Saturday, January 7, 2017

Mr. Killebrew Comes To Bat: A 1967 GIF-a-Rama

My GIFs focusing on Harmon Killebrew are ripped from the Saturday afternoon game of September 30, 1967 (box, BBRef.) versus the Boston Red Sox. The source film for them is the oldest known, full-length, color Major League game. So, there's some uniqueness right there.

It was the middle game of the legendary, three game, season-ending series. One of the favorite sons of Boston, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy and Vice President Hubert Humphrey, were in attendance that day at Fenway, but...did any of their fans care? The Sox were close to a pennant, and they were there for the spectacle of sluggers Yastrzemski and Harmon battling for the home run crown.

Just one win for the Twins in that series versus the improbable Sox, and it would have catapulted them into the World Series against Bob GibsonLou Brock, and the Cardinals. That, of course, is not how it went down.

The GIFs are not in chronological order - they are lined up the way they are to illustrate what The Killer did pre-at bat, or how the Red Sox reacted to him in the field, and just how savagely he swung the bat. I love it, partly because it all helps me recall how he looked  during a plate appearance. I haven't seen him hit for forty years, see? What a force he was! If you hover your cursor over the bottom of the frame, you can bring up play-by-play audio of the Boston announcers, and other menu options. I'm not sure how it'll work on iPhones, however. Just remember to click each frame off, or else you'll start hearing voices coming from, you can toggle back and forth between video and GIF, which gives great context!

It's Harmon's first inning at bat now...and here is Jose Santiago setting up his outfielders - Carl Yastrzemski in left, Reggie Smith in center, and Ken "Hawk" Harrelson in right - with a fair amount of comedy, at that, He is seemingly trying in vain to get their compliance (what, no dugout coach or manager to reign them in?). He appears to throw up his hands in frustration at the end.

In all of these shots, the non-batting gloved hands of The Killer picking up dirt (see first photo, 5th inning AB), his cleaning of his spikes, hitching up his pants, tidying his stride path for launching, is all pretty cool to observe. Then, add the super-bitchin' look of the Twins 1960s road uniform, sans all kinds of modern MLB and retail promo junk. Stuff like this gets old 50 year old+ dudes like me misty about "the good, old days" of baseball. But, maybe after watching this, you can see why.

I swear, he went down on one knee to uppercut and get that pitch airborne!

Okay, is this not the most ludicrous strike call ever?

Horrid. Killebrew is called out to end the 5th inning. So, I'm not saying that  home plate umpire Jim Honochick (see very appropriate beer ad!) was blind, or that he cost the Twins the pennant in 1967 with that call. But good God, that was one, ugly pig of a call. Ugh...that loopy curve didn't even tickle the outside corner! I'm just surprised a bit that Sox announcers Ken ColemanNed Martin, and Mel Parnell didn't even subtly offer that the call stunk.

I'll just contend that had Killebrew been given first base, it would have brought up Tony Oliva, followed by Bob Allison, followed by Rod Carew. Not a bad middle of the order, yes? The score was 1-0 in favor of the Twins at this point.We'll never know if Jose Santiago, having been pushed to more intense sequence of pitches, would have buckled, and given up the lead. But on such minute turns of momentum do pennant races go south. I'm sure the Twins felt they had half a game and then the next day to turn matters around...but the Red Sox began to pull away afterward, scoring two runs in the bottom half of the Fifth, and then four more over the next two innings, to make the score 6-2 before the Twins batted in the ninth. Sigh.

So about all we can take away from that is the singularly rare instance of Harmon getting royally p*ssed on a baseball field.

Back to savagery - not the murderous, umpiring sort, but the kind that decimates baseballs...Killebrew as the home run leader of the 1960s had hit 323 home runs in the decade to this point, and with this swing, he hit his 324th, and 44th of 1967. It was his last of the year, placing him in a tie with Yastrzemski. It was an outstanding at bat on his part, as he battled Gary "Ding Dong" Bell by fouling off three pitches, before homering on this 2-2 offering. But Oliva lined a shot right at third baseman Jerry Adair for the final out. 

Through even sad events, Twins baseball history is made. They can't all be dramatic 7th Game endings. The sunny, flowery days wouldn't look as good without the grey, cloudy ones, dig? And getting some sights of Harmon Killebrew makes even that bad medicine go down a bit nicer.

"So long, everybody!"- Herb Carneal

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Twins And Tigers Brawl, 5/14/82 (a Gif Showcase)

In baseball of the 21st Century, there is mere anger, displays of "displeasure," including the throwing of inanimate objects, like clothes, bats, water buckets, and the dreaded pointing of fingers at rookies who dare to show up veterans after hitting homeruns...(see: "Jose Ramirez, Minnesota Twins, 2015).

...and then there is the real deal, where grown men actually do something with their righteous anger...unlike our calm and sedate MLB fights we have presently, there was a caveman-like era when Minnesota and Detroit players literally hated each other.

Ah, the humanity...if you have children in the room, you'd best think twice of scrolling forward...what follows is "Gangs Of New York"-type stuff...

Note "Freedom Fighter" Al Williams, center.
Must have felt like a lemonade festival, compared

The May 14, 1982 brawl (box score link) between the Twins and the Tigers at old Tigers Stadium in Detroit has been documented quite well already. Most recently, Rachel Blount posted an excellent account in her June 29, 2010 piece in the Star Tribune, The GIFs here merely reinforce what a real, visceral melee it really was. I've always maintained it helped form the rich fabric of the Twins-Tigers history, which includes some merciless beatings via Detroit over the young Twins in the 1981-86 period, and culminating in a most satisfying ALCS win for the Twins over the Motowners in 1987.

In the end, perhaps the greatest prize these GIFs reveal is that Jesus Vega , no 21, actually did something real and passionate on the field, for once at least--to belie the otherwise pacifist tone of his given birth name. His bat didn't necessarily do his talking for him, to reverse the baseball adage

Pete Redfern started off the nasty fun with this hit on Chet Lemon in the Fourth Inning. Note Pete Filson, no. 23, sauntering in so very casually at the very end of the frame, from the right.

Ron Davis kept the smoking embers of anger hot with his tatoo job on Enos Cabel in the 11th.

I'm actually surprised Davis had that kind of control, his everlasting infamy coloring my memory.
Breath in the ensuing mayhem, all ye street fighting men and ladies. I'm only glad ol' Sparky Anderson wasn't seriously roughed up during the hi-jinks. Alas, "Captain Hook" lived to tell the tale, clear up through 2010, in fact. See You Tube for the full and unbridled banquet of violence.

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's Official: Senators Announce Move To Minnesota, Oct. 26, 1960

NOTE: this post is a part of my ongoing "Twins Genesis" series, with "The Naming Of The Twins" being the other published back on November 26, 2011.

In the October 26, 1960 edition of The Sporting News, Washington Senators President Calvin Griffith emphatically denied that a move of his team to Minnesota was in the works:
"Read my (semi-obscured)
lips - there will be no
move to Minneapolis...
"That's a lot of baloney, and sounds like somebody's pipedream. It is news to me that the American League will discuss transferring the Washington club elsewhere."
But on that very same day, as we well know, Griffith and the rest of the AL bigwig suits came out of a smoke-filled backroom during the Fall MLB Owner's meetings to announce the info about the Senators move, besides the blockbuster new expansion teams being created in Washington (the "new" Senators) and Los Angeles (the Angels) to begin play in April, 1961.

Below embed - From the October 26 and November 2, 1960 issues of  "The Sporting News"

The Fall Owners meeting in '60 was preceeded two days earler by a fateful visit to Griffith's New York hotel suite by young Minneapolis businessman Wheelock Witney and Gerald Moore, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, In their last-ditch, final pitch to convince him to commit to a move, they upped the ante by guaranteeing him 1 million in attendance for each of the first three years in Minnesota, plus full concession proceeds and $500,000 in local television and radio rights – almost three times more in broadcast revenue than he was earning in Washington. Now There was no way Griffith would delay. The deal was done - to The Northstar State was he headed. The owners stood by Calvin with a 6-2 vote.

It was the culmination of several years of rumored moves, thinly-veiled threats by Griffith to find greener pastures, and legal action to block said movement. Not that one could blame Calvin for wanting out of perpetual, last place penury, especially in the 1950s, Yankees-dominated era which he had inherited from his Hall of Fame Uncle, Clark Griffith.

 Now, to put a final nail in the upstart Continental League, and to get the jump on the National League, Griffith and his American League backers were moving boldly (if not with great foresight). It was not just a wonderful bonanza in Minnesota, and for its fans to have a professional sports franchise - expansion and relocation signaled the beginning of a new era in American professional sports, happening as it did at the start of the 1960s, with all the innovation and turbulence that change can bring. The NFL, NBA, and the NHL would take their cues, and follow suit in the years to follow.

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Vin Scully Narrates 1965 World Series Documentary

Enjoy this gorgeous, color recap of the exciting '65 World Series, as told by the incomparable Vin Scully, who signed off a short time ago this afternoon after the Dodgers final regular season game of 2016. This is the latest in the continuing 1965 World Series posts. It is a collection of summaries for each of the games 1-7 from that post season between the Dodgers and Twins.

I became a Dodger fan largely because of him. And I must say, it was my pleasure to see this classy chap one last time on the MLB app. This is Classic Twins's salute to the great one, arguably the best announcer in Major League Baseball history.

His is a career that has spanned post-War 1950s-era Brooklyn to the 21st Century Los Angeles of the digital age, endearing him to millions as he wove his way across the generations and the decades. Scully could adorn a baseball broadcast like no other, adding player anecdotes and figurative language in a genial, American vernacular that was accessible to people in all walks of life. He did so with an economy of words that always had the deft subtlety of one who never forgot the game is the thing. He was the added chrome and vivid detailing on the classic, Mustang Convertible.

As the description from the You Tube sponsor puts it:
"Sandy, Don, and Claude take on Jimmy, Mudcat and The Little Potato!"

Video via the Sports History Channel

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

Bonus: Vin Scully interview with NPR, with soundbites from some of his most famous calls!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Historically Bad Franchise Teams

Yes, friends, there have been some bright spots this year. Mention Byron Buxton's name, and your average Twins fan's stomach will no longer immediately feel indigestion. But it may be time to venture into the negative now, a thing which I do not normally enjoy. If you suspect this next bit will be depressing as all (Chip) Hale, now's the time to back out...!

Don't look behind you, Class of '82 boys. 
Something might be gaining on you..
But then, as it's hard to avert your eyes from train wrecks, so here you are - the TOP TEN WORST TEAMS IN FRANCHISE HISTORY - Ranked By Losses - #1-10! As I see it, the 2016 club has an incredibly good chance to surpass the 1982 Twins for the worst record since relocating in 1961...

Rk Year Tm G W L ▾ W-L% pythW-L% Finish GB R RA Attendance Top Player
-Using WAR-
1 1904 Washington Senators 157 38 113 .252 .275 8th of 8 55.5 437 743 131,744 C.Patten (3.8)
2 1909 Washington Senators 156 42 110 .276 .269 8th of 8 56.0 380 656 205,199 W.Johnson (3.7)
3 1949 Washington Senators 154 50 104 .325 .326 8th of 8 47.0 584 868 770,745 E.Robinson (2.5)
4 1982 Minnesota Twins 162 60 102 .370 .401 7th of 7 33.0 657 819 921,186 T.Brunansky (5.6)
5 1907 Washington Senators 154 49 102 .325 .360 8th of 8 43.5 506 693 221,929 C.Smith (3.5)
6 1955 Washington Senators 154 53 101 .344 .376 8th of 8 43.0 598 789 425,238 M.McDermott (3.1)
7 2011 Minnesota Twins 162 63 99 .389 .383 5th of 5 32.0 619 804 3,168,116 S.Baker (4.4)
8 1957 Washington Senators 154 55 99 .357 .369 8th of 8 43.0 603 808 457,079 R.Sievers (4.6)
9 1999 Minnesota Twins 161 63 97 .394 .406 5th of 5 33.0 686 845 1,202,829 B.Radke (6.5)
10 1948 Washington Senators 154 56 97 .366 .358 7th of 8 40.0 578 796 795,254 R.Scarborough (5.5)
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2016.

I guess the best one can say at this point is that the Twins cannot eclipse the 1904 and 1909 Senators. They were drawing favorable comparisons to the 1962 New York Mets early in the 2016 season, but leveled off at another brand of awful. That's what historically bad pitching gets you! Not to mention a roster full of rookies for reasons of injury to veterans, or ineffectiveness of the same. Take note where the under-performing 2016 Twins stand presently on the list below, and recall how their hypothetical, Pythagorean .413 winning percentage had placed them on a pace to win 66 games before this season began- a seemingly improbable end result now.

Though they had a miserable start to the season, their difficulties since August 1 have been especially vexing. Minnesota sat at 40-64 (.384), 21 GB on that date, and in the last 46 games they've been humming along at a .326 clip, going 15-31, 31.5 GB, the worst record in MLB. Not as bad as the baddest Washington teams of the 'Aughts, but plenty bad enoughSadly, the potential for ugly is high now in the season's last two weeks, when they could overtake the 1948 Senators and move "up" higher yet, to the AT list 10 spot (which is assuming they run the board and lose every one of the season's last 12 games). That would definitely take some effort, however. It's more than a bit sad to think they could sweep the next 12 and STILL not match the 2000 Twins for success, the club that preceded the franchise's ascent to relevance in the early 2000s.

TOP 10 WORST FRANCHISE CLUBS - Ranked By Losses - # 11-20

Rk Year Tm G W L ▾ W-L% pythW-L% Finish GB R RA Attendance Top Player
-Using WAR-
11 2013 Minnesota Twins 162 66 96 .407 .388 4th of 5 27.0 614 788 2,477,644 J.Mauer (5.3)
12 2012 Minnesota Twins 162 66 96 .407 .422 5th of 5 22.0 701 832 2,776,354 D.Span (5.0)
13 2016 Minnesota Twins 150 55 95 .367 .413 5th of 5 31.5 683 827 1,831,020 B.Dozier (6.7)
14 1956 Washington Senators 155 59 95 .383 .346 7th of 8 38.0 652 924 431,647 C.Stobbs (4.6)
15 1906 Washington Senators 151 55 95 .367 .388 7th of 8 37.5 519 665 129,903 C.Patten (4.4)
16 1997 Minnesota Twins 162 68 94 .420 .450 4th of 5 18.5 772 861 1,411,064 C.Knoblauch (6.7)
17 1903 Washington Senators 140 43 94 .314 .302 8th of 8 47.5 437 691 128,878 H.Wilson (3.1)
18 2000 Minnesota Twins 162 69 93 .426 .426 5th of 5 26.0 748 880 1,000,760 B.Radke (6.2)
19 1958 Washington Senators 156 61 93 .396 .366 8th of 8 31.0 553 747 475,288 D.Hyde (4.6)
20 2014 Minnesota Twins 162 70 92 .432 .462 5th of 5 20.0 715 777 2,250,606 B.Dozier (5.2)
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/19/2016.

Whatever will be the case, thank God this year is nearly over!

"So long, folks!" - Herb Carneal