Monday, June 19, 2017

I'd Like To Walk This Path

Painting by Paul Emile Pissarro (1884-1972), son of the French artist Camille Pissarro.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

My dad with me in 1951 or 1952.  Thank you.

The Missing Red Sox 1st Baseman: 1972-1983

In December 1971 the Boston Red Sox traded 27 year old first baseman George Scott to the Milwaukee Brewers.$_58.JPG
In December 1976 the Boston Red Sox traded part time DH and first baseman Cecil Cooper (who turned 27 two weeks later), to the Milwaukee Brewers for 32 year old George Scott.

Looked at solely from a first baseman to first baseman comparison the trades were a disaster for the Red Sox.  From 1972 through 1983, Brewers first basemen accumulated 52.4 WAR (4.4 average/season) and averaged 136 OPS+ compared to 22.4 WAR (1.9 average/season) and a 106 OPS+ average.  They managed to let the Brewers have Scott during his peak years, getting him back as he entered a speedy decline and trading Cooper just before he emerged as a star.

The deals look even worse when you just look at the years when the Sox had someone other than Carl Yastrzemski as their primary first baseman.  Yaz played first from 1973 through 1976 and while Scott was a bit better with WAR of 17.5 and OPS+ of 133, Yaz was not too far behind with 14.9 WAR and 128 OPS+.

But look at 1972 and 1977-83.  Over those eight seasons, Brewers first baseman accumulated 34.9 WAR and 137 OPS+ compared to 7.5 WAR and 95 OPS+ for the Sox.  Red Sox first basemen in those years (with WAR and OPS+) compared to the Brewers:

1972:  Danny Cater (1.0/85) v George Scott (4.9/124)                
1977:  George Scott (2.4/114) v Cecil Cooper (2.7/113)
1978:  Scott (0.2/83) v Cooper (3.0/133)
1979:  Bob Watson/Yaz/Scott (2.6/110) v Cooper (3.7/133)
1980:  Tony Perez (0.6/108) v Cooper (6.8/155)
1981:  Perez/Dave Stapleton (1.7/100) v Cooper (4.2/151)
1982:  Stapleton (0.6/87) v Cooper (5.6/142)
1983:  Stapleton (-1.6/76) v Cooper (4.0/138)

The first Scott deal looks somewhat better when you evaluate it in totality.  That trade involved nine players but boiled down to Scott for outfielder Tommy Harper and starting pitcher Marty Pattin.  In 1972, Pattin got off to a 1-7 start, then won 16 of his last 22 decisions and becoming a key part of the Sox's pennant run that ultimately fell a half game short of the Detroit Tigers.  Harper had a respectable season but you can argue that the Sox might not feel that bad about the trade as of the end of 1972.  Their real mistake was trading Sparky Lyle for Danny Cater to replace Scott.

In 1973 Pattin became an ineffective pitcher but Harper had an outstanding year playing center field, stealing 54 bases and accumulating 4.7 WAR.  Pattin was gone after the season and Harper never had another good year for the Sox.

The trade that brought Scott back to Boston in December 1976 was a complete disaster.  The Sox gave up Cecil Cooper to get Scott and Bernie Carbo.  Bernie had been with Boston for the '74 and '75 seasons and was traded to the Brewers in June 1976 for Bobby Darwin and Tom Murphy.  Darwin's slash line for the Sox that year was 179/216/349, walking twice and striking out 35 times in 106 at bats, one of the worst batting performances in baseball history.  Murphy, a reliever, had a 6.75 ERA in 16 appearances.

While Cecil Cooper became a star, Scott had one decent year with the Sox, and then a season and a half of rapid decline before being dealt to Kansas City.  He retired after the 1979 season.  Carbo had an okay year in 1977 as a part-time player (2.3 WAR), before falling off rapidly in 1978 and being sold to the Cleveland Indians in mid-season. 


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Four Home Runs

On the morning of Friday, June 17, 1977, the Boston Red Sox were a half-game behind the New York Yankees, and starting a three game series with the New York squad that evening at Fenway Park.  Though the Red Sox had lost the night before to the White Sox, they'd won nine of their last eleven games.

Arriving three hours before the Fenway gates opened, my friends and I joined the line to buy $1.50 bleacher seats.  It was a full house that night with 34,557 in attendance.  Our seats were 10 to 15 rows behind the bullpens in right-center.  It wasn't hot but it was very humid, and pretty unpleasant in the concession area underneath the bleachers.
Fans lined up outside Fenway Park on June 19, 1978, waiting for the sale of bleacher seats to a Red Sox-Yankees game.
 (Standing outside Fenway waiting for bleacher seats for Yankees game to go on sale in 1978, we aren't in the photo but, I regret to say, we probably looked like that; from Boston Globe)

Bill Lee started for the Sox (watching Lee and Luis Tiant pitch was a joy, though Lee was never the same after he hurt his shoulder in a 1976 Sox-Yankees brawl). Mickey Rivers singled and Thurman Munson reached on an error by third baseman Butch Hobson (a common occurrence that year and next) but the Yanks didn't score.

Rick Burleson led off the bottom of the first against Catfish Hunter and lifted a fly ball that barely got over the Green Monster.  Fred Lynn then stroked a line shot into the right field bullpen.  After Rice and Yaz were retired, Carlton Fisk hit a no-doubter way over the Monster.  And then George "Boomer" Scott strode to the plate and hit the one I remember most vividly.  It quickly arced  astonishingly high, seeming to be twice the height of the left field wall, as it majestically floated serenely out into the night.  We went nuts.
(George "Boomer" Scott; the Sox traded him to the Brewers where he had his best years, then got him back just as he was starting his decline, giving up Cecil Cooper who had a string of seven outstanding seasons with the Brewers, photo from ESPN) 

Ken Clay came in the relieve Catfish and induced Bernie Carbo to fly out.  We were up 4-0 and the game looked like a breeze, until Bill Lee gave up three in the top of the second and one more in the third before being replaced by Bob "Steamer" Stanley.

The Sox broke the tie in the fifth when Fred Lynn scored on a ground out by Yaz.  In the seventh Boston added two more on back to back home runs by Yaz and Fisk, going on to win 9-4 and capturing the top spot in the AL East.

Illustrating one of the big changes between the 1977 and 2017 games, Sox closer Bill Campbell pitched the last three innings. 

On Saturday, the Sox won 10-4, hitting another five home runs.  That was the day Billy Martin took Reggie Jackson out of the game because of a perceived lack of hustle leading to a blow up in the dugout between the two.!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_750/reggie15a-4-web.jpg(from NY Daily News)

The next day was an 11-1 Red Sox romp with the Boston team adding another six homers.  It was part of a ten game span in which the Sox hit a major league record 33 homers.

The games were played in only 2:27, 2:38 and 2:23.  By comparison, game times for the August 2016 series in Fenway between the teams were 3:02, 3:13 and 4:15 (and yes, that last one was only a 9 inning game).

The Sox went on to sweep a four game set against the Orioles, adding another nine homers and increasing their division lead to 4.5 games.  They then lost nine in a row.

Boston closed out the season winning 21 of its final 29 games, finishing 97-64 but it was only good for a second place tie with Baltimore which won 25 of its last 34 games.  The Yankees won 100 games, capped by winning 40 of 50 between August 7 and September 28.

Watching a Red Sox-Yankees game in the Fenway bleachers in those years was quite an experience.  We hated the Yankees with a white hot passion.  It was different than the 90s and 00s Yankees.  We hated that team, not the players (we made an exception for A-Rod); we actually admired Rivera and Jeter, though we'd never admit to the latter .  In the 70s we hated the players as well as the team - Nettles, Munson, Jackson, Rivers, Piniella, Gossage, led by archvillian Billy Martin along with big mouth George Steinbrenner.

I'd been in the bleachers the prior year when batteries were thrown at Mickey Rivers in centerfield.  I couldn't see the idiots who were doing it but the stands quickly flooded with police to get the situation under control.  Fights were always breaking out (we came close to getting involved in one). It didn't help that the bleachers would be full 90 minutes before the game with everyone drinking beer.

One memory, which I think is from the June 17 game, is of Reggie Jackson running out to right field at the start of the game.  Everyone in the bleachers rose and gave him a standing boo.  Reggie stood there looking at us, with his hands on his hips, laughing.  He didn't care about getting booed as long as we were paying attention to him.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dylan Leftovers

The recent post on Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize acceptance speech reminded THC of how songs seemed to flow from him in the 1960s, many of which he did not record at the time.  The remarkable thing about the unrecorded tunes is that most of them were not throwaways and some have become among his most enduring songs. You can enjoy some of them below.

I Shall Be Released

A standard recorded by many.  This is the all-star version performed at the end of The Band's 1975 Last Waltz concert.  Joining The Band are Dylan, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Ronnie Wood, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Dr John,

They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
So I remember every face
Of every man who put me here

They say every man needs protection
They say every man must fall
So, I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere inside these walls
Yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
A man who says he's not to blame
All day long I hear him hollering so loud
Just crying out that he was framed
I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Wheel's On Fire

Co-written with Rick Danko of The Band and one of my favorite Dylan songs.
Wheels on fire/rolling down the road/best notify my next of kin/this wheel shall explode

Love Is Just A Four Letter Word

Recorded by Dylan's former lover, Joan Baez.

Quinn The Eskimo

Recorded by Manfred Mann and released as a single in 1968 reaching #1 in the UK and Top Ten in the U.S.

The Ballad Of Easy Rider

All he wanted/was to be free/ and that's the way/it turned out to be
Co-written with Roger McGuinn of The Byrds and the closing song from the 1969 movie, Easy Rider.  Watching the movie recently I found it unbearably boring and unwatchable.

Tears of Rage

A beautiful song, co-written with Richard Manuel of The Band.

We carried you in our arms
On Independence Day
And now you'd throw us all aside
And put us on our way
Oh, what dear daughter 'neath the sun
Would treat a father so
To wait upon him hand and foot
And always tell him "No?"
Tears of rage, tears of grief
Why am I the one who must be the thief ?
Come to me now, you know
We're so alone
And life is brief.


You Ain't Going Nowhere

Recorded by The Byrds.  Very funny.  Very odd.  Great chorus.

When I Paint My Masterpiece

First recorded by The Band.  This version by Emmylou Harris.

And let's conclude with Elvis Presley singing Dylan's Tomorrow Is A Long Time.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Origin Of Moral Fiber O'Daniel)

Over the years THC has read speculation about moral dissolution as the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire (false) and other associations of failed morality linked to the course of history.   However, his own research has found the origin of moral fiber to be surprisingly recent.  "Moral fiber" was apparently invented in the early 20th century by the American politician Pappy O'Daniel.

We recently uncovered a transcript and recording of the pivotal moment during an exchange between Vernon T Waldrip and Pappy O'Daniel.
Vernon T. Waldrip: "I can't switch sides in the middle of a campaign. Especially to work for a man who lacks moral fiber."
Pappy O'Daniel: "Moral fiber? Why, you little pasty-face sumbitch. I invented moral fiber! Pappy O'Daniel was displaying rectitude and high-mindedness when that egghead you work for was still messing his drawers!"
You can listen to the recording here