Posted on: May 12, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:01 pm
 

A Giant has left us

If you are reading this blog and are not from the NY metro area you may not know the name Bill Gallo.  He was the iconic sports cartoonist from the NY Daily News for over 50 years, he passed away on 5/10/11.  Outside of an interruption in his newspaper career called WWII when he was a Marine who saw combat action in some of the bloodiest battles of WWII including Iwo Jima, his career spanned 70 years. 

My love affair with Bill Gallo began more than 50 years ago when I was twelve.  I got a job at a ‘candy store’ in Hempstead, NY, my job was to insert all the sections of the Sunday papers to make the final package.  Some sections arrived on Thursday, others on Saturday and the main and sports sections on Sunday morning….early Sunday morning.  In those days Hempstead was the primary shopping center for a large portion of Nassau Cnty. And there were only two stores that carried the papers.  What that meant was a lot of newspapers to insert, and a lot of choices The New York Times, the NY Daily News, The World-Telegraph & Sun, The NY Post, NY Mirror, the Herald Tribune, and The Journal American.  When my week was finished, a cumulative 10-12 hrs, I was paid my 5 dollars (minus 15 cents SS) picked up the Journal American for my father and a Daily News for myself and walked back home. 

Bill Gallo’s cartoons always brought a smile to my face and they weren’t just baseball, he drew it all, Muhammad Ali, Joe Namath, Arnold Palmer, if they did on a field, in an arena, or on the court Gallo captured them.  Bill Gallo poked fun at George Steinbrenner with his Prussian General Von Steingrabber.  George loved him for it. He created Yuchie, the eternal boy in all of us that was always carrying his glove.  28 of his illustrations hang inCooperstown.

I still read the NY Daily News every morning, and I have found it in Denver, San Antonio, the Great LakesTraining Center, Virgina, the Poconos, Boston and our Naval Base in Cuba‘Gitmo’.  If you don’t know his work, Google Bill Gallo, a small representation of his 15,000 illustrations are shown.

RIP Mr. Gallo

Posted on: April 14, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:13 pm
 

73* - 762*

Fifty years after Roger Maris hit 61 homeruns and received from Commissioner Ford Frick the mythical asterisk.  The current holder of the single season home run record, Barry Bonds received from a jury of his peers a verdict of guilty on a charge of Obstruction of Justice, a verdict that carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.  Last weekend I heard a voice on sports radio discuss the dumbest individual to ever step into a locker room, this sportscaster said that even with Manny Ramirez being caught a second time for PED use (not counting the 2002 Mitchell testing) he will vote for him for the Hall of Fame.  He went on to say that would include Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens based on their credentials before they started using PEDs’. The question is, and I don’t know, “when did they start cheating”?   I don’t wish to stigmatize any group, but my analogy is if a priest has had an exemplary career and is now considered for a position as a bishop.  Should the knowledge of a recent pedophile incident void all the previous years of dedicated duty?  Roger Maris is not in the Hall of Fame because his career was not worthy.  Bonds doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame because he cheated Hank Aaron, Maris and every other player who played the game without steroids or HGH.

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
 
Posted on: April 9, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

This is not the review of a new movie, nor is it the title of a biography about the Three Stooges.  Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest is all embodied in the person of one Manuel Aristides Ramirez, aka ‘Manny’.  Manny Ramirez recently announced his retirement from baseball while hitting .059 for the Tampa Bay Rays and leaving $1,925,000 of his 2 million dollar contract behind.  It wasn’t pride that prompted Ramirez to retire; if that was the case he would have walked away in 2009 after signing a 2 year 45 million dollar contract with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers.  Five weeks into that season in which he was the highest paid player in the National League he started serving a 50 game suspension for testing positive for a masking agent used to conceal steroid use.  While this was his first time penalized, his name was one of those leaked from the 2002 testing used in the Mitchell Report.  While suspended, the Dodgers saved $7,362,498.  Ramirez’s pride tolerance allowed him to finish that 2 year contract, although he finished it in a White Sox uniform.

Manny Ramirez didn’t retire because pride told him he didn’t have it anymore and rather than be a burden to the team the right thing to do would be step aside.  Ramirez retired because he got caught cheating again.  Ramirez’s retirement coincided with the announcement that he would be facing a 100 game suspension. Today I listened to a host on a sport radio station say he would still vote for Ramirez to go into the Hall of Fame, because “his numbers before he used steroids were dominant”.  Does anyone know when Manny Ramirez began cheating?  Sports talk radio host doesn’t, I don’t, but I do know when he was caught cheating.  Apparently common sense is not a requirement to talk sports professionally.
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 6, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Of Their Own Doing

Earlier this year the BBWAA voted on the 2011 Hall of Fame candidates.  For the fifth year Mark McGwire failed to garner much support for election as his vote total fell to under 20 %.  In his five eligible years he has yet to gather even one third of the required 75% of the vote necessary for election.  This year he was joined by two new additions to the PED and Hall discussion.  Rafael Palmerio with 569 HRs, over 3,000 hits and 1,800 RBIs was supported by the voters to the tune of 11%.  Palmerio will be remembered by his “I have never used steroids, period” denial driven home by a finger pointed at the chairman of the congressional committee investigating steroid use in baseball in 2005.  Several months later he tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanzolol.  Also joining Palmerio was Juan Gonzalez with 434 HRs, 1400 RBIs, and 2 MVPs.  Gonzalez was cited by Jose Canseco as a steroid user and was also mentioned in the Mitchell Report.  Gonzalez escaped being a one and done candidate by 4 votes with 5.2% of the vote.  Without the shadow of PEDs anyone of these three would have been first ballet Hall of Famers, so what is wrong with this picture?  In my mind nothing, the voters have gotten it right.

Next year three new first time candidates will appear on the ballet Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa.  The first two could possibly hear the news delivered by a guard and delivered through steel bars at a federal penitentiary.  Sosa will need to have the HOF vote translated since we learned at that 2005 congressional hearing that Sosa doesn’t speak much English.  I ask whether you believe that the BBWAA are getting it right or should performance enhancing drugs be a non factor in the Hall of Fame vote. I am posting this blog entry on all MLB message boards, for those interested I will follow up with the poll results. 

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
 
Posted on: January 27, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:16 pm
 

A Change Up

If you have read “Rounding third” in the past you may get the idea that I’m a older fan who is not altogether content with the direction that one of my passions has taken over time.   If so, your impression is totally on target.  I have critized the inequity between the haves and have not’s, expansion, the power of the players association, and the impotence of the current commissioner.   It is time to take a break and lighten it up.  
 

You are ‘baseball’ old if you remember that the National and American Leagues had 8 teams and only one went to the postseason. 

You are ‘baseball’ old if you recall the World Series being over before mid October and every game during the day.

You are ‘baseball’ old if you could go over the days outcomes at dinner. 

You are ‘baseball’ old if you remember Sunday

Doubleheaders…every Sunday.

You are ‘baseball’ old if you rooted for the Dodgers….the Brooklyn Dodgers.

You are ‘baseball’ old if you remember MVP Yogi Berra in 1955 striking out 20 times in 615 plate appearances while catching 147 games in a 154 game schedule, and hitting 27 Hrs and driving in 108.

You are baseball old if you had a transistor radio confiscated by your teacher during a World Series game.

You are ‘baseball old’ if you can remember a time where pitchers hit…all pitchers. 

A lot of changes have taken place in baseball over the past 50 years, I could probably keep adding to my list but would like to hear your thoughts.

 

 

Category: MLB
Tags: Mets
 
Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 1:11 pm
 

Mutually Inclusive ?

How much is payroll a factor in making the playoffs in baseball.  You could focus on the Yankees who outspend every other team in baseball and by a ratio that can be 5-1.

For this entry, I went back nine years to 2003 which was the first year of the ‘Luxury Tax’.  The Luxury Tax is relevant to the topic as it is a threshold agreed upon by the players union and MLB as a point where those teams that spent over that threshold would pay a tax to the MLB (for the development of baseball and player benefits).  I looked for the number of teams in the top ten payrolls of each season that made the playoffs, and made the World Series.  In each season the spread from the NYY (#1) to the tenth team was an average of 2.1-1 an indication that even the tenth highest payroll was already at a major disadvantage.

In the nine seasons there were a combined total of seventy two playoff positions available,  Thirty eight (53%) of these went to teams in the top ten in payroll in those given years.   Of the teams that landed in the World Series in those nine years only six of the eighteen (373.3%) were teams in the top ten payroll bracket.  2009 was the only year that both World Series teams, the Phillies and the Yankees were top ten teams.   

Big spending teams tend to remain big spenders, the Yankees, Mets Red Sox, and Cubs are on the list for all nine years.  The Angels have made it eight times. 

Returning to the Luxury Tax, only four teams during the nine year history of this version of the tax have crossed that line in the sand, the Yankees every year, the Red Sox twice, Angels, and Tigers.   Of the eightAL components of the fall classic 50%, the Yankees and Red Sox twice each have gone to the World Series and then wrote a check to the MLB to pay the tax.  However going to the World Series is not the goal for the Yankees, winning it is.  In the past 12 years 2001- the Yankees have won one championship and have spent more than 2.5 Billion in payroll to do so.  That one championship was won in 2009 after the addition of Marl Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and 424 Million to the payroll.

A large payroll seems to give a team a better than even money chance to make the playoffs and a decent chance to reach the World Series.   Each of the other major sports in theUnited States, the NFL, NBA, and the NHL have a salary cap and equally important a salary floor.  MLB has a new CBA and while they don’t have and no one should have expected a salary cap there were some changes to the Luxury Tax.  The Red Sox who paid the tax at a percentage of 30% on salary over the 178 M threshold will move to the 40 % level while the Yankees will be taxed at 42.5 %.  The new CBA will allow a team that falls below the threshold (189 M in 2014) to reset its tax rate at 17.5 percent and also recover some of its revenue sharing cost.   For the Yankees with a 2011 payroll of 213 M and no relief insight that may not happen for many years.  The Red Sox who paid a tax of 3.4 M are far closer.  Their 2011 salary was 189 M and with the loss of Jonathan Papelbon and David Ortiz accepting arbitration may edge them close to the threshold.  Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeny obtained in a trade with the A’s will add less than 2 M to the 2012 payroll.   

 

Posted on: December 22, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:05 pm
 

From Bad to Worse

At the close of the General Manager meeting in Orlando last month Allan Huber (Bud) Selig offered up to the press his desire to add another wildcard and another round to the playoffs.  The response from the GM’s was favorable, but not for a one game playoff.  Selig did not expect that such a change would be in place until 2012.

Bud Selig is in a damage control mode as his time as Commissioner draws to a close.  He is widely thought of as the author of the ill will between the MLBPA and ownership, reverting back to the 280 M dollar payment by baseball to the players as the result of a court finding ownership guilty of collusion.

  He was acting Commissioner when baseball shut down in 1994 cancelling the World Series.  He was Commissioner when the steroid era flourished putting the records of a century of baseball in conflict.  He was the Commissioner when the All-Star game was played to a tie.  He was the Commissioner when the post season was first played in the month of November.

Selig has been a controversial figure; he has pumped more money into baseball than perhaps every Commissioner before him.  Certainly baseball owners have made money, although some will plead poverty as they cut salary on teams whose worth has escalated far beyond ownerships wildest dreams.  Players chase contracts that exceed 20 million dollars in some cases.  Virtually every player has an agent, negotiating those contracts and taking a percentage. .  Colleges today offer courses in ‘Sports Representation’.  The Media led by the alphabet soup of ESPN, MLB, in addition to the over the air FOX, ABC, etc. are paying huge premiums for the best packages.  A certain indicator they must be ekeing out a living. 

It would appear that ‘Bud has met every ones needs except for the fans.

Selig’s desire to repair his legacy will cost baseball in some unseen fashion as he negotiates the addition of another layer of playoffs.  In this arena, despite the benefits the Players Assoc. members have garnered under his appointment, Selig has been raw meat in a tiger’s cage.   The likely cost will be exposing fans to inclement weather even further in November than we have already visited. 

It wasn’t so very long ago that the World Series was played and over before mid-October.  Those were games that if you were attending you probably brought sunglasses.   You might have heard the voice of Mel Allen in any number of years telling you it was a beautiful day for a game.  Maybe it was Ernie Harwell or Jack Buck describing the shirt sleeve crowd.   If you go back far enough it might have been Russ Hodges or Red Barber setting the scene for a mid ‘50s’ Giants or Dodgers world Series.   Just maybe it was Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson or Ralph Kiner from Shea Stadium in 1969.  Every game played without lights, without an overcoat, without scarves, mittens, or hand warmers.   We know that New York and Philadelphia are cold at 8:30 pm in Nov., In years to come we will find out about Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit, and maybe even Pittsburgh. 

No Commissioner has done so much to disenfranchise the fans than Allan Huber Selig. 

Posted on: November 5, 2010 4:39 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Change is Good.....Sometimes

It is commonly heard that what distinguishes baseball from the other sports (NFL, NBA) are the statistical records.  I always believed this.  The numbers 714, 60, and then 61 and 511 were as imbedded as my phone number.   It was held that Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs and the 61 of Roger Maris were cut from the same cloth and the subsequent numbers posted by McGwire and Bonds were also relevant.  

I have been a fan of the game for more than 50 years, actually closer to 60 years now.  It is just now that I realize the reason that baseball, encompassing the modern era 1901-2010, cannot be tied to its numbers.  It is a phrase that you and I have all used ‘level playing field’.   Granted, it is still 90 feet from home to first and the pitchers mound is still 60 feet 6 inches away, yet despite the dimensions, the field has been level for only a portion of the ‘modern era’.

One playing field was from 1901-1946, a field which excluded a segment of our country from playing in the Major Leagues.  During this period future Hall of Fame players were not permitted to compete at the Major League level, players whose abilities and skill was beyond question.  Names like Josh Gibson, Ray Dandridge and Cool Papa Bell.  Satchel Paige played in the Majors, but as a 42 year old rookie.  The courage of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson removed the invisible but legible “Negros need not apply” sign above the door to the Dodger locker room on opening day 1947.  By the close of the decade the St. Louis Browns, Indians, and NY Giants had taken down their signs.  More than 12 years after Robinson set foot on the major league diamond, the Red Sox promoted a part time infielder Pumpsie Green from triple A and the task undertaken 12 years earlier was complete.

1947 ushered in the second playing field, a field that was open to all those with the skills to exceed.  It was a time when many of today’s fans got their first taste of the game that would last a lifetime.  It was a period blessed with great players whose names bring back memories.  Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Ted Williams who had a foot set on both field 1 and 2, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell and Sandy Koufax.  It was also a time that brought a number of changes to the game.  Each fan has to judge for themselves if the changes were positive or not. 

Greener Pastures and Expansion;

Pay attention this part starts to get confusing.  Prior to expansion the Major Leagues embarked on a period of musical chairs.  The Braves moved to Milwaukee with the Browns heading east to Baltimore and renaming themselves.  The Brooklyn Dodgers and NY Giants headed for Hollywood and Fisherman’s Wharf and finally the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis as the Twins.   Just as the Senators left town the new Senators arrived along with a team in Los Angeles, the Angels.  The Angels are still in California, but they are not sure if it is LA or Anaheim.  Meanwhile the Senators departed for Texas and a new name, Rangers.

In the year following Washington and Los Angeles giving birth to two new teams, Houston welcomed the Colt .45s and New York started a love affair with the Mets.  Perhaps Colt .45s was too violent a name, because 3 years later they became the Astros.  A few years passed and then the growth continued The NL added the Padres in San Diego and stepped across the board to Montreal to create the Expos.  The AL settled a team in Seattle, the Pilots, who would barely unpack before moving to Milwaukee to replace the Braves who had since moved to Atlanta.  The newly arrived team was now the Brewers.    This round of expansion brought with it another change to baseball, the eight team AL and NL were now 12 teams strong.  The Commissioner created two six teams divisions and a layer to the post season, the Championship Series.  The final expansion of the field two era was the addition of teams in Seattle and the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Other Changes;

Two additional changes took place shortly after the creation of the Championship Series, one was the introduction of World Series baseball under the lights which occurred in 1971 and the second was the separation of the rules as they applied to the AL and the NL.  This was the designated hitter rule.  

Baseball began play on this second field with 16 teams in 1947, during the 16 year expanse from 1961 to 1977 ten teams were added, baseball as it was played in the 50s’ went from 154 games to 162.  A second layer of postseason play was created as well as playing the postseason under the lights.  Finally half of baseball played with a DH and half didn’t.   Despite all the changes this was my Golden Era of baseball.  It ended at an undetermined time in the 1980’s when an undetermined player injected himself with a performance enhancing drug.

The closing of playing field two initiated the opening of field three, The Steroid Era.  The prominent names involved were among those on the baseball ‘heroes’ list of that time until the question which first was asked at the Congressional hearings surrounding the Watergate break-in was answered in the aftermath of the Congressional Baseball Hearings and the Mitchell Report

“what did you know and when did you know it”.   Prior to the Commissioner requesting George Mitchell to investigate PED use in baseball the Congressional Hearings into use of performance enhancing drugs convened in March of 2005.  Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero and Sammy Sosa were all questioned regarding their use of PEDs.  Canseco readily admitted using steroids, as he done on “60 Minutes” and in his book “Juiced”, Palmiero denied the use of PEDs although he knew at that time he had already failed a test which would become public knowledge within months.  McGwire and Sosa stonewalled the committee. 

Evidence collected from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-op (BALCO) added the names of Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds to the growing list.  Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte have since admitted to use of PEDs, Roger Clemens who denies any involvement has been indicted and will go to trial next spring.  The number of players who used, and possibly still continue to use performance enhancing drugs will never be known.  There are 25 players who have hit 500 home runs including Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt in 1984 and 1987.  I personally using Schmidt as a threshold (he was number 14 on the list) of those whose 500 home runs are clean.  The remaining 11 played a significant portion of their career in the ‘steroid era’ and as the result of those who did cheat the game there will always be a shadow on Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome, and Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.  There has never been a single reference or rumor linking any of these players to PEDs.  They just played at a time when their peers did violate the trust.  It is probably naive to call the PED era over, but we now have another change in baseball. 

I don’t know when playing field four began, I know it is still with us and may be the field of the future for a long time.  The role of the African-American player has fallen in baseball.  This year the NY Mets did not have a single African-American player on its 40 man roster.  When the Mets won the World Series in 1969 Donn Clendenon, Ed Charles, Cleon Jones, and Tommy Agee all played significant roles.  In 1986 the arm of ‘Doc’ Gooden, the bat of Darryl Strawberry and the legs of Mookie Wilson took the Mets to the Commissioners Trophy.  A look around the majors reveals a trend of fewer black players in the game today.  The Phillies have Ryan Howard and Jimmie Rollins.  Prince Fielder is with the Brewers, also count potential Rookies’ of the Year Austin Jackson and Jason Heyward.  The Pirates have Andrew McCutchen, and the Yankees have Curtis Granderson and possibly will add Carl Crawford.   I’m sure there are more African-American players, but these are the few that come to mind.

There is no question that there are fewer black players electing to play baseball today, the options that were not as available 30-40 and 50 years ago are today.  Besides the obvious expansion of the NFL and the NBA, Educational experiences have introduced black student athletes to opportunities in careers that have drawn them away from playing ball of any nature.  The expansion of scouting in the Caribbean, Central America and the Far East has increased competition for roster spots and fewer draft selections.  Most will look at the opportunities afforded to black athletes today and see progress and social change and they are right, but some part of me wants to return to the past when Mays and Aaron played, when Maury Wills and Rickey Henderson terrorized pitchers, when Bob Gibson put the fear of God in any batter foolish enough to dig in on him.

All of these changes and periods that the game has gone through is why I came to accept that the home run hit by Babe Ruth has nothing in common with one off the bat of Roger Maris or Aaron.  And is certainly unrelated to Barry Bonds residing on field three…..contaminated field three. 

My perspective is a product of my life experience, my age, and my circumstance when growing up.  Your opinion on my view on baseball may differ a little or a lot.  That’s OK, tell me why and thank you.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com