Results tagged ‘ Al Hrabosky ’

A Magical and Memorable Day…

 

A Legend among Legends…

Most baseball fans remember attending their first major league baseball game.  For many of us, it happened during our childhoods so it was a special event to spend time with a parent, grand-parent or older sibling.  In my case, I attended my first game with my step-father.  My own father had died a few years earlier and he did not have the health in his final years to take me to any games.

I was excited when my step-father informed me that we could be traveling to St Louis by bus to see the Cardinals play.  My step-father had been a life-long Cardinals fan so he was probably as thrilled about the trip as I was.  My step-father had been very active with the local Elks club chapter, as a member and officer of the organization.  The bus trip to St Louis, a five hour drive, had been sponsored by the Elks club.  I am not sure why that’s relevant to this post, but it’s probably just a tribute to my step-father for the passion and support he gave the Elks over the years.

The date of the game was May 29, 1974, and it featured the Los Angeles Dodgers against the St Louis Cardinals.  It was a nice spring Missouri day at the old Busch Stadium, with the Arch looming in the background.  When I look back, I am in complete awe of the players who took the field that day.  At that point of my childhood, I considered myself a bigger football than baseball fan.  Like many of my friends, my favorite baseball team were the Oakland A’s.  I would not become a Yankees fan until the end of the year when A’s starting pitcher and Hall of Famer Jim “Catfish” Hunter would leave Oakland as a free agent to sign with the Yankees.

Thinking about the game, several players stood out to me that day as a kid attending my first professional game.  I was mesmerized by the Dodgers starting pitcher (and future Yankee) Tommy John and his pitching motion.  Surprisingly, I remember John more that day than the starter for the Cardinals, the legendary Bob Gibson.

For the Cardinals, centerfielder Bake McBride made the biggest impression…well, at least until the latter innings.  I thought the name “Bake” was rather cool, and he seemed to move effortlessly with great speed in the field.  He did not do anything with his bat that day, but I enjoyed the grace he displayed in the field.  Late in the game, the Cardinals brought in closer Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky even though they were trailing.  The intensity that Hrabosky brought to the game when he entered to pitch still gives me chills.  He brought the crowd alive, and although the Cardinals would lose the game, 5-2, Hrabosky made me a believer and he became my first favorite closer. I would have subsequent trips to St Louis and I always loved watching Hrabosky pitch while he was in his prime.  I think I’ve always had a favorite closer through the years as a result.  Rich “Goose” Gossage and Mariano Rivera are two other all-time favorites.

The memory of these players vastly overlooks the legends on the field that day (as I now recognize).  The Dodgers were managed by the great Walter Alston, while the Cardinals were led by long-time manager Red Schoendienst.  Some of the Dodger names that would have prominent roles in the ’77 and ’78 World Series agains the Yankees were there…Steve Garvey, Bill Russell, Ron Cey and Steve Yeager.  The Cardinals had Joe Torre at first and Ted Simmons behind the plate.  It is amazing how differently the game looks to me today as I recall it as opposed to my perception in May 1974.  I was blessed with the opportunity to see so many legends that day.

As memorable as the game was for me, it was, believe it or not, a trip to the restroom that has endured the test of time as one of my all-time favorite baseball moments.  It was the fourth inning and I made my way to the restroom.  Over the speakers, I heard that I missed the opportunity to see my first home run as Ron Cey connected off Gibson.  After using the restroom, I was walking down the corridor back toward my seat.  I saw a line of people waiting to see a guy who was signing baseballs and books.  There were actually two guys signing autographs.  I went to the shorter line, and it was famed St Louis Post-Dispatch sports writer Bob Broeg.  Nothing against Broeg, but I was more intrigued by the other gentleman as he was garnering the most attention.  After getting Broeg’s autograph, I got in the other line and worked up my way up to shake hands with none other than the legendary Stan “The Man” Musial.  I had been familiar with who Musial was through my step-father as he always spoke very fondly of the Cardinals great.  I was in awe but admittedly I did not appreciate the moment at the time in the way I do today.  Mr. Musial was very kind to me and it is an encounter that I will never forget.  I can still remember going back to my seat and telling my step-father, “I just met Stan ‘The Man’ Musial!”.

I was very saddened to hear the news of Musial’s passing this weekend.  I have always been grateful for the few minutes I had with him and he’ll always hold a special place for me as one of my all-time favorite players.  He will be missed and as many have written, he was “The Man”…

–Scott

 

The Yankees did what?…

 

Yankees sign top free agent…

Well, it wasn’t exactly Prince Fielder but I’ve felt all off-season that re-signing Andruw Jones was important for the 2012 Yankees.  In this off-season of inactivity, I was concerned that the Yankees would let Jones slip away to a team like the Boston Red Sox or the Texas Rangers.  There’s no question that Jones is NOT the player that he used to be (that’s a given), but he fills a valuable fourth outfielder role and I prefer him over Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson, or Melky Mesa.

When I read that the Red Sox were potentially interested in Jones, I was worried that it would drive up his price tag (which was probably the prime reason for the Red Sox “interest”).  But the base salary of $2 million (with additional incentives that could push the package to $3.4 million) was very reasonable for Team Suddenly Frugal.  The Yanks have a good outfield with Curtis Granderson, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, but Jones allows the Yankees to play match-ups and move guys around.  Plus, if any of the aforementioned starters spend any time on the DL, Jones is certainly a capable fill-in.

Wanted:  Non-starting starting third baseman…

Now that the outfield depth has been filled, I am anxious to see what the Yankees do about the mandatory need to acquire a strong backup for third base.  I remain in favor of the return of Eric Chavez, but regardless of what happens, the Yankees need a proven performer that does not weaken the team during the inevitable A-Rod absences.

Yeah, that’s the ticket…

It’s too bad that MLB teams don’t get a mulligan for bad contracts.  They should give every team a one player exemption that could be called the “Stupidity Clause”.  Given A-Rod’s $30 million annual salary with $5 million production, the Yankees could get a waiver for luxury tax on the bulk of A-Rod’s salary.  Same goes for the Angels and Vernon Wells, the Cubs and Alfonso Soriano, or the Red Sox and Carl Crawford (although CC does have the ability to re-earn his money).  It does stink knowing how much the Yankees will be paying A-Rod and Derek Jeter in several years in terms of the return.  I remain hopeful that Derek Jeter will depart gracefully when he realizes that his performance is not equal to his compensation.  But I know that A-Rod is into his contract for every undeserved cent.

Hats off to a rival…

In a statement of the obvious, I knew that Mark Melancon was not destined to be the closer for the Red Sox when they acquired the former Yank from the Houston Astros.  This week’s acquisition of Andrew Bailey by the Sox from the Oakland A’s was a solid move.  Bailey, a native Easterner, will thrive in Boston.  He matches Jonathan Papelbon in ability, and exceeds him in character and integrity.  The risk with Bailey is his health, but the Sox do have relievers with closing experience in Melancon and Bobby Jenks.  While I don’t think that the Bailey acquisition is the big bold move I’ve been expecting from new Boston GM Ben Cherington, it is certainly one that improves the team.

Not looking forward to the day…

With the surplus of closer talent available this off-season, I hope that it is a similar environment when the ‘Greatest Closer Who Ever Lived’ decides to take his ageless arm and signature cutter home to Panama.  I like Derek Jeter but I will be ready for the day when a younger, talented option becomes available.  I will cry the day Mariano Rivera walks off the mound for the final time.  I loved Goose Gossage as the Yankees closer, but it took so many years for an equal (or in this case, greater) replacement to emerge.  There’s always been something so magical about a great closer.  I grew up watching the wild antics of the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky, in St. Louis, so the role of the closer became the “it” position for me at a very early age.  There’s nothing better than a game-ending punch-out with high intensity.

Game plan:  Success!…

Well, as 2011 comes to a close, I want to wish everyone a very Happy and Joyous New Year!  May your dreams come true and your happiness reach heights never before imagined!  It will be a fun and rewarding new year, and I’m glad you are here…

–Scott

Nothing Really Matters…until the ALDS…

 

I don’t like this week…

 

Cat Dislike.JPG

 

Since the Yankees clinched the AL East and best league record, they haven’t had anything to play for.

 

Bored.JPG

 

The Yanks presently have 102 wins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that ends up as the season total.  With the Yankees relegated to spring training-like intensity, their possible first round opponents are engaged in a ‘knock down, drag out’ battle to the end.  The Tigers have the edge, but tonight the Tigers are losing and the Twins are winning so the 2 game lead may be reduced to 1.  This race will most likely go to the wire, so the winner of the AL Central will come into the AL Division Series at a very high intensity level.

 

Carlos Guillen#9 (L) Curtis Granderson#28 (C) and Josh Anderson #13 of the Detroit Tigers celebrate their come from behind win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 12-10, at Angel Stadium on April 22, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Carlos Guillen;Curtis Granderson;Josh Anderson

Kevork Djansevian/Getty Images

Jim Mone/AP

 

Hopefully, the Yanks will be able to kick start their own intensity level when the ALDS begins.  Otherwise, they could get off to a sluggish start.

 

 

Well, so much for a 20 win season for CC Sabathia.  Pitching tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, CC lasted just 2 2/3 innings.  He gave up 8 hits and 9 runs (4 of the runs were unearned due to a rare Mark Teixeira error).  It is my hope that the ALDS will feature the August-September version of Sabathia.  But of course, my good friend Julia (of Julia’s Rants) was very quick to note:  “It’s October – I see that CC is getting into playoff form…”.

 

Chris O’Meara/AP 

 

I know that CC has a career 7.92 ERA in postseason play, but he does have a chance for redemption.  A win in Game 1 of the ALDS would be a great start…

 

CC Sabathia shuts down Red Sox with nine strikeouts in 7-2/3 innings as Yankees win, 5-0.

McGrath/Getty Images

 

Back when Clint Hurdle was fired as manager of the Colorado Rockies, who would have guessed that the Rockies would enter the final weekend with a chance to overtake the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Entering tonight’s game between the two teams, the Dodgers hold a slim 2 game lead.  The Dodgers are assured of a playoff spot, but they’ve definitely struggled the second half.  At this point, I’d have to say that I like the St. Louis Cardinals as the eventual National League Champion.  I have always wanted to see a Cardinals-Yankees World Series, so hopefully this is the year.  My first baseball game (in person) featured the Los Angeles Dodgers in St. Louis against the Cardinals, so a Cards-Yanks series is definitely a sentimental choice for me.

 

The Green Bay Packers travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings on Monday, so the hype should definitely be building over the next couple of days.  Of course, this won’t be anything like the game in November when the Vikings travel to Lambeau Field, but it will still be strange watching Favre work against the Packers.  Nevertheless, I still think Favre looks strange in purple…

 

 

Mystique & Aura have a new home…

This is an impressive first look at the new Yankee Stadium, complete with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.  I realize that it is a virtual look, but it definitely has the “feel” of the old Yankee Stadium:  Sony MLB ’09  

Jon Heyman has indicated that the chances of the Yankees resigning Andy Pettitte are less than 50%, with retirement, the Dodgers or the Astros looming as possible alternatives.  Given the losses of Derek Lowe and Brad Penny, combined with the Astros’ budgetary constraints, I see a reunion with Joe Torre and Donnie Baseball as the most likely destination at this point.

Good luck to Justin Christian, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles today.  I’d like to see him experience success in the major leagues…well, so long as it isn’t against the Yankees.  Speaking of the Orioles, I’d also like to say good luck for former O’s player, Jay Gibbons who has signed with the Florida Marlins.  Yes, he is associated with steroids, but deserves a second chance.  I read kind words about Jay from Baltimore writer Peter *******, and while I think Jay the baseball player was earned another opportunity, Peter leads me to believe that Jay the man equally deserves…

 

Granted, I am not that familiar with the Red Sox starting rotation, but if John Smoltz is going to start, who’s the odd man out?  Assuming that Brad Penny nails a spot, and the front three (Josh Beckett, Dice-K, and especially Jon Lester) are secure, wouldn’t that leave Tim Wakefield as the odd man out?  I guess he could be the long guy or spot starter, but wow, he’s been a rock in that rotation for so long. 

I think it’s wrong that Michael Young was told to move to third base from shortstop by Texas manager Ron Washington, but all things considered, I think he should make the move and drop the request to be traded.  I just don’t see how the Rangers could get equal value in a trade given Young’s age and contract.  Elvis Andrus certainly deserves a shot at short, but this situation could have been handled much better…

The first baseball game I ever attended was at the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 29, 1974  I remember that Tommy John was on the mound for the Dodgers that day, and the legendary Bob Gibson for the Cardinals.  The teams were locked in a pitchers’ duel, when I left to go to the bathroom.  Of course, while away, Ron Cey hit what would have been the first home run I’d ever seen in person.  A little dejected, I walked over the concession stand but noticed a line nearby.  I walked over to check it out, and saw an older guy in sunglasses signing autographs.  I figured that he must have been someone important if everyone was lined up to get his autograph.  I waited and finally got my turn.  I looked the guy in the eyes and shook his hand.  He proceeded to sign his autograph in a book for me, and I looked down and saw the words “Stan Musial”.  Of course, even though I was only 12, I had read about Musial (my first book of interest was about Lou Gehrig, so I had a preference for baseball autobiographies).  I was a little shocked about who I had just met, and somehow that made up for not seeing Cey hit that sixth inning home run.   As I look back, I became an Al Hrabosky fan that day and there has been no one who has pumped me up the way Al did when he did his Mad Hungarian routine before taking the mound for the next pitch.  But, startling as it was, I did not realize that the Cardinals first baseman was none other than Joe Torre.  He went 1 for 4, with a single.  The Dodgers won 5-2.  It was an incredible first game, and it set me on the path of a lifetime love for major league baseball.  You would have thought I would have become a Cardinals fan, but I guess that it was the love of baseball history I experienced through that early book about Lou Gehrig.  My favorite player at the time was A’s pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter.  On December 31, 1974, Hunter signed with the Yankees.  I went with him…

 

 

Al Hrabosky St. Louis Cardinals Autographed 8x10 Photograph with Mad Hungarian Inscription

Before managing the Yankees to four World Series championships, Joe Torre put together an outstanding 18-year career with four teams.

 And finally, why I am a Yankees fan…

                                                                  

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