Tag:Stephen Colbert
Posted on: May 20, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 2:26 pm
 

Love Letters: The Killebrew (and more) Edition

A few tears (farewell, Harmon Killebrew) and a few laughs (hello again, Bronx Zoo), it's good for the soul. ...

FROM: Ed K.
Re: Killebrew was no 'Killer', except when it came to slugging

Dear Scott,

Your tribute to Harmon is terrific. My 10-year-son is starting to learn baseball history, and I will share your story with him. I once met Killebrew in Vegas. He was selling autographs, with ALL proceeds going to a children-based charity.

Cool thing is, you could read his autograph. One of my favorite things is how the Twins' Michael Cuddyer and the Angels' Torii Hunter tell stories that, when they were young, they both scribbled autographs until corrected by Mr. Killebrew. "If you're going to take the time to write your name, write it so people know who you are," Killebrew schooled them. Pure class.

FROM: Brian

"Listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds, until cancer slipped a final fastball by him Tuesday." Really? A man loses his life to cancer and you're making baseball metaphors? I typically enjoy your columns but this line is unprofessional, disrespectful and a literary stretch I'd more likely expect to find in a high school publication.

For a man who devoted his life to baseball ... you really think it's a stretch to use a baseball metaphor in tribute to him? What should be used, good metaphors?

FROM: Chris H.

Scott,

I am a 48-year-old Twins fanatic, and Harmon was and always will be my hero. You did a wonderful job capturing the essence of my hero. Thank you so much for this article. Simply put, you did Harmon justice and being who Harmon was, that is quite a feat!

Thanks, Chris. I think it's our job to educate some of the younger fans who maybe don't know much about Killebrew as to just what a humble and class act he was.

FROM: Mike F.

This story may be apocryphal, but I once heard that the scout Bluege sent to look at Harmon Killebrew as a 17-year-old reported back to Clark Griffith as follows: "He has absolutely no weaknesses as a hitter. In my opinion, he is the best first base prospect since Lou Gehrig."

I just learned that Killebrew was passed over several time in the Hall of Fame voting. How is that possible? I know there are a few HOF voters who will not vote for anyone, but how could any sane person who knows baseball not see this guy as a first ballot Hall of Fame selection?

Especially because, as he was being passed over three times before being voted into Cooperstown, he ranked second all-time among right-handed home run hitters behind Hank Aaron. When he retired in 1975, he ranked second to Babe Ruth all-time among American League home run hitters. Utter nonsense he wasn't a first-ballot HOFer.

FROM: Bob D.

Thanks Scott. You understand.

Sniff.

FROM: Kevin M.

Mr. Miller,

Thank you so much for this article about Harmon Killebrew. He was such an inspiration to me while I was a boy. I loved listening to the radio and watching him play.

We've always gotta remember our inspirations, don't we?

FROM: Norman
Re: History tells us Yankees do not grow old gracefully

Great piece, Scott. A classic. History ... gracefully.

One thing you learn when writing a piece like that: How many Yankees fans lack a sense of humor.

FROM: Lee

Your column that the Yankees do not grow old gracefully is pretty interesting. Are the quotes accurate from these past managers and owners?

Uh, no. The tipoff was in the fact that I said the old Yankees diaries were grabbed by Navy SEALS at the YES Network fortress. Almost all of the historical information in the column is factual: The Yanks dumping Ruth, management leaning on Joe McCarthy to remove Lou Gehrig from the lineup sooner than he did because Gehrig's production was down, Steinbrenner forcing Reggie Jackson to take a physical ... all true. I had some fun with the "quotes" and what they were "thinking" at the time.

FROM: Eric S.

Really liked the concept, Scott. Was completely thrown off when I saw you were going make-believe, and not funny at that. The real dagger was the Gehrig stuff, though. That is just tasteless. I am hard to offend and think I have a well-developed sense of inappropriate humor, but there are some things that will never be funny. With all that Yankee material in your hands, trying to instead get laughs out of a debilitating disease is kind of pathetic. You could have done what it seemed like you set out to do -- tell the actual stories, not a corny, LOL nimrod version and had a great column. You can do far better.

Oh come on now. You can't tell me you didn't at least chuckle at the Joe Pepitone line.

FROM: Steve

You're an idiot. I want the 30 seconds of my life back that I wasted reading this drivel.

We just completed an old-fashioned baseball trade: I dealt your 30 seconds for the 30 it took to read your drivel.

FROM: Lee P.

Scott,
 
I actually know Babe Dahlgren’s grandson.  John wears Babe’s 1939 World Championship ring in honor of his grandfather. He will get a kick out of your column! I grew up in NY and finally moved to sunny, beautiful Southern California in 1995 and still love the Yankees. Yankees management and the media are always up to something. Keep up the good work!

Ah, 1939: A four-game Yanks sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, and Dahlgren contributed a homer and two RBI.

FROM: Edward
Re.: Compared to Yanks, 'immature' Rays whip-smart

You may be the worst baseball columnist on all of the major sports sites on the internet. Your bias shines through in every article you write, and is hardly EVER backed by any facts. Consider a new career. Maybe put a cool rag on your forehead, sit in a dark room, and re-evaluate your life.

Funny, I do that about twice a year. Usually with pizza, Mountain Dew and National Lampoon's Animal House playing.

FROM: Bob

Cheesy? Cheesy? America's game should not wear Red, White and Blue on the most important days of the country? While Jackie Robinson's efforts were tremendous -- big Dodger fan here -- it was only in this country could that have happened in the western world. The only country to elect an African-American and did not have colonies in Africa. But it would seem history is not your forte, Ass!

If 100 percent of the profits from the red, white and blue caps went to the troops, I'd be fully in favor of it.

FROM: Chris

Wow ... banging on the Yankees with Tampa as the new flavor of the week. What guts, Scott. But I guess who would read what you write if it didn't include knocking the Yankees? I know I wouldn't. And congrats on one thing: You didn't even mention New York's bloated payroll. Oh but I forgot, you're a pro. You will save that one for next week when the Bombers have turned it around again.

Sorry, I stopped reading when you said you wouldn't read what I write if it didn't include knocking the Yankees. Was there anything pertinent after that?

Likes: Jim Leyland on interleague play. He's right. ... Very cool story, Cleveland's Orlando Cabrera missing a game the other day to become a U.S. citizen. ... Mets pitcher Dillon Gee. ... Sean Burroughs back in the majors (with Arizona) for the first time since 2007. Great story. ... Stephen Colbert the other night: "Starbucks is being sued for firing a dwarf. Or, as Starbucks calls him, a 'tall.'" ... Bridesmaids is pretty funny for a chick flick. Not great. But entertaining. Probably about as good as we're going to get in another crappy summer movie season. ... Bob Seger in Detroit for three shows this week. Wish I could be there for one of those -- and preferably for this past Tuesday's show when The Rockets opened. What a great, underrated Detroit group they were from the late 1970s-early 1980s. Turn up the radio, indeed.

Dislikes: Farewell to Harmon Killebrew, one of the great human beings the game has ever seen.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When the Senators stopped playin’ ball
"The Twin Cities got the call
"Minnesota joined the American League
"With Mele at the reins
"The Twins made instant gains
"In ’65 they had the flag and an MVP
"I’m talkin’ baseball
"Allison and Perry
"Twins baseball
"Kitty Kaat and Jerry
"Don Mincher and Mudcat comin’ through
"Jimmie Hall and Davey Boswell, too
"Just like Tony ... the Killer and Carew

-- Terry Cashman, Talkin' Baseball (Twins version)

Posted on: January 6, 2010 5:47 pm
 

Hall of Fame election, random thoughts

A few final random thoughts on Wednesday's Hall of Fame election results:

-- Though falling five votes short of election surely is agonizing, Wednesday also should be heartening for Bert Blyleven. At 74.2 percent of the vote and with two more years of eligibility, Blyleven -- who looked like a longshot a few years ago -- almost certainly is a lock.

And incidentally, you should have heard what Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said of Blyleven on Sirius/XM radio's MLB Home Plate channel Wednesday morning during an interview with hosts Seth Everett and Jim Duquette:

"I hit against him and if there was a finer pitcher than he was then, I don't know who it was," Aaron said. "I only went to bat maybe 10 or 15 times [against Blyleven]. I don't think I ever got a hit off of him. But he was quite a pitcher.

"I know that he didn't win 20 games, but sometimes you don't need to win 20. I think it's just a matter of how you carried yourself and what you did for your other teammates. Just to have him in that rotation for that many years with Minnesota, [he] was somebody that you didn't look forward to hitting against."

Aaron wasn't too far off in his memory. Lifetime, he was 0 for 7 against Blyleven with one strikeout.

-- I didn't expect former Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin to make it, though I do think he's deserving and I did vote for him. Within that, I thought his vote total would have been higher than 51.6 percent (he finished fifth).

-- In what essentially was the first true test of a designated hitter's place in the Hall, former Seattle DH Edgar Martinez notched only 36.2 percent of the vote, which placed him seventh overall.

A day earlier, during his retirement announcement, this is what Randy Johnson had to say about his former Seattle teammate's Hall of Fame chances: "I'm hoping he gets a lot of consideration. I know it's been debated whether a DH is worthy. During my time, I've never seen a better pure hitter than him.

"That's no disrespect to any teammates I've had or played against. I think anybody would agree who watched Edgar during that era how good he was. I'll be pulling for him because of what he meant while I was on the mound."

-- Tim Raines's 30.4 percent of the vote is ludicrously low. The guy reached base more times and scored more runs than Tony Gwynn. He wasn't anywhere near the hitter that Gwynn was, but Raines, together with Rickey Henderson, changed the way the leadoff slot in the lineup was viewed.

-- Glad to see Jack Morris' vote total increase to 52.3 percent (from 44 percent last year), but he's still way too far off for my liking. People need to get over his 3.90 ERA and look at the rest of his game. Nobody was more dominant than Morris throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

-- The near-misses this year -- Blyleven and Alomar -- also will have their chances increase dramatically in the near future because the next two Hall of Fame classes just aren't very good.

Next year, among the names that come onto the ballot for the first time are Jeff Bagwell, John Franco, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker and Juan Gonzalez.

In 2012, it's even worse: Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra and Tim Salmon are the biggest names who come eligible.

Likes: Andre Dawson is a class act and a deserving Hall of Famer. ... Matt Holliday back in St. Louis. ... The film Precious. ... The DVD Revolutionary Road. ... Wilco (The Album). ... Lyle Lovett's Natural Forces. ... The shift in focus to college basketball in January. ... My wife's homemade pizza, on deck this Thursday night while the college football national title game between Alabama and Texas is played. ... Former Los Angeles Times rock critic Robert Hilburn's memoir Cornflakes with John Lennon. Some great stories and behind the scenes stuff. ... John Meacham's American Lion: Andrew Jackson and the White House, an excellent biography. ... Alicia Keys doing a version of Empire State of Mind on Stephen Colbert's show last month with Colbert rapping about the suburbs. Very amusing.

Dislikes: Christmas vacation is finished already?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Come on children, you're acting like children
"Every generation thinks it's the end of the world
"All you fat followers get fit fast
"Every generation thinks it's the last
"Thinks it's the end of the world"

-- Wilco, You Never Know

Posted on: September 8, 2009 9:25 pm
 

Lincecum: The back story

San Francisco scratching Tim Lincecum from Tuesday night's start against San Diego with inflammation in his back, to say the least, is not good news for the Giants.

Unless ... Lincecum returns to the rotation on Friday against the Dodgers, which would then put him on target to start the finale of a huge series against Colorado next Wednesday and. ...

This is the time of year for conspiracy theories, with all hands on deck and all eyes on the out-of-town scoreboard. And if the Giants were to use a sore back as camouflage to shuffle their stretch-run rotation and set Lincecum up to face both the Dodgers and the Rockies, well, it could be a move of sheer brilliance.

Alas, there are enough indicators that signal this probably is no ruse.

But in speaking with the San Francisco media before Tuesday night's game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy did say it's "possible" that Lincecum could start before his next turn in the rotation (Monday night against the Rockies).

Bochy also did say that his ace will start as soon as he becomes available.

"The sooner we can get him out there, the more starts he would get," Bochy aptly noted.

Hmmm. ...

Now, about those indicators.

Lincecum's velocity has been down in his past few starts, climaxing with the Giants' mysterious decision not to display pitch speeds during the right-hander's last start at home, back on Aug. 28. Instead of his usual 94 m.p.h., Lincecum's fastball has been tracking at 92, 93. Not enough to set off serious alarms, and yes, sometimes a power pitcher's velocity will drop late in the season.

Of course, as the excellent website FanGraphs.com noted in an analysis of Lincecum's slow start back in April, the Cy Young award winner's fastball over his first two starts this season averaged just 92.8 miles an hour, a small drop from the 94.1 career average on his fastball. And nothing apparently was wrong then.

Given his violent motion and small frame (5-11, 170 pounds), durability questions always have hounded Lincecum throughout his career. Not only has he avoided any serious issues so far, he's been a true workhorse. Lincecum leads the NL and ranks second in the majors with 200 1/3 innings pitched, though he ranks sixth in the majors in pitches thrown (3,034).

At 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA, Lincecum is making an excellent case for a second consecutive Cy Young award while the Giants make a spirited dash toward a potential playoff spot.

Best-case scenario right now is if Lincecum makes an extraordinarily rapid recovery and suddenly becomes available to face the Dodgers and the Rockies.

Worst-case scenario? Nobody wants to think about that one right now. And hopefully, we won't have to think about it. The Giants insist this is just a "flare-up", and nothing more.

"The best thing for us is to talk about this in a couple of days," Bochy said. "We'll have more information."

Good news on Thursday or Friday would be most welcome.

Likes: The Giants' upcoming homestand against the Dodgers and Rockies, beginning on Friday night. ... September scoreboard watching. ... Brad Penny making it known to other clubs after he left Boston that he was heading straight back to the National League. He's no dummy. One taste of the AL will do that for a pitcher. ... Stephen Colbert on the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stone. Good interview. ... Sam Kashner's piece on William Manchester and his book Death of a President in the current issue of Vanity Fair. Manchester was asked to write the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Kennedy's widow, Jackie, but it turned political and took a toll on Manchester over the next several years as he attempted to complete it and deal with the changing attitudes of Jackie and Robert Kennedy, JFK's brother. Very compelling read.

Dislikes: The Pink Pony closing in Scottsdale, Ariz. In its day, you could find executives and players from every team that trained in the Phoenix area hanging out there each spring. In its dotage over the past few years, you still could find stray baseball officials and writers hanging out there. A steak joint located in Scottsdale's Old Town, the Pony was legendary.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Beth McKenzie got the job of her dreams
"Retouching photos for a magazine, aimed at teens
"It’s Thursday night she should be out on the scene
"But she’s sitting at home watching The King of Queens"

-- Fountains of Wayne, Someone to Love

 

Posted on: June 12, 2008 8:06 pm
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Posted on: April 17, 2008 11:27 pm
 

Pitching lessons from the Royals

There are several reasons why things are looking up for the Kansas City Royals, and chief among them is this: Their pitchers are throwing strikes.

Dovetailing into the fact that the Royals' 3.02 staff ERA was best in the AL and ranked second in the majors entering Thursday night's game in Anaheim was the fact that Kansas City pitchers also had the second-fewest walks in the AL.

Two years ago, while going 62-100, the Royals walked 637 batters to rank 14th in the AL.

"That started last year," third-year pitching coach Bob McClure says of his staff's honing in on the strike zone. "The free-pass thing was out of control my first year. We had guys who didn't belong -- nothing against them, they were just brought up before they should have been -- and they didn't command their pitches.

"The front office recognized it, and we made some changes."

Dayton Moore had taken over as general manager in May, 2006, and recognizing how raw that '06 staff was was one reason he offered Gil Meche $55 million two winters ago. Not only were some of the Royals' kids not ready for prime time, but Meche fit the veteran prototype for which the Royals were searching: Meche, with Seattle in 2006, had nearly a 2:1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

With McClure harping on the importance of throwing strikes throughout the spring of '07 -- and with Meche and Brian Bannister (acquired from the Mets) in the rotation -- the Royals wound up trimming their walk total by 117 from the year before. Their 520 walks -- down from that unsightly 637 in '06 -- ranked seventh in the AL.

"That huge jump started from day one in spring training before the '07 season," McClure says. "I really haven't had to mention that since then. That's something we talked about then: Pitching to contact and to your ability. If you have decent fastball command and the ability to pitch off speed, and if you have the ability to throw strikes when you're behind in the count, you can get people out."

McClure and the staff stressed that in '07, and it's really taken off in '08. Zack Greinke's 0.75 ERA leads the majors, and Bannister's 0.86 is second in the AL. One veteran AL scout I talked with the other night said Greinke's complete-game shutout over the Yankees earlier this month is the best game he's seen pitched in this young season. "He's not throwing his fastball as hard now, but it's just exploding across the plate," the scout said.

Veterans Meche and Brett Tomko have meshed well and done just what Moore hoped they would do: Provide veteran perspective and knowledge.

"It's been enjoyable to watch," McClure says. "The interaction between the pitchers themselves, whether on the bench or in the locker room, has been very good. That's something you try to create and build.

"There's a lot of down time in this game, and I'll see these guys talking about different grips and hitters. The interaction has been very good."

Other than the Meche signing -- which was roundly criticized until the right-hander made 34 starts and produced a 3.64 ERA last year -- most of Moore's moves have been under-the-radar types. One of the most important was keeping McClure as pitching coach even after manager Buddy Bell stepped down and while the Royals were searching for their next manager.

"Mac's a really, really good teacher," says that new manager, Trey Hillman. "It's a no-brainer. Dayton Moore hired Bob McClure before he hired his new manager. I told Dayton quite frankly (when I interviewed), if the new manager has a a problem with everything you've told me about Bob McClure, maybe you hired the wrong manager."

Hillman's managerial career isn't even a month old but, judging from the early returns, with Moore, Hillman, McClure and some of the players in this Kansas City clubhouse right now, the Royals finally appear to have hired a lot of the right guys.

Likes: Love the way Royals right-hander Brian Bannister approaches each start. You can read about that over in Short Hops. ... Nice to see clubs that have been down-and-out recently, like Kansas City and Florida, off to good starts. ... Pat Hughes and Ron Santo are really pleasant listening on Chicago Cubs radio broadcasts. Caught a few innings of Thursday's Cubs-Cincinnati game on XM radio while driving to that night's Angels-Royals game. ... The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert on location in Pennsylvania this week in advance of next week's Democratic primary. Colbert is at the top of his game right now. ... The upcoming disc from Mudcrutch, Tom Petty's old band that's reunited, sounds promising.

Dislikes: Asparagus.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It seems like yesterday
"But it was long ago
"Janey was lovely, she was the queen of my nights
"There in the darkness with the radio playlng low
"And the secrets that we shared
"The mountains that we moved
"Caught like a wildfire out of control
"Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove"

-- Bob Seger, Against the Wind

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