The Monday Notes: Jose Bautista’s Bat Flip Edition
For me, one of the highlights last winter writing for Seamheads was reading my good friend Andrew H. Martin’s weekly Sunday notes. Martin has a good eye for linking good reads and videos from days gone by mixed with today’s baseball. He is working on other projects and I asked if he wanted to continue the series?
Us New Englanders are a chatty bunch, aren’t we?
In what I hope to be a column to come out every Sunday, I want to give you the same eclectic and thoughtful mix of content as he did. My wish is, as he did this week, he will contribute a link or two to share. Martin knows his stuff and this intro likely cost me a drink the next time we get together.
To the links!
–In what will go down as one of the craziest playoff games in Major League Baseball history, the Toronto Blue Jays outlasted the Texas Rangers Wednesday afternoon to advance to the American League Championship Series. In an inning highlighted by the first “non-intentional interference” call on national television, and near riot by a few drunken fans, came Jose Bautista’s dramatic, series-clinching, home run. Punctuated by a defiant bat flip for the ages, Bautista’s reaction doubled as talk radio fodder and a signature moment for a team on the rise.
We can quibble whether this violated the “unwritten code” of baseball. What cannot be denied is you will see that bat flip forever, etching the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays into history.
–Speaking of Bautista’s home run, here is a video featured by Fox Sports, among others, with a kid mimicking Bautista’s swing from center field at Rogers Center seconds before the fateful swing.
As fans who grew up with the game, we all did the same thing in front of our televisions and radios in back yards or in the dark pretending to sleep. For him to witness first hand his idol coming through in the clutch will stay with him forever and have the rest of us remember this is a kids game.
–Bat flips may be new in gathering attention, but this clip from the 1987 World Series shows they are not.
Tom Lawless hit three home runs during his eight seasons as a journeyman. However, none was bigger than his three-run shot for St. Louis off Minnesota Twins ace Frank Viola in Game 4. A shot barely clearing the fence, Lawless’ flip running up the first base line amused ABC’s Al Michaels, Jim Palmer and Tim McCarver. In a career spanning 343 regular season games, Lawless shows any player can have an impact on the sport’s biggest stage.
–Another emphatic bat flip recorded by television came near the end of the 1978 World Series when New York Yankees slugger Reggie Jackson finally took his nemesis, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Bob Welch, deep to salt away the championship in six games.
What people most remember is Welch striking out Jackson to win Game 2 for the Dodgers. Jackson battled the rookie with two on and two out, trailing 4-3 before Welch got him to chase strike three.
Seemingly lost to baseball lore was Jackson taking Welch deep with one out in the seventh to put the Yankees up 7-2. Never a shrinking violet, Jackson throws the bat down in a way only Reggie could as the Yankees coasted their way to back-to-back titles.
–For those of you unfamiliar with why the Chicago Cubs are cursed by a goat, let me assure you it is not a joke.
Yes, the owner of Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern, William Sianas, bought a ticket for himself and his pet goat before Game 4 of the 1945 World Series. Sianas got in while the goat did not.
From the website of the Billy Goat Tavern, here is what you need to know about the most famous curse outside of New England.
Keep that in mind as they battle the New York Mets during the National League Championship Series.
–As you watch the Cubs and Mets play the NLCS, take a few minutes to enjoy this classic matchup from the Friday before Labor Day 1984.
The Cubs, well on their way to winning the National League East, visit Shea Stadium to face Dwight Gooden in his rookie season. Gooden tosses a controversial one-hitter, and NBC’s legendary duo of Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola call the game. (Really, it was an error.)
Of course, the Cubs waited another five years to return to the playoffs, after those wonderful Mets and Cardinals peaked, denying us what could have been one of the great rivalries in the game. Still as we marvel at today, this was a classic.
(Personal note: This baseball-obsessed teen was grounded Labor Day weekend 1984 and unable to watch. If you don’t tell my mother, I think I’ll join you and watch. Shh.) (Hi, Mom!)
–Until their great run last year into the World Series, most Kansas City Royals fans were ready to run manager Ned Yost out of town on a rail. My how things have changed.
Here is a piece written last year by NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski profiling Yost and the men holding his job the decade before.
Yost is one of the best managers in the game. If playing small ball hits you as different, remember Kansas City is the only team the last two seasons not to strike out over a thousand times. Going back to when Whitey Herzog and Dick Howser ran the Royals, Yost proves you do not need power to produce. Contact and pitching will do the trick.
–Those of us in the East have never heard of Neil Sheridan.
An outfielder in the 1940s and 50s in the Pacific Coast League, Sheridan was a player who only had a brief cup of coffee with the 1948 Boston Red Sox. Aside from a wonderful and rich life that ended this past week at 93, Sheridan’s greatest claim to fame is hitting the longest home run ever recorded.
Playing for the Sacramento Solons, Sheridan crushed a car window 613.8 feet away from home plate in 1953. The man got his money’s worth.
Sheridan’s story appears on sfgate.com. Imagine meeting Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.
(Thanks, Andrew for the link.)
–Lastly, I want to mention the passing of veteran Albany, New York news anchor Ed O’Brien. Before settling in for nearly 25 years on the serious side of the news at WRGB, O’Brien covered sports at crosstown rival WTEN, often as the backup. O’Brien loved the New York Yankees—why I can bring him up here—and the horses at Saratoga. From the article linked, he loved his family and baseball. Cancer claimed him at 59.
Aside from the personal loss his family and viewers feel, this is yet another reminder of how important sports used to be on local newscasts. One of the pictures in the Albany Times-Union gallery shows O’Brien with a camera crew at Yankee Stadium for WTEN. Those three-five minute segments every night were our local connection to the sports we loved. It gave those in Albany a better look at the Yankees. Today in our rush to turn every game into the Battle of Waterloo, we forget these games are supposed to be fun and events we share. A bunch of us in our 40s and older learned about sports from Ed, his boss Rip Rowan, and countless others at dinner every night. What they said mattered.
As much as we can break things down statistically on ESPN or the web, hearing that trusted local friend, the guy you could run into at the store, made it sound bigger. He or she knew the local angles and the right stories to tell. I miss that.
Back next week with more notes.