Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Monday, Nov. 21.
Normally I agree with the phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” It’s the only way I got into college, found a girlfriend, became a baseball broadcaster or in later life found a job when thrown out of work.
But sometimes, you just have to say “Enough is enough.” I think of Joe Louis against Rocky Marciano, and 3 decades later the last two sad fights of Muhammad Ali. Johan Santana is going to try yet again to return to the bigs. To do so he is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
Santana was_ a great lefty pitcher with a 139-78 record and a no-hitter before the second catastrophic injury to his left shoulder. IT is my guess that Twins’ fans who believe in “Minnesota Nice” remember him fondly. He was in their fold from 2000-2007 during which time he took home 2 Cy Young awards. The Twins traded him for Phillip Humber among others, who would throw a perfect game in 2012, the year of Santana’s nono.
Although he was a 2009 All-Star, Mets’ fans who are always a different breed see the Venezuelan lefty as a dud, considering he didn’t throw a pitch with intent in 2011 and was on a comeback when he was injured yet again the following year. They seem not to care he broke Jon Matlack’s record for K’s by a lefty in a season.
Santana has tried to come back in 2014 and 2015, and failed. His shoulder hasn’t been right since spring training 2013 when he was with the Mets. That’s when he tore the shoulder capsule for the second time. In June 2014 while trying a comeback with the Orioles, he tore his achilles tendon. End of comeback. next March 13, during spring training he will turn 38. In spite of his record, his sad frailty will keep him out of Cooperstown, so why bother unless he can learn a knuckleball and add a decade to his career by trickery and deception. One nice human interest touch: a relative of mine happened to get two parakeets on June 1, 2012 the night Santana pitched his no-no, the only one the Mets have had in their favor. My relative, a major Mets’ fan named his birds Johan and Santana in honor of the lefty.
The most recent Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey JR. is 47 today. He and his dad hailed from the home town of Hall of Famer Stan Musial, which is Donora, PA. The Mariners took Junior with the first pick in the country in 1987. They were so hopeless that he was a major league starter 22 months later. In almost 22 years he hit .284 with nearly 2800 hits. His 630 home runs are devalued because, though never directly tainted by steroids he hit the home runs during the steroid era. Add to that the fact that he played in the KingDome and then Great American Ball Park, two notorious hitters’ parks. He hit almost 400 home runs before his 2000 trade to the Reds and 230 in the next decade. However you slice it, he was an All-Star 13 times with 10 gold gloves and a league MVP award in 1997. Considering interleague play and a number of new ball parks built during his career, JR. has hit home runs in 44 different major-league parks. No other player can make that statement. He amazed the world getting 99.32% of the votes for the Hall of Fame. This broke Tom Seaver’s record of 98.84%. Until the new class are announced in January, Griffey is the most recent inductee.
The original Hall of Famer from Donora, Stan Musial was born this day in 1920 and died in January 2013. He had an astounding .331 lifetime batting average, 3630 hits, 475 home runs and nearly 2000 RBIs. He did all this for one team, the Cardinals between 1941 and 1963. He hit home runs in a day when St. Louis and Pittsburgh in particular had huge dimensions that weren’t friendly to home run hitters. At the Polo Grounds in New York, if you didn’t pull the ball right down the lines, many a long wallop would end up in a fielder’s mitt. His Cardinals won the World Series in 3 years out of 5: 1942, 1944 and 1946-a similar phenomenon to the Giants winning in 2010, 2012 and 2014. He was an All-Star 24 times, 3 times MVP and 7 times batting champ. With Musial as the general manager the Cardinals won the 1967 World Series, after which Musial resigned from that position. In 2011 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award Vin Scully will receive tomorrow.
Musial’s nickname was given him by Brooklyn dodgers fans, of all people. In a game in Brooklyn they started chanting “Here comes that man,” when Musial would come to home plate. St. Louis Post Dispatch writer Bob Broeg caught what they were chanting, printed it, and Musial became Stan the Man. flashy Cardinals’ broadcaster Harry Caray took the bit in his teeth on the air and people heard Stan the Man throughout the southwest and Midwest
on a vast Cardinals’ radio network. Other colorful broadcasters like Russ Hodges of the Giants and Bob Prince of the Pirates and later Bob Murphy of the Mets would use Musial’s nickname when he stepped up. Murphy said of one of Musial’s final home runs “He sent that one into orbit.” When Musial broke in, nobody would have known what that term meant. He took baseball from the train age to the space age in one career.0