Here's a blast from the past: an archive of articles I wrote or co-wrote for the Baseball Prospectus website from 1997-2000. Perhaps the most interesting is a piece I wrote after the first home series at the Giants' new ball park at China Basin.
This is going to be one of the most confounding “My Memory Is Failing” moments in awhile.
Well, actually since I have some concrete evidence, the only thing I don’t remember is ...
I’m getting ahead of myself.
I took my son Neal to his first football game 27 years ago today, October 22, 1978. The 49ers, who were just awful that year (they finished 2-14) hosted the Falcons at Candlestick, and if memory serves the tickets were given to us by a season ticket holder who couldn’t take the team’s poor performance any more. You might wonder why I remember the exact date I took him ... it’s funny, earlier that year I’d taken him to his first baseball game, and it’s easy to go back and find the date, because at his first game, we saw John Tamargo hit a triple. Since he only hit one triple in his major league career, it’s not hard to find the game where it happened. Similarly, we saw the 49ers take and early 7-0 lead when O.J. Simpson ran for a touchdown. It was his only TD of the season.
I have another memory, and once again, it’s easy to find the date. Robin and I went to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Cow Palace. It was the show Young later used for the concert film Rust Never Sleeps. He only played one night at the Cow Palace on that tour, so it’s not like we went to a different show.
And yes, the date was October 22, 1978.
I remember OJ’s touchdown. I remember the Neil Young concert. But I’ll be damned if I remember them happening on the same day.
Here’s “Like a Hurricane” from that show:
Forty years ago today, The Thrilla in Manila. Special appearance by Ferdinand Marcos.
The Dodgers officially clinched the NL West crown tonight. More importantly, they eliminated the Giants from the post-season.
Neal and I attended last night’s game, which went four hours and twelve innings. The Giants pulled off a win at the last moment. I don’t know why it mattered so much. The season’s result was inevitable. I just didn’t want to have to see it in front of me. So my son and I planned from the beginning to leave early if necessary, so we didn’t have to watch the Dodgers celebrate at our house.
Like I say, the Dodgers eventually did celebrate. But I wasn’t there, and that makes me happy. Or rather, it would have made me very sad if I’d be there tonight. Of course, I wouldn’t have seen it if I’d been there tonight, anyway, because I would have left by the 6th inning.
My son-in-law and grandson, both Dodger fans, will be at the park tomorrow night. It will be the first major-league game for Lex, who just turned 10. I’m glad he won’t see the Dodgers clinch ... I know that sounds mean, but I don’t intend that to be the case. I just assume Giant fans were shitty tonight towards Dodger fans, and hopefully Lex won’t suffer from that tomorrow night.
While the title may sound like a look at one aspect of baseball from an honored manager, in fact “walks” refers to the basic act of walking. Each short chapter describes a different walk, from walking the dog, to Milwaukee and Arizona and Ohio and Central Park and Chicago, and around San Francisco, to Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The writing is conversational. No ghostwriter is listed ... Steve Kettmann writes the intro, I suppose he might have had a hand in things. It’s entirely possible Bochy wrote it all, and whatever the process, you get the feeling of a real person, “Bruce Bochy”, on the pages, and this adds to the pleasure the book brings.
It’s a slight book by design. You learn about one side of Bruce Bochy, and you get some nice little travelogues of neighborhoods he walks. It may just be me placing people into boxes, but it’s not the kind of book I’d expect from a baseball manager. But then, Bochy isn’t just any manager.
The last paragraph of the book encapsulates its charms. The final chapter is devoted to his “Everest”, a long walk from AT&T Park to the Golden Gate Bridge. It concludes:
That’s a walk I recommend to everyone. If you need to move along at a pretty deliberate pace and stop often to rest, so what. Take the whole day! Make an adventure out of it. Whether you’re a visitor to our city, or you’ve lived here your whole life, that’s a walk that will make you feel good. It will make you feel alive. It will make you feel more like yourself. After that, every time you see a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge or you see it in a movie or out the window of the flight taking you somewhere else, you can kind of smile and remember what it felt l like walking those last steps and being there at the foot of the bridge. I had a feeling I just wanted to walk to the Golden Gate. I thought it would be pretty cool. You know what? It was. It was very, very cool.
(This comes from my World Cup blog.)
Everything I write here, I cribbed from others. I have nothing new. But this blog serves as my memory, if nothing else, so ...
There are two ways to look at this match (of course I know there are more than two, but bear with me). When Julie Johnston committed a foul in the box for a German penalty, it was heartbreaking for a player who has been as good as anyone in the tournament. But the U.S. was actually lucky, because the referee awarded a penalty and a yellow card, when it should have been a red card. If the U.S. had to play the final half-an-hour short-handed, the result might well have been different. Then, when Alex Morgan drew a penalty at the other end of the field, the penalty call was missed ... she was outside the box. The two most crucial referee decisions of the match both went against the Germans.
On the other hand, there's this: the Germans missed their penalty, the Americans made theirs.
And, in the words of the immortal Norberto Longo, dos palabras: Torsten Frings.
Meanwhile, it was a match that "lived up to the hype". The U.S. did everything except score in the first half, in the second half the Germans were much more lively, and the last 30 minutes had everything.
Last night at the ballpark, I got to see Travis Ishikawa’s first major-league at-bat of the season. He got a standing ovation, at least from me, which you might think is odd for a journeyman who had spent the first part of this season in the minors. But I was standing because of the last time I saw Ishikawa bat at the ballpark:
When I was five years old, the California Golden Bears won the NCAA Tournament with a 71-70 victory over the Jerry West-led West Virginia. They made the finals the next season but got blown out by Ohio State. I remember listening to Cal games on the radio, called by Bud Foster. I’m always talking about how memories are untrustworthy, so I’ll just say I think I remember that West Virginia game. Cal has never been to an NCAA final match since.
I was 21 years old when the Golden State Warriors won the NBA title, sweeping Washington. I remember that very well. My son was 9 days old. I mention this because I have fond memories of sharing that title with Neal as I fed him in his high chair. But he wasn’t eating in a high chair on May 25, 1975, so my memories are, as usual, off.
Some thought the Warriors were even better the next year, but they lost in the Conference finals to Phoenix. Game Seven came on Neal’s first birthday. Somewhere in there, I fed him in his high chair.
And the Warriors had never won the NBA title since that 1974-75 season.
My wife had access to great season tickets in the early-80s, and we went to more games than we ever have since.
So this post is dedicated to my wife’s fave Joe Barry Carroll, and World B. Free, and Larry “Mr. Mean” Smith, and Purvis Short, and above and beyond, the great Bernard King.
Today we learned of the passing of Christopher Lee, and Ornette Coleman, giants in their fields. And then that silly thing about death coming in threes slapped us again:
Hard times are when the textile workers around this country are out of work, they got 4 or 5 kids and can't pay their wages, can’t buy their food. Hard times are when the auto workers are out of work and they tell ‘em to go home. And hard times are when a man has worked at a job for thirty years, thirty years, and they give him a watch, kick him in the butt and say “hey a computer took your place, daddy”, that’s hard times! That’s hard times!