I’m reading a book about Babe Ruth by Sports Illustrated’s Leigh Montville. Details about his upbringing, starting out as a pitcher, and how his hitting soon overshadowed his pitching. Ruth said the demands to do both were too great. We’ll see how the Angel’s young pitcher/outfielder holds up. As good a pitcher as Ruth was, there was more pressure on him to pitch well. Early in his career Ruth hit the longest home runs in both Tampa and Jacksonville spring training – and soon the longest home runs in all eight American League parks. Traded to the Yankees, when he went on his first real home run barrage in 1920 a heart attack and a stroke were both blamed on the excitement stirred by the Babe.
The Ruth book details how in 1920 machines were first employed to manufacture baseballs, which replaced looser hand-made balls. This brought an end to the Dead Ball Era.
In 2021 the Home Run Derby comes to SunTrust Park. I’m interested in seeing how far the balls travel. Haven’t seen a ball land past the left field bleachers or the third deck above the Hank Aaron Landing. Wonder if a ball could fly over concession stands beyond the bleachers – out of the park. In right field I’ve seen one or two home runs land on top of the Chop House. Would like to see one fly over the Chop House, and maybe out of the park.
For the past few years hardly anyone was hitting home runs out at Gwinnett. This year the International League switched to the Major League baseball, and balls are flying over fences at a record pace.
MICKEY MANTLE [SABR Bio] was so physically unimposing as a youngster that when his dad took him for a workout with the sad-sack St. Louis Browns, they sent him home without even letting him on the field (as described in the book The Last Boy and the end of America’s childhood The glory of SLB’s lone pennant was probably still fresh enough. Nevertheless, he and a famous teammate were both recruited to play football at a major college football powerhouse. Both he and Roger Maris could have played football at the University of Oklahoma. The best catch he ever made was the most important one. In the 1956 WS, he raced down a deep drive to centerfield off the bat of BRO’s Gil Hodges. The play helped preserve Don Larsen’s perfect G.
Tuesday: David and Haley picked me up at the house. Matthew came out to say hello. We went down and picked up Margaret at the Houston’s on West Paces Ferry. Hurt expertly navigated down Johnson Ferry to Riverside through Sandy Springs past their old house then past where I lived as a freshman at Tech, to Mt. Paran Road to Northside Parkway. Drove up Northside Parkway to the stadium. Haley had never been to SunTrust Park, though she’s been to a few Giants game in SF and even one Golden State Warriors home game.
Went in the First Base Gate and introduced the gang to Miss Marion. Margaret and David ate burrito bowls and Haley and I grabbed Fox Brothers BBQ – me a BBQ brisket sandwich. Not the greatest game to attend. Margaret works near Lenox. Kudos to Haley for arranging the night out. Neither David nor I are big event planners.
David’s brother Harry was at the game. Also my boss Eric and former coworker Nelson, who years ago had flown me down to Miami to eat Cuban and attend the last GT/Miami game in the old Orange Bowl stadium. Now the Marlins baseball stadium is there.
Time for my bi-weekly rant: The last few years every time the Braves would trade for or sign a pitcher the experts on social media would complain about the lack of offensive players being signed. Third baseman Todd Frazier was available for a king’s ransom, and the experts complained when the Braves didn’t sign him. Now Frazier is batting .250 for the Mets and the Braves have four third basemen far outplaying Frazier. Then the Braves went out and signed former MVP Josh Donaldson and 7-time all-star Brian McCann. Then they complain the Braves didn’t sign someone better – like Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, for whom Miami asked for a king’s ransom. Now Donaldson and McCann are tearing the cover off the ball. Harper is plodding along. Rookie Austin Riley is added to the lineup and he goes on a tear. Acuna is heating up again. Those same experts are relieved young sluggers Riley and Acuna weren’t traded for two years of Realmuto. Though some fans question why they can’t hit a home run every game.
Now the Braves have the best offense in baseball despite only trading for all those young pitchers. The top free agent pitcher is signed, Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel – and fans don’t celebrate but instead say Madison Baumgardner is needed as well. The bullpen still needs attention, and has already received a complete makeover two months into the season. Two of the best teams in baseball, the savvy Astros and deep-pocketed Dodgers, have worse bullpens than the Braves. So does all four of the Braves division rivals. Trades have been made, and three young starters have been called up to solidify the relief core. More moves will be made by the trade deadline. The Braves lead the division, win nine games in a row, and fans still complain. Perhaps the Braves just might know what they’re doing, huh?
At Tech the new head coach came in and immediately the social media was on the uptick. The players dance and strength coaches are strong, but can the players play football? My fear is now running the same old pro style offense that everyone else runs (and defends) with average ACC athletes will keep them in the middle of the ACC pack. What’s to distinguish them from UNC, Duke, UVA, Wake Forest, Syracuse, BC, etc? Paul Johnson was never going to compete with Clemson for titles, though GT may beat Clemson every now and then (before Clemson became a juggernaut). In 2019 with Johnson I think they could’ve won ten games and maybe the division and get a decent bowl. Might be a step back for the new coach – hopefully with a rosier future down the road. We shall see.
Ceil helped out at a soup kitchen for the homeless Tuesday night, off Delk Road. At the end of May I let my beard grow since Ceil was headed to SC. Kept it while her friend was in town, and for last week’s Braves game with the Pirates. Found out I was going to last night’s game so I kept it for Father’s Day and the game. Had planned on shaving it off this morning anyway, and I did.