My Pick: the Texas Rangers

Why do I pick the underdog Texas Rangers to win the series?
Sure, there are teams like the Yankees that have more star-power, others that might have a more consistent pitching staff, and admittedly, I might sound like a bit of "homer," but this team has depth, exactly what our Tigers lack.
When the Rangers all-star Josh Hamilton went down with bruised and the broker ribs, they filled in David Murphy who has been a sheer joy to watch in the field and at the plate.
Their opening day pitcher has struggled all year, but the rest of the staff has come through well enough, lead by C.J. Wilson with 13 wins and a 3.15 ERA, and Rookie of the Year Candidate Neftali Feliz.
Speaking of potential Rookie of the Year, Have you seen this Elvis Andrus at short? Rounded out by solid position players, like Vlad Guerero, Michael Young, and Nelson Cruz, this is a deep team.
Their first challenge in the playoffs will be overcoming their inability to win on the road, where they have been playing less than .500 ball.
So gut up boys, it's time to play tough!

Thanks, Bing: TV broadcast of 1960 Series Game 7 found in Crosby's wine cellar


How a near pristine black-and-white reel of the entire television broadcast of the deciding game of the 1960 World Series — long believed to be lost forever — came to rest in the dry and cool wine cellar of Bing Crosby’s home near San Francisco is not a mystery to those who knew him.

Crosby loved baseball, but as a part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates he was too nervous to watch the Series against the Yankees, so he and his wife went to Paris, where they listened by radio.

“He said, ‘I can’t stay in the country,’ ” his widow, Kathryn Crosby, said. “ ‘I’ll jinx everybody.’ ”

He knew he would want to watch the game later — if his Pirates won — so he hired a company to record Game 7 by kinescope, an early relative of the DVR, filming off a television monitor. The five-reel set, found in December in Crosby’s home, is the only known complete copy of the game, in which Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit a game-ending home run to beat the Yankees, 10-9. It is considered one of the greatest games ever played.

Crosby, the singer and movie, radio and TV star, had more foresight than the television networks and stations, which erased or discarded nearly all of the Major League Baseball games they carried until the 1970s.

A canny preservationist of his own legacy, Crosby, who died in 1977, kept a half-century’s worth of records, tapes and films in the wine cellar turned vault in his Hillsborough, Calif., home.

“Bing Crosby was way ahead of his time,” said Nick Trotta, senior library and licensing manager for Major League Baseball Productions, the sport’s archivist.

Three years ago, Major League Baseball acquired the rights to Yankees pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series — leaving the finale of the 1960 World Series high on its wish list. The hunt for old games — this one unseen on TV since its original broadcast — is constant, subject to serendipity and often futile. Great games like Game 7 in 1960 are often recalled with just a few newsreel clips.

Crosby was so superstitious about hexing his Pirates that he and Kathryn listened to the game with their friends Charles and Nonie de Limur in Paris.

“We were in this beautiful apartment, listening on shortwave, and when it got close Bing opened a bottle of Scotch and was tapping it against the mantel,” Kathryn Crosby said. “When Mazeroski hit the home run, he tapped it hard; the Scotch flew into the fireplace and started a conflagration. I was screaming and Nonie said, ‘It’s very nice to celebrate things, but couldn’t we be more restrained?’ ”

After Crosby viewed the 2-hour-36-minute game, probably in a screening room in the house, the films took their place in the vault, said Robert Bader, vice president for marketing and production for Bing Crosby Enterprises.

They remained there undisturbed until December, when Bader was culling videotapes of Crosby’s TV specials for a DVD release — part of the estate’s goal of resurrecting his body of work.

He spotted two reels lying horizontally in gray canisters labeled “1960 World Series.” They were stacked close to the ceiling with home movies and sports instructional films. An hour or so later, he found three others on other shelves. Intrigued, he screened the 16-millimeter film on a projector. It was Game 7, called by the Yankees’ Mel Allen and the Pirates’ Bob Prince — the complete NBC broadcast. The film had not degraded and has been transferred to DVD.

“I had to be the only person to have seen it in 50 years,” Bader said. “It was just pure luck.”

Bader’s call to M.L.B. officials last spring initiated months of talks that have led to an agreement allowing the MLB Network to televise the game in December, and to wrap interviews and other programming around it, with Bob Costas as the host. M.L.B. also plans to sell DVDs of the game.

“It’s a time capsule,” Trotta said.

Hearing of the broadcast’s discovery, Jim Reisler, a historian born in Pittsburgh, sounded stunned.

“Wow,” he said. His book about the game — “The Best Game Ever” — would have benefited from seeing the NBC production, he said; he relied on the radio call. “It would have given me a greater sense of the tremendous ebb and flow of the game,” he said.

Dick Groat, the Pirates’ shortstop, said: “It was such a unique game to begin with. It was back and forth, back and forth. It was unbelievable.”

The production is simple by today’s standards. NBC appeared to use about five cameras. The graphics were simple (the players’ names and little else) and rarely used. There were no instant replays, no isolated cameras, no analysis, no dugout reporters and no sponsored trivia quizzes.

Viewers looked at the hand-operated Forbes Field scoreboard, which on that day (of 19 runs and 24 hits) got a vigorous workout. Occasionally they saw newsreel cameras atop the ballpark roof.

Prince and Allen rarely interacted, with Prince calling the first half and Allen the second. That put Allen on the air for Yogi Berra’s three-run homer in the sixth inning (Allen first called it foul); Pirates catcher Hal Smith’s eighth-inning homer to put Pittsburgh on top, 9-7 (“That base hit will long be remembered,” Allen said as the film showed Roberto Clemente — Allen called him Bob — bounding around the bases with joy); and Mazeroski’s winning drive to left field (“And the fans go wild,” Allen said).

The game included the play on which a ground ball hit by Bill Virdon to Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek kicked off the dirt and hit him in the Adam’s apple. Kubek fell on his back, sat up within a minute looking dazed, stood up, then lobbied Manager Casey Stengel unsuccessfully to stay in.

It also included remarkable base running by Mickey Mantle with one out in the top of the ninth. The Yankees were trailing, 9-8, with Mantle on first and Gil McDougald on third. Berra hit a sharp grounder that was grabbed by first baseman Rocky Nelson, who quickly stepped on the bag for the second out. For a split second, Nelson seemed ready to throw home in time for a tag play on McDougald for the final out of the World Series.

But Nelson immediately became distracted by Mantle, who never took off for second when Berra hit the ball and was now standing just a few feet away. Nelson reached to tag Mantle, but Mantle made a feint and dived back safely into first. McDougald scored, and the score was tied, 9-9.

“How about that?” Allen said after Mantle’s play. But just minutes later, Mazeroski stepped to the plate. NBC’s sound was good enough to hear a fan shout, “Just get on, Billy, get on!” Mazeroski did more than that. After his home run, fans poured onto the field and danced on the Pittsburgh dugout.

Only later did Bing Crosby witness the joy and jubilation recorded just for him.

“I can still see Bing hitting the mantel with the Scotch,” Kathryn Crosby said.


Second Place

I know it may not be much of a consolation -- but the White Sox are 11 games out of first and the Tigers are 14 games out of first. How about a rallying cry for the rest of the season - to end up in 2nd place. Better than 3rd!!

Time to shed a tear?

Gregg, as much as I hate to say it - you were right. Even with the win today, the Tigers were officially eliminated from the Central race. The Tigers just did not have the horse power. IMHO, the injuries to Maggs and Inge doomed the Tigers. Coupled with the skinny pitching staff, the team just could not mount a charge.

What should our fantasy team look like for next year. Inge, Peralta, Sizemore and Cabrera in the infield. Boesch and Jackson in the outfield along with a free agent bat in left. Rayburn and Damon as DH. Avila has come on strong, but I still think we need more of a bat at catcher. Velander, Scherzer and Porcello begin the rotation. I would fill it out with one of the Double A phenoms (Oliver or Turner) and a back of rotation FA. Perry, Zumaya, Seay, Valverde, Coke and Thomas for relief. I don't care about the last two spots in the bullpen. Rhymes and Worth as the remaining infielders.

I would also keep Dumbrowski and Leyland. DD has made a couple of horrible moves (Willis, Robertson - okay more than a few), but I think he has also more winners than losers. Jackson for Granderson, Scherzer for E. Jackson. Many of the prospects he gave up (Miller, Joyce, Jurjeins, Maybin) haven't lived up to their potential. Maybe he does get it.

I just like Leyland. Nuff said. When does spring training start up?

Th Amazing Race...

Sports Illustrated has a pretty good piece this week Sept. 20 edition) entitled "The Amazing Race" about the battle for the 1910 batting title.
A more innocent time? Hardly. Reports of umps being bribed, scorers getting "leaned on" and a "legitimate" prize of a luxury car for the winner, Ty Cobb or Nap Lajoie.
Good stuff.

Taking in Trivia

Texas Rangers' Nelson Cruz tied a long-standing MLB record Friday night, with his fifth extra-inning, game winning homer of the season.

Who shares that single season record?

So What Happened?

Many of us were optimistic at the outset of 2010.
The Tigers even held first place for a good chunk of May.
But it just started slipping away, and then big chunks started crashing.
Dontrelle never did find his stuff.
Porcello lost his, went to Toledo, and we all hope he's back, better and brighter than ever.

Jackson and Boesch came on like gangbusters, and then cooled.

But the final nail in the coffin might have been the season-long loss of Inge.

There was some good things; Johnny Damon, coming on and making a real contribution. Galaraga's near-perfect game, but then his inconsistence. (I could have told you that from his time with Texas.)

So the floor is now open for debate: what do the Tigers need to do to become competitive, even in this weak sister American League Central Division.

IMHO, they just don't have the horses to pull the wagon, and they never came close. They didn't have the depth of pitching they needed, they didn't have the infield depth, and they certainly weren't as full of hitting as they thought they were.

"So what do they do, Gregg?" you ask. Unfortunately, I think it's time to start over. The only position players worth keeping are Boesch, Jackson and Cabrera. They have one pitcher. For everybody else, it's time for that old T.V. favorite, "Let's Make a Deal!"

First things first, we need pitchers. The three position players I mentioned are not on the no-trade/no waiver list. In fact, they might be good bait for a few prospects.

Second, I never was a fan of the "If the bus won't start, let's shoot the bus driver" school. But maybe Leyland is getting a little long in the tooth for this job.

What would you guys do?