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Found 141 results

  1. I wasn't sure what to think about "Cobb" going into it: It was a box office flop, that was mildly acclaimed by critics, which is generally right up my alley; in this case, I think I knew *too* much about baseball to enjoy it as a "regular" film critic would - it was just not a good film. The film focuses on Ty Cobb's final year of life, during which a famous sportswriter (Al Stump) is writing a biography of him. After the film, I still don't know what to believe about Cobb: Was he *that* much of a hateful man, or was this overplayed? I don't know, but if this story was true, then Cobb was simply despicable. Nothing about "Cobb" moved me - I didn't like the interplay between Cobb and Stump, and that's pretty much all there was in the entire film. I'd be very curious to hear from some other film lovers and baseball fans, as to what this film meant to them. I didn't "hate" it so much as I didn't "like" it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, not an art-house film lover, and not a baseball fanatic. What else is left? I *do* like the fact that they took a very small slice of Cobb's life (his final slice) and spent a great deal of time exploring this, rather than doing a "cradle-to-grave" biography of him. Is that a compliment? I think it is.
  2. Saying "Alexander Cartwright invented baseball" is a little like saying "Christopher Columbus discovered America." Well, it isn't *that* bad, but there were precedents before Cartwright codified the "Knickerbocker Rules" in 1845. I grew up believing it was Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, NY, in 1839, but that has been largely debunked. This particular thread is for discussion about the game in general - rules, various leagues around the world, etc., and probably won't get much play since most discussion is more specific, but it's here if anyone needs it.
  3. I think after yesterday's performance, Mad Max merits his own thread. "Max Scherzer Flirts with Perfection, Striking Out 16 Along the Way" on nytimes.com "Max Scherzer Pitched One of the All-Time Games Today" by Rohan Nadkarni on deadspin.com "Max Scherzer Allows Hit to Carlos Gomez in 7th to Loser Perfect Game" on espn.go.com
  4. The Keys. Boy you can sit close. Highest priced seating about $15. Of course you can also go up to the club for the finest dining available at the Keys stadium courtesy of those well known providers of the most exquisite dining experiences in the region: Mattress Discounters!!! Lotta hot dogs at Keys stadium (I forget the real name), unless you opt for the mattress discounter cuisine prepared by your chef..............................uh...I didn't get his/her name. I like minor league ball!!!!!! You are so close and its so relaxed.
  5. Oh my, Yogi Berra, an all-time great catcher in the big leagues, and an all-American icon for his many quotes and advertisements that featured him. Seeing comments here referencing that .... really depressed me. Yogi is an iconic American sports star, a beloved character, and what hit hardest on a personal level, was that Yogi has lived most of his life since he got to the Yankees in a Northern NJ town, near where I grew up. There was a fair bit of news about Yogi in my neck of the woods, and all of it was positive and beloved. Yogi's achievements in baseball are legendary and formidable. He ranks with the best of the best. The Yog played in 14 World Series and was on the winning side 10 times!!! That could be a personal record that might not be beat. Yogi was part of Yankee dynasties that helped him get there, but his presence on those teams helped the Yankees win so often. Here are some astonishing nuggets: He led the Yankees in RBI's 7 years in a row through 1955. Those were teams with Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle, He was league MVP 3 times, and received MVP votes 14 years in a row, tied for 2nd behind all time leader Hank Aaron. He was a great player and had tremendous longevity. Yogi caught the famous perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He was a great contact hitter, and a notorious bad ball hitter all the same, being able to connect at pitches above his head, and being capable of golfing a ball thrown at his feet. When you review the reams of detailed statistics about his career there is a column of detail about his annual baseball salary each year. Yogi maxed out at $65,000/year in his playing career. Today the highest paid catchers make around $12-17/million/year, which comes to more per game than he earned in his highest salaried year. Not withstanding the way sports salaries have escalated I doubt baseball's best catchers today could hold Yogi's jock. He was excellent at both offense and defense. He is amazingly beloved in the NY region and among Yankee fans. Growing up his sons were noted athletes, two of whom made it into professional baseball and the NFL. One of my closest friends played on a noted regional Legion baseball team against one of Yogi's sons. As a kid that is simply thrilling. For such a lifelong humble guy he has that "Brooks Robinson" combination of baseball stardom and entirely admirable personal qualities. I truly hope he sticks around for quite a few more years. Here's to you, Yogi. "It ain't over till its over!!"
  6. I was just introduced to the Bases Fallacy, and it took me all of five seconds to say, out loud in a room all by myself, "This is bullshit." The central concept of the "Bases Fallacy" is that certain statistics (let's use Tom Boswell's "Total Average" as an example) are fallacious because (and I'll quote directly from baseballreference.com) - "Unfortunately, players are not trying to accumulate bases. The point of baseball is to score runs, not gather bases." which, itself, is a fallacy: If you read the Bases Fallacy link, it implies that "Total Average" assumes "bases" is the atomic unit of baseball. (A walk is as good as a hit.) But using that same logic, the "Bases Fallacy" assumes "runs" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter how many hits you get if you don't score.) Yet, I can walk this forward multiple levels. I hereby coin: The "Runs Fallacy," which assumes "games won" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter if you win 4-3, or 19-0). The "Games Won Fallacy," which assumes "playoff appearances" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter if you win games if you don't make the postseason.) It's obvious that you could continue with a "Playoff Appearances Fallacy," and then go even further with a "Pennant Fallacy," which assumes "World Series Titles" is the atomic unit of baseball. (Refer to the "Curse of the Bambino.") If you're going to use the term "fallacy," then you need to think about "Reductio ad Absurdum." At some point, my ever-larger atomic units will turn into, not Reductio ad Absurdum, but "Expandio ad Absurdum." Needless to say, this can apply to nearly any sport, and probably most other aspects of life. So what is the atomic unit of baseball? I'm thinking "Games Won," and not "Runs Scored." Does it really matter if your team is down 15-0, and a player hits a solo home run? Or perhaps, "Duration of Happiness." When an event occurs, whether it's a ball, strike, walk, hit, run, win, or World Series Championship, how long does your joy last? There can also be PlayDoH (Player-Adjusted Duration of Happiness (e.g., Aaron 715 vis-a-vis Bonds 756)), which actually rhymes with Plato, but I'm not going there.
  7. Brooks Robinson plays Ding Dong Ditch: Nov 27, 2012 - "Marvin Miller Spoke Truth to Power, Changed Sports Forever" by Thomas Boswell on washingtonpost.com
  8. Eddie Gaedal is one of the few players in MLB history with a 1.000 OBP, having walked in his only major-league at-bat. A slash line of .300/.400/.500 (Batting Average / On-Base Percentage (OBP) / Slugging Percentage) represents a superb season; an OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) of 1.000 represents a Hall of Fame-caliber season. Gaedal had both an OBP of 1.000, and an OPS of 1.000, both Hall of Fame-level numbers, had he been able to maintain them for a career. He also holds (or shares) the all-time Walks / Appearances mark of 1.000, and I believe him to be a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate.
  9. In case you ever get the urge: Aug 29, 2014 - "Best Batting Cages in the Washington, DC Area" by Folashade Oyegbola on washington.cbslocal.com Closer to home for you, there's also one in Upton Hill Regional Park on Wilson Blvd.
  10. I was getting ready to make an argument that Len Barker pitched the single-greatest game in Major League history: On May 15, 1981, Barker pitched a Perfect Game - one of 23 in Major League history; one of 21 since the "modern era" of 1900. So what made me think Barker's was *The* Greatest ever pitched? Two things - two *huge* things: 1) Not once did a batter have more than 2 Balls in the pitching count. Think about that - not once! 2) All 10 of Barker's strikeouts were swinging strikeouts! Holy hell! But there's a problem with deifying Barker's game: * Don Larsen did it in a World Series (while only allowing one batter to obtain three Balls), and ... There's this "myth," that a "Perfect Game" is "no runs, no hits, no walks, no errors," which is completely untrue. It's the "no errors" part that's untrue - if an error is committed while the ball isn't in play (dropping a pop-up in foul territory, or, worse, making a Wild Pitch), it doesn't affect the Perfect Game. Did Barker throw any Wild Pitches? I don't know. But I do know that about 50% of all Perfect Games since Don Larsen's in the 1956 World Series have involved one-or-more errors - not only did Larsen throw a Perfect Game in the World Series, he did it with ZERO errors. In fact, I found two Perfect Games thrown - including Barker's - that had 3 errors in the box score (this might account for Barker's 10 strikeouts-while-swinging). So, who threw the greatest game in baseball history? I have no idea I remember that, in 2017, people here were saying Max Scherzer had the best 1-2 games in MLB history, and I could see why they were saying so - I don't remember the specifics, but they were *ridiculous*. Heck, why *not* throw that into the mix? It's all for the lore of baseball.
  11. ESPN SportsCentury Documentary on Stan "The Man" Musial - the legendary hitter from "way out west" in St. Louis - perennially underrated due to his distal locale, but beloved by connoisseurs of the game as one of the all-time greats. Stan Musial: superstar, role model. In case anyone notices the discrepancy between the duration of Musial's Career (22 years) and that he's a 24-time All-Star, it's because from 1959-1962, MLB played two All-Star Games a year. "Stan Musial is geographically challenged - had he played his career in New York, we would have called him Lou Gehrig." -- John Thorn
  12. Carl Hubbell! I know his name well, and have never once seen a film clip of him - famous for his screwball. His 1933-1937 seasons were extraordinary (note also in that link the #1 pitcher in "Similarity" to Hubbell). I vaguely recall "hearing" (and I mean, I can still hear it in my mind) in a documentary, an extremely gravelly voiced, older man saying "Carl Hubbell" when talking about the best pitchers ever - was that Red Barber in the Burns video? From Wikipedia, it says he set the major league record for consecutive wins with 24, and reminds us that he struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin, in order, during the 1934 All Star Game - stories like that are what legends are made of.
  13. Baseball Bugs! This is the episode where Bugs turns to the camera and says, "Watch me paste this pathetic palooka with a powerful, paralyzing, poifect, pachydoimous, percussion pitch." Full cartoon, streaming on dailymotion.com Take note of Carl W. Stalling's screamer (*) right after the opening theme is finished (it starts just after the 0:15 mark, and lasts only 12 seconds). This man wrote one complete score every week for twenty-two years! That is Thomas Kinkade-like in its consistency and longevity. Stalling should be better-known than he currently is. The great thing about frame-by-frame animation (well, other than providing awesome quality), is that you can pick up some funny things, such as the fans throwing bottles of alcohol into the air along with their hats: "There goes a screaming liner into left field!" I *love* that they used a gentleman of color as the announcer - Jackie Robinson would not debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers until the following year (1947). Was this a subtle middle finger to racism and discrimination? This is so funny - as the Gas-House Gorillas are running up the score (the "score board" in the 4th inning shows the score is 96-0, and the opposing pitcher is 93 1/2 years old), with one batter after another hitting homer-after-homer, they form a conga line to march around the bases: Food related: Ads for "Manza Champagne" and "Lausbub's Bread." The billboard that says "Ross Co. Finer Footwear For The Brats" is named for animator Virgil Ross (I got that tidbit from Wikipedia): This is just an unbelievable coincidence: The billboard in left field says "Filboid Studge," and "Philboyd Studge" (do a search on it inside that link) was the narrator's nickname in "Breakfast of Champions" which I only recently finished. In a lottery-like coincidence, I've apparently randomly stumbled across the only two modern references to the name in pop-culture history. Its origin is very obscure - it was in a story by writer Hector Hugh Munro aka "Saki." Maybe coincidences like this happen all the time, and nobody ever notices because they aren't paying attention? Or maybe this is just plain weird. When Bugs tags the runner in the gut at home plate, four little angels - images of the runner himself - appear over his head, doing a little "baseball dance." It's ingenious details like these that make Bugs Bunny cartoons something more than just special: Paying close attention during observation can reap great benefits, and I found a blatant mistake in the cartoon that I don't believe has ever been found before: As we're preparing for the finale at the 5:19 mark, the announcer announces the score: "Bugs Bunny 96, the Gas-House Gorillas 95": But if you go back to 1:36 in the cartoon, the Gorillas scored a 96th run which briefly flashed up on the scoreboard: My contributions to mankind are now complete. ETA: Fuck a dog. Why doesn't the person running moviemistakes.com get a damned life? Ha! Ha! Ha! During the climax, the Statue of Liberty chimes in, and it's none other than Bea Benaderet, using her "Little Red Riding Rabbit" voice. Did I really just spend an hour and a half analyzing a Bugs Bunny cartoon? (*) More importantly, keep your cod-damp (**) sole away from the gutter. (**) First recorded usage in English-language history. This is historically important. It is. Really.
  14. It about kills me to put this video up here, but the one person in the world I'll do it for is the great Roberto Clemente, killed in an airplane crash while making a humanitarian visit to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old, and was still arguably the best right fielder in baseball at the time - it's hard to believe he was a year *older* than Frank Robinson, a pretty darned good right fielder himself, and whom you can see scoring the winning run here, the game before, off a Brooks Robinson sacrifice "fly" (if you want to call that a fly). This video is Clemente's second World Series championship, and his interview begins just after 2:06:30 (I have it set to this). Shortly after one year later, he was gone - I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but I'm glad for both him, and his mom and dad, that he won this World Series. Other than perhaps Jackie Robinson, can you name a greater human being who ever put on a mitt?
  15. Don, feel feee to delete if this isn’t appropriate, but we are looking for partners interested in splitting a share of 2 season tickets to the Nats in an established pool. 2 members had to drop out, leaving 2 openings. Right now we have 2 quarter share options available (can be combined into a 1/2 share too) in an established pool. 22 games. The cost of a quarter share is approximately $3200 for two seats and includes great perks like dedicated security/entry line, first dibs on post season games, and points that can be used toward parking and stuff. Awesome seats in section 213 row G seats 17 and 18 on the aisle in the Norfolk Southern Club, out of rain and sun, right behind home plate.
  16. Would someone who knows more than I do please explain how Curt Flood fit in to challengng the reserve clause, vis-a-vis Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith contributing to the same thing a few-years later? Even just pointing to an informative article would be very helpful - I've never quite understood the background (which, apparently, had existed since the 1800s), the pioneers and what they did, and the aftermath with free agency. Also, how is the reserve clause any different (in theory or principle) than designating someone as a franchise player in the NFL?
  17. Skip directly to Part 1 Bottom of the 9th In the Preambulum, I made a bold proclamation: I said I was going to all-but prove to you that Brooks Robinson was the greatest defensive player ever to play baseball, at any position. My attempt to do so was to use the 1970 World Series - the thing that everyone remembers - to demonstrate just how great Robinson was. As of right now, a certain percentage of readers probably think I did a pretty decent job, while another group probably thinks I didn't prove anything - okay, the guy had a great World Series ... so what? That doesn't make him "the greatest defensive player of all-time, you hyperbolic fan-boy!" I also mentioned Aristotle's recipe for persuasion, translated to Yogi Berrish: "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, and then tell 'em what you just told 'em." I have now written the first long-form piece of my entire life, spending dozens-upon-dozens of hours methodically attempting to convey to you the second part of that triptych. What I'm going to do right now is tell you what I just told you, but after five games of tossing you slow, hanging curveballs, it's now time for me to reach back, give it everything I've got, and deliver the heat, on this, my final pitch. I suspect I'll be the first person ever to say this, but I'm going to come right out and say it: Brooks Robinson had a sub-par defensive World Series, and all those "miraculous plays" you just saw were things he did as a matter of course. The difference between this World Series, and Robinson's 23-years playing 3rd base can be summed up by two things: 1) this was the first time he ever got true, national attention for something he did for his entire career, and 2) he had an offensive World Series that would have made Babe Ruth proud. *That* is why this is known as "The Brooks Robinson Series." Robinson had a .958 fielding percentage in this World Series, which for most people would have been excellent: Pie Traynor had a career fielding percentage of .947, and Mike Schmidt had a career fielding percentage of .951 - this would have been an outstanding five games for either of those two; for Robinson? It was below his usual standards. Robinson had a relatively high number of Chances-per-Game in this Series - more than his career average, but let's take a look at the 16 consecutive years in which he won his Gold Gloves (yes, he made all sorts of spectacular plays over that 16-year span, just like he did in this World Series - there was nothing new there): 1960 - .977 1961 - .972 1962 - .979 1963 - .976 1964 - .972 1965 - .967 1966 - .976 1967 - .980 1968 - .970 1969 - .976 1970 - .966 1971 - .968 1972 - .977 1973 - .970 1974 - .967 1975 - .979 Please look closely. In his *worst* year out of those 16 - ironically, 1970 - his season fielding percentage was .966: notably higher than his fielding percentage in this World Series. From 1955 through 1977 - 23 years - his career-average fielding percentage was .971. Brooks Robinson made 45% more Errors per Chance in this World Series than he averaged throughout his career - and this includes seasons when he was both 18- and 40-years-old. Not only that, but he got a chance to field only two bunts during the five games - one of which he let roll for a base hit, which he almost never did - and fielding bunts was one of his preternatural skills. He didn't tag a single runner, he had only one force-out on a double-play ball, and he could have easily been charged with a second error on Tommy Helms' infield single in Game 4. Robinson played in 9 post-season series, and this one ranks #7 in fielding percentage: 1966 WS - 1.000 1969 ALCS - 1.000 1969 WS - 1.000 1970 ALCS - 1.000 1970 WS - .958 1971 ALCS - 1.000 1971 WS - .920 1973 ALCS - .941 1974 ALCS - 1.000 Total - .972, just slightly higher than his career average. That one, seemingly innocuous, throw in Game 1, which was about three-inches too high, was so out-of-character for Robinson that it skewed his entire World Series down in terms of fielding percentage. The spectacular plays? He made those routinely - he made them *all the time* - they were not spectacular plays for Robinson, they were completely ordinary; it was his slightly errant throw that was the oddity. You've been groomed, over the decades, into thinking that Robinson had some sort of statistical anomaly in the 1970 World Series, but the numbers and films reveal otherwise: Robinson had a below-average World Series in terms of defense. In terms of offense? He was a tour-de-force (with due respect to Paul Blair, Lee May, and several others), and he pulled it off in front of the national eye. In 1970, left-handed pitchers Dave McNally (I have a friend who calls him "Dave McLucky") and Mike Cuellar each won 24 games. Both pitchers tended to throw sinking curves, low-and-inside to the 3rd-base side of home plate, forcing batters to hit ground balls to Brooks Robinson. In 1969, Mike Cuellar won 23 games with these slow, loping curveballs and screwballs, and he won the Cy Young Award: In 1971, the Orioles had 4 20-game winners. These pitchers' games - with the exception of the fantastic Jim Palmer - were molded to tempt hitters to direct the ball towards third base and shortstop (even Pat Dobson - formerly a power pitcher - had recently developed a slider with negligible lateral breakaway from right-handed batters, forcing ground balls to the left side of the infield). Regarding shortstop, In my analysis of Game 2, I referred you to a link which some of you may have glossed over. I need you to go there now, and really *read* it (here it is) - it will come very close to mathematically proving what type of range Robinson had, using Luis Aparicio as the constant, and different third basemen as the variable. Is it coincidence that during Robinson's tenure, the Orioles had two of the greatest defensive shortstops the game has ever known? Or was Robinson acting as a booster, rescuing both Belanger and Aparacio when they needed to go towards their right? The answer is pretty-well mapped out in the Aparicio analysis - please visit this link, read it carefully, and remember it well 2-3 paragraphs from now. In the crudest of terms, the baseball field can be broken into four quadrants: 1) the left-side of the infield 2) the right-side of the infield 3) the left side of the outfield, and 4) the right-side of the outfield. The Orioles were very fortunate to have Paul Blair in center-field, one of the greatest - if not *the* greatest - defensive center-fielder in history, because Brooks Robinson wasn't able to cover for the Orioles' outfielders. Likewise, how fortunate to have Davey Johnson at 2nd base, and the extremely underrated Boog Powell at 1st base - a man tailor-made to handle Robinson's bounce-throws to first, and who could stretch-catch as well as anyone I've ever seen, with his massive six-foot, five-inch frame - what a perfect combination this was. Back to the quadrants: In these terms, you could argue that Brooks Robinson was directly and indirectly responsible for fully 25% of the baseball field on defense, and he (with the help of two fantastic shortstops) changed the opponents' strategy, as he essentially removed that part of the field from consideration - the poor Reds had never experienced anything like this before, and even the best of scouting reports couldn't have prepared them for the hellish World Series they were forced to endure. Fifty years ago, there was scouting, but not advanced analytics dealing with shifts; yet somehow, Robinson was able - time-after-time - to be in the right spots, even when playing the line to protect against doubles, and the ball was often hit right to him - it's as if he had some type of sixth sense of where to be. Earlier on, I said that I loved Mike Schmidt, and I still do, but that was before I read this New York Times essay by baseball writer Tyler Kepner, which was published on Jan 25, 2018. In the article, Schmidt - who is inexplicably called "the greatest third baseman in major league history" - is quoted by Kepner as follows: "Don't let the hot corner concept fool you," Mike Schmidt, the greatest third baseman in major league history, said by phone on Thursday. "The third baseman's got his own little corner to protect, some down-the-line pop-ups and a couple of bunt plays here and there, but for the most part, a third baseman can go an entire game and never see any defensive action at all. The shortstop's got to be all over the place on the field. If you play shortstop, you can play anywhere on the field. Going from short to third, it's a walk in the park." It's a 3 AM walk in Central Park. Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Kepner need to be mindful that airline pilots can sit in the cockpit and play Scrabble while the plane flies itself on autopilot (until they're forced to land in the Hudson River); that policemen spend 99% of their time on patrol driving around, writing traffic tickets, responding to minor calls, and drinking coffee trying to stay awake while they're writing out an entire library's-worth of paperwork (and the other 1% making split-second, life-or-death decisions about whether someone needs to be saved, or killed, while the policeman's would-be executioner has planned out their malevolent course of action for days if not weeks); that soldiers overseas spend their days bored to tears in the desert, wiping sand off their burned, chafed skin (until a suicide bomb hidden in a vest comes walking their way in the form of an elderly lady seeking help). Have another look at the post-game interviews made by Tony Kubek after Game 5 - note in particular his interview with eight-time Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop, Mark Belanger - I only wish Belanger was still around so we could ask him what he thinks of Kepner's questionable descriptor (in an otherwise fine article), and Schmidt's humble and self-deprecating, but ultimately misguided, comments. And remember that over the course of the five-game, 1970 World Series, Brooks Robinson probably touched the baseball for less than 30-seconds, total. There's one more thing I can't reconcile about a third baseman 'going an entire game and never seeing any defensive action at all' - this doesn't mesh with the fact that in 23 seasons, Robinson played 2870 games at 3rd base, and had 9165 Chances - that averages out to over 3.1 chances per game. I apologize to my readers for bombarding them with the endless examples from the World Series, but hopefully it was a fun journey down memory lane, and it was the only means I had to demonstrate the greatness of Brooks Robinson - who is now 80-years old, and whose fans are, at this point, mostly deceased. I needed to show you extended examples of jaw-dropping footage from Robinson's five-game-long, third-base ballet in 1970, and then - and only then - remind you that this was nothing out of the ordinary, and that it went on for 23 years. How old were you 23 years ago, and what were you doing then? That's how long this sustained level of excellence lasted. Robinson won his final Gold Glove in 1975; the photograph up at the top is in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and was taken by photographer Walter Kelleher, twelve years before this World Series - in 1958. To those who say, "Sure, great defense, but barely above-average offense," Brooks Robinson had more hits than anyone in the entire American League during the 1960s. Really. Look it up if you don't believe me. Robinson had more hits during the 1960s than Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, and Harmon Killebrew - and Robinson won a Gold Glove every single year during the 1960s, as well as being the AL MVP (1964) and All-Star MVP (1966). Were Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Ted Williams a Top 5 defensive player for an entire decade? If you value defense as much as offense, then Brooks Robinson was one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport - assuming you believe defense is equal to offense, I'll go so far as to say that Robinson was one of the Top 10 greatest baseball players in the history of the sport - how could he not be? His defense was better than Hank Aaron's offense, and his offense was better than Hank Aaron's defense. How could anyone not rate him higher than Sandy Koufax, who only had four dominant seasons, and contributed nothing on offense? If, one day in the future, defense is considered equal to offense, I'd like to make the immodest proposal that Brooks Robinson may have been the greatest baseball player ever to live. I can't take anything away from Babe Ruth's pitching records - coupled with his hitting, they're just absurd - but if you accept that Robinson was the greatest defensive player ever, can you name me five other players who have such a combination of defense and offense? Willie Mays, maybe? Who else? Robinson was not a truly great hitter - and he'll say exactly the same thing - but he was as good at offense as the all-time greats were at defense. He was - he just was. If Bill Russell in basketball, why not Brooks Robinson in baseball? Allow me to end this with some quotes about Brooks Robinson from his peers: "He was the best defensive player at any position. I used to stand in the outfield like a fan, and watch him make play-after-play. I used to think: 'WOW! I can't believe this!'" - Frank Robinson "I will become a left-handed hitter to keep the ball away from that guy." - Johnny Bench (NB - The definition of cruelty) "We kind of laughed at the fuss everyone made - we'd seen him make those kinds of plays for years." - Dick Hall "He charged everything. He reacted as the ball was coming off the bat, sometimes as it was coming to the bat!" - George Brett "He could throw his glove out there, and it would start ten double plays." - Sparky Anderson "If we had known he wanted a new car that badly, we all would have chipped in and bought him one." - Johnny Bench, on Robinson winning the 1970 World Series MVP Award "He plays third base like he came down from a higher league." - Umpire Ed Hurley (1955) "Brooks Robinson belongs in a higher league." - Pete Rose "Brooks never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him; in Baltimore, people named their kids after him." - Sportswriter Gordon Beard From John Eisenberg on baltimoresun.com, quoting catcher Elrod Hendricks, a rookie just up from the Mexican league, witnessing Robinson in 1968: "Early in the game, Oakland's fleet Bert Campaneris pushed a bunt between the mound and third as a runner on first sprinted for second": "Where I'd come from, that was a hit. Brooks was on it instantly, and without even looking, threw to second for a force. Then, there was a throw to first, double play, inning over, in half a second. I was sitting in the bullpen and my mouth fell open. I went, 'You've got to be kidding me! I don't believe what I just saw!'" - Elrod Hendricks "I once saw Robinson and crew turn a bunt into a double play. They practiced a play where Belanger would cover third as Robinson charged and threw to him for the force. Belanger then threw to first for the double play. I swear I saw this, probably in 1970 or 1971." - Baseball Fan Mike Hummel "Before every pitch for years and years, he was on his toes, ready to move, instantly alert. He always got ready as if he knew the ball was coming to him. Whenever a new guy would join the bullpen, he'd watch Brooks for a game or two and say, 'Holy cow! He's as good as they say!' We'd say, 'Just watch him. He treats every pitch like there are two outs in the ninth.' - Dick Hall "I used to collect baseball autographs in the '80s and '90s and would sometimes go to the Negro League reunions and ask the player to compare certain guys from the Negro League to guys from the MLB. They almost always ranked the Negro League players (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Ray Dandridge, Buck Leonard, etc.) above guys from the MLB. But when it came to Brooks Robinson, they almost unanimously conceded that there was no one in the Negro Leagues as good defensively as Robinson. That was a pretty strong testament to how good Brooks really was." - Baseball Fan and Autograph Collector Matthew Berkowitz "He was the best third baseman I ever saw or played with. The guy made exceptional plays every day. He made them so often you didn't get excited about it, because you came to expect them. I'm not talking about good plays. I'm talking about exceptional plays." - Frank Robinson "I'd like to be like Brooks, the guy who never said no to nobody, the ones that everybody loves because they deserve to be loved, those are my heroes." - Manager Earl Weaver, on why he tore-up his written speech, cried, and ad-libbed on "Brooks Robinson Day" in Baltimore "In, Out of Uniform, the Epitome of Grace" - Thomas Boswell, 1983 <--- You need to read this, because Thomas Boswell is still active, and is one of the foremost baseball experts in the world. Finally, from legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, who left us in Dec, 2017, during his induction speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame: "I loved acknowledging the subtle arrogance of Hall of Famer Rod Carew's drag bunt. The sleight-of-hand of Brooks Robinson magically reducing a double into 5-3 putouts. The towering arc of a Ted Williams monster shot deposited in the bleachers high. The classic confrontation of the best hitter against the best pitcher, and the immaculately executed bullet of a double play." - Dick Enberg One day, Major League Baseball will make available films of numerous games, instead of the select few that are available now - hopefully they'll be colorized and digitized. Then, and perhaps only then, will people see just how immortal Brooks Robinson truly was, day in, day out, for 23 breathtaking years. and that there are things which simply cannot be derived from a stat sheet. Then, and only then, will everyone realize that there has never been, and can never be, another Brooks Robinson. This is probably the only long piece I'll ever write in my lifetime, and I've left my blood and guts all over it. Even if you don't agree with its basic premise, please at least be aware of this: "Baseball Great Brooks Robinson Sells Multi-Million Dollar Norman Rockwell for Charity." Watch also this Heritage video about Robinson donating 100% of the proceeds of his memorabilia auction to charity. To Mr. Robinson, should you ever see this, and wish to thank me: You already thanked me, fifty years ago. I respectfully ask Rawlings Corporation to consider renaming the "Rawlings Gold Glove Award," the "Rawlings Brooks Robinson Gold Glove Award."
  18. Skip directly to Part 1 Game 5 Announcing Game 5 - and this video is in color! - with thanks to YouTube user MLBClassics - again in Memorial Stadium, are Gowdy and Kubek from NBC, along with Thompson from the Orioles. Tony Kubek interviews Cincinnati Reds' manager, Sparky Anderson. Video of the interview. Tony Kubek interviews Baltimore Orioles' manager, Earl Weaver. Video of the interview. "And the rockets' red glare ..." - The 1st Army Band from Fort George G. Meade, MD: "Brooks Robinson at 3rd ... " Top of the 1st, no score, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Johnny Bench up, 0-1 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - I'm including this because it's a rare chance to see a play involving three all-time greats: Pete Rose (on 2nd), Johnny Bench (at bat), and Frank Robinson (playing RF). Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 3-2, none out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 1-2 count, Jim Merritt pitching - "Batting 6th, playing 3rd base, number 5, Brooks Robinson" - Gowdy: "Brooks has the most hits of any batter in this series - 8 hits, 16 times up, he's batting .500. - perfect day yesterday, 4-for-4 ... The last man to get 4-for-4 in a World Series was Lou Brock, for the Cardinals against the Tigers in the first game of the '67 Series ... Prior to Brooks Robinson, the last American League player to have a 4-for-4 game was Bill Dickey in 1938. Robinson hits a deep line-out to left-fielder Hal McRae. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Washington Senators' owner, Bob Short, and son of President Eisenhower, David Eisenhower: Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 3rd, Orioles leading 4-3, none out, runner on 2nd, Merv Rettenmund up, 1-1 count, Wayne Granger relieving Jim Merritt - This is a small detail, but Brooks Robinson, in the on-deck circle, plays "traffic cop," signaling for Boog Powell - rounding third on Rettenmund's single - to hit the dirt on his way home. Certainly you expect this from every professional, but it does show that Robinson was engaged in the moment. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 3rd, Orioles leading 5-3, none out, runner on 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 1-1 count, Wayne Granger pitching - Gowdy: "Against Minnesota [in the ALCS], he had 7 hits in 12-times up; in the World Series, he's 8-for-17 - 15 hits in his last 29 times at-bat, a nine-game batting streak. He's been just as hot with his glove." Robinson laces a line drive to 2nd-baseman Tommy Helms, who bobbles the ball, but Robinson hit it so hard (and he ran so slowly) that he was still thrown out at first - this was very close to being a base hit, and was a fine, heads-up recovery by Helms - that's one thing you must do as an infielder: block the ball any way you can, so you can have a second chance to throw the runner out. Rettenmund, on 2nd base, advanced to 3rd on the ground out. Gowdy [on Robinson going to the opposite field]: "Those are things that never show up in the box score, but the good players do them, and help their team. Rettenmund now at 3rd, and the Reds have to bring the infield in with one out." Rettunmund would score on the next at-bat, as Davey Johnson hit a line-drive single to left-field; had Rettunmund remained at 2nd base, he wouldn't have made it home, and it was all set up by Robinson hitting to the opposite field - what you'd call a "productive out." Gowdy: "And Brooks Robinson, getting that man over to 3rd, set up the run." Video of the play --- Tony Kubek interviews MLB Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn Video of the interview. --- Top of the 4th, Orioles leading 6-3, none out, none on, Lee May up, 2-2 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - Gowdy: "Lee May is the only hitter who has hit safely in every game, including today. Brooks Robinson and Bobby Tolan still have their chance to do so. They asked May if he's altered his swing to keep the ball from getting away to [sic: "from"] Brooks Robinson - he said, "No." May has had seven hits, and twice, he's been robbed of hits by Robinson at 3rd. They have a shift on for him now ... first time we've seen them shift - Robinson, Belanger, and Davey Johnson all on the left side of the infield." Once again, May rips a line shot down the 3rd-base line - Robinson spears it in foul territory, and notices that May had fallen down near home plate, so despite a good stop, Robinson was able to simply jog towards 1st base, and lob an easy throw over to Powell. If May hadn't have fallen, this would have been another memorable one, but alas, he did. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Chairman of the Board of the Baltimore Orioles, Jerry Hoffberger Kubek [after exchanging some plesantries]: "Well, you've put on a fine performance, and that guy you've got at 3rd is unreal." Hoffberger: "Come back and see him *next* year, Tony." Hoffberger knew - he had seen it for eleven years, and he would see it for five more. Video of the Interview. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 7-3, 1 out, none on 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 1-1 count, Tony Cloninger relieving Milt Wilcox - When it rains, it pours, I guess - Robinson got jammed by Cloninger, and popped the ball up to short-center. But the ball had eyes, and landed in between three converging Reds for a lucky single - this is one that shouldn't have happened, as Cloninger made a perfectly fine pitch; no complaints were heard from Baltimore fans, however. Robinson fell rounding first, perhaps because he felt guilty about this.Thompson: "But that's now the 9th hit in the 1970 World Series for Brooks Robinson, tying a record that Curt Gowdy mentioned earlier- the last one to do it: Bobby Richardson (it must be noted that Paul Blair also got 9 hits in this Series, batting .474, and tying the 5-game record which has happened a dozen times; interestingly, Babe Ruth got *10* hits in a 4-game series, besting all of them!) In the next at-bat, Davey Johnson would drill a double down the left-field line (which Robinson almost surely would have caught), but Robinson was held up at 3rd base, and eventually thrown out at home on a bunt attempt by Mike Cuellar - both occurrences indicating Robinson's slow running speed. Video of the play. Bottom of the 6th, Orioles leading 7-3, 2 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, Brooks Robinson up, 0-0 count, Tony Cloninger pitching - Robinson sure is hitting a lot of ground-outs to Perez at third - here, Perez makes the easy force-out on Powell running to 2nd, and Robinson strands runners on 1st and 3rd. Again, he jumped on the first pitch.Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Connie Robinson, Brooks' wife. Kubek: "With me down on the field, one of the all-time great 3rd-baseman's wives, Mrs. Brooks Robinson. Connie, I think you're going to be driving a new Dodge around after this World Series - it looks like he's heading for that MVP." Robinson [smiling]: "Maybe, I don't know." Kubek: "He's having a heck of a Series - is he always that easy-going, as he is on the field?" Robinson: "Always, always." Kubek: "Never hollers at the kids or you?" Robinson: "Not too often." Kubek: "Nice talking to you, Connie - a real pleasure." Video of the interview --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles leading 7-3, 1 out, none on, Paul Blair up, 2-2 count, Ray Washburn relieving Tony Cloninger - It's important to include this, Paul Blair's 9th hit of the Series, because it shows the difference between a "great 3rd baseman," and "the best 3rd baseman who has ever lived." Blair hits a hard grounder between 3rd and short - Perez lunges for it and misses, leaving Concepcion to wait an extra split-second, and having to fire a rifle towards 1st base, with Blair beating out the infield single. Robinson cuts off this ground ball 19 out of 20 times, and that's yet another thing that doesn't show up on a stat sheet (if you're skeptical, read my summary post, which will be immediately following this one, and hopefully, you'll see). Video of the play --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles leading 7-3, 1 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Boog Powell up, 0-0 count, Ray Washburn pitching - This was fabulous baseball by two players, neither of whom was the hitter, or the fielder. Powell slapped a hard grounder to a handcuffed Lee May, who fell down and dropped the ball. However, an alert Tommy Helms had the presence-of-mind to run over, barehand the ball, and flip it to Washburn covering 1st base, getting Powell out. Perhaps even more impressive: Blair raced around from 2nd base, and was somehow able to score on the play - just sensational playing by both Helms and Blair, this play was pure pandemonium: Baseball at its finest and most entertaining. (Pssst ... Powell was safe at 1st - take a close look at the replay.) Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews American League President Joe Cronin. Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 8th, Orioles leading 8-3, 1 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 0-0 count, Clay Carroll relieving Ray Washburn - The Orioles' fans knew this would be the last time they'd see their World Series MVP at-bat. Thompson: "A standing ovation for Brooks Robinson." Had Robinson gotten a hit here, he'd still, in 2018, stand alone as having the most hits in a five-game World Series. Alas, Mighty Casey has struck out for the second time in the Series. Thompson: "As he heads to the Baltimore dugout, they're getting up behind the dugout, and this most-popular of all to wear the uniform of a Baltimore Oriole ... if the Series ends today, you can use all the superlatives you can think of, and it would describe his play in this Series." Video of the play. (PS - You didn't *really* think Robinson would end this Series on a strikeout, did you? If there's such a thing as Fatalism, it's on full display here.) --- Top of the 9th, Orioles leading 9-3, none out, none on, Johnny Bench up, 1-2 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - Yes, he caught it. He could have let it go foul, but he knew he could catch it, so ... why not? Robinson was also keenly aware of what Bench had done precisely three pitches before this blazing line drive. Gowdy: "That's a ... OHHHHHHH !!! ROBINSON DOES IT AGAIN !!! Brooks Robinson! Making another phenomenal play at 3rd!" Video of the play. --- Gowdy: "And Robinson has already been named the winner of the 16th-annual Sport Magazine World Series Award as the outstanding player in the 70 Series. No question about it." --- Top of the 9th, Orioles leading 9-3, 2 out, none on, Pat Corrales up, 0-0 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - The same play that Robinson committed an error on in Game 1, ended the World Series - this time, the throw wasn't high. Somewhere in the middle of that mob is Brooks Robinson. Video of the play. --- Here is Chuck Thompson with the locker-room interviews - I'm not going to comment, other than to say that there are some important interviews here, and hopefully you can see what good people were involved with this team, and what a nice, humble guy Brooks Robinson is - also, a special mention to Sparky Anderson for his classy gesture. Video of the interviews. --- Final Score: Orioles 9, Reds 3 - Box Score Brooks Robinson's Cumulative Statistics: Slash Line: .429 / .429 / .810, OPS: 1.239, Hits: 9, Doubles: 2, HRs: 2, RBIs: 6, Runs: 4 Total Chances: 24, Putouts: 9, Assists: 14, Errors: 1, Double-Plays: 2, Fielding Percentage: .958 --- Here's Curt Gowdy narrating a fine overview of the entire World Series: Continue with Part 7
  19. Skip directly to Part 1 Game 3 The Orioles are carrying a 16-game winning streak into Game 3: They won their final 11 regular-season games, swept the Twins in 3 games in the ALCS, and have won the first 2 games against the Reds. Announcing Game 3, now in Memorial Stadium, will be Gowdy and Kubek from NBC, along with Orioles' broadcaster Chuck Thompson. Tony Kubek interviews the legendary Sandy Koufax, who astutely points out that the Reds haven't tested catcher Elrod Hendricks, who is coming off of a broken finger and is having trouble throwing - he also advises pitching around Boog Powell. Since 1966, Koufax has witnessed the Orioles winning 6 consecutive World Series games, as his own team got swept in 1966, 4-0. - "Batting sixth today is Brooks Robinson" - "And the rockets red glare ...." - Joseph Eubanks (who also sang in 1966 and 1979) Throwing out the first ball is the legendary Lefty Grove (center) Gowdy: "And you've heard of this man, #5, Brooks Robinson, the Oriole 3rd baseman." - --- Top of the 1st, 0-0, none out, runner on 1st, Bobby Tolan at bat, 0-0 count - The stubborn Tolan bunts down 3rd after Pete Rose hits a leadoff single, creating an almost-identical situation to what happened in Game 2 when Robinson let the bunt roll foul. On the natural grass at Memorial Stadium, however, a helpless Robinson is reduced to watching the ball roll, and roll, and stop in fair territory - an absolutely perfect bunt single by Tolan. You know what? The more-and-more I study this video, I'm convinced that the ball *was* rolling foul, and then hit a pebble, or a ridge in the dirt, which made it hop up into the air, and veer back onto the grass. You'll need to watch the slow-motion replay several times to convince yourself of this, but that ball hit something to make it jump up and change course. Video of the play. --- Top of the 1st, 0-0, none out, runner on 1st and 2nd, Tony Perez at bat, 2-0 count - Perez hits a hard ground ball to Robinson, about eight feet off of 3rd base. Robinson, who on the previous play had to suffer through Tolan's bunt, fields the ball, runs over to step on 3rd base, and then fires to Powell for a double-play. For Robinson to have the presence-of-mind to run over to 3rd, knowing full well that Rose would be barreling down the line, and then launch a perfect strike to 1st base, was remarkable, and you have to think the mighty Reds (and they *were* mighty) were getting a little annoyed by now. Gowdy: "Brooks Robinson - the Reds say they could bar him, he's illegal. He's been the difference in the Series, I think, Chuck." Thompson: "I think that's quite obvious, and among other things he's been called - illegal - they refer to him as 'The Human Vacuum Cleaner.'" Note: Robinson is credited for two Chances, a Putout, an Assist, and a Double-Play on this one batted ball. Video of the play. --- Top of the 1st, 0-0, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Johnny Bench at bat, 2-0 count - Bench positively rips a line drive down 3rd - possibly the hardest-hit ball of the Series thus far - but it was right at Robinson, who dropped to his knees and made the catch, retiring the side. You don't see this play replayed often, but this was not a routine putout, but just like Robinson's very first putout of the Series in Game 1, he merely flipped the ball to the pitcher's mound, and ran off the field like it was no big deal, despite it being something of a miracle that the Reds didn't score this inning. Video of the play. --- Top of the 2nd. The sound went out on the broadcast, and NBC (or maybe it was the local affiliate) chose, of all things, to play Zez Confrey's "Kitten on the Keys" as background music - Interestingly, this is the second time in the Series that Powell's moment at the plate was tainted - in Game 2, he had a home run lost to the box score when NBC cut away for a News Update of the October Crisis. Video of the moment. --- Bottom of the 2nd, 0-0, 2 out, runner on 1st and 3rd, Frank Robinson at bat, 2-1 count - Brooks Robinson in the on-deck circle. Gowdy: "Brooks Robinson's on-deck." "He may not get up this inning; when he does get up, Chuck, I bet he'll get an ovation here." Thompson, "Uh, that's not just for his performance in the World Series either, Curt - he's been the most popular Oriole ever to wear the uniform - and what a favor Paul Richards did baseball when he decided this man would not make it as the 2nd baseman, he'd better try 3rd." Gowdy: "Right. He couldn't cover enough ground for <indeciperable> at 2nd - too slow, he said." Thompson: "He's right." [if anyone can make out these indecipherable (by me) words, please write and let me know] --- Bottom of the 2nd, 0-0, 2 out, bases loaded, Brooks Robinson at-bat,1-1 count - Gowdy [upon Robinson stepping up to the plate]: "Here's Brooks Robinson - listen to the hand for him! Brooks Robinson - I don't know how a player can be as big a star as he is, and so nice. That's what's really marvelous about Robinson, is his personality off the field, and his character." Robinson hits a sharp line drive into the left-field gap, driving in 2 runs with a bases-loaded double. Into 2nd goes Brooks Robinson, and the Orioles lead, 2-0. For the third-straight game, Robinson has hit a game-tying, go-ahead, or game-winning RBI. Gowdy: "Robinson not only makes clutch plays in the field, but he gets many big hits for the Orioles. Well, he now has tied Boog Powell and Lee May for the most RBIs in this series - he has four." Video of the play. --- Top of the 3rd, Orioles leading 2-0, 1 out, runner on 1st, Tony Perez at bat, 1-2 count - Watch this play closely, as it epitomizes the seemingly "insignificant" things Robinson does that, in reality, are all the difference between "good, "great," and "the best who ever lived." McRae hits a topspin chopper toward 3rd base - you can tell from Robinson's immediate reaction (running towards 3rd base) that he was going to let the ball bounce precisely three times, instead of charging it and fielding it after two bounces. It's hard to see the ball in this photo, but it's taking its third bounce precisely on the corner of the grass, and in the process, takes a pretty bad hop, becoming skewed to Robinson's right - Robinson adjusts, and with one, quick, whipping motion, throws out Perez by a half-step. Robinson couldn't have been waiting to see if the ball would land foul (could he have?); instead, he seemed to "know" that he'd have j-u-s-t enough time to get Perez - I'm still not quite sure why he didn't charge the ball and take it on the second bounce, but this was an exceedingly treacherous play, and Perez wasn't out by much. Gowdy: "I'll tell ya, it's just worth the ticket to come in and watch him play." It's the second slow-motion replay that clearly shows Robinson intended to wait for the third bounce, and also clearly shows the bad hop the ball took. Video of the play. I suspect we'll never know why Robinson waited for the third bounce (if someone reads this who knows him, could you ask?) - you may need to watch the video 4-5 times to see just how bad of a bounce the ball took. --- Top of the 4th, Orioles leading 2-1, none out, none on, Pete Rose at bat, 2-1 count - Special recognition here for Gold Glove second baseman Dave Johnson, who made an extraordinary, diving catch to his right off a hard liner by Rose. This is highlight-reel material, and well-worth watching - the catch made Gowdy scream. Video of the play --- Bottom of the 4th, Orioles leading 2-1, 2 out, none on, Frank Robinson at bat, 0-0 count - I feel guilty about not highlighting the other home runs in this series, but how often do you see two Hall of Famers in the batting area, followed by a blistering home run (when Robinson retired, he was #4 in history behind Aaron, Ruth, and Mays) - not too shabby. And look who's in the on-deck circle to congratulate his friend: a third Hall of Famer. Video of the play. --- Top of the 5th, Orioles leading 3-1, none out, none on, Lee May at bat, 1-1 count - There are a lot of hard-hit, topped grounders in this series, and May hits another one to Robinson at 3rd, which is fielded fairly routinely, and Robinson throws May out at 1st. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Orioles' batboy, Jay Mazzone. Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 4-1, none out, none on, Brooks Robinson at bat, 0-0 count - Robinson again jumps on the first pitch, and again hits a hard, topspin grounder, resulting in a routine play by Tony Perez at 3rd (it's as if the 3rd basemen have it in for each other (actually, the pitchers, on both teams, are throwing curves down-and-in to right-handed hitters, tempting them to pull the ball towards 3rd base). Perez easily throws out Robinson at 1st base - it should be noted that the underrated (and excellent) Perez is playing an outstanding World Series. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews the President of the American League, Joe Cronin. Kubek: "Joe, this Baltimore infield has got to be one of the best you've ever seen." Cronin: "Oh, I should say - the 3rd baseman's one of the greatest ever, the shortstop's a fine defensive player, Davey Johnson's <inaudible> 2nd baseman, and old Boog Powell, he catches 'em when he has to, too - he's a pretty good hitter, too, isn't he, Tony?" Video of the interview. --- Top of the 7th, Orioles leading 4-1, 2 out, none on, Johnny Bench at bat, 2-1 count - This is another play you tell your grandchildren about, and in fact, this is the play that is the most reproduced photograph of Robinson's career: The great Bench laced a line drive to the left of Robinson, who dove and caught the ball, horizontally, about a foot off the ground, then held up his mitt to the home-plate umpire, showing him that he'd caught the ball. This is the photo you all know: Again, I cannot emphasize enough that this was a routine play for Robinson - he wasn't holding up his glove to show off; he was holding up his glove as a courtesy to the home-plate umpire, to make his job easier - and notice also how he flips the ball back to the pitcher's mound, and trots off the field, like what he did was no big deal, because to him, it wasn't. An increasingly animated Gowdy: "Would you believe that? Well, this ... this guy's in another *world*! I mean he's *unbelievable*!! Watch this play by Brooks Robinson. He says he goes to his left better - you'd have to believe him, although he made two great plays to his right. Look at that ... the outstanding reflexes are what make a 3rd baseman, and he has them." This is the type of play that modern, athletic 3rd basemen (Machado, Arenado, etc.) sometimes make, but back in 1970, people just didn't do this, and nobody outside of Baltimore had ever seen it before on such a routine basis. This actually makes me a little sad, because if fate had not brought these plays into the national eye, people simply wouldn't have known what Robinson had been doing for the past ten years - what other small-market teams had fantastic defensive players who remain unheralded? (To be perfectly frank, when I watch highlight films of Nolan Arenado, I see things that Robinson could never have done, and if there's going to be an heir to the throne, it may well be Arenado - the thing is, he needs to keep this up for at least ten more years, and that's going to be very difficult. Still, if you could take Arenado's defensive statistics, and extend them for another 15 years, they'd look almost identical to Robinson's - this guy is for real, and should Arenado be handed the crown one day, hopefully he'll look back and respect that Robinson was doing similar defensive things fifty-years beforehand.) In 1960, Robinson won his first Gold Glove, led the American League in exactly one offensive category (double-plays grounded into), finished 3rd in the MVP voting after Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, was the only player named on all 24 MVP ballots, and the term "Mr. Impossible" was already in use. During the slow-motion replay, notice how Robinson never took his eye off the ball, and watched it all the way into his mitt (which ended up holding a scoop of vanilla ice-cream). At the top of the next inning, NBC showed it again - Gowdy: "Here it is again - Robinson poised and ready, ball hit like a bullet to him, and those instant reflexes - he's not fast, but for a step or two, he's outstanding." Gowdy also points out that, [similar to the great tennis player, Rafael Nadal, who is a natural right-hander,] Robinson is a natural left-hander - he writes and eats with his left hand, which may explain some of the prowess with the mitt (although how does it explain his throwing accuracy?!) Worth noting for upcoming commentary: In 18 MLB seasons, shortstop Mark Belanger never dove for a single ball (shortstop and 3rd base require very different skill sets, the 3rd baseman playing shorter, needing quicker reflexes but less absolute side-to-side range, and having to throw farther both to 2nd and 1st base - shortstops get more Chances-per-game, and generally have higher fielding percentages, partly because they don't need to catch point-blank bazooka shots: You can't teach reflexes, at least not reflexes like Robinson had). Video of the play. --- Trivia - Think about the Orioles' tradition of amazing shortstops: Aparicio, Belanger, Ripken, Tejada, Hardy, and soon-to-be Machado. Did you know there was *another* shortstop who was AL Rookie of the Year for the Orioles? If you knew this, you're better than I am: Ron Hansen in 1960 (!) --- Kubek interviews Lefty Grove about Pie Traynor - Kubek: "Lefty, you saw Pie Traynor play, and you're seeing Brooks Robinson - can you compare them?" Grove: "Well, Tony, I'd say there's no comparison between the two of them - they're both the same. You put 'em on the field, and they'll balance it out even." Kubek: "You saw one of the greatest plays of all-time just awhile ago, now we'll go back upstairs - thank you, Lefty Grove." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ENOUGH! Lefty Grove's comment means that it's time to take a short break and dispense with the nonsense involving two things: When I was a child, I was forced to endure old-time baseball players and sports writers, who were clinging on to their era, comparing Brooks Robinson with Pie Traynor, and concluding Traynor was the best third baseman ever; today, I'm forced to endure younger sports writers, most of whom never even saw Robinson play, other than watching highlight films, comparing Brooks Robinson with Mike Schmidt, and concluding Schmidt was the best third baseman ever. Both of these comparisons are utter nonsense, and are based solely on offensive statistics, and their misguided opinions that offense is the trump card over defense when it comes to "being great." Maybe, maybe not, but if you're going to compare offensive players who were of similar quality to Robinson and his defense, you're going to need to come up with better examples than Traynor and Schmidt; you're going to need to put forth the names Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Ted Williams - the greatest hitters who ever lived - to compare with Robinson, the greatest defensive player who ever lived; anything less than that is doing Robinson a disservice. We can end this right here if you wish: I freely admit that both Pie Traynor and Mike Schmidt were markedly superior to Brooks Robinson as offensive players, and if you value offense so highly that you feel it greatly outweighs defense, then yes, you're perfectly justified in believing that Traynor and Schmidt were "better players who played third base." Just don't *ever* say they were "better third basemen." To me, this is like saying that if the Yankees had stuck Babe Ruth at third base so they'd have an additional slugger in their lineup, then Ruth would have been the greatest third baseman of all-time - in other words, it's ridiculous, and if that line of thinking appeals to you, it's probably time to stop reading this, and go about your day. (PS - Extending that logic, why doesn't anyone consider Ruth the greatest pitcher of all-time?) I'll begin with Traynor, who played his entire 17-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. There can be no doubting Traynor's offensive prowess: He had a .320 career batting average (need I even go on?). But let's examine Traynor's defense: He had a career .947 fielding percentage (compared to Robinson's .971), which means his error rate was over twice as high. In 16 years playing 3rd base, he committed 23% more total errors (324 vs. 263) than Robinson, who played 23 years until he was 40-years-old (need I even go on?). Traynor has fallen out of favor during the past generation, so I won't spend my time picking him apart. It's Schmidt I'll go after. People have the audacity to say that "if Schmidt had a high batting average, he'd be the greatest player who ever lived." Well, if I was 8 feet tall, I'd be the greatest basketball player who ever lived. More to the point, if Schmidt wasn't a power hitter, he wouldn't even be in the Hall of Fame - that's about how much sense that argument makes. It's Schmidt's power - and only Schmidt's power - that makes people think he was the "greatest third baseman of all-time." His lifetime batting average was .268, the exact same as Robinson's. Robinson had more hits, more singles, more doubles, more triples, and almost 900 less strikeouts despite playing five-years longer. Let us also remember that Bob Gibson, and his 1.12 ERA in 1968, helped institute the standard that lowered the pitcher's mound by up to 33.3%, from a maximum of 15 inches, to 10 inches - hitters received an enormous boost from this rule change. Still, due to Schmidt's tremendous power, the consensus is that he was a far-superior hitter, and I won't argue otherwise, but it isn't quite as tidy a package as everyone says. Bear in mind also: Hitting has absolutely nothing to do with playing third base. In terms of defense: Spare me. "Ten gold gloves," they say - one more than Don Mattingly and Torii Hunter, and one less than Keith Hernandez and Omar Vizquel, none of whom are in the Hall of Fame (though I expect we'll see Vizquel there one day). There's no doubt that Schmidt was a fine defensive third baseman, but he is currently sitting comfortably, tied at (ready for this?) #121 in all-time 3rd-baseman fielding percentage at .951. He made 50 more errors in 18 seasons than Robinson made in 23 (and don't forget that seasons 19-23 were when Robinson was pushing 40-years-old, and the only reason there weren't seasons 24 and 25 is because at the end of his career, he could barely even hit the ball into the outfield - he became the "King of the Short Fly Out" (note also that these exceedingly weak offensive statistics figure into his career averages)). I won't even get into Robinson consistently robbing people of extra-base hits, which go into the statistics as a mere "Putout" or "Assist." Mike Schmidt was a great athlete, and perhaps even a prototype for the modern third baseman; but there will never, ever be another Brooks Robinson, so he wasn't a prototype for anything. Had the Platinum Glove existed back in the 1960s and early 1970s, Robinson might have won 16 of those in a row as well. To paraphrase Bill Walton talking about Larry Bird: Bird was out there playing chess; everyone else was playing checkers. Let's end this here because despite appearances to the contrary, I really like Mike Schmidt, and think he was a *great* baseball player - a legitimate first-ballot Hall of Famer. Mr. Schmidt, I know you're reading this: For whatever it's worth, if I'd grown up in Philadelphia twenty-years later, I'd probably be writing a similar essay about you. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bottom of the 6th, Orioles leading 4-1, 1 out, runner on 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 0-0 count, Wayne Granger relieving Tony Cloninger - Once again, Robinson pounces on the first pitch (why do they keep throwing him first-pitch strikes?), and hits a hard liner into the left-field corner. As Paul Blair trots into 3rd base, Robinson takes advantage of the situation, races down to second, and is credited with his second double of the game. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 6th, Orioles leading 4-1, 2 out, bases loaded, Dave McNally up, 2-2 count - Just when you think you've seen it all, McNally becomes the first pitcher ever to hit a Grand Slam in a World Series game, scoring Robinson and two others. Even more amazing is that pitcher Mike Cuellar hit a Grand Slam in the ALCS just a few games before. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles leading 9-3, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 0-0 count, Don Gullett relieving Wayne Granger - Brooks Robinson *again* swings at the first pitch, this time fouling out in shallow right field to Lee May. Video of the play. --- Final Score: Orioles 9, Reds 3 - Box Score Brooks Robinson's Cumulative Statistics: Slash Line: .333 / .333 / .750, OPS: 1.083, Hits: 4. Doubles: 2, HRs: 1, RBIs: 4, Runs: 2 Total Chances: 20, Putouts: 7, Assists: 12, Errors: 1, Double-Plays: 2, Fielding Percentage: .950 Continue with Part 5
  20. Skip directly to Part 1 Game Two During the introduction, after Gowdy's analysis of the crazy play at home plate in Game one, Reds announcer McIntyre gave his analysis of the game: McIntyre: "Yesterday for the Baltimore Orioles, the offensive star, and the defensive star, had to be third baseman Brooks Robinson. Leading off the 6th inning for the Cincinnati Reds was first baseman Lee May, who had earlier hit a home run and a single, and look at the play Robinson makes on this hard smash to third base. Deep behind the bag, crossing the foul line, a backhanded stop, up and throwing in one motion, off-balance, he still got enough on the throw to get it to Boog Powell on one bounce, and get Lee May on a very close play. Then, in the very next inning, the Baltimore 7th, Brooks hit a long drive to deep left field. The ball does carry extremely well down the foul lines here at Riverfront Stadium. Bernie Carbo, back as far as he could go, to the warning track, following the ball - he jumps as high as he can jump, but to no avail: The ball was over the fence, a home run, and the Orioles won it 4-3." Video of the announcement. Tony Kubek, roaming around the stands, finds a loquacious Casey Stengel, and asks him about the play at home plate. Brooks Robinson's introduction was interrupted (on the audio) with an update about an event during Canada's "October Crisis" - the kidnapping of Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte (The October Crisis was an ongoing event of significant import which caused ABC to cut away from Game One at least twice). "And the rockets' red glare ...." - Tony Martin The honorary balls were thrown out by former NL President Warren Giles. [A self-adjusting] "Brooks Robinson at 3rd base ...." --- Bottom of the 1st, Tied 0-0, 2 out, runner on 1st, Bobby Tolan at bat, 2-2 count - The dangerous and scrappy Pete Rose was on 1st, an intrepid Bobby Tolan tried to bunt twice, which against Robinson, is like pissing into the wind, and then hit a ground ball toward shortstop, which Robinson cut off, and then hurriedly threw out a barreling-and-sliding Rose at 2nd base. This was a very difficult maneuver, as Rose ran the base paths with menace, and second baseman Davey Johnson nearly had his legs amputated - Robinson timed the scoop-and-throw perfectly. It was Robinson's momentum, as he scampered towards shortstop, that allowed him to get the ball off quickly enough to throw out Rose - the first picture is also the single-longest stride I've ever known Robinson to take. As you'll see on the video, Robinson moved to his left, and cut the ball off from the shortstop, which not only shortens the length of the grounder, but also gives him momentum towards the right side of the infield - he did this better and more frequently than anyone who ever lived. Here are some hard statistics which, in my opinion, clearly demonstrate Robinson's prowess at this one facet of playing third base: A few months ago, I analyzed, here, Hall of Fame shorstop Luis Aparicio's career "Chances" statistic, season-by-season - I cannot think of any possible explanation for the results of that analysis other than "Brooks Robinson," but judge for yourselves. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 1st, Reds Leading 2-0, 2 out, runner on 3rd, Hal McRae at bat, 0-0 count - I'm not sure whether this was a suicide squeeze (in which Lee May would have broken from 3rd as the pitch was thrown) or a safety squeeze (in which May would have waited for the ball to be bunted - based on May's proximity to third base, it appears to be a safety squeeze), but either way, it was a big mental error by left-handed pitcher Mike Cuellar, who broke to his right, inexplicably gloved the ball, and tried to flip a backhand throw to the plate - instead of simply letting Robinson handle it. This picture is a subtle, but obvious, indication that Robinson was preparing to execute the play. Notice Robinson's right leg crossing over his body, as he's getting ready to bare-hand the ball - almost surely throwing home, in which case he should have gotten the relatively slow-footed May out (it would have been a great play, but that's what he did for a living; instead, we have one less story to tell our grandchildren about, as Robinson tapped his empty mitt, put his arms down at his sides, and was forced to watch the disaster unfold) - catcher Elrod Hendricks also appears to have been waiting for Robinson's throw at the first-base side of home plate. This is *exactly* the type of play I'm talking about when I say, "People from Baltimore had been seeing this for years" - viewers might watch this now, and have understandable doubt as to whether Robinson could have pulled it off, but this was something of a routine play for him - May was very lucky that Crazyhorse (Cuellar's nickname) panicked. Here is the approximate moment when Robinson would have released his throw (note that he had indeed moved to his left, and had already pulled up to make room for Cuellar). You really need to watch the whole video of this in order to understand it - the more times I see it, the more I think that May would have been tagged out with plenty of time to spare - in this picture, which is about where Robinson would have caught the ball (that's Cuellar at the top), May had fully eight more strides to take (you can count them on the slow-motion replay). Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 1st, Reds Leading 3-0, 2 out, runner on 1st, Tommy Helms at bat, 0-0 count - On the very next pitch, Helms ironically hits a routine ground ball to Robinson, who forces the runner at second. In just the first inning, notice how "involved" Robinson is in the game - the Orioles pitched so batters would hit it to third base, and Robinson's presence imposed itself upon other teams, forcing them to change the way they played (not just in this Series, but always). Note also that Robinson didn't throw any harder than he needed to - a young buck like Manny Machado would have caught the ball, bent over to tie his shoe, and then fired a bullet to first. Video of the play. --- Top of the 2nd, Reds Leading 3-0, none out, none on, Brooks Robinson at bat, 2-1 count - Lee May exacts his revenge: Robinson hits a weak pop-up to shallow right field, first baseman May and second baseman Helms jostle for position, before May makes the catch. Video of the play. --- Top of the 2nd, Reds Leading 3-0, 2 out, none on, Mark Belanger at bat, 1-1 count - This needs to be taken in context and watched after the previous video for some comic relief - Mark Belanger hits an almost-identical pop-up, causing May and Helms to fumble around yet again, and creating a Keystone Cops-type of atmosphere in shallow-right this inning for the Reds. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek holds a brief interview with the gigantic (6'7", 275 lbs) Senators' slugger, Frank Howard, about Mike Cuellar. --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds Leading 3-0, 2 out, none on, Pete Rose at bat, 3-0 count - Pete Rose hits a sharp, topspin grounder to 3rd, which takes a high hop at the final moment. Robinson adjusts, and throws Rose out at 1st. Video of the play. --- Here are two strange foul pop-ups in the bottom of the 3rd. The first was caught by Elrod Hendricks, who had to tiptoe his way around a camera. Video of the play. The second was dropped by Robinson, who was worried both about the fence (primarily) and another camera (secondarily) - one could argue that Robinson could have caught this, but it's understandable that he didn't (refer to this gruesome 1959 incident). If this game had been in Memorial Stadium, Robinson would have felt more comfortable, most likely familiar with every square inch of the park; here, you can almost feel the hook going into his arm <shiver>. Of note: This is the only time in my life that I can remember Robinson looking scared. Gowdy: "'E' for Effort; no error. I asked his teammates yesterday if that ["The Play"] was the best play they'd ever seen him make at 3rd - they said, 'Well, he's made so many, it's just one of [indecipherable by me].'" McIntyre: "You know, with that guy down there, great plays have become the rule, instead of the exception." Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 3rd, Reds Leading 4-0, 1 out, runner on 1st, Lee May at bat, 3-0 count, Tom Phoebus relieving Cuellar - May rips a line drive down the 3rd-base line - Robinson is standing there with his back to the plate, facing the left-field wall, the umpire having called the screaming line drive fair. Less than three seconds later, the inning would be over, as Robinson had caught the ball on the short hop which came off the ground almost *behind* him, whirled clockwise, and started an inning-ending double play. Gowdy: "Brooks Robinson and Pie Traynor have been rated the two-greatest fielding third baseman of all-time. Robinson again shows his class in big games - All-Star Games and World Series - a diving stab to start the double play, and around the horn she goes, and Robinson's sparkling play once again gets the Orioles out of trouble." [Respectful note to Mr. Gowdy: It wasn't just All-Star and World Series games - those are the games you announced; he did this *all the time*!] Video of the play. One difference between Robinson and the absolutely spectacular athletes of today (Machado, Andrelton Simmons, Nolan Arenado), all of whom are bigger, faster, and stronger than Robinson, and all of whom have *much* stronger arms: When Robinson fielded the ball - and this play is a fine example - it disappeared into his mitt like a marshmallow - there was probably almost no sound at all; when the modern greats field, it's as if you can almost feel the crisp *POP* when it hits their mitt, and after they've gotten up off the ground, or gotten up from doing a side split (or maybe they're still on their knees), they'll rifle a 90 mph bullet to first - Robinson simply did not have these weapons in his arsenal, and it's the difference between silk and steel. When I was growing up, it was "Pie Traynor and Brooks Robinson," now it's "Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson," tomorrow it will be "Nolan Arenado and Brooks Robinson." 100 years from now, it will be, simply, "Brooks Robinson." I found some other pictures: Imagine this situation turned into an inning-ending double play: (<--- Believe it or not, this is the exact-same play). This is what the great Thomas Boswell would call, "an unthinkable play" - as Robinson was on the ground, trying to get up, you can see that he was trying to transfer the ball from his mitt to his throwing arm, knowing in advance what he was going to do: This is a bit much to believe, even for me. But it's true. --- Top of the 4th, Reds Leading 4-1, one out, none on, Brooks Robinson at bat, 0-0 count - For the third time in the Series, Robinson grounds to 3rd baseman Tony Perez, who has played a very solid two games thus far. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews new Detroit Tigers manager, Billy Martin. --- Bottom of the 4th, Reds Leading 4-1, none out, runner on 1st, Tommy Helms at bat, 0-0 count - I have to give the Reds credit: They've had a devil-may-care, almost arrogant, attitude about bunting in this Series so far. With a runner on 1st, Helms laid a bunt down the third base line, and instead of fielding it, Robinson somehow had the presence of mind to realize it was going to slowly roll foul (if it hadn't, it would have been a single for Helms). How did Robinson know? Or maybe it was right at the border where Helms was going to be safe at first? Either way, it was a fine, nearly perfect, sacrifice bunt, except that Robinson somehow willed it to roll foul. In the picture, you can see that Robinson, once again, was crossing his right foot over to the left side of his body while charging, because he was going to bare-hand the bunt and hurl it to first, except that he saw something to make him back off - I think he noticed that Helms had made contact at 3 o'clock, imparting a slight side-spin on the ball which was to slowly carry it foul. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Milwaukee Brewers manager, Dave Bristol. --- Top of the 5th, Reds Leading 4-3, two out, runners on 1st and 3rd, Brooks Robinson at bat, 0-0 count - For the second straight at-bat, Robinson jumped on the first pitch, this time hitting a game-tying, RBI single to right field. Some people say, "There's no such thing as being a 'clutch hitter,'" but they're wrong: Certain people tend to tense up under pressure situations; others relax and excel, and Robinson tended to do the latter throughout his career, often coming through in big moments. People have forgotten that, in Baltimore's 3-game sweep of the powerful Minnesota Twins in the 1970 ALCS, Robinson's batting average was .583. Video of the play. Robinson would also score from 1st base when Elrod Hendricks hits an opposite-field double down the third-base line. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles Leading 6-5, 1 out, none on, Hal McRae at bat, 2-2 count, Moe Drabowsky in to relieve Tom Phoebus - Tolan again hits a sharp grounder to Robinson, who steps to his right, gloves it, and throws Tolan out with a slightly low throw (he got tight, and didn't follow through). During the slow-motion replay (NBC has begun to position a camera on Robinson each play), notice that Robinson positioned himself behind the ball, instead of backhanding it - he was really good at this, which allowed him to recover in case of a bobble. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 6th, Orioles Leading 6-5, 1 out, none on, Angel Bravo at bat, 0-0 count. Angel Bravo fakes a bunt - look how close to the plate Robinson is (you need to watch the film for this one to see just how much he had charged in). Video of the moment. --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles Leading 6-5, 1 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Bobby Tolan at bat, 2-2 count, Marcelino Lopez in to relive Drabowsky. Tolan hits a high pop-up in foul territory off 3rd - the infield-fly rule is in effect, and Robinson makes an easy (albeit sun-drenched) catch. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles Leading 6-5, 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Tony Perez at bat, 2-2 count, Dick Hall in to relieve Marcelino Lopez - Perez hits a semi-hard grounder towards shortstop, Robinson steps to his left, cuts off Belanger, and forces Rose at 2nd base. This was a routine play, but just knowing that there's essentially no chance of an error in this situation must do wonders for a team's morale. Boy, you don't realize how many plays Robinson made in this Series until you type each one of them up - this is exhausting. Do you remember the analysis of Luis Aparicio I mentioned up above? This is a textbook example of what I was talking about. Video of the play. --- Top of the 8th, Orioles Leading 6-5, none out, none on, Brooks Robinson at bat, 0-0 count - For the third-consecutive time, Robinson jumps on the first pitch, this time, hitting a routine grounder to shortstop Darrel Cheney, who throws Robinson out easily at 1st. Video of the play. --- With two out in the top of the 9th, Orioles leading 6-5, Jim Stewart pinch-hitting with a 1-2 count, and the Reds down to their final strike, there was a heart-stopping moment - Stewart drilled a long, fly ball over Paul Blair's head in deepest center field. Video of the play. --- Final Score: Orioles 6, Reds 5 - Box Score Brooks Robinson's Cumulative Statistics: Slash Line: .250 / .250 / .625, OPS: .875, Hits: 2. HRs: 1, RBIs: 2 Runs: 1 Total Chances: 14, Putouts: 4, Assists: 9, Errors: 1, Double-Plays: 1, Fielding Percentage: .928 Continue with Part 4
  21. Skip directly to Part 1 Game One Although this World Series between the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati's legendary "Big Red Machine" presented Robinson with a barrage of difficult Chances (Putouts + Assists + Errors), it was a mere microcosm of his entire career. Instead of having the opportunity to make "one amazing play per game" (which is what seemed to happen in this Series), he would normally have the opportunity to make "one amazing play every few games," but he made them - almost every time - for 16 (if not 23) years, and tens-of-thousands of Orioles fans, though excited about Robinson's national publicity, merely shrugged their shoulders, and said, "Why don't they already know?" This was nothing new to them, and even at age nine, it was nothing new to me: I regularly hustled home from elementary school to watch the Orioles and Robinson on a black-and-white TV set, whenever their afternoon games were televised on Channel 13. After reading the analysis of all five games, you just may be convinced that Brooks Robinson, as a defensive third-baseman, can no more be equaled than Johann Sebastian Bach or Leonardo da Vinci in their respective arts. Or, if the sensibility of comparing purely mental genius with a combination of mental-physical genius offends you, then make it Sviatislov Richter or Rudolf Nureyev - the point is that Robinson was *so* much better at the art of playing third base than anyone else, that the only legitimate comparisons you could make with players best-known for their offense, would be with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Ted Williams. No, not Pie Traynor, and no, not Mike Schmidt - remember I said this, because I'll be discussing it more later. Of note: In 1969, the Chicago White Sox installed artificial turf, but other than away games at Comiskey Park in 1969 and 1970, this was the first time Robinson ever played an official game on the surface (there may have been exhibition games that I don't know about, and I can't imagine he didn't prepare himself in advance somehow). Here is the full video of Game One - you don't need to watch the entire game, as I've done it for you, and I'm going to discuss every single play in which Robinson was involved - yes, even the high throw in Game 1 (he actually made two, arguably three, mistakes in this World Series, with one of them being a bad strategic decision that couldn't be ruled an error). Note that on the bottom-left of the screenshots (which you can click on and expand) is the time in the above film where the picture occurs, so you can go directly there and watch the video. More conveniently, if you click on the link labeled "Video of the play," you'll go right to it (on YouTube). I'm grateful to Stan Phillips - whomever he may be - for having these videos on YouTube. If he ever takes them down, or if they're ever taken down, then this five-part essay will need to be glossed over with links to whatever new videos are on YouTube - in the meantime, thank you Stan! The first time any proper noun is referenced (whether it's a name or a place), a corresponding link to Wikipedia is provided. The series was broadcast on NBC, and was announced by Curt Gowdy, (Reds announcer) Jim McIntyre, and Tony Kubek. "Batting 5th, and playing 3rd base, Brooks Robinson." This would be the first World Series game in history that featured an umpire of color: the trailblazing umpire Emmett Ashford. Although I could not find it here, an announcer reportedly said, in one of the game introductions: "Dignity, like cream, will always rise to the top." The following picture is historic, and Emmett Ashford should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. "And the rockets' red glare ...." - Michael Jackson "Brooks Robinson at 3rd ...." Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn throws out two honorary baseballs. Color Code: Green = Defense Blue = Offense Black = Intangibles Red = Bizarre --- Bottom of the 1st, Reds leading 1-0, 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Bernie Carbo at bat, 1-1 count - Very early on, there have been 3 hard-hit balls off of 20-game-winner Jim Palmer, and reliever Tom Phoebus was warming up in the bullpen. Carbo drills a hard line drive just to the right side of Robinson, who only needs to move one step. There's nothing spectacular about this play, but notice how Robinson happened to be almost exactly where the ball was hit (by good fortune?), the soft hands (I'll be bringing this up again), and the way he runs off the field without fanfare after flipping the ball to the pitcher's mound, like he merely did what he's being paid to do. There's nothing spectacular about this play, or is there? Look how close to 2nd base shortstop Mark Belanger was playing (he's at the very top of the picture) - why was Robinson positioned relatively close to the line against the left-handed Carbo? Had he analyzed the specifics of the situation, did he know something in advance about Carbo, or was he merely protecting the line from an extra-base hit? If he had been two steps further away from the line, he would have needed to make a spectacular, diving catch to save two runs, and people would have been talking about the play for generations; instead, this looked like a routine out that was lost to anonymity. Video of the play. --- Top of the 2nd, Reds leading 1-0, 1 out, bases empty, Brooks Robinson in his first at-bat, 3-1 count. - Robinson hits a hard, topspin grounder to Reds third baseman Tony Perez, who makes a fine play, and easily throws out Robinson at 1st - although Robinson had cat-like reflexes, this play shows his lack of speed as a runner. Notice also the good catch at first base by Lee May,: "The Big Bopper." Throughout this Series, May will positively *pound* the ball, nearly always pulling it - I cannot recall another World Series when any one player hit the ball so consistently hard. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 1-0, none out, bases empty, Tommy Helms at bat, 1-1 count - Helms hits a sky-high pop-up to Robinson, who calls for the ball, puts his glove in the air to keep the sun out of his eyes (notice the shadow), and then finishes the fairly routine play. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 1-0, 1 out, bases empty, Woody Woodward at bat, 1-0 count - Woodward, choking up, hits a slow chop to shortstop, which Robinson cuts off as usual, and then inexplicably throws high to first, forcing Boog Powell to jump up, and allowing Woodward to touch the base before Powell lands. Gowdy: "Boy, that's something you rarely see - Brooks Robinson making an erratic throw ... That's an error on Brooks Robinson. Just about every All-Star or World Series you see him in, he is the spectacular fielder of the series." This would be Robinson's only error, and it was a slight, but obvious, mishap - at this early stage, any reasonable person would have to say that Robinson is having a poor World Series, given that he's 0-1 at the plate, and has made 1 error in 3 chances. Video of the play that made all of Baltimore groan. Of note: Look again at the second picture above - the sun is directly in Robinson's eyes (this is obviously not any type of excuse, but it could be a partial explanation; most likely not - Robinson knew exactly where he was on the field, and should have been able to make this throw blindfolded). --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 1-0, 1 out, runner on 1st, pitcher Gary Nolan at bat, 0-2 count. - Nolan lays down a gutsy, perfectly executed bunt with two strikes, causing Palmer, catcher Elrod Hendricks, and Robinson to converge near the plate. Palmer and Hendricks step aside, Robinson grabs the ball on the short-hop after it takes a wildly high bounce (it bounced off home plate), and then easily throws Nolan out at 1st. The bunt bounced so high up that there was no possible play at 2nd - Robinson recognized this, and wisely didn't consider throwing there. The takeaway from this play is how fast Robinson charged in towards the plate - he had a habit of charging forward on every ball that came his way, and he was all over this very effective bunt. Robinson was involved in 4 out of the Reds' first 6 outs, and it might have been to his long-term benefit that he made the error early on in the Series, as it might have shaken the butterflies out of him. Video of the play. --- Top of the 4th, Reds leading 3-2, 2 out, bases empty, Brooks Robinson up, 1-0 count - Robinson again tops a ground ball to Tony Perez at 3rd base, this time an easy play. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 4th, Reds leading 3-2, 2 out, bases empty, Gary Nolan up, 0-0 count. - This is the 1st of 2 bizarre plays this game - the ball slipped out of Palmer's hand, resulting in one of the strangest pitches you'll ever see. I'm not sure which is more bizarre: Robinson's error, or this pitch. I don't want to make excuses, but is it possible that this was the exact same baseball that Robinson threw high to first base? In both instances, the ball seemed to slip in a similar way (remember, this is nearly fifty-years ago, and they didn't use new baseballs like they do now - at the very least, it makes for an interesting conspiracy theory). Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 4th, Reds leading 3-2, 1 out, bases empty, Woody Woodward up, 1-1 count - Mcintyre: "Kurt, Brooks Robinson at third base is fairly deep, and Woodward is an excellent bunter." Gowdy: "Let's see what happens." Robinson was baiting Woodward into bunting here (Woodward was a notoriously light hitter, and there's no way Robinson would be playing him deep), although Woodward took a full swing instead, fouling out to Powell at first base. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 5th, Tied 3-3, none out, bases empty, Lee May up, 2-2 count - This is it: "The Play." The play that got Robinson national attention early on in this World Series, and the play that Baltimore fans had seen dozens of times before. May nailed a bullet grounder to 3rd, and Robinson went to his right, nabbing the ball just before his momentum carried him into foul territory. Then, with a single motion, he turned and threw a one-hop strike to Powell at first, and because of network television, Robinson's legend went from "regional" to "national." Gowdy and McIntyre both began yelling spontaneously, then the Reds announcer McIntyre famously (and as a testament to McIntyre, impartially) shouted: "Oh!! Great day in the *morning*! What a play!" Gowdy: "Well, he does it, in big games ... Just a remarkable play, that's one of the best plays you'll ever seen a third baseman make in a World Series game, and he made some great ones last year against the Mets, and also against the Dodgers in '66." Plays are like this are why I hurried home from elementary school when the Orioles had a game, primarily to watch Robinson - I guess this is the play you're "supposed" to watch, and because it happened in Game 1, it drew national attention early on, but even at age 9, I'd seen Robinson make numerous plays at this level, and although I remember being excited, I also remember not being surprised. Video of the play. --- Top of the 6th, Tied 3-3, 1 out, bases empty, Brooks Robinson up, 0-1 count - Shortly after "The Play," Robinson would put an exclamation point on his statement. McIntyre: "Here's Brooks Robinson. What a terrific play he made on that ground ball at 3rd base on Lee May - a major-league and World Series kind of play." On a 0-1 count, Robinson hit a fly ball to left field. Carbo scaled the wall, but the ball was hit just a bit too far, and Robinson would hit what would turn out to be the final run of the game: a game-winning home run. Video of the play. --- Clay Carroll came in to relieve Nolan, and Tony Kubek did an abbreviated interview with David Hartman (this was before Hartman became more famous for hosting "Good Morning America" and starring in "Lucas Tanner") as Carroll warmed up. --- Bottom of the 6th, Tied 3-3, 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, Ty Cline up, 2-2 count - The is the 2nd bizarre play of the game, and is best watched rather than described (this is the play when Hendricks "tagged Carbo out" at the plate). Video of the play. At the beginning of Game 2, Gowdy analyzes this unique play in detail. Video of the play with analysis. --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles leading 4-3, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Johnny Bench up, 2-2 count - The 1970 NL MVP Johnny Bench, who hit 45 home runs and 148 RBIs during the season, was a dangerous batter with Tony Perez on 2nd base. Bench smacked a hard grounder to Robinson at 3rd base, and Robinson made it a routine play, throwing out Bench at 1st, and ending a somewhat threatening inning. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 8th, Orioles leading 4-3, 1 out, none on, Bernie Carbo up, 0-2 count - Bang-bang: Carbo lined out at 3rd to Robinson, who was right there, and then flipped it around the horn. Video of the play. --- Top of the 9th, Orioles leading 4-3, none out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 2-2 count - Tony Kubek interviews Commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bowie Kuhn. Kubek: "Mr. Commissioner, pretty good play by this fella, hitting." Kuhn: "I tell you, it's as good of a play at 3rd base as I've ever seen - I didn't believe he could make it. And it was a very key play, because it was followed by two hits." Video of the dialog. Gowdy: "And he was voted by the Baltimore fans last year as the greatest player in the history of the Orioles - you can see why, the way he's performed today." McIntyre: "Yes sir, Kurt - a home run, and some great plays at 3rd base." Brooks Robinson strikes out looking. Video of the play. --- Final Score: Orioles 4, Reds 3 - Box Score Brooks Robinson's Statistics: Slash Line: .250 / .250 / 1.000, OPS: 1.250, Hits: 1 HRs: 1, RBIs: 1 Total Chances: 7, Putouts: 3, Assists: 3, Errors: 1, Fielding Percentage: .857 <--- Despite "The Play," that one, slightly high throw really stands out. Continue with Part 3
  22. Preambulum It was Aristotle who said: "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you just told them." I am going to all-but prove to you that Brooks Robinson was the greatest defensive player ever to play baseball, at any position. Robinson, who played 3rd base for the Baltimore Orioles from 1955-1977, was the Gold Glove winner for 16 consecutive years (1960-1975), and is not only the greatest defensive 3rd-baseman in history, he's the greatest defensive player of all-time, at any position. At this point, you are fully justified in believing that trying to "prove" such a hyperbolic claim is nothing more than a fool's errand. I'm going to demonstrate this slowly, and methodically, using the 1970 World Series as the motif. During this presentation, you will have - with a single click - every single play involving Brooks Robinson in the entire World Series, photographed and explained, and you'll also be a single click away from the video. This persuasive essay took me perhaps one-hundred hours to complete, but it's written so you'll be able to finish it in about three hours of reading - I tried to make this as easy as possible for you, the reader. All I ask of you, is that you read the entire presentation in sequence, like a novel - it is absolutely imperative that you read and view every single play involving Robinson, and then click on the video - the links will enable you to go directly to the precise spot, and you'll know when it's time to move on from each video segment. At the end of this seven-part essay, you can have a complete mastery of everything Brooks Robinson did in the 1970 World Series, and you will fully understand my contention - even if you do not agree - that Brooks Robinson was the single greatest defensive player in baseball history, at any position. In advance, I'd like to thank YouTube posters "stan phillips" (whose videos of Games 1-4 I use) and MLBClassics (whose video of Game 5 I use). If these videos ever disappear, this essay will need to be adjusted to whichever new videos take their place, but until then, this could not have been written without them, and both YouTube users have my genuine gratitude - the best way to repay them would be to subscribe to their YouTube accounts (I have no affiliation with them, and haven't even made contact). This seven-part serial is being jointly published on the premier Nationals Blog, talknats.com, and will also reside on our city's premier restaurant resource, donrockwell.com, which features the largest single-city dining guide in the world. Although I grew up an Orioles fan in Silver Spring, and my heart will always be with their dynastic teams of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, my loyalty left with Hall-of-Famers Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, Jr., and future Hall-of-Famer Mike Mussina - Peter Angelos put an end to that - and I'm now firmly in the Nationals' corner, living a mere ten minutes from the stadium. Thank you in advance for indulging me in what is going to be a labor of love, and hopefully the most convincing analysis of Robinson's defense ever written. I just told you what I'm going to tell you. Now, the burden is on me to tell you. Please note: This is a long piece that will demand several hours of reading, viewing, and close attention on your part (a friend estimated that she spent "about three hours" on it). The piece needs to be scrutinized, start-to-finish, like a book; to do otherwise will be a waste of your time, and will defeat its raison d'être. So screw your attention to its sticking place, steel yourself for the fantastic voyage that awaits you, and prepare to be immersed into the wondrous dunk-tank that is Brooks Robinson. Continue with Part 2
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