Uncle Charlie Yakker's Baseball Rants

A look into the mind of baseball fanatic.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Ross Davis

Recently I had an experience I’ll never forget.

It all started when my aunt “JoJo” visited our house last spring. Knowing my love and passion for baseball, she bragged that she met, “Satch” a former Negro League player, while surfing the net. Immediately I questioned her claim because Satchel Paige died more than 25 years ago and there was virtually no chance another Negro leaguer had the same name. As soon as she left, I began scouring the internet for any information that would help me identify the man in her online chats.

Within a few minutes I read an article featuring, Ross “Satch” Davis. Ross pitched in the 1940’s for several Negro League teams. I read how began his professional career after playing in the sandlots of the Midwest and at some point played in a profession baseball league.

After confirming the identity of the man, I went over the details with JoJo. She informed me that Ross was living in southern California but recently moved to a tiny apartment in a small city in Texas. A woman, Melinda, and her husband, owners of a crop dusting business had taken Ross into their home. A small apartment, at the rear of the home provided Ross a place to call his own.

My aunt, JoJo, gave me an email address, which quickly fired off a quick note. I didn’t hear back from Ross and after several days, I verified the address with JoJo. This time she explained that Ross expressed a willingness to exchange a few words over the internet.

I gave it another shot and immediately got a reply. The email he sent was short, but he agreed to sign a ball or a jersey for me, through the mail.

It was a year or more after that encounter that a family matter took me to Texas. When I verified the route I’d be traveling was shocked to find that Ross lived within 30 minutes with our route from Austin to Houston.

I emailed Ross and verified that he’d be open to a visit during my trip. As soon as I arrived in Texas I again called him and asked when he’d prefer I arrive. His answer, “come tomorrow at 1”. I tried to think quickly and wondered if we’d be able to make it to his home at the time he’d asked. My calculation was that we’d make it work.

The next morning we woke early and saw a local historical site. We loaded into the car began figuring the exact route to the small town where Ross lives. It seemed we’d have plenty of time to get there, giving plenty of time to grab some lunch and search the web for any facts and figures of Ross’ career.

After following the route, mapped out with a couple of internet sites, we closed in on the town. I watched as the clock seemed to tick a little faster than normal and it soon became clear that even after the great planning, we’d be a few minutes late. I was quite embarrassed and dreaded the call I’d need to make to announce we’d not be on time. Seeing my stress, my wife picked up the cell phone and called Ross. She said he was pleasant and understood that we were getting close.

The directions were pretty simple, “it’s a small town, so don’t blink. Turn left at the sign”. I found the sign, then turned left and pulled into the driveway.

Until that time I hadn’t put much thought into the sort of house we were visiting. As we arrived, it was darn hot outside. The humidity wasn’t what I expected for southern Texas during the summer, so that made things more pleasant. It was very windy though, so I was happy not to be speeding on the open roads, swerving side to side with each gust.

I remember thinking how unique this experience was going to be for me. My wife and 18 year old son seemed interested but obviously lacked the excitement I had. As we closed in, I put on my Negro League baseball ball cap. I’d worn it out over the last few years. It used to be a bright royal blue with logo’s of the teams stitched around it. By now it was dirty with sweat stains, missing the button that was originally fastened to the top.

We parked in the driveway and Melinda, the homeowner, greeted us. She seemed excited to meet us and said that any family of JoJo’s was welcome to visit anytime they wanted. She seemed very happy and immediately showed me to Ross’s apartment.

As soon as we went into Ross’s house, I was taken back because the living quarters seemed so small. The living room was literally coupled with the kitchen and his bedroom was attached nearby. My first thought was that a former world-class athlete would be living a life more similar to that of a modern professional athlete. I figured that he’d be living comfortably, with luxuries of a man with an outstanding career. Then it dawned on me that his life must have mirrored the conditions the Negro League players lived in the old days. I wondered how society and all of the current players and fans could have seemingly forgot this man. I was immediately grateful that Melinda and her family had the ability and the love to bring this man into their lives. She must have had a strong intuition that Ross’ life was not one of luxury while he supported himself in California, before moving here to Texas. How grateful I was that he was able to live comfortably, with friends and an adopted family. It gave me a pleasant feeling that Melinda and her family were able to provide him with a place continue his life.

Ross stood from a chair positioned on the far end of the room. Again, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Again, I hadn’t put much thought into what Ross would look like now that he’s getting older. In my mind I thought of the only photo I’ve seen of him, standing on the mound, leaning way back, and hiding the ball behind his right hip. As he walked across the room, my mind focused on the present day Ross Davis, born in 1918, in Greenville Mississippi. I had never thought of him as a 90 year old man, but I guess that’s my own fault.

As I surveyed his apartment I noticed several 8x10 photos on the walls most featured Ross standing next to men that obviously were associated with baseball. The only really ornamental item was a very large framed picture with a matted Negro League logo. A computer screen and a large TV were the only items that appeared to be up-to-date.

The only 8x10 I recognized was Ross standing next to Buck O’Neal, the most famous Negro League spokesman I know. Buck only passed away a less than two years ago, and what I knew most is that Buck helped to establish the Negro League Hall of Fame in Kansas City. Buck had been the man attracting my attention after he appeared in the Ken Burns documentary “Baseball” in 1994. On a shelf I noticed a baseball with several different autographs. One of the names was from Buck O’Neal, something I’d never seen before.

By the time I gained my focus on the man standing in front of me, he turned and walked off. He walked right into his bedroom and grabbed a stack of baseball cards. The cards had his photo on the front and his stats, he played from 1939 until 1947. As quickly as he had walked into the back room, he turned and walked to the desk positioned near a chair in the living room. He took out a rubber stamp, inked it up and then stamped each of the cards with his autograph. He handed me the cards and told me about his aches and pains. He talked about the severe damage to his rotator cuff and said he can’t lift his arm much above his waist anymore. It dawned on me again that a pitcher in the Negro Leagues would never have been rested and pampered. Although I’ve never cherished a “stamped” autograph, it suddenly made sense why some of the older players did that.

The odor from a tobacco pipe filled the room and again it was something I could never have preconceived. I was amazed with myself and the fact that there was so many details I didn’t imagine before walking into the house.

At that point he sat down and I pulled up a seat next to him. The moment seemed very awkward for me and I am sure it was for him too. He turned his chair toward the large television and then his attention was immediately drawn to the game, the Yankees and the Blue Jays. A batter reached first base, for the Blue Jays, on four straight balls. Scott Rolen walked up to the plate and swung wildly at the first pitch. Ross then remarked “in my day” we never swung at the first pitch after four straight balls. This is the time you need to make the pitcher prove that he can still throw strikes. It made so much sense to me and it was so clear I didn’t understand why Rolen would ever swing at that first pitch. I felt as though I didn’t know nearly as much about the game as I thought I did.

Ross then began to tell me how they played in the Negro Leagues with more with more discipline. More respect for the game. They especially had more respect for the players, on both sides of the plate.

“What do you think about Bonds?” he asked.

Quickly and honestly I answered, “Hate him.”

“Ya, he has no respect. And he’s not a nice guy either”. Ross talked about Barry showboating and strutting instead of respecting the other players.

Then there was another long awkward pause. His attention was then drawn back to the TV. Within a moment he commented on another fundamental error made by the Yankees. Again it was clear that he made a lot of sense. His familiarity of baseball and his keen eye on the details of the game impressed me. Although I saw an old man when I walked into the room, my assessment was that he was a quick and articulate man. It made me feel somewhat inadequate that before my visit I had not learned more about the game and more about the league he played.

We talked a little about his playing days. He said that he’d only given up one home run during his entire career. That hit went to Josh Gibson, the greatest home run hitter of all time. They say that Josh hit 800 or more homers, but the record keeping and game summaries were not kept at that time, in that League, for those players. Josh died only three months before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major leagues. According to one story I read, Josh was so depressed and so distraught that he was never given a change to play in the majors that he literally died of a broken heart. Needless to say, it must have been quite an accomplishment to allow only one home run. Ross bragged that he did get Josh out, not only that, but he did it by striking Josh out.

Ross had a nickname, “Satch” Davis, so I had to ask. He said that he’d pitched in front of the most famous Negro League pitcher, Satchel Paige. At some point Paige tagged Ross as the “Young Satchel”. The media picked up on the quote, but then the media shortened the name to “Satch”.

As Ross talked, he said the game was faster back then. You could play a double header after church on Sunday and be back in time for dinner.

“You know they’re tearing down this stadium after the season”, looking at the TV again, talking about Yankee Stadium. He talked about playing there, playing at the Pollo Grounds and other major league stadiums.

“Most people don’t realize that we played there, when the other teams were out of town”. Again I felt as though I didn’t know as much about baseball as I thought I did.

I told Ross about my passion and love for baseball, I asked if he felt that people were recognizing the Negro Leagues more that ever. Without hesitation he said “no”. There was a time a few years ago when they were honored, brought to game in limousines, and put up in nice hotels. At one game Ross was featured on a the screen at a major league game. He was embarrassed and talked about signing autographs from hours during and after the game. Today though, they players are forgotten, left behind again, in somewhat the same way it had been in the old days. He said that a couple of baseball historians had contacted him, several conversations have taken place and a few articles had been written about him. Ironically, he showed me a book that had been written by one of the historians, “I will never forget”. Ross said that only 150 or so Negro leagues were even alive today. He said not to be fooled by some of the guys that say they played, some of which claim to have done so even after the league was extinct.

As some point I looked at the back of his baseball card. It showed that he had taken time off baseball to fight in World War II. I asked about his experience, but it was clear that he didn’t want to converse about that time of his life. I saw tears in his eyes and he said that he’d blocked out that time of his life. Although he remembered nearly every detail of his playing career, his recollection of the war was long since forgotten.

We had continued some small talk, but by now I noticed my wife and son beginning to drift out of the conversation. The heat was getting to them and the topics were not something they enjoyed as much as I did. Melinda talked to them, but I admit that my attention was on Ross.

Finally, I announced that we’d better be leaving. Before walking outside I handed Ross one of the most cherished items in my collection. It was a jersey with an embroidered emblem of a Negro League player. For a split second he began to turn down the offer, but then accepted it, kindly and graciously.

Melinda, my wife, my son, Ross and I then walked outside. The atmosphere was more casual and not nearly as awkward as it had been inside. The talk was more casual and the topics were geared more toward the Texas summer heat, the bugs and water moccasins that lived outside. Ross then blurted out “You won’t catch me out there at night”, pointing to the open fields beyond the back of the house. Everyone laughed and it was another highlight of the visit.

About that time, Melinda snatched off her shoe and smashed a huge bug that landed on the bench where Ross was now sitting. I wasn’t paying close attention to the situation because I was still wondering, “what’s a water moccasin?” Everyone else seemed to know. I pretended to know, and then researched the information as soon as we left.

After driving away, I thanked my wife for allowing me to fit this meeting into our vacation. I told her that it was a highlight of my life. There will never be a multitude of people that would find the experience as such a special experience. Something most people have never done. Something I’ll never do again. Something “I’ll never forget”.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why do I love baseball?

Seriously, I don't get it sometimes.

Everyone says that baseball is slow and boring. The fact is that steroids has ruined the game. It's no doubt the skyrocketing salaries have disconnected the game from the common fan. No one can dispute the "damn" Yankees buying their way to a championship---and the fact that baseball is unbalanced.

So, why do I love baseball? I'll tell you.

The game is so fast and furious; no one can see 'everything' at any one time. From the first pitch, it's 100 miles per hour. The pitcher must know the tendencies of the batter. "Can he hit the curve?", or "does he have a hole in his swing for the low and in slider". The batter walks to the back of the box and kicks immediately at the freshly chalked line. He's wondering, "What assortment of pitches does this guy chuck?” "Can he blow me away with a 100 mph fastball, or does he nibble on the blacks of the plate?”

Is the pitcher a southpaw, turning all the switch hitters around? Or does he have that sidearm action with a herky-jerky motion?

After the first pitch, all the research and all the preparation is out the window. Either the pitcher has it or he doesn’t. Either the pitch looks like a pea or a beach ball.

Wait a minute. Who is that guy in blue, behind the plate? Does he call the high strike or is he a going to require the ball to be thrown into a napkin box size strike zone? Does he let the batters murmur after a called strike, or will he impose his will by tearing off his facemask?

Now, after a 3-2 count, the leadoff guy does his job, taking pitches and drawing the walk.

The second man must find a way to move him over. Although, having that said, any good fan understands the philosophy of the visiting manager. We know we’re watching an American League game, but the manager has never lost his love for playing the National League small ball style. So, we’re forced to guess whether it’s a hit and run, straight steal or a bunt to move the runner over.

While your watching the batter plow his left foot into the box, pay attention, because he’s looking down to the third base coach for the same sign. (I won’t even go into the complexity of a sign). The man on first is also peering through the infield, over the pitchers head and past the third base bag for the same sign. If you look close enough, you’ll see several players on the opposing team, watching the same sign, but for different reasons. Stealing the sign is an art, but can give a decided advantage to your team.

As the batter now digs in with his right foot, he’s holding the bat in his front hand. Holding the in a similar way a golfer does when he’s checking the slope of the green. The batter has his rear arm extended too. The palm now flat in the umpires face.

“What the heck?” you might think.

Well, I’ll give you the short answer, “He’s asking for time out, time to step in, time to dig in and settle into the batters box.”

Anyone who doesn’t know better, might think it’s time for the pitch. But, knowledgeable fans do know better. The pitcher, standing on the grass licks his fingers, but he’s oh so careful not to ever touch his mouth while on the mound. Again, I won’t go into the details of rules on the mound.

The pitcher climbs on to the rubber and leans in to see the sign from the catcher. These signs can be simple, but with a runner on first, it might get a little complicated. The runner can indicate to the batter some clues as to the location of the pitch and if he’s lucky, he can also indicate the type of pitch. Although it’s common knowledge and a common baseball practice, it’ll get him bean ball if he’s caught.

You’d think it’s about time to see the first pitch of the at-bat, but wait there’s more! As the catcher flashes his signs, he shortstop and the second baseman are also looking in. They consider two factors, unless there is more, which I haven’t picked up yet. These two infielders then communicate with open and closed mouth signs, hidden behind a mitt of course.

I’ve read that some outfielders like to know the sign. That information is relayed by the middle infielders out to them. It’s an art that I don’t yet understand.

Somewhere in all this mess was a sign from the manager in the dugout. That sign is picked up and deciphered by the defensive players. It could tell the players to set up for the double play position. The first baseman usually takes a stance at the bag, so he’s holding the runner close to the bag. The “stance” is perfected and practiced so the ball can be received quickly and a then an efficient tag can be snapped down to the hand of a runner who got caught leaning.

If your not convinced that baseball is NOT slow, I can see that you read your way through the article.

In the future, I’ll tackle the other topics on my mind. For example, I might be able to shed some light on the topics of steroids, salaries and give my best reasoning for the Yankees spending habits.

I think the game is anything but slow.

To be continued…………Why do I love baseball.

Monday, August 07, 2006

MLB Umpires, my complaints revisited

As I watched an Angels/White Sox game tonight (no not the playoff games of 05), I wondered if anyone had a ranking thier thoughts on the WORST umps in the game.

I'll tell you right now, without hesitation, there is one ump I'll never respect and never appreciate. Doug Eddings.

With 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, Eddings, was behind the plate. Josh Paul, the catcher did his job. He caught strike three. Eddings called the batter out, but A.J. Pierzinguini ran anyway. Somewhere in the darkness, inside Eddings mask covered head, the out call aparently didn't count.

Without a doubt, its the worst call I've ever seen. One that broke my heart and pretty much ended the post season for the 05 Halo's.

9 months later, I find my self watching a make-up game for, of all teams, the Sox/Angels. I am getting a secret pleasure in watching the man behind the plate. Tonight its Cooper. For him it really makes it tough because its a make up, there is no one in the stands. I've hear louder chearing at a baby diaper changing contest.

I menetion the lask for enthousiasm in the stants because every jeer from the croud is crystal clear. CRYSTAL

One series or pitches, Tim Salmon watched a few close ones come in the area. None were called strikes. The fans came unglued. The pitchers were fired into the mit, very close to the plate. Each pitch got more boo's Seemingly the late shrunk to the size

Friday, June 09, 2006

Grimsley----his Lawyers twist.

Yesterday I read the claim made by Grimsley's lawyers. I also read the "search warrant" Written for the "second" search of Jasons house.

In short, let me educat you for one second. The feds found out that Jason was ordering Human Growth Hormone at the value of $1600 a shipment. The feds just did simple controlled delivery. After Jason signed for the stuff and accepted the package.......they wrote an initial search warrant. The first search warrant was served in a very low key manner. At that time Jason's wife and guests has no idea the feds were even in the house. Jason was very cooperative and drove himself to another location then freely confessed and he named names. At this point, there's little doubt that in my mind, Jason agreed to assist fully in trade for cooperation.

Jasons lawyer is now trying to put a spin on it. He's trying to make Jason the victim. Although, any normal person ---without the blurred vision of medea falling for the sympethic view created by Jason's lawyers. Jasons lawyers are bringing up the fact that the feds were "targeting" Barry Bonds. They're try to make the cops look like head hunters going after the big fish. They're trying to deflect the problem away from Jasons lack of cooperation (starting 4 days after the initial search warrant when he lawyered up) What your hearing in the news now, is the fact that the Feds served a second warrant at Jasons house again. This time facts/warrants and paperwork were all made public. This time they were looking for more dope and paraphernalia. They were also looking for ATM reciepts, bank records to different "known" locations.

Just realize that Jason is the one that dropped names and gave tons of good solid information. I don't blame him at all. He was put betweet a rock and hard spot.

To finish, I feel like Jason is a crimina and he did a bad thing. He's just one pawn of many many many players that were using this sort of drug,

It'll be fun to see the story unfold during the season.

One comical twist that I'm hearing on sports radio: Instead of nameing people that Might have used steriods........as we've done over the last few years. Now, the speculation is pointed toward the "few" players who "might not" have been using. The lost was short.


Grimsley: Juiced : Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big

June of 06. It took until now to add fuel to the fire. Maybe now, more people will believe the claims made by Jose Canseco.

It makes me crazy when people deny the statements and confessions made by Jose.

I read his book the day it hit the shelves. It was my feeling that Jose pushed the idea that Steroids are "good". After reading the book I got the idea that it was an advertisement for people to use performance enhancing drugs.

Having that said, I have no doubt that EVERY statement Jose made was 100% true (in his mind). I've heard people have gone back and researched dates, times and locations. These people have attemted to "prove" the statements incorrect. Why would anyone take the time? Why not spend the same time to look into the "PROBLEM"? Why not take the time and effort to change baseball and rid the problem. It's as if people want to stick their heads in the sand, just to deny Cansecos claims. Why?

I may be the only DIEHARD baseball fan that thinks the Grimsley investigation is a good thing. As far as I am concerned, this may be the nail in the coffin. This may be enough to clean up baseball. We've been going in the right direction, however I don't think we're even close. It's finally a fact that MOST players have been using performance enhancers. FINALLY.

The ball is now in the hand of Bud Selig. He needs to throw a good hard heater, right down the middle. We've had enough BS and its time to be honest, its time to face the problem, head on. Quit trying to nibble the edge of the strike zone with a knucklecurve. As far as I am concerned, we need to call in the standards of the Olympic testers.

Now, for my boldest statement. It's my feeling that 90% of baseball players have been using dope. The only players I'd say are NOT using are the players that are so "religious" or so ethical that they would jaywalk, let alone take dope. In the 60's, it was common knowledge that MOST players were using "greenies". Why would anyone think the drug use would be less now that it was back then? Nowadays, players are looking at millions of dollars in contracts? When the crap hits the fan, what in the world would stop a guy from using? If your a pitcher and your throwing low 90's, but the guy next to you is using dope to throw mid-90's.....his contract is 1,000,000 and your just another young righty..........why wouldn't dope be the answer. If he's recovering in 3 days, but your lucky to feel better in 4-5......I rest my case.

In closing, I repeat that the Grimsley-gate will later be seen as a good thing for baseball. Let's clean it up. Sooner the better. Test fully or don't test at all.

Let me ask you this......do you tell your children that your best days of baseball as a fan was the "steroid" era? Or, maybe this.........do they ask you? In 100 years, do we look back at this as the beginning of the end, or do we look at this as another bumble and fumble of the system we'll never fix?


Monday, May 08, 2006

MLB Rumors Clearinghouse: Casey Kotchman's Collapse Boosts Howie Kendrick

MLB Rumors Clearinghouse: Casey Kotchman's Collapse Boosts Howie Kendrick

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

World Baseball Classic

The idea of this post is so common, it's almost not worth posting.

Over the last years I have been very sceptical of the World Baseball Classic. I had several negative thoughts toward the Classic, but all those thoughts are gone now.

It all began when I attended an actual WBC game in Scottsdale Arizona. (Who could accurately discount the games unless attending?) The game was Canada vs. South Africa and I must admit that I was not very excited about attending.

I already had negative thoughts toward the WBC in general, but when I got caught in the Phoenix traffic, I really didn't care to attend. Immediately upon my arrival I was forced to stand in a long line for "will call" because I had purchased tickets online. Then I went to the nearest entrance gate and again stood in line. They searched my bags and I admit that I am very happy about the security. What I disliked was the fact that it took so long just to get into the ballpark.

I intended to get to the park early in an effort to get a few autographs and photo's of this inagural game from the World Baseball Classic. By the time I got into the park the teams were done with batting practice and done with all of the autographs and fan interactions. So much for my time.

When the game began I sat with some friends down the first base line.

During the first inning I listened to a few fans talking about their favorite Canadian. Most of the names were easy to recognize. I heard no mention of names on the South Africa team.

About the 3rd inning of the scoreless game, I was ready to leave. I never leave baseball games early.

Somehow our attention was drawn to a few good plays on the field. Before we knew it, the game was very interesting. A boy that we brought to the game was given a game ball. He was so excited that he cheered loudly and boasted to us that he had something we didn't!

Another inning passed and many of the fans were filtering out. It was quite chilly for a night in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Suddenly there was a crack of a bat and an Official World Classic Baseball sped toward us. The guy in front of my reached over the wall, then what seemed to be dozens of fans pushed and reached over the wall. I stretched long and far. The ball went off someones bare hand and rolled slowly to my glove. Wahoo, I grabbed the golden ball and raised it into the air. People in our section all cheered the trophy. In my best effort to be funny, I turned to the 8 year old who had bragged about his ball. I screamed "In your face little kid!!" The entire section of people were horrified that I'd be so rude to a child. They had no idea we were together.

Over the next few minutes, I passed the ball around and was given pats on the back for a job well done. It was great!

When things calmed down, I snuck down to the boy and we giggled together how well we'd fooled those around us. I still wonder if people caught onto the fact that we came to the game in the same car.

About this time I looked at the scoreboard and realized we were witnessing one heck of a baseball game. The South Africans were leading the mighty Maple leafs 4-3 going into the seventh inning. We began to cheer for the underdogs and hoped to witness a huge upset. Maybe we could witness a huge story that the World would be talking about.

Just about the time we thought it was possible that we were seeing the impossible, the South Africans were down by 3 runs. We all continued to cheer loudly for the little engine that could.

Suddenly South Africa scored one in the seventh and three in the eighth. Unreal!!! Leading 9-8 in the ninth, we lead the crowd in cheers. "LETS GO BUTCHER, LETS GO BUTCHER"........everyone on the right field side of the Stadium joined in! We got loud. As Ian Butcher took the field we screemed at him........"three up three down". Finally he looked over and gave us the "hang loose" sign. We figured that this young team had never had the "rock star" treatment. We were probably right.

In the top of the ninth Canada flexed it's mighty muscle and scored four. This let the air out of the right field cheering crew. It also seemed to deflate the South African team.

I did notice one great phenomenon. At the beginning of the game Canadian flags were spread throughout the stadium. After all our bantering and jeering, no one sat on the right side of the diamond with any Canadian paraphernalia. They were a pretty quite bunch as the Canadians lost the early part of the game. Most didn't cheer and most didn't care much for the game..........by the ninth.......every out the Canadians were able to achieve on defense created a explosive reaction from the left side of the ball park. It was awesome that they were so emotional. They waved flags and jumped up and down. I guarantee they had a scare put into them. The baseball Gods rumbled and rocked their world.

Although looking at the newpaper the next day, it seemed to be a non-eventful game. No one really knew the excitement and thrill we'd gotten for the ten dollar tickets.

I was immediately sold on the WBC. As the tourney continued, I saw many fans get the spirit of the Classic. When the USA lost, many people came up with excuses. I didn't care though. I was happy to see the other countries get the fever. I was happy to see them all get the attention they so deserved.

Uncle Charlie Yacker

Monday, October 17, 2005

If your reading this.........

You had just as well comment on the stories I have written here!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Isn't it interesting

I find it interesting that my last two posts were in June of this year. Actually, thats not the interesting part. Read on and I'll explain that I find interesting.

The last two posts spoke on (#1) the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is not a HOFer yet. With his MVP season on 2004 and strong game early in 2005, many Angel fans were declaring him the next Babe, Joe D, and Mick all wrapped into one man. I wrote then that he's yet to show a HOF career to me. This year, in the 2005 post-season he absolutely stunk. I guess I believe the theory that "good pitching always beats good hitting", but there is a point where a superstar must dig in and bust the ball hard. I am not going to sit here and spew statistics, but, I can tell you that he didn't get but a few hits, and none seemed to be solid. Now, as I mentioned last June, a mans career cannot be made in a few games, so I don't want to put too much arguement into a few games breaking his career. The point I am making today is the same that I made back then. He's not a HOFer yet.

The second post I want to revisit is the topic of Umps ruining the game. Back then I was more concerned that Umps seemed to be becoming too much a part of the game. This postseason, at least so far, in the ALCS and the NLCS the Umps are once again in the middle of everything. In the Angels series with the White Sox, Doug Eddings, blew a call allowing a player to reach first base in a swinging K, after calling him out. The entire series swung on that play. It'll be talked about forever. In the Cardinals series, the Ump called a few balls and strikes in a very inconsistant manner. When Tony LaRussa and Jim Edmonds spoke up on a called strike, the home plate man in blue tossed them both out of the game. A PLAYOFF GAME!

Needless to say, I am suffering the baseball blues after following the Angels so closely for 171 or so games, only to see it all end. It seems too too far away to think about the dreaded "wait till next year". It's a lot of work to follow a team that far and get so close, only to fall 3 games short of the World Series.

I supose that baseball being baseball I could likely find a historical writing that is earily similar to the the above comments. Some guy in the 40's was likely frusteraged that his team lost, that his players didn't excel when they needed and the Umps played too much a part of the game.

That said, I remember why I love baseball.

Baseball is what it is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Vladdy, not a HOFer yet!

Angels fans love the stud player in right field, Vladimir Guerrero. Some fans are already considering him as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time.

I disagree.

There is no question that Vlad is an awesome hitter. There is no question that IN TIME he MAY be considered one of the best of all time.

Before he's given a free pass to Cooperstown, consider the fact that it only takes one injury to a wonderful career. Don't forget that Vlad is making more money this year than his grandkids could ever spend. If the Angels go on a run and win the WS this year, who’s to say that he doesn't take the money and go back home. If the Angels go in the dumps, his automatic enshrinement could disappear quicker than a box of doughnuts in a police department squad room.

I guess the point I am trying to make is the fact that he is a very good player, (MVP, obviously) but he would need to continue the current pace for several more years to be considered "one of the greatest of all time".

Having that said, the fan from Canada would remember Vladdy's past. I seem to remember Vlad always being a total stud on the diamond, but there was a time he was considered to be fragile (or some might say, he had no heart), when he was playing on a very poor Expo's team. Am I the only one that remembers these early days?

I beg to differ that he's one of the greatest of all time. I would consider him about 6-8 All-Star type seasons away from HOF consideration. I would consider him at least ONE World Series title away from any historic notoriety. There have been a lot of players, playing a lot of years at an elite level that has never been considered for the HOF. Many men fall into the darkness of baseball history.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Umpires overreactions are ruining great games

I dislike the fact that umpires have such a quick trigger when throwing a player/manager out of a game.

Don't get me wrong. I know they have a tough job. I wouldn't even want that job at a Tee ball game.

Umpires are becoming too much a part of the game. For example, tonight while watching the interleague rivalry between the Mets and the overpaid team from New York.

Late in the matchup Gary Sheffield pounded a pitch off the glove of Mets fireman, Aaron Heilman. Second baseman, Marlon Anderson stretched out to get the ball and made an excellent snag. He throws to first for a bang-bang play at the first base bag.

C.B. Buckner, the first base umpire immediately calls Sheffield out. Sheffield reacts by slamming his batting helmet into the ground. Simultaneously, C.B. ejects Sheffield from the game. The heat of the moment, playing for the struggling pinstripers, Sheffield overreacted. That said, he was showing passion and determination that he has for the game of baseball. Fans drop a ton of cash to attend a game of this magnitude and they are obliged to see a player with the desire to win. There is simply no way Sheffield should have been thrown out of the game.

As soon as Sheffield realized he had been tossed, he turned on C.B. and got his moneys worth. Veins popped out and words, that I choose not to repeat, flew from Gary's mouth. It was truly a sight to see.

Having that said, I'll repeat myself. Gary Sheffield should not have been thrown from the game for his origonal reaction to the out at first base. If C.B. had made the call, as an umpire should, Sheffield may very well have gone directly to the dugout. He threw him out of the game before the player said a word. He threw him out, almost before the helmet left the head of the runner.

Not only do you have umpires calling balls and strikes with an ever changing, personal strike zone, they also get way too involved by ejecting players. Their objective should be to keep order in the game. They should not alter the entire game by using "the power" to punish players, teams, AND the fans.

Billy Boyer, Mark Trumbo, Stephen Marek

Today, along with two of my personal autograph hounds (15 year old son and 11 year old daughter), I went to the Orem Owlz batting practice.

The pitchers and catchers take the field about 2:30 pm, while the rest of the players filter in over the next 30 minutes. They work out pretty much until the game starts at 7:05.

We sat on the grass berm, even with third base bag down the left field line. As the guys filtered down to the bullpen, my daughter commented on how young the players are these days. Though this is not her first game, I remember saying that the first time I saw the Padres in 1986, one of my first games. I explained that many of these guys are just out of high school.

Sitting on a green plastic chair in the bullpen was #18, Stephen Marek. Immediately we went over to speak with him. He was very friendly and polite. I think its great when I get a chance to talk to ballplayers who don't have that "big league" attitude. I told Marek about FutureAngels.com and how there are mamy chattering on the internet about his recent signing. He seemed very happy about that, didn't react as if he was our "savior". He just smiled and continued the small talk. I asked him to sign a couple of baseballs. He promptly put his name onto the sweet spot of both Official Pioneer League baseballs.

After that I waited for Billy Boyer, to come out of the clubhouse. We talked for a second and I congratulated him on his hit for the CYCLE in the second game of the season. He said that he had just watched the feat on FutureAngels.com. That's a great compliment to Stephen, the owner of the site! Just then, I heard coach Kotchman in the growling in the background. I told Billy that we'd see him another day and then we let him go before the coach growled at him for chirping with the fans and not concentrating on baseball. Boyer commented that the coach was not too scary, just a coach.

The next player I really wanted to see came out into the afternoon air. Mark Trumbo, a big, strong first-baseman, slid his lumber into the wooden box in the corner of the dugout then sat down on the dugout bench. A few minutes later he grabbed his mit came up the stairs. We called him over and asked for a couple signatures. He obliged and chatted with the me and the kids for about 5 minutes. We wished him luck and praised him on the two homers the night before. I told him that after that performance, I had to get his auto quick because he may not be here much longer. He smiled and said that he's very young and doesn't expect that "they" would move him anytime soon. I don't consider myself a great judge of talent, but through the early part of the season, it's as if he's a man among boys.

He won't be here too much longer.

Good luck Owlz! Thanks for the treat. Days like this will be long remembered.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

6/12/2005 Stingers 8, Grizzlies 4

This morning I woke up to the sound of HAIL pounding the roof and windows of my house. The rain followed and lasted all morning. As I looked for a family member to be my partner to the Stingers game, I was turned down by all 5 canidates because they said "the game will be cancelled".

"They'll play it" I muttered.

"They'll play it" my wife said in a teasing voice.

I put on a few extra layers of clothing because the temp (for a June day) was well below comfortable for a baseball game. Then I found my old glove, a pencil, and a scorecard. I already had a stack of baseball cards to get autographs with my pens and sharpies.

After loading the Suburban (I live in Utah!), I came in for one more round of looking for a victim, I mean a partner to go with me. My wife and daughter were unable to think of a good excuse, so I hearded them out the door.

By the time we got to the stadium, the clouds had parted and the tarp was being rolled up.

I had great luck getting autographs from Luke Allen, Eric Cyr, Jeff Mathis, (local boy) Zach Sorensen, Dustin Moseley, Nick Gorneault, Ryan Budde, Brian Dallimore, and Brandon Puffer.

Chris Bootcheck started for the Stingers and went 7 full innings, allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits. In this elevation and notoriously high scoring PCL it is almost unbelievable how great this guy is pitching. He improved his record to 3-1, but I just can't see him staying in the minors too much longer. The Angels are currently down one starting pitcher, with Escobar on the 15 day DL, but every article I have read, says that Ervin Santana has the best chance of getting the next call up.

Eric Cyr was a little shakey giving up 2 runs in the 8th inning, the only inning he pitched. Then Dusty Bergman came in and sealed the deal in the ninth, allowing one hit and striking out one.

The highlight of the night was definately Bootcheck, but I also love watching Luke Allen. He hit a two run bomb in the 5th to power the Stingers to their 6th straight victory.

The Stingers currently have a 1 game lead over the Portland Beavers.

For the Fresno Grizzlies, its only fair that I mention the long bomb by Todd Linden in the top of the 7th frame. Although, it seems almost unfair to Bootcheck, because Linden had already taken several pitches in the 6th inning before Mickey Lopez was caught stealing when he wandered off 2nd base. When Linden came up in the 7th, he saw several more pitches before hitting the cover off the ball for the first run of the night for Fresno.

Just one more interesting detail that I wanted to illustrate is in reguards to Nick Gorneault. He went 0-2 on the night with a walk and a sacrifice fly, but he saw a ton of pitches. Tonight I watched as he worked the count to perfection. I didn't see one other Stinger take over 5 total pitches in any at bat all night. Nicks AB's went as follows:
1st inning- 7 pitch walk
3rd inning- 2 pitches (rbi, sac fly)
5th inning- 9 pitch swinging strikeout
7th inning- 6 pitch liner to short.

It's great to see a guy who can work the count. He was very patient, thus jacking the pitch count and allowing the batters behind him to get their timing and see the pitch sequence.

The loudest moment of the night is folling the intential base on balls to Stingers Slugger Luke Allen. Jeff Mathis came to the plate and hammered the first pitch into the corner for a 2 run triple!

The Stingers finished the night with 8 runs on 10 hits, while the Grizzlies scored only 4 runs on 11 hits and one error by Mickey Lopez.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

baseball Posted by Hello

Erstad Posted by Hello

wil Posted by Hello

Wrigley sign Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 04, 2005


I know your wondering why UNCLE CHARLIE YAKKER? Well, any well versed fan would know, but since you asked, I'll give you an answer.

The words "UNCLE CHARLIE" and "YAKKER" are both terms for a "Curveball".

Now your probably wondering How did the curveball come to be known by the terms, "Uncle Charlie" and "Yakker?"

A: The origins of both terms are rather elusive, according to Paul Dickson's definitive reference work, "The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary." "Uncle Charlie" came from CB radio usage in 1970s and was supposedly attached to the curveball because the two words contain "c" and "r" sounds that suggest "curve." "Yakker" is said to have its derivation in the bird world. It comes from the "yawker" or flicker, names for the yellow-shafted woodpecker.

(I figured that Yakker also has referance to do with a person who talks a lot. Since this is a blog, or a place for me to yak, it just fits.)

Hey, don't look so worried. This is my page and I got you to read this much. So, just relax and read on. I think my name is pretty darn creative. I am glad I can entertain you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Baseball Stadiums don't face west?

Listening to a game tonight they were talking about how San Diego's doesn't face the ocean. Obviously the hitters would, on a nightly bases, would never see the ball. It's tough enough to hit without having the sun directly over the pitchers shoulder.

This ball stadium faces pretty much north, but a little north east.

How come the designers of our softball fields don't know this?

Baseball rules that suck

Today I was watching the Cleveland/Minnesota game on DirectTV. I know, why would anyone watch "that" game. First of all, as previously posted, I am a baseball FANATIC, so thats part of it. The next part is simple, CC Sabathia, the SP for the Indians (who cannot wear his hat straight) is on my fantasy basecall team. -------to continue my point, if I may.......in the 6th inning, the oposing pitcher gives up a 2 run bomb. His next pitch nails the batter in the ribs. With a little hesitation the Umpire warns the Twins manger and pitcher. Now, this is strange to me, because normally the Ump warns both teams. So the manager of the Twins, Ron Gardenhire goes absolutely nuts, because only his team got warned of course.

The point of this post is that I hate the "warning" rule. In the old days the players would handle these situations all by themselves. Nowadays the umpires are way too involved. It's as if they have total control of the game and they are becoming bigger than the game. It's bad enough that every umpire has "his own" strike zone, but now the rules allow Umps to step in an warn specific players and teams, on a whim. I'd be for the umps not giving "warnings" of future ejections (let alone Coaches and mangers getting tossed too) and letting the pitchers throw at will. I don't have a problem with a pitcher throwing inside, and I don't have a problem with guys getting hit from time to time. I get pissed seeing some of these home run trots, spins and walks. The batters need to be aware that they have a penalty if they try to "show up" another player. On the same token, these damn batters are wearing so much armor, they don't care how far they lean across the plate. Batters need to respect that plate. Or else.

I feel better now.