The Sunday Notes: World Series Leftovers Edition
As the street cleaners of Kansas City swept away the joyous mess left behind by nearly 800,000 fans, the 2015 Major League Baseball season officially ended.
With qualifying offers made to soon-to-be free agents and a battery of options declined or accepted, the hot stove season is upon us again. Between now and mid-March, more than a few trees and hard drives will be filled with stories on how certain signings will vault their team into championship contention, only to look silly by mid-May. As sure as the swallows return to Capistrano, the consensus “winner” of the off-season World Series will watch next October from home.
Rogers Hornsby once said he stared out his window all winter waiting for spring. Today, he would watch MLB Network and smile.
To the links!
–Let’s start with this wonderful piece by NBC Sports’ Joe Posnanski and what a Royals title means for Kansas City.
Posnanski, who worked as a columnist in Kansas City for years, pens a love story in a way few writers can.
As a kid, I remember the Royals of Whitey Herzog coming of age. The New York Yankees would get the better of them in the American League Championship Series, until George Brett shoved them over in 1980. By 1985, they were ready and the late Dick Howser guided the club to their first championship. No way should they have waited so long.
What a great core of talent and such wonderful fans.
–Getting back to Alcides Escobar’s leadoff inside-the-park home run in Game 1, incredibly this was not the first time a team started a game that way.
You need to go back to the second World Series game ever played in the modern era, October 2 1903, when Boston Americans slugger Patsy Dougherty did the deed. The first player ever to hit two home runs in a World Series game, Dougherty’s first came on a gapper into right-center at Huntington Avenue Grounds.
By 1904, he would be traded to the New York Highlanders for infield prospect Bob Unglaub. Unglaub would eventually become a full-time player for Boston, then Washington, at the end of the decade.
No word as to whether the “whiner line telegraph” at WEEI gave the Boston front office grief for trading Dougherty to the soon-to-be Yankees.
–In searching on Google for the first World Series parade, nothing specific was mentioned. A tweet, however, from Will McKay (@poosh21) shows a picture from the first St. Louis Cardinals’ championship parade in 1926.
Not the last World Series parade to roll through St. Louis.
–Do you wonder why every World Series game is played at night?
Check out this masterpiece from Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci on how NBC Sports handled several days of rainouts before Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
Vilified by the print press for carrying the game in prime-time, instead we end up with one of the most talked about games in sports history. That led to the easy decision to play most Series games at night to the biggest audiences.
The last day game in the Series came in 1987 when the Minnesota Twins beat the Cardinals to force a decisive Game 7. In a bit of irony, the Saturday afternoon game was played indoors.
(Personal note: as a nearly three-year-old in West Granville, NY, not only was I allowed to stay up for Game 6 of the ’75 World Series, I actually remember Carlton Fisk’s home run. That’s the year I became a Red Sox fan. Also, think the statute of limitations has run out for the State of New York to go after my mother for keeping her toddler glued to the television past 12:30 in the morning.)
–One more note on television and baseball, here is an interesting piece written by a Fox Sports Senior Vice President, Michael Mulvihill, on why the World Series is still a big television event.
In a day and age where twenty million people watching a show wins a ratings week, the Series finishing in the top five for the rating season is big news. We may not see Super Bowl numbers for baseball again, but that does not mean the country lacks interest. A compelling product draws eyeballs. Despite this Series going five, the games were compelling.
–Three teams picked new managers for 2016 already.
Dusty Baker returns to the dugout with the Washington Nationals. Don Mattingly got the job he wanted with the Miami Marlins and Scott Servais earns his first skipper position with the Seattle Mariners.
Here is a story written last week by Seattle Times reporter Stefanie Loh profiling the new manager. It is interesting that most clubs looking for new skippers are chasing after old names as the Mariners hire a guy who has never managed on any level.
Even more interesting is YouTube has no video of Servais as a backup catcher with the Astros back in the 90s. You can find countless videos of logos that scared the daylights out of you as kids, but nothing from Servais as a player.
–Outfielder Torii Hunter called it a day this week.
The eight-time Gold Glover primarily played for the Twins, but spent five years in Anaheim with the Angels and two with the Detroit Tigers. Hunter, known for his ability as a clubhouse leader, slugged 353 career home runs and 2452 hits. If not breaking his ankle running down a fly ball in the triangle at Fenway, he would have broken the 2500-hit barrier.
The Twins coaxed one more year out of the grizzled veteran. Michael Rand of the Star-Tribune tells us what Hunter met to not only Minnesota but Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau as well.
–Two passings to leave you with.
Best known as the player the New York Yankees traded for Roger Maris, Siebern, a Missourian, was proud of his time as an Athletic. An interview during a reunion in Kansas City by Ashley Dunkak back in 2012 captures his feelings.
Did you know he was the model for the Athletics gold and green uniforms worn today?
–Also, former Cincinnati Red and San Francisco Giant outfielder Eddie Milner died November 2 at the way too young age of 60.
Milner battled a series of addictions during his life and the Columbus native died of causes not made public. Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch pens a wonderful tribute, reminding us that success and money do not bring happiness and satisfaction.
At one point after retirement, Milner was reportedly homeless, cleaning Riverfront Stadium for money.
Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
–Next week, baseball in the coal towns of Utah and a duel with baseball bats!