THE ORANGE SOX

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WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK. By “Bull” Allen.  October 26, 2021:

Hello there everybody, this is “Bull” Allen

….greeting you from Yankee Stadium in the openair press box in the baseball twilight, as baseball is about to leave us once again.

 I always regret when baseball slides into the cold short days of autumn when shadows of the Old Stadium Grandstand creates a blinding glare in the leftfielders’ faces  early in the afternoon and as sun sets, the pitcher is deep in shadow, making their fast balls faster, harder to pick up, changeups like grapefruits, curves craftier.

They do not play in the left field at the big ball park anymore It is now a ghost park.

In the new stadium that I never go to, the grandstand is higher and there is no longer the “ Norm Siebern Glare” that caused Yankee leftfielder Norm Siebern to lose two flyballs in game 4 of the 1958 World Series .  Ahh the innocence of memory!

The Old Stadium left field had a glaring sunfield and it was deep, 402 feet to left center. as the autumn sun dipped below the rim of the upper deck, the shadows went out to beyond the pitcher’s mound making the deep left field play incredibly difficult.

I saw the Yankees’ Norm Seibern misjudge three flyballs in the 4th game of the 1958 series. In those days outfielders never missed balls, not like today when outfield play is not as consistently routine even though ballparks are shallower in distance. You had to be good in the outfield in the ballparks of yesterday.

I am sadder at the end of this season. So much is wrong with the game. 

The Commissioner who is now running baseball and trying to fix it is killing the game. He is cruising for a baseball strike next season with his changes, and the game will be hurt seriously

But his decision on the Houston Astros , the “Orange Sox” last year has had the effect of destroying the Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis decision on the old Black Sox World Series Fix of 1919.  Whatever happened to caselaw?

In 1919, gamblers led by Arnold Rothstein got to 8 Chicago White Sox players who thought they were  notoriously underpaid by their cheap owner Charles Comiskey. 

The Pale Hose were World Champions in 1917. They won again in 1919, but lost the series in 8 games to the Cincinnati Redlegs. Players made errors. Pitchers threw up batting practice pitches.  Well into the 1920 season it came out that Sox players had conspired to fix the 1919 series getting paid huge sums of money to do so.

They were brought to trial and found not guilty. However, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis the new and FIRST Commissioner of Baseball, sent a strong message with this decision on the future of the “8 Men Out”

According to Wikipedia, to wit, Judge Landis wrote:


Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ball game, no player who undertakes or promises to throw a ball game, no player who sits in confidence with a bunch of crooked ballplayers and gamblers, where the ways and means of throwing a game are discussed and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.
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Well, baseball’s Commissioner of today, Rob Manfred  has turned that precedent aside. Just threw it out. This should be taken to court. Let the Supreme Court puzzle this one out.

 When Manfred “investigated” the Houston Astro garbage can signals used in 2017 through 19,  (three seasons!), mind you {ironically 100 years after the Black Sox episode and trial and Landis banning of the Black Sox players}, he let the players for the Astros who agreed to confirm the cheating on condition of no punishment, continue to play baseball.

That has to be the worst plea bargain ever offered eagerly accepted by the Astros.

I want to let that sink in for a moment:

Manfred let the Astros who cheated confirm they had cheated in those Astro years, continue to play baseball, make millions, and of course send the message:

you can cheat in baseball just don’t get caught, and even if you do, it’s O.K.

Many of those players will be on the field tonight as the World Series begins in Houston.

Houston has already been accused by the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox (again ironically) of cheating with whistles to signal batters what pitch was coming in the Amerlcan League this year!

Of course, they wouldn’t do that again would they?

You never know, do you?

The last time this consistent cheating happened was in 1951 when Leo Durocher (who was traded from the Yankees when Babe Ruth caught Durocher stealing money from the Babe’s locker, and the Babe beat him up), devised a signal stealing system midway through July 1951 when Brooklyn had a 13-1/2 game lead on the Giants.

Sal Ivars a Giant third string catcher in 1951 confirmed the cheating system.

Before he died, Ivars admitted he relayed the signals of what pitch was coming to the batters, when a clubhouse employee watched signals with a Wollensack Telescope (harder to see than binoculars), picking up the sign and buzzing a buzzer connected to the leftfield bullpen where Ivars would wave a towel or not wave a towel, confirmed the system. The Giants went 47-7 in August and September to tie for the pennant.

More significantly beginning July 20 when Durocher instituted the telescope sighting of catcher signal, buzz the pitch, and the Ivars wave-a-towel signal to the Giant batter, the Giants, sitting at 47 and 41 on July 20, went 49-17 to the wire to tie Brooklyn.

They won on the road, carding a 27-12 in road games during that stretch from July 20 to the end of the season. They went 22 and 5 while playing at home! They played .692 ball on the road when supposedly they were not playing stealing signs in the enemy ball parks (no buzzer) But you never know..

At home with the signal-stealing in effect, the Giants played .814 ball, 18% better than they played on the road.

If you figure without cheating at home the Giants would have played .692 ball, they only would have won 18 games at home, failing to tie the Brooks for the pennant by 4 games.

The cheating helped them tie is the statistical conclusion.

But cheating a short winner-take-all series like the 3 game or 5 game or 7 game series baseball plays in the playoffs now is a huge advantage in a clutch spot.

Both of Bobby Thompson’s homeruns in the playoffs were hit off Ralph Branca, only the pennant winning homer was hit off Branca in the Polo Grounds.

 Did Thompson get the sign of the second fastball Branca threw which Thompson rifled  into the lower deck in left? I think Thompson got the tipoff on the second fastball in a row.(He had taken the first pitch) It is unusual to throw two straight fastballs in the same spot.

What do you think?

When that plot came to light in the book “The Echoing Green”  in 2008, nothing was done by baseball or the Hall of Fame to take away the “Championship” of the Giants in 1951, or to the cheater, Durocher.

In the 1990s, when steroids improved the output of players (you fans know who they were),  and  there was a corked bat  discovered when a  home run champion’s bat was broken by a pitch,  it was discovered, but those players were not banned.

Most recently the Boston Red Sox were caught cheating with video in 2018. And Houston in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

A.J Hinch the Houston manager during the Houston cheating sat out a year then was allowed back in baseball taking the Detroit Tiger job. Hinch went 9-24 his first month and a half as manager then turned the Tigers around.

Alex Cora managed the Red Sox in 2018, in which the Red Sox used video to steal signs. Neither Hinch nor Cora were banned for  life.

The only player banned from baseball (other than the White Sox 8) from gambling on his own team, not cheating, was Pete Rose the man with the most hits ever in major league baseball and one of the most durable. A player who made every team he played for a champion and managed one to a Championship, too (the Philadelphia Phillies).

Three players on the Astros after they admitted cheating, mocked the fact that they got away with no punishment. One saying, “What are you gonna do about it?” No contrition.

Manfred is weak.

Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis is rising from the grave to haunt Mr. Manfred.

Baseball like all business goes along to get along. They forgive you if you play along and say they care when they really do not.

The baseball establishment (sportswriters)  won’t put Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame.

But, Pete  never cheated.

Leo Durocher is in the Hall of Fame. He cheated big time.

Here is a man who cheated to win a pennant and they do not remove his plaque?

This continued “looking the other way on the Astros” is a  disgrace and  is the worst part of this season.

Howard Kesselman wrote in reader comments on The Echoing Green something very profound about major league baseball cheating:

”There is also the ethical question which was never memorialized into a rule in baseball. How far can a team go in stealing signs? At what point does it go from a crafty custom and skill to one that all would say transcends the bounds of fair play. For me the telescope meets the latter test. “

I also say garbage cans, video review that the Red Sox did come under the same transcendence.

No punishment sends the wrong message: you can do it, just don’t get caught.

By the same token, steroid use as used by players in the 1990s, corked bats, and recently by players in last years of their contracts to up their numbers meets that transcendence. Fraudulent performance like a drugged race horse, It should have the Landis penalty—outright banning.

Saying you’re sorry and you regret it is not good enough.

The Astros did not even do that. They mocked Manfred. They mock him still by their behavior and arrogance on the garbage can and whistle blowing.

The game this season was not the game, the national pastime it once was.

2021 has been a Frankenstein of a season.

The owners’ “Dr. Frankenstein” is trying to create a baseball of his own to make more money for the owners. The players are suspicious of the owners   Baseball in the last full blown year of competition in 2016, before the cheating began in 2017,  made 9.5 Billion dollars in revenue, the NFL, 13 Billion.  

Baseball came back after covid, but this season has seen really boring baseball .The Wild Card-Playoffs have seen the two teams with the best records fail to make the World Series—again.

What did we see with Dr. Frankenstein in charge?

Bullpen strategy was upended with the rule that pitchers coming in must pitch to three batters. This introduced the idiocy of the righty-lefty-right-lefty batting order which often compromised outfield defence with weak arms, and bad fielders in infield positions.

 Major league managers have not caught up to this.

Pitchers in relief are used every day. The pens wear out.

Starting pitchers are running out of gas after 5 innings. Bullpens have been exhausted by having to hold leads for 5 innings virtually every game because of the lack of starters who can be effective for 7 innings or 6, forgive me for expecting that.

Five or 6 innings, I beg your pardon, is not a quality start.

Pitchers who can go 7 or 8, like Jacob Degrom, have had their arms blown out by being overpitched.

Degrom faded out in June with a sore arm. He may never be as dominant again. When Degrom went down, the Mets mailed in the season.  Same thing happened with the Yankees. You cannot be a one-pitcher team. The Met general management went for hitting, when they really needed pitching. Go figure.

The batters’ averages tanked, as they swung at  high gas, outside gas, inside gas, spitballs, doctored balls, whatever creative pitches pitchers could come up with,  swinging for the short fences,  trying to pull the ball and many batters cannot hit  smartly with men on base bcause they either can’t hit the ball through a wide open shift hold, or choose to pull the ball for a homa.

The Yankees were  an excellent demonstration of that. The hitters could not move the runners. Manager Aaron Boone never employed the hit and run, the steal, the sacrifice bunt. Strikeouts soared.  The big hitters got up and it was either a homer, a strikeout, pop up or double play. End of rally.

Across baseball,  strikeouts soared, pitchers had to throw more pitches, more foul balls were hit. And by the 5th or 6th they were done. No stuff. More blasts.

What has happened to  pitching coached by pitching coaches who knew how to pitch back in the day?

 There are none. No Tom Seavers, Johnny Sains, Mel Stottlemeyers, Jim Turners, Dave Righettis, who knew how to pitch teaching mechanics in the major leagues and minors.

Instead major league baseball has become an aristocracy of mediocrities with manager positions and coach positions filled by .250 hitters, .500 record pitchers wrecking young talent with pitch counts, and innings limitations, whom you’ve got up and down the minors and majors.

 If you’ve never won 200 games, you cannot teach a pitcher how to win consistently in the big leagues.

If you have never hit 40 homers and .300 in the same year, you are not able to teach hitting. The last good hitting coach who was not a great hitter was Harry Chiti who invented a stance that really improved mediocre players.

The less competent hitters were not as deft this season at working the count to 3-2s and keeping it there.

On the other hand, the intentional walk has been abandoned as a strategy because of the pitching to 3 batters in a row bullpen rule.

Pitching to Eddie Rosario Friday night in the Atlanta-Dodger series with two out and two on with first base open was ridiculous. Rosario has been killing the Dodgers. Why let him be given a chance to beat you again? The LA starter was in his 4th inning!!!!. Dumb managing is so prevalent. As it turned out that Rosario line homer was the winning hit. Never let the guy who’s owned you hit with ducks on the pond.

The media coverage this season was terrible. The papers never carry box scores. They never give you details on the game until 24 hours later.

It is tough to broadcast a game  from a monitor let alone watch it in the stands. You have broadcasters like John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman watching television feeds in New York and trying to do play-by play. The ownerships are so cheap.

 I hope this practice of isolating the play-by-play voices in a studio ends. And, another thing. Every feature on every broadcast is sponsored. So instead of concentrating on the drama of the game, you get a short plug.

 Pretty soon we will have a sponsor of the count for each batter. “Eddie Rosario’s At Bat is brought to you by TheCitizNetReporter Where Every Story’s A Hit,”  Or you could sponsor “Counts,” The Payoff  Pitch is sponsored by Goldman-Sachs Let us make you Rich Maybe” The NFL has not caught on to this yet. Kickoffs could be sponsored. 2-point conversions sponsored. Punts could be sponsored Sacks could be sponsored.

The Commissioner who is now running baseball and trying to fix it is killing the game. He is cruising for a baseball strike next season with his changes to the game, and the game will be hurt seriously.

I like shifts. I like positioning players the way a batter hits. That is scouting.

What is wrong is the hitters are not as good!

They won’t hit to the deserted side of the infield.

Maybe it is because they can’t.

I am reminded of the simplest advice of all given by Rabbit Maranville of the old Highlanders, the Yankees of the past:

“Hit ‘em where they ain’t.

What ever happened to that?

Well they’re sweeping out the stands now. No more ball at the big ballpark of memory. The fans are popping beer cups in the aisles. The tarp is on the infield. A ballpark is very sad when the fans are filing out and the pop of beer cups echo.

The smoke from my White Owl Wallop drifts out of the press box down into the empty box seats.

The sunset over the stand casts a sweet melancholy of memory of greats in the sun making the spectacular play– like this great catch Wes Covington of the Milwaukee Braves (above) backhanding a screaming line drive off Bobby Shantz’s bat in Game 2 of the 1957 series that I saw in person.

I see him to this day, racing from shallow left center on an angle the sun on his back — as the liner was a double if it dropped and 2 runs off Lew Burdette.

With dramatic unfolding precision Wes speared the ball backhanded and tumbled head over heels and held on to the ball. to take away a double.

How about that?

So long, everybody.

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