Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Hard is What Makes it Great

Business Insider Science posted a great video titled The Science of Hitting a Major League Fastball, you definitely need to check it out. The basic summary is it is very hard and should be physically impossible.
It reminds me of great scene from the movie A League of Their Own. Dottie Hinson explains she is quitting baseball because it just got too hard. Jimmy Dugan explains it is supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.
I think this video by Business Insider Science sums up exactly what Jimmy Dugan was trying to say.

A Homer and a Suicide: The Life of a Gay Red Sox Outfielder?

Ted Williams homered in his last at bat off Jack Fisher of the Baltimore Orioles. Williams was supposedly the only player in the history of baseball to retire after sending one deep. The great John Thorn found that hard to believe and through research discovered others who homered in their final at-bat. You can read his piece on that right here.
Ted Williams was not the only player to do it and he wasn't even the only Red Sox outfielder to do it. Chick Stahl did it first on October 6, 1906 off of Tom Hughes of the New York Highlanders (Yankees). It was Chick Stahl's 36th and final home-run of his very successful career. He was just 33 years old and had played in his final game. Nobody knew it at the time.
Stahl hit .305 for his career, led the league in triples in 1904 and would be a key player in the Boston Americans (Red Sox) winning the 1903 World Series.
A month after his last game Stahl would get married but in March of the next year he would kill himself by drinking carbolic acid.
Why did he kill himself? Glenn Miller wrote this great piece for the Naples Herald where he goes over all the possible reasons.
“Boys, I just couldn’t help it,” Stahl supposedly said as he was dying. “It drove me to it.”
This happened in Indiana while with the team following Spring Training in 1907.
The first theory is he had impregnated a girl who was blackmailing him. Writer Al Stump wrote about this theory in 1959. Some felt Stump made this story up and Stump's credibility has taken a hit in recent years as there were many inaccuracies found in his famous book about Ty Cobb.
The second theory is a simple one. Chick was depressed for much of his life and the stress of managing a team and a new marriage got to him.
The third theory is a very interesting one. Was Chick Stahl gay? Chick was known to be like most ballplayers in that era and have a girl in every city. Of course people who try to hide that they are gay tend to be very public about their encounters with people of the opposite sex. Were these ladies just "beards"? Maybe not. In 1902, a woman reportedly was carrying a gun in her jacket with the intentions of shooting Chick Stahl. Cops found out about her plan early enough that they stopped her. Was she mad at Chick because of all the other women or all the other men? Nobody knows. Of course she could have just been a psycho like Harriet Byrd in The Natural. Does anyone know why she felt the need to shoot the great Roy Hobbs? Was it because he didn't like reading books or because he wanted to walk down the street and have people say "there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was"? I vote she was just crazy. Back to Chick Stahl.
The gay theory does have more juice though. David Murphy, a close friend of Chick, killed himself two days after Chick's suicide. Murphy left a note with directions that he wanted to be buried next to Chick. This sounds like more than just friends to me.
It is sad but fascinating story. The Red Sox outfielder/manager who homered in his last at-bat and then killed himself  for mysterious reasons. Check out Glenn Miller's piece for even more details on the life of Chick Stahl.

Friday, December 9, 2016

How John Glenn Saved the Life of Ted Williams

John Glenn passed away yesterday after living one of the great lives in the history of our country. One aspect of his life was his connection with Ted Williams.

Ted was John's wingman in the Korean War and they remained close friends long after. There were not many people that Ted respected more than John Glenn. Glenn told a great story after one of his trips to space about Ted Williams:

"Told Ted Williams I saw one of his home runs in orbit.""How did he respond?""He paused for a second, and asked if it was still spinning"
Their relationship wasn't all just funny stories. Ted Williams credits John Glenn with saving his life. Here is an excerpt from a Boston Globe article by Hayden Bird:

In one especially difficult moment, Williams recalled how Glenn offered advice that helped Williams fly back to base safely. After getting hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire, Williams’s F9F Panther jet was ablaze. Glenn flew next to his wing and pointed up. Flying higher into thinner air, the fire was extinguished, allowing Williams to fly back to base.
Rest in Peace John Glenn

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Time to Believe in Pablo

Start making the signs, the memes and the t-shirts. It is time to believe in Pablo Sandoval again. He will be the Red Sox third baseman in 2017. The Red Sox just made it unofficially official by trading Travis Shaw to the Brewers for a quality bullpen piece in Tyler Thornburg

 Are you surprised? You shouldn't be. The notion that the Sox would find a team that wanted to trade for him and pay most of his salary just wasn't realistic. The Red Sox would have bought high and sold low. It just didn't make sense. The best thing to do was hope that Sandoval could be a valuable member of a winning team again. He is not ever going to be a superstar because he never was a superstar. The Sox made a mistake in paying him like one but that is water under the bridge now. It is time now to believe the Sandoval can contribute at the plate and on the field.

 You can look at this trade two ways, there is the "oh crap" perspective meaning you don't think Sandoval is going to do much and we just gave up a left handed bat in Shaw that showed at times he could be dangerous. There is also the "Pablo is back!" perspective meaning the Red Sox would not have made this trade unless they felt that Pablo Sandoval is ready to have a good year in 2017. He has lost a significant amount of weight which is pretty good proof he is not looking to just collect a paycheck.

 Coming to Boston as a highly paid free agent is not easy. Rarely do players have great years in their first year in Boston. David Price haters, I am talking to you. Former haters of Rick Porcello, I am also talking to you. It isn't stretch to think that a year from now The Panda will be everyone's favorite attraction at the Fenway Park Zoo. Believe in Pablo! Where is my t-shirt?