Dan McQuade: December 2009 Archives

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The always excellent Wezen-Ball has a post about an interview the Weekly World News did with Babe Ruth in January 2005 about steroids (Babe's against them), Ruth's called shot (he was just hung over and blocking the sub from his eyes) and the real reason Lou Gehrig was called the Iron Horse (take a guess).

But it seems to me the WWN gets the whole "Curse of the Bambino" thing more right than most people.

Q: Finally, Babe, I want to ask you about the curse of the Bambino. Did you really put a curse on the Red Sox after owner Harry Frazee sold you to the Yankees?

BABE: Glad you asked. I never put a curse on the Red Sox. I was happy to get out of that town. You have no idea what it was like for me, the Great Bambino, to be playing there. Why, they rolled the sidewalks up at night in that city. You couldn't buy a drink on Sunday, and as for partying, those uptight New Englanders are really a bunch of stiffs. In my day, it was a very conservative place. I hear that it's gotten very liberal there now, what with men marrying men, and women marrying women. The next thing you know, they'll have broads on men's teams. That ought to make shower time real popular.

Somewhat topical Massachusetts gay marriage reference, Babe Ruth! What I like, though, is how he replies to the question of the "Curse of the Bambino" with the same reaction any normal person should have: Why the hell would Babe Ruth hate the Red Sox? He got to move to New York and become the most famous baseball player of all time!

Here's a little scoop for you guys, exclusive to Walkoff Walk: The Weekly World News makes up its interviews. (Also, pro wrestling's outcomes are predetermined.) But who knew the place was full of such sensible sports analysts? Just another reason to lament the loss of this great institution.

all.star.76.title.jpg Whenever the hell he feels like it, Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie or TV show for Walkoff Walk. Today in Cinema Varitek: The awkwardly-titled All-Star '76 - Champions of Pride, a mini-movie narrated by Joe Garagiola about the 1976 All-Star Game, held in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

While most baseball media is spending the baseball offseason endlessly tweeting about where Roy Halladay is going to end up, MLB Network has been showing a bunch of old All-Star Games. The more recent affairs get the full-game treatment, with the only differences a few on-screen graphics and introductions from Hazel Mae.

But the older games? Well, maybe MLB doesn't have the complete footage anymore, because we are treated to condensed, half-hour mini-movies, like the one from the 1976 game. I watched the full 1996 All-Star Game (also from Veterans Stadium), and for my money the half-hour mini-movies are much more entertaining. I don't really need to see Ricky Botallico pitching a scoreless fifth inning. I'm not saying I necessarily want all my baseball highlight packages to be trippy 1970s affairs (as you'll see in a moment). Obviously, there's a place for both full game broadcasts and condensed specials. I just hope that, as we move forward, the condensed specials continue to be made.

You're probably wondering why I enjoyed Champions of Pride so much. Well, how about the weird giant Electric Company-style words that open the broadcast?

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Concentration! Power! Acclaim! Challenge! The old All-Star Games may not have had giant St. Louis Arch-shaped magnets, but they sure knew how to encapsulate the game in four words. If this isn't doing it for you, how about this dramatic re-telling of a Fred Lynn homer (the only run the AL got), also in the opening?

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For some reason the 1976 All-Star Game was apparently played with a comet instead of a baseball.

fish_011.gif He may have had the winning hit in the 2008 World Series, but Pedro Feliz's 81 OPS+ wasn't enough for the Phillies. Placido Polanco apparently passed his physical earlier today and have finalized a 3-year, $18 million deal with Polanco with a mutual option for a fourth year.

Jon Heyman writes the Phillies would like Polanco to bat second. This probably moves Shane Victorino down to the 7-spot, as Charlie Manuel is likely to stick with Jimmy Rollins as the leadoff hitter until J-Roll retires, and maybe even after. (An empty hole in the leadoff spot would have an OBP about 50 points lower than Rollins; no word on said empty hole's surfing skills.)

Polanco had a bit of a down year last season, hitting .285/.331/.396 (an OPS+ of 88), but his BABIP was an uncharacteristically low .295, compared to his .314 career number. Bill James projects him with a wOBA of .325, slightly better than his .321 last season but not as good as his .339 or .371 numbers the two previous seasons.

Polanco hasn't played significant time at third since 2002, when he played 131 games at third between Philly and St. Louis; he played 3B for the Cardinals the year before, also. You may remember than Polanco was on the Phillies before; he was shipped to the team in the Scott Rolen deal, then traded away to the Tigers for Ugueth Urbina. Why didn't the Phillies just move him to third back then? Why, David Bell, of course!

The Phillies did not spend a ton of money here, so they have still have room to get some bullpen help and maybe another starting pitcher. It's possible Polanco has fallen off a cliff and will struggle the next three seasons, but it's also possible his BABIP will normalize, he'll be strong at third base and will end up being a bargain for the suddenly smart-looking Phillies. Who would ever thought we'd ever be in a position to be saying that?