,
But through the night, there shines the light,
Of home behind the silent hill.

Game called...where in the golden light,
The bugle rolled the reveille,
The shadows creep, where night falls deep,
And taps has called the end of play.
The game is done, the score is in,
The final cheer and jeer have passed,
But in the night, beyond the fight,
The player finds his rest at last.

Game called...upon the field of life,
The darkness gathers far and wide,
The dream is done, the score is spun,
That stands forever in the guide.
Nor victory, nor yet defeat,
Is chalked against the player’s name,
But down the roll, the final scroll,
Shows only how he played the game.

("Game Called" by Grantland Rice, "Baseball Ballads", Copyright 1910 The Tennessean Co.)

Had this been an actual emergency, sports fans would have been alerted about where to turn for further information.

If you get bored staring at the same pages over and over, check out some of my links to the left, or read about the Eleven Greatest Pennant Races of All-Time or even
Grantland Rice's article, The Four Horsemen.

If you would like to be advised when Sports Amnesia resumes its regularly scheduled programming, please send an email
and you will be updated the minute the new computers have been installed in the local pubs and printing can begin anew.

Until then, you can sing along to the Baseball Songs or read Pafko At The Wall which, in my mind, is the best writing about baseball, ever.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Twins Knock Down The Wall

With the White Sox losing in the 10th inning the Red Sox and first place open for the taking and the Twins down 5-4 with two outs in the ninth against Angels super closer Troy Percival, it didn't seem like the AL Central standings would alter significantly. But with one man on the Twins showing guts and one man on the White Sox showing cowardice, the AL Central is tied once again.
Killing Kardinals

"We have to go out there," Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano said after Game 1, "and kill the Cardinals."

Looks like the biggest news of the day is how the umpire killed the Cubs instead.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Day The Phillies Died

Bill Lyon, as he does so often in the Philadelphia Inquirer, induced the perfect analogy in his opening paragraph today:

"Under a sky the color of dirty dishwater, the Phillies spent Labor Day in grinding labor, finally delivering an excruciating 13-9 loss that required 4 hours and 4 minutes, and was like watching a cat hack up a hair ball."

Monday, September 01, 2003

Red Sox Fans Cheer Clemens Despite Demoralizing Loss

You have to wonder if it was touching to see the crowd at Fenway give Clemens a standing ovation or an indication that Fenway fans are growing too soft. After all, Clemens or not, when was the last time you saw 34,482 Red Sox fans cheering one of the Damn Yankees? And yes, they can wax poetic about how "proud and grateful" they are for his 192 victories in a Red Sox uniform. They can relish the three Cy Young awards he won with them. They can clap and hoot him for being the first pitcher to win 100 games on Lansdowne Street or for for his team-leading Clemens, we can wallow in sentimental slush but how can you ignore losing yet another crucial series to the Yankees in humiliating fashion?

How can you be distracted by Clemens' last game in Fenway when you're getting dusted once more by your arch-rivals, having your nose rubbed in your second-rate status and the man you're standing up to cheer for has just pitched 6 2/3 innings to beat you? How can you root, even after all he's done with your franchise, for a guy who made it loud and clear he doesn't want anything to do with your uniform when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame? Have the Red Sox fans no pride?

"I play 20 years, work my tail off, they're not going to tell me what hat I'm wearing," Clemens said about wearing his beloved Yankees hat to the Hall of Fame. "I promise you that. There might be a vacant seat there. I'll take my mother and we'll go to Palm Springs and invite all y'all and we'll have our own celebration."

So the man they stood cheering instead of pelting with rotten eggs and garbage yesterday said he'd rather skip the Hall of Fame ceremonies all together than get stuck wearing a loser Red Sox cap. It was the Yankees or bust.

And so Clemens tipped his hat to them -- all of them, Jackie MacMullan wrote for the Globe today. He tipped it to the bleachers, to left field, then right field. He waved to everyone he could in Fenway Park, like a grand marshal in a parade, then retreated to the tunnel that led to the Yankees clubhouse.

I Can't Play, I've Got The Dominican Flu

Maybe it was mildly funny when Pedro Martinez called in sick for a big game against the Oakland A's a week and a half ago because of flu-like symptoms. It became less funny when he tried to blame weakness from those same flu symptoms for pitching like crap against the Yankees on Saturday even though he mowed down the Mariners in his first post-flu start earlier that week. Now it turns out he probably gave it to one of his teammates.

Coincidence of coincidences, fellow Dominican Manny Ramirez is now rumoured to have the same flu that struck Pedro and missed all three games of the Yankee series. Amazing, isn't it? 25 guys on a team and the only two people struck by this mysterious throat infection are Dominicans.

According to some sources, WBZ-TV in particular, poor little Manny, too enfeebled by his Dominican flu, never even made it to Fenway Park yesterday and was spotted Saturday night in the bar of the Boston hotel in which he lives.

Boston Herald noted this morning that, "According to reports that aired on two local television stations yesterday, Ramirez was seen on Saturday night in a hotel bar, where the player had reportedly gone to greet New York Yankees third base coach Willie Randolph. While Ramirez lives in the same hotel and reportedly does not drink, his mere presence there raised obvious questions about his commitment to the Red Sox given that he did not participate in the recent weekend series against New York because of illness."

Isn't the irony striking that two of the biggest stars on the Red Sox, both Dominican, both came down with a flu that kept them out of important games? Sox general manager Theo Epstein offered a terse "no comment" about Ramirez.

Now here's another item to raise the eyebrows: yet another Dominican star, Albert Pujols, missed four games with flulike symptoms recently.

Could it be the Dulce de mani? Let's hope not.

Original Marlin Returns: With All-Star Mike Lowell now out for the season with a broken left hand, the Marlins traded for Jeff Conine from the Orioles yesterday for two quality minor league prospects -- Double-A right-hander Denny Bautista and Class-A right-hander Donald Levinski. Bautista, a 6-foot-5, 170-pounder from the Dominican Republic, was 12-9 with a 3.41 ERA in 25 starts for Class-A Jupiter and Double-A Carolina. He pitched in the Future's Game in Chicago. Levinski, who is 4-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 21 starts at Jupiter, was acquired in July of 2002 from Montreal as part of the Cliff Floyd trade.

Conine, known as Mr. Marlin when he wore Florida teal from 1993-97, is batting .290 with 15 home runs and 80 RBIs this season for Baltimore. In 35 games since the All-Star Break, he is hitting .302 and has three homers and 17 runs batted in. He adds the pop to the lineup that will be missed in Lowell's absence and was acquired within a half-hour of the midnight, Aug. 31 waiver-trade deadline.

In the meantime, the Marlins kept pace with the Phillies, completing their sweep of the Montreal Expos and nearly extinguishing the Expos hopes before they've really had a chance to blossom. Mark Redman, the religious nutter who has the biblical verse of Philippians 4:13 written in block letters beneath the bill of his cap so he can read it for inspiration while on the mound, struck out ten in six innings work to win his 11th game. Jesus must have not been paying attention to Redman prior to last night's game because Redman had been on a three game losing streak.

The "inspiring" bible passage states: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." The Marlins won 5-3.

Rain Drops Royals Further Behind In AL Central Race

They were crushed 10-3 in a big series against Anaheim on Friday. Their game Saturday was rained out and rescheduled as a doubleheader for Sunday. Brian Anderson, recently acquired from the Indians, who won his first game with the Royals last week was not so lucky on Sunday, getting pounded for 8 hits and 6 earned runs in 6 innings as the Royals lost the opening game of that doubleheader, 7-4. The second game was postponed due to the miserable weather Kansas City is having and not to avoid the inevitability of another loss. No official makeup date has been set, but the game would likely be played on Sept. 29 at Kauffman Stadium if there are pennant race ramifications. They began this weekend on Friday even with the White Sox for first place but are now 1 1/2 games back of those same White Sox and tied with the Twins for second. Now they'll go down to Texas to face the Rangers again, whom they just swept three games in a row from last week in KC.

The Angels now move on to try and have an effect on the race for the Twins while the White Sox will open a tough series at home against the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Do Or Die For Cubs in NL Central

If the Cubs don't make the postseason this season, or even if they do, their upcoming 5-game showdown with the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals over the next four days at home is going to be a crucial factor. The Cardinals just gained first place yesterday after they beat the Reds 5-0 behind by Albert Pujols' 2 homeruns while the Astros, who went a pitiable 13-15 for the month of August, lost yet again, this time 3-1 to the San Diego Padres. It's interesting to note the role the Padres have had in the NL races. Since being swept in a three game series by the Marlins, the Padres have taken two of three against the Expos, the Diamondbacks and now, the Astros.

In any case, the opener of this urgent 5-game series against the Cardinals will see Cubs ace and Cy Young candidate, Mark Prior (13-5, 2.47) taking the mound against the Cardinals ace, Woody Williams (14-6, 3.44) this afternoon at Wrigley. Williams went winless in August despite a 3.31 ERA, his best since May. However, Williams is no stranger to the Cubs. He's already started four games against them this season and is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA against them and the Cubs have lost four of their last five games. Another interesting stat to note for this series is that Chicago is 5-13 against left-handed starters at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately for the Cards, Williams is a righty, and they have no good lefty starters to speak of.

Prior, who has given up only 3 runs in his last 5 starts and is 5-0 since coming off the DL, is also a familiar face to Cardinals hitters. He's faced them three times this season and is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA. In his last start against them, he gave up six hits and allowed a run while striking out 6 in 8 innings of work. This game should be, as Keith Jackson used to say, "a dandy."

Unfortunately, unless you get WGN on cable or live in the St. Louis area, you probably aren't going to get to see this game. Oh, no. Instead, the wizards at ESPN will show you EAST CAROLINA VS CINCINNATI, a college football game with enormous ramifications in the world of sports that about 10 people in the entire country want to see. On ESPN 2 you won't get to see it either but at least you'll get to see the Red Sox face the Phillies. The Phillies helped officially eliminate the NY Mets from the playoffs, the bastids. They can't beat anyone else in the league but they sweep the Mets three straight. Go Red Sox.

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Trib has a nice paean to a rare September that features both the White Sox AND the Cubs in playoff races.

"Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House the last time both the White Sox and Cubs entered September within five games of first place. The best players in baseball were Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb. Babe Ruth was 10 years old.

The year was 1908."

RIP: Claude Passeau: who died at 94,never fully recovering from a broken hip. Passeau had a 3.32 career ERA, compared to his league average of 3.71, was a five-time All-Star and won 120 games lifetime. He was 20-13 for Chicago in 1940 and won 19 in 1942 before 1945 when he went 17-9 with a 2.46 ERA as the Cubs won the National League by three games over the St. Louis Cardinals and went on to face the Detroit Tigers and Hank Greenberg in the World Series. Claude pitched his World Series debut in Game Three and allowed only a second inning single to Rudy York while pitching a complete game, one-hit shutout.

He also pitched Game Six, giving up five hits and three runs in six and two-thirds innings in a do-or-die situation before the Cubs finally prevailed with a run in the bottom of the 12th inning, forcing a Game Seven which they ended up losing.

The following year he made his first error since September 21, 1941, ending his streak with an all-time pitcher's fielding record of 273 consecutive errorless chances. Passeau set the mark using the small glove in the National League. He received permission from the commissioner to use a modified glove because the fingers on his left hand were affected by a gunshot wound incurred as a youngster.

He retired the following year.

Happy Labor Day to all readers of Sports Amnesia. Seems like everyone else celebrates it in May