Friday, January 23, 2009

Herm Edwards Fired [Breaking News]

In Scott Pioli's first move as GM of the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Herm Edwards has been fired.

While Herm "Plays to Win the Game," he wasn't very good at it. In 3 seasons with the franchise, he was 15-33. Pretty mediocre.

Maybe Gilbride will replace him. Giants fans can only hope. Or perhaps "Chucky" Gruden. I think Atlanta Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey will also be a candidate (although in my first season ever as a Falcons fan I was not too impressed with him). Here's to hoping that con-artist, ex-BC coach Jeff Jagodzinski does not get it.

Jay McGwire [Creep Of The Week]

Deadspin first reported on Wednesday that Jay McGwire, the younger brother of former Home Run Champ/Beloved Slugger/Savior of Baseball and current non-Hall of Famer Mark McGwire was shopping a tell-all book about how he introduced Mark to steroids.

The book, titled "THE MCGWIRE FAMILY SECRET: The Truth about Steroids, a Slugger, and Ultimate Redemption" details how Jay introduced Mark to steroids in 1994 (a season in which he played only 47 games), so he “wouldn’t lift his way out of baseball” and help with joint problems and muscle recovery.

The reason behind the book you might ask: it seems that the younger brother has some financial problems but more importantly, found God.
"Mark is a man I think most would like to forgive because his reason wasn’t nefarious—it was for survival. My bringing the truth to surface about Mark is out of love. I want Mark to live in truth to see the light, to come to repentance so he can live in freedom—which is the only way to live."
Now that is love, selling your brother out and further diminishing his reputation and career (though I am not sure it can get much worse), all so he can live in freedom. Sounds like one hell of a bond between brothers.

Note to Mark: It probably would have been a good idea to not ruin the relationship or let your brother/drug dealer go broke, especially after your wonderful experience with Congress.

Note to Jay: Judging from the picture above, you might want to reconsider the title of your book if you ever want to get it published. I don’t think it was much of a secret you both were on roids.

Number of Days Until Spring Training: Paul O'Neill (#21)

According to George Steinbrenner, #21 is a Warrior. Given the his respect for the immortal General Douglas MacArthur, I’m entirely sure that there can be no higher praise from the Boss.

O’Neill, Bernie’s Williams' drummer, is my 2nd favorite Yankee ever (after the very unheralded Bernie). His intensity for the game could not be matched. He truly cared about the team and his success. He was the antithesis of the common athlete who could not care less as long as his salary was being paid. His desire is best summed up by the number of water coolers that have slammed the concrete of the old Yankee Stadium dugout and the number of his bats that have been furiously tossed on the famed Kentucky Bluegrass of the diamond.

When Paul finished his Yankee career, which began in 1994, he hadn't complied the most impressive numbers. In fact, Prior to his tenure with the Yankees, O'Neill's numbers weren't the greatest either. He was a .259 hitter and only hit more than 20 homers once before was traded to the Reds for Roberto Kelly. Yankees fans were LIVID. Stick Michael, being the genius that he is, clearly saw something more in him. During the dynastic run of the late 90's, Paulie was the heart and soul of the Yankees

O'Neill had his share of postseason drama at Yankee Stadium, but none more poignant than the clinching Game 4 of the 1999 World Series against Atlanta. That morning, Charles "Chick" O'Neill, Paul's father, had died of lung and kidney failure at age 79. Paul had visited his father daily at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital where the senior O'Neill had undergone heart surgery. Paul openly wept in the clubhouse before the game, but told Torre he felt he could play. Said first-base coach Jose Cardenal, "Paulie wanted to see if he could get through batting practice first. He thought being in the game would take his mind off things." What more could you ask for in the face of adversity?

O'Neill also had what was perhaps the best at-bat in Yankees history. In Game 1 of the 2000 World Series, down 2-1 in the top of the 9th against the Mets, O'Neill worked a 10 pitch one-out walk against Mets closer Armando Benitez. Subsequent singles by Luis Polonia and Jose Vizcaino loaded the bases before the Yankees tied the score on a sacrifice fly by Chuck Knoblauch. The Yanks won it in the 12th on a bases-loaded single by Vizcaino and went on to win the Fall Classic in 5 Games.

In 2001, his last year with the Yankees, at age 38, he became the oldest player ever to have a 20/20 season.

Since his retirement, his number 21 had not been worn by any Yankee player, leading to speculation that it will be officially retired. Yankees relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins briefly wore the number in the 2008 season but, on April 16, 2008, Hawkins switched to number 22 in response to the criticism and boos he received from many Yankee fans. MEMO TO HANK AND HAL: RETIRE #21!!!! (AS WELL AS #51!)

O'Neill was a Cincinnati native, but like fellow Ohio native Thurman Munson, embraced New York fully. "Playing in New York really worked out for me," O'Neill said. "It was the best time of my life."

Paulie has also provided great Seinfeld memories. In the episode entitled "The Wink," O'Neill is accosted by Cosmo Kramer in the Yankees' locker room and is told by Kramer that he must hit two home runs in the same game so that Kramer can retrieve a birthday card signed by all the Yankees from a little boy who wasn't supposed to get it in the first place. O'Neill angrily replies that this is very difficult and that he is not usually a home run hitter; he then asks Kramer, "How'd you get in here anyway?" In the ensuing game, O'Neill does hit two home runs, but one of them is an in-the-park home run and scored a triple due to the other team's error, so the little boy Kramer is trying to appease is not totally satisfied. Kramer manages to get the Yankee-signed birthday card back from the boy, but he has now promised the boy that O'Neill will catch a fly ball in his hat during the next game.

To recognize his greatness, Yankees fans did one of the classiest things that any fan base has ever done to support a player. In Game 5 of the 2001 World Series when the Yankees were losing to the Diamondbacks 2-0 in the top of the 9th Inning, Yankees fans, cognizant of the fact that it would be O’Neill’s last game ever at The House That Ruth Built, cheered for him by chanting his name endlessly. Paulie responded with tears in his eyes and by tipping his hat. This is unlike many other fan bases (ahem, Boston) who would start cursing him because the Yankees were losing.

Since O'Neill's retirement, the Yankees have not won a World Series. Coincidence? Perhaps.

We love you and miss you Paulie. PLEASE COME BACK! If not, please continue to abuse Michael Kay in the YES booth.

Number of Days Until Spring Training: #21 (Spud Chandler)

[Ed. Note: This is the first of two #21 posts today. Later, Joe will weigh in on Paul O'Neil.]

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you're reading this blog, you probably weren't alive to see Spud Chandler pitch. His last appearance was on October 2nd, 1947, so you would have to be at least 68 to stake a reasonable claim to remembering him as a Yankee, even during his last season. Neither of my parents were alive at that point, but praise be to the bounty of these here interwebs, I can hop on Baseball-Reference and Wikipedia and write him a mini-biography like I'm his agent or something.

Chandler grew up in Jaw-Juh, and was a three sport athlete at UGA, playing halfback for the football team, pitching for the baseball team and running some track.

If I told you Mr. Chandler had a ten year career, you'd probably guess he started when he around 23-26 and retired at about 33-36. Oddly, he was born in 1907, but didn't make his debut until 1937, in his age 29 season after spending five years in the Yankee farm system. Lots of guys make their major league debuts at 29, not many of them have 10 year careers. He started only 12 games in '37, but threw six CGs, including two shutouts.

The following season, he threw 172 innings to a better than a league average ERA, but had a microscopic 36 strikeouts. At age 31, he was relegated to only 11 relief appearances and looked as if he was headed out of the league. In 1940, he was re-installed into the rotation and for the next three seasons complied successively more innings, more strikeouts and a lower ERA, setting the table for his 1943 season.

I'm not that familiar with the effect that WWII had on most major leaguers' stats, but I've got to assume that Spud Chandler's '43 season was still pretty damn incredible. The marginal pitcher I just described to you, at age 35, busted out with 253 innings of a 1.64ERA and a .992WHIP, gave up only two home runs all season and went (20-4). He received 246 out of a possible 336 points in the MVP vote and pulled off the rare feat of winning the award as a pitcher. He pitched two complete games in that World Series, including a CG shutout in the clinching Game 5.

Take a close look at ol' Spud's face.
That's some good old fashioned gentlemanly hatred.

In 1944, after starting only one game, Spurgeon F. Chandler was enlisted in the Army. He returned towards the end of the 1945 season but appeared in only 4 games.

At age 38, Spud had another truly great year. He set a career high in IP (257.3), strikeouts (138), and shutouts (6!) and had a 2.10ERA with a 1.12WHIP. Spud made the All-Star team and even got a few points in the MVP voting. Starting only 16 games in his final season (1947), he still pitched to an ERA a full run lower than league average (2.46).

Chandler was a part of three World Series winning Yankee teams (1941, 1943, 1947) and was named to four All-Star teams. He had one of the odder career trajectories and had one of the finer seasons ever as a Yankees pitcher.

[P.S. To all this people who hate stats (I'm looking at you Jon Heyman and Murray Chass), first of all, I hope you trip over your walker. Second of all, without stats this post would not have been possible. I'm sure you crotchety old fucks love a good history lesson and if we didn't record and analyze stats we couldn't look back at things and put them in perspective. Maybe you resent the fact that I was still 37 years from being born when Spud threw his last pitch and Murray Chass was already on his second marriage, but seriously, there are plenty of places to project your impending death. Leave stats alone.]

[Ed. note: There are some serious fucking inconsistencies between Spud Chandler's Wikipedia page and his B-R page. Obviously I went with B-R on every single one, but does anyone know how to go about fixing such things? I will do it when I get some spare time.]