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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The 68th Yankee Old-Timers’ Day was held on Sunday, June 22, 2014. The ceremonies began at 11:30 a.m. with the introduction of about 50 Yankee Old-Timers including Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rickey Henderson and Reggie Jackson, as well as Joe Torre, who will be inducted in the Hall-of-Fame in July of this year. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, who won a World Series title with the Yankees in 2009, made their Old-Timers' Day debuts. As each old-timer was introduced they took their position on either the first base or third base foul lines. The honor of being last introduced belonged to the 89-year-old Yogi Berra and the 85-year-old Whitey Ford. The two of them were driven in a car with Yogi in the front seat and Whitey in the back seat. For many years the honor of being introduced last belonged to Joe DiMaggio. There was one exception. In the 1969 Old-Timers’ Day which marked the first year of Mickey Mantle’s retirement, Mickey was introduced after Joe. Stories circulated that DiMaggio told Yankee executives that he would no longer attend Old-Timers Day unless he was introduced last. After the introductions, the traditional Old-Timers’ game was played.  As part of the pre-game ceremonies Hall-of-Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage was honored by the Yankees with a plaque that will be hung in Monument Park.

Joining the Hall-of-Famers and former Yankees on the baselines were the widows of six legendary Yankees-Maggie Coleman, widow of Jerry Coleman; Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim "Catfish" Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

On the same day as this year’s Old-Timers’ Day the United States Men’s National Team would play against Portugal in the FIFA World Cup at 5 p.m. Would you believe there is a connection between the Yankees’ Old-Timers’ Day and the FIFA World Cup? The connection is between old-timer former catcher Scott Bradley, who played for the Yankees, White Sox, Mariners and Reds over his nine-year career and his nephew Michael Bradley, a forward on this year’s Men’s National Team. Scott was interviewed about his nephew and the upcoming World Cup game.

Like many children growing up I played soccer in gym classes, but never took soccer seriously. Probably the reason children are introduced to soccer at an early age is unlike the game of baseball where a great deal of hand and eye coordination is necessary to hit a baseball with a bat; it does not take much skill to be able to kick a ball. Also, soccer is a source of healthy exercise for children at any age.

This brings me to my attraction to the FIFA World Cup. Many Americans, including professional athletes, have joined me in a new attraction to the game of soccer. Yes, professional soccer, the MLS League, trails in popularity in the United States to the four major professional leagues, the NFL, the MLB, the NBA, and the NHL. Yet, Americans have grown to love this year’s National Team. The TV ratings for the game between the US and Portugal were higher than the World Series and the NBA Finals. Probably the reason for the TV ratings being so high is if your team is not in the World Series you tend to lose interest; however, for the World Cup an American person’s team is America.

The US team blew a 2-1 lead in the last few minutes of the match and wound up tying Portugal. If they had kept their lead they would have advanced to the round of 16. This brings us to Thursday’s game against Germany. Even though I acknowledge a lack of understanding of the rules and strategies in soccer, I am looking forward to the game against Germany. If the US wins that game they will advance to the next round. Even if they tie they could still advance.

Go US Go!!!


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The baseball season of 2011 was the first year that MLB put into effect a new paternity rule. The rule was adapted to provide a guilt-free accommodation for the player and at the same time try to make life easier for the manager. The new rule allowed players to take up to three days off for the birth of a child without hurting the team, which can fill the roster with any other player from their 40 man roster.

The first four players in the 2011 season to take advantage of the paternity rule were Ian Desmond, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Bay, and Colby Lewis. Colby Lewis has the distinction of being the first player to be placed on paternity leave when he left the Texas Rangers to witness the birth of his daughter. Keep this fact in mind for a trivia quiz.

In 2001, Met manager Terry Collins said, “Twenty-five years ago nobody left. Nobody went to weddings. You played because the season was six months long any you stayed. But the rules changed and that’s part of the Basic Agreement now, but they got this rule which helps you so you don’t lose a player and you can keep your core roster. We adjust to it.  I’m sure the wives are happier.”

Fast forward to the 2014 season. This leads us to the controversy when Daniel Murphy, the Mets starting second baseman and one of their best hitters, took advantage of the paternity rule this year. Daniel Murphy is proud he put fatherhood ahead of baseball, and New York Mets manager Terry Collins thinks the criticism his second baseman received for taking paternity leave is unfair. Murphy made his season debut three days after the birth of his son. He missed the first two games of the 2014 season.

Two of the leading radio personalities on WFAN Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason both leveled their criticism of Murphy for taking the paternity leave.

Francesa on his radio show said, “One day I understand. And in the old days they didn’t do that. But one day, go see the baby be born and come back. You’re a MLB player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help.” Francesa went off on his own network when he found out that WFAN gives a 10-day paternity leave.

Esiason was even more critical when he said, “Murphy should have insisted his wife have a C-section before the season starts, he needs to be at Opening Day, I’m sorry.” His partner Craig Carton agreed and said, “Assuming the birth went well, the wife is fine, the baby is fine, 24 hours and then you get your ass back to your team.”

Mets GM Sandy Alderson came to the defense of Murphy by saying, “I’ve got no problem with Murph being away. I think the delivery was a little earlier than expected, but those things you don’t control. I am happy he was able to be with his wife and the fact that he only missed two games is positive for us.”

The next day Esiason gave a lengthy apology on his radio show. Referring to his comment about a C-section he said, “I was not telling women what to do with their bodies. I would never do that. That’s their decision. I should have never uttered the word C-section on this radio station.”

Daniel Murphy, speaking at the White House, at a forum on working fathers said, “When my son asks me one day, ‘What happened’? What was it like when I was born? I could have answered; I slammed a Strasburg breaking ball that day, son, into the right field corner.” But instead, he continued, he can tell his son, “I am the one who cut his umbilical cord.”

My take on this issue is both radio celebs were way out of line with their criticism. Daniel Murphy exercised his right under MLB rules to take the three-day paternity leave. As we celebrate another father’s day, I say kudos to Daniel Murphy for putting his priorities in the right order.

Happy Father's Day!


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Part 1 of 2

I received via email from Dr. Cornelius Meyer, emeritus full-professor of psychology at Quinnipiac University, a wonderful family baseball story. I hope you enjoy reading his story about baseball, Father’s Day, and the “Green Monster”.

Dr. Meyer states, “This was a special Father's Day for my family, and it is with a sense of pride and joy that we celebrate with a story, told and retold.”

His story appears in the following post, so view the video, and then read the wonderful story that goes with it.

 

Fenway Blast from Ozzie Nelson on Vimeo.

 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

Ah...baseball and Father's day. The lineage started with my dad, a truck driver who had little interest in sports, but was always up for a round of "catch". My turn came...God blessed me and my wife with two sons, and I knew what to do from there.  Although we all enjoyed yearlong sport's rooting, and both boys played two sports, nothing matched the magic of spring hope and balls flying.  My wife, born in Latvia, came late but well to the fan passions of the Summer Game.  Ground ball practice, playing catch, fly balls in the sun, and the batting cage...ah, the batting cage...time well spent on our sons.  We seemed to be at a ball game, cheering, watching, believing, every night, and it was a life we loved.  My oldest, Jesse, was a speedy 6’ 2" right fielder with a good arm and a natural talent he used to track the angles and velocity of outfield play.  He hit cleanup on his HS team, runner up state champs, because of his ability to hit with two strikes and drive in runs when they were especially needed.  To this day he loves baseball, we talk about it every day, and he does not regret trading the game for academics.  Many paths in life, he chose his own.  Our youngest, Aaron, lost daily in every game to his older brother, and seemed to want more of it, not less.  As I have said to many, our family motto is "swing away", and he did. He sprouted into 6' 5" outfielder/first baseman who loved the game with passion and commitment.  Now to the Father's Day part.

Father's Day(1996) was June 17, a date which is seared in the consciousness of our family.  Aaron was selected for the Connecticut All-Stars, the 15 best HS Seniors in the State, to compete against a similar squad from Massachusetts, scheduled for the aforementioned date. The game, to my and his incredible delight, was played in Fenway Park...his brother Jesse would take the subway over from Harvard where he was studying Fracture Mechanics and Applied Engineering.  My wife and I arrived at the park early, and secured a front row seat between home and third(about 2000 attended... many scouts and college coaches, including the Dartmouth Coach who would teach him for the next four years).  As we watched him take warm-up in right field and first base, I had trouble focusing the memories...I wanted to hold them forever, but could feel the sands of time slipping through the fingers of my mind.  My heart filled my throat as the game began, with his squad batting in the bottom of the first, no score. The pitcher for the Massachusetts team was a curve ball/fast ball type who eventually had a fine career at Boston College and the Minor Leagues. Aaron, batting third, followed two initial routine outs by understandably anxious young ballplayers.

Our heads work alike, and I knew he was nervous as he stood in and took his warm-up swings. The first pitch, a sharp curve ball, found him out in front, a mere wave at best.  He stepped out and gathered himself...I could hear him think..."head down and quiet, hands ready but in motion, take the ball up the middle, see the spin, keep weight back, set, swing away if it's good and hit the crap out of it"...his mom grabbed my arm and I suppressed my breath. Another curve ball came, and this time he held his mechanics in check.  The swing, like a flash, sent the ball high and arching towards left center. It kept rising, rainbow like, in eyes of my mind, as it is now as these words pour from my keyboard, and at its apogee seemed to settle like a feather into the net of heroes above the Green Monster. There was a audible gasp from the crowd, and then we all released adrenalin and joy into our bodies and hearts.  We have a lifetime to celebrate...we do...Home Plate is so perfectly named when it’s on your side.

By Cornelius Meyer


 

 

 
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