THERE’S A LOT OF DENIAL IN BASEBALL … BUT OPTIMISM IS IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
I am feeling melancholy. Melancholy, angry, frustrated and, as the whip cream atop my cake, the rheumatism is beating my body like a drum. I bet many of you feel the same way.
Yesterday, someone complained to Marilyn about the lack of good news. That’s part of my problem. So much bad news everywhere.You can’t escape it!! People who complain about the lack of good or happy news on TV are too familiar to me. During my working years, strangers would confront me — face to face — and demand I put happy news on TV newscasts. They blamed me for their depression.
“How come you can’t put nice stories on the air, Garry…stories with happy endings?”. The question dogged me for more than forty years in the biz. Yesterday’s complainant was bummed by the current lack of happy news. A network newscast devoted itself entirely to the Las Vegas tragedy.
Hey, how about a funny, quirky, “Charlie Kuralt” type of story? There must be some bizarre stuff out there not counting the White House occupant. Maybe.
Through the years, I’ve always turned to baseball in times of crisis. It’s my life long passion, beginning as a kid in 1940’s Brooklyn. However, I’ve also used baseball as my retreat from reality. Many folks do the same thing. No prescription medications needed. No weed or booze required to shut out the bad stuff.
This year, baseball has come to the rescue again. Right on time.
It’s the post season! Let the games begin!
The series that will eventually take one team — maybe our team — to the top of the world, Ma! A World Series championship!!
It’s already underway. The Yankees (“The Baby Bombers”) took the wild card and moved on to play the Cleveland Indians after defeating the upstart Minnesota Twins in the American League Wild Card one-game-takes-all, while in the National League, Arizona took the wild card 11 to 8. Tonight, the real play-off games begin for the American League and next up, the National League hits the field.
This current wild card format — a single game and an entire season goes down the drain for the loser — is grossly unfair. Baseball isn’t a “one game takes all” kind of game. At least they should have a three-game series. As usual, it’s all about the money. TV revenue puts more dinero into the pockets of baseball owners.
Next up are the Division Series first round. In the American League, the Yankees will play the Cleveland Indians while the Boston Red Sox face the Houston Astros. In the “Senior Circuit”, the Wild Card winner meets the Washington Nationals — while last year’s heroes, the Chicago Cubs, go to La-La land to play the Dodgers.
It’s kind of like the old “64 Thousand Dollar” quiz show except no one knows the answers (excluding the 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox). The league championship series will follow. Best of seven when the two league winners meet for the World Series. Hopefully, baseball’s new champion will be crowned before the snow begins.
The Boys of Summer are now the Boys of Autumn as the temperatures drop. It’s a time that evokes so many memories on my baseball time line through life. A time line that began when Harry Truman was in the oval office, baseball played 154 regular season games and two (out of 16) teams went directly to the World Series.
Marilyn and I have a friend who’s also a die-hard baseball fan. Sophie or “Soph” as I affectionately call her just exchanged emails about post season predictions which included my remembrance of days as a young reporter and time spent with the legendary Casey Stengel. I’ve excerpted a bit from 1962 when the Ol’ Perfesser was managing the fledgling New York Metropolitans.
Fenway Park, Boston – Photo: Garry Armstrong
“Soph, Casey Stengel (And, Perry White) used to say “Judas Priest” a lot. I usta ask Casey how he put up with the “defense” of Marvelous Marv, Elio Chacon, Choo Choo Coleman and the other original “Amazin’ Mets.” Casey would look at me, tousle his full head of white hair, squint and say, “Judas Priest, young fella. You got a glove?”
One day, I brought my authentic Duke Snider mitt with me and showed it to Casey. He says, “Judas Priest, young fella, can ya hit a little?”.
I laughed. Casey cackled.”
On with my post season predictions. The Yankees beat the Twins after our email exchange. So, we are in the present.
- My heart is with the Boston Red Sox, but my brain says otherwise.
- I think the Indians will edge out the Yanks in the ALD series.
- Houston will beat Boston in their ALD series.
- The Indians will outlast Houston in the ALC series and repeat as American League Pennant champions.
My Swami brain is swirling faster than a three-card monte dealer.
The Cleveland Indians will beat the NL pennant winner (Washington? L.A.?) in the World Series.
Cleveland will win its first World Series in 69 years. The ghosts of Larry Doby, Bob Feller, Early Wynn, Al Rosen, Al Smith, Vic Wertz, Bobby Avila, Herb Score, Bob Lemon, Al “The Gay Senor” Lopez, etc. will celebrate on their field of dreams.
I predict Cleveland’s Cory Kluber will get the AL Cy Young award while his teammate Jose Ramirez ( 2nd-3rd baseman) will get the MVP. Mike Trout, still the best in baseball, will get votes but he couldn’t drag his team into the post season. Jose Altuve, Houston’s “Peewee Reese” slugger, will also get a lot of MVP votes as will Aaron Judge.
Aaron Judge is probably the new face of baseball. Even if you’re a lifelong Yankees “hater,” you have to love this young slugger who is the perfect face for the “Breakfast of Champions” picture. Judge’s 52 home runs as a rookie is mind-boggling!! Judge will be a no-brainer for “Rookie of the Year.” The Red Sox newest hero, Andrew Beintendi will also get a few votes.
Manager of the year will be either Tito Francona or Paul Molitor. Tito has the great team. Molitor managed the long shot Twins into the post season after losing 100 games last year.
I think the ALCS will be the real World Series. Houston and Cleveland are terrific teams.
LeBron James will proclaim Cleveland as the sports hub of the nation.
45 will disinvite WS MVP Jose Ramirez from the White House celebration.
Tito Francona will tell 45 what he can do with his golf trophy.
Take 2 and go to left …