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Category: Chicago White Sox (Page 1 of 16)

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Retirement is not without Hassles: Easter Leg #1644

Today’s Easter leg (not egg or even leg of lamb) of our cross-country trek takes us from Utah into Wyoming with an overnight stop in Burlington, Colorado. My wife continues to battle a painful kidney stone, but made it through her two driving shifts. The scenery through Oregon was spectacular as usual and not as burnt-out in the Eastern section as it was seven years ago when we first crossed the state line. Idaho was short and sweet while Utah had some long stretches of boredom as the day wore on. We did catch a glimpse of the Great Salt Lake just before arriving at our hotel about 9 p.m., despite an hour loss from the Time Zone change.

I was monitoring the UCLA vs. Gonzaga NCAA Final Four match-up, hoping to get in front of a TV for the overtime. There were unfortunately too many hassles getting checked-in and hauling all our luggage to the room. As a result, I just missed the Zags buzzer-beater to remain perfect. I still have mixed feelings about their quest to tie the unbeaten 1976 Indiana 32-0 National Championship, but with the fortune of that final bank shot, all they have to do is beat Baylor Monday night. From the beginning of the 2020-21 season, this pairing has been on everyone’s radar since it was cancelled back in December due to the pandemic. We’ll soon have the answer. I did watch the White Sox blow an 8th inning lead against the Angels before I turned in for the night on a sour note.

The Sox have started an ominous 1-2 despite some record breaking performances by Yermin Mercedes – 8 for 8 in his first two games and the first grand slam of 2021 by Jose Abreu. Mercedes has filled in “perfectly” at DH for injured slugger Eloy Jimenez, who could be out of the line up for most of the regular season. Basketball, baseball, and the map app kept me occupied while I navigated 1-84 from Portland to Ogden/Layton. Today, as we cross the Continental Divide, it’s I-80 through Cheyenne, I-25 into Denver, and I-70 to our Burlington bed – the Easter Leg!

Old Sport Shorts: Lollar Biography #1606

I’ve added several magazine clippings to my personal Lollar collection over the past month. These are mostly photo panels from True, a men’s publication in operation from 1937 until 1974. To additionally honor Sherm, I found this excellent article on-line by John McMurray that summed-up his career. It’s based on Lollar’s biography that was included in the book “Bridging Two Dynasties: The 1947 New York Yankees”(University of Nebraska Press, 2013), edited by Lyle Spatz. An earlier version originally appeared in SABR’s “Go-Go To Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox” (ACTA, 2009), edited by Don Zminda.

Soft spoken and self-effacing, Sherman Lollar provided a strong defensive presence behind the plate during his eighteen-year Major League career. Lollar spent twelve seasons with the Chicago White Sox, after spending all or parts of six seasons with three other American League teams. An All-Star catcher seven times, Lollar won American League Gold Glove awards from 1957 through 1959, the first three years it was given. 

Though Lollar played well and received awards during the 1950s, he did not receive as much national recognition as did fellow catcher Yogi Berra, who won three Most Valuable Player awards. As Red Gleason wrote in The Saturday Evening Post in 1957, “It is the fate of some illustrious men to spend a career in the shadow of a contemporary. Adlai Stevenson had his Dwight Eisenhower. Lou Gehrig had his   Babe Ruth. Bob Hope had his Bing Crosby. And Sherman Lollar has his Yogi Berra.” 

John Sherman Lollar, Jr. was born on August 23, 1924, in Durham, Arkansas, to John and Ruby (Springfield) Lollar. When Lollar Jr. was three years old, he moved with his family to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where his parents opened a grocery store. Lollar’s interest in baseball began at an early age, and he remembered playing catch with his father outside the store as a six year old. When he was eight, his father died unexpectedly during surgery. At that early age, Lollar, who was the oldest of four children, including two girls (Bonnie and Pat) and a boy (Jerry, who was born after his father’s death), had to take on additional responsibilities at home. His mother sold the grocery store and began working in a nursing home for the Veterans Administration. She told Gleason, “Sherman took a large share of the responsibility of looking after the younger children. He was both a big brother and father. Our being left alone so soon created a sense of oneness in all of us that remains even now.” 

Despite his additional responsibilities, Lollar’s interest in baseball never waned. In 1936, shortly before he turned twelve, Lollar became a batboy for the Fayetteville Bears in the Arkansas-Missouri League. After graduating from Fayetteville High School, a school that had no baseball team, the sixteen-year-old Lollar took a job with J.C. Penney in Pittsburg, Kansas. He played with a team affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce in the Ban Johnson League while also studying at Pittsburg State Teachers College (now Pittsburgh State University). Two years later, after the Ban Johnson League folded, Lollar both played for and managed the semipro Baxter Springs (Kansas) Miners, working as a brakeman in a local mine when he wasn’t playing baseball. 

The Baltimore Orioles of the International League signed Lollar in 1943, when he was eighteen. His pay was $20 a month. He batted just .118 in twelve games, but improved to .250 with fifteen home runs in 1944. He also drove in seventy-two runs, one of the highest totals for any catcher in organized baseball that year. Lollar won the International League’s Most Valuable Player award in 1945, tearing up the league with thirty-four home runs, 111 runs batted in, and a league-leading batting average of .364.

Baltimore had a working agreement with the Cleveland Indians and was forced to sell its top slugger to the Major League team for $10,000. After making his big league debut on April 20, 1946, Lollar played infrequently behind veteran catchers  Frankie Hayes and Jim Hegan. He asked to go back to Baltimore so he could play regularly. Back in the International League, Lollar was unable to duplicate his previous year’s batting success. He batted just .234, but he did hit twenty home runs in only 222 at-bats for the Orioles. His biggest plus that year was meeting his future wife, Connie Mattard, whom he married in 1949.In December 1946, Cleveland included Lollar in a five-player deal with the New York Yankees. The Indians had been willing to trade Lollar because of concerns about his attitude. According to writer Bill Roeder, “The Cleveland complaint was that Lollar displayed insufficient dash and spirit. He had the ability all right, but no inclination to exploit it. Within a month, he was homesick for Baltimore, and Cleveland manager Lou Boudreau sent him back. Now Sherman belongs to the Yankees, and they hope he will react favorably to the fresh start.” 

In New York he was caught in a catching logjam that included Ralph Houk, Charlie Silvera, Aaron Robinson, Gus   Niarhos, and Yogi Berra. As a consequence, Lollar spent most of the 1947 season with the Newark Bears, the Yankees’ farm club in the International League. Lollar appeared in only eleven regular-season games for the Yankees in 1947, but he did play in the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, getting three hits, including two doubles, in four at-bats. About Game Three, sportswriter Dan Daniel wrote, “A secondary standout was Sherman Lollar, who started the game as a surprise entry.  Manager Bucky  Harris benched Berra in favor of the right-handed Lollar against the southpaw  Joe  Hatten. Lollar got a single which became a run in the third, and in the fourth drove in a run with a double.” 

A contemporaneous article called Lollar “a Charlie Gehringer type,” adding, “He appears a colorless, dispassionate individual, on and off the field, but he gets his job done effectively. If Lollar hits as well as Gehringer did, no one will care if he doesn’t say a word all season.” In parts of two seasons with the Yankees, Lollar saw action in only thirty-three games. Yogi Berra was on his way to becoming a star and Lollar’s playing time was further reduced by a hand injury caused by a foul tip, requiring him to get stitches on two fingers of his throwing hand.

In August 1948, Dan Daniel wrote, “Sherman Lollar, right-handed hitting catcher, is another who has possibly had his last big opportunity with the Bombers. Now that Yogi Berra is available again, Gus Niarhos will handle all the receiving duties against left-handed pitching.” Not surprisingly, Lollar was soon traded, this time to the St. Louis Browns on December 13, 1948, with pitchers Red Embree and Dick Starr and $100,000 in return for catcher Roy Partee and pitcher Fred Sanford. In St. Louis, Lollar took over for Les Moss as the team’s regular catcher and batted .261 in 1949 with eight home runs. For three seasons, Lollar stabilized the catching position for the second-division Browns while earning All-Star honors for the first time in 1950. 

After the 1951 season, the Chicago White Sox were looking for a replacement for incumbent catcher Phil Masi, and on November 27, they received Lollar from the Browns in an eight-player deal. According to his son, Lollar’s salary was increased to about $12,000 when he was traded. Arriving in Chicago was the break Sherm Lollar needed. Unlike the Browns, who had won only 52 games in 1951, the White Sox had finished eight games over .500 and were considered a potential World Series contender. But the 1952 season was a disappointment for Lollar, who endured additional stress when his wife fell ill after childbirth. While he batted only .240, his work with manager Paul Richards helped turn the young catcher’s career around.

As Gleason recounted in The Saturday Evening Post, Lollar later said: “When I was having that terrible year in 1952, Richards called me into his office late in the season. He told me that my natural style of catching lacked appeal and I would have to be more of a holler guy. Paul said he understood my problem because he had been the same kind of catcher that I was. I feel that I’ve always hustled in baseball, but until Paul talked to me I probably had a misconception of what ‘hustle’ meant. I hustled to first base on a batted ball, and I hustled when the ball was around me. Richards made me see that something more was expected. “Paul told me to show a little more animation. He wanted me to be a little more agile in receiving, and to show more zip in returning the ball to the pitcher. He recommended that I run to and from the catcher’s box between innings, instead of just strolling out there.” Gleason wrote that Richards recommended Lollar’s distinctive style of catching, with his left knee on the ground, because, according to Richards, “This moved him up – closer to the plate – and down – closer to the ground.” 

Lollar caught 100 or more games in each of his twelve seasons with the White Sox, and he was an American League All-Star six times (1954–1956 and 1958–1960). As evidenced by his Gold Gloves, he developed into perhaps the best defensive catcher in the game. In 1957 he played without making an error in his first eighty-nine games before throwing wildly to second base on September 14. Years after trading for Lollar, White Sox general manager Frank Lane said, “It was one of the best trades I ever made. Sherm turned out to be one of the best catchers in the American League, behind only Yogi Berra and maybe Jim Hegan.” Paul Richards told Gleason that Lollar was a better handler of pitchers than Berra.

Throughout his time in the American League, Lollar was compared to Berra, whose offensive numbers and championships outshined Lollar’s. Wrote Gleason in The Saturday Evening Post, “Where Berra is distinctive looking, to put it mildly, the brown-haired Lollar is a sad-faced, sad-eyed individual. In most of his pictures, he looks as though someone has stolen his favorite catcher’s mitt. In his ‘smiling’ pictures, the smile seems forced. Berra is celebrated for malapropisms. Lollar is seldom quoted. An unobtrusive workman, he is obscured on his own club by crowd-pleasers such as Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Jim Rivera, and Luis Aparicio.” 

On April 23, 1955, against Kansas City during a 29–6 rout, Lollar accomplished the rare feat of getting two hits in an inning twice in the same game. He had his finest offensive season for Chicago’s 1959 pennant winners, batting .265 with twenty-two home runs and eighty-four RBIs. In both 1958 and 1959, he finished ninth in the American League’s Most Valuable Player voting. Perhaps most importantly, Lollar was instrumental in handling the team’s pitching staff in 1959. Although he batted only .227 in the World Series, he hit a three-run homer in Game Four off the Dodgers’ Roger Craig with two outs in the seventh inning to tie the game at 4–4. Other than the three home runs hit by Ted Kluszewski, Lollar’s home run was the only one hit by a White Sox player in that Series. However, a key point of the Series came in Game Two, when the slow-footed Lollar was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from first base on Al Smith’s eighth-inning double, which helped ensure a 4–3 Chicago loss. 

Lollar’s overall offensive performance began to decline in 1960, and the White Sox released him on October 4, 1963. Although he was not known as a power hitter, the six-foot-one, 185-pounder had 155 career home runs among his 1,415 hits. Lollar committed only 62 errors in 1,571 games behind the plate in his Major League career, finishing with a .992 fielding percentage. In his 2001 Historical Baseball Abstract, historian Bill James rated Lollar as the thirty-first best catcher ever. James wrote” “[Lollar] led his league in fielding percentage five times, in double plays three times, also has the lowest career passed ball rate of any catcher listed here.” – The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press, 2001. P. 394.

After his playing career ended, Lollar sought a minor-league manager’s job. Al Lopez remarked, “[Lollar] had tremendous ability with young pitchers. I think he shows great ability at handling men, which is the most important part of managing in the game.” Lollar coached with the Baltimore Orioles from 1964 through 1967 and with the Oakland Athletics in 1968. He managed two Oakland farm teams: the Iowa Oaks of the American Association from 1970 through 1972 and the Tucson Toros of the Pacific Coast League in 1973 and 1974. He left the Toros after the 1974 season reportedly because of a dispute with Athletics owner Charley Finley. Lollar barely escaped serious injury while managing in Iowa in 1970. He was sitting in his car at a red light after a game, when a nearby building suddenly collapsed. “I was just sitting there listening to the radio when—wham! It was like the sky falling,” he recalled. “What made it worse was that I had no idea what was happening. I couldn’t see a thing because of the dust and debris.” Luckily, he was unhurt. In the last few years of his life, Lollar operated a bowling alley in Springfield, Missouri, and refereed high-school basketball games. After a long battle with cancer, he died in Springfield on September 24, 1977. He was fifty-three years old. Lollar was survived by his wife, Connie, and a son, Sherman III. He is buried in Rivermonte Memorial Gardens in Springfield.

My personal recap of his career is titled “Who Was That Masked Man? (Post#5). 

 
 

Old Sport Shorts: Edge of my Seat #1604

Spring is nearly here – pitchers and catchers reported this week. Spring Training games begin at the end of February, so just a few weeks away. The Dodgers are picked to repeat, while the White Sox are in the favorites mix for once. The Cubs are picked behind the Cardinals and expected to have a mediocre year. As basketball heads to Selection Sunday, I.U. can take another step towards a spot in the 64-team field with a victory over Michigan State this morning. It’s another 9 a.m. start on the West Coast, far too early to get my blood pressure up. The match-up will likely be frustrating, with the Hoosiers unable to string multiple BIG victories together. Five games left until the BIG Tourney, after adding another this week, and I.U. needs at least two of them to go their way. 

At least there’s some excitement to look forward to watching, regardless of the outcome. It was hard when the pandemic reared its ugly head a year ago and there was no I.U. basketball for me to rant about. In fact, the only basketball was TBT, the first of the sporting events to play all tournament games in one quarantined location. MLS Soccer was next, then the NBA, and now the NCAA, all in venues around the state of Indiana. Baseball will probably continue to be regionalized and fans limited until the vaccine finally gets the viral spread under control.  My age group is eligible in a few weeks. 

I.U. looked strong to start the game for once, but Michigan State caught on fire to reverse a 13-point deficit.  I.U. then rallied for a rare 4-point halftime lead. It looks like another close BIG battle that will come down to the wire. There were a few brief moments when I foolishly thought it would be a blowout, but the Hoosiers could not hit an outside shot and too many bunnies. Dunk the ball dammit! We’re also 2-10 from three, but fortunately they aren’t shooting much better. The Spartans stole a couple of Indiana All-Stars from under our nose, so hopefully this won’t come back to haunt us down the stretch. I’m on the edge of my seat!

P.S. 78-71 I.U. loss!

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Lost Socks or Sox #1580

It’s “Hump Day” in Hawaii, the half-way point of our South Beach retreat. Sunshine has been the common theme since we arrived in Florida last week, with more blue skies in the forecast. Meanwhile, back home in Portland there have been signs of snow in Facebook posts. As a side note, I was reunited this morning with my lost sock, left behind in efforts to do laundry in a few days ago. I think I left more socks at my son’s house last week, like a trail of bread crumbs throughout the state. 

Florida has put in a bid to host the Olympics in six months, citing their success with other sporting events during this pandemic. Tokyo may not be able to handle this commitment that was already delayed from 2020. Another year setback would jeopardize the ability of some athletes to compete. With all the uncertainties, it must be difficult to maintain focus and be motivated to train. Regardless, I will once again not be competing. It was hard enough to complete my 3.1 mile run this morning, but day #4,316 is officially in the books. On our way to dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab tonight, I may even get to see the start of Robert Kraft’s bid on 16,829 consecutive days. 

On a frustrating note, there will be no one elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year for the first time since 1960. Curt Schilling fell sixteen votes short. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens continue to be excluded from this club despite their credentials and will have one more chance next year. Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson were not on the ballot. They need to add a “bad boys” wing of the Hall to accommodate these controversial personalities. There are also so many others that could have been added like Saturnino Orestes Armas Minoso of the Chicago White Sox and other Negro League players that were crippled by discrimination. A friend just sent me an article claiming that “it is utterly inconceivable that “Minnie” Minoso is not in the Hall of Fame.” The same can be said for Satchel Paige and countless others. 

I once again make a plea to the Hall of Fame to reconsider the “Lost Sox” like Minoso, Sherm Lollar, Shoeless Joe, Billy Pierce, Harold Baines, Dick Allen, and Tim Raines. It still bothers me that a majority of HOF players are pitchers, while their supportive catchers and fielders have been overlooked. Their accomplishments have been forgotten over time and their votes misplaced like my running socks – missing soul mates!

 

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Beach runs #1578

“Dodgertown” in Vero Beach was closed and extensive renovations are being done by MLB, so the closed I could get was the front iron gates. Our friend grew up there, her dad a pitcher for the 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers. He set a rookie record for 27 strike outs in two successive games before an injury ended his career. The park’s historical significance also reflects the 1947 signing of Jackie Robinson. Corona also affected visits this year to Cubs/White Sox Spring training in Phoenix and a Cardinals/Rangers exhibition game at the new Globe Life Park in Arlington. 

I found myself in front of the TV again last night with the Chiefs and Buccaneers headed to the Super Bowl. I also monitored another IU Basketball loss, this time to Rutgers after the surprising Iowa victory. The game against Michigan State this weekend has already been stomped out by the pandemic, so we’ll have to live with this disappointment for at least a full week before Illinois comes to town. That game will then likely lead to further despair, as tourney chances once again have been sadly derailed. 

We returned our rental car to the airport last night only to find a dent in the hood. I remember parking at a Cracker Barrell restaurant the other day under the shade of a coconut tree. Could one have fallen and caused this costly damage or was it like that when we picked it up? It’s just another hassle we’ll have to deal with on this journey. I’ve run the beach path and street in front of our hotel the past two mornings past all the Art Deco hotels in our area. The once heavily congested Ocean Avenue has been shut down to traffic, so the restaurants have all expanded into the streets. It’s now a much more pleasant atmosphere on the beach front if there’s such a thing as a plus-side to the Coronavirus outbreak. Running near the water and in the sun is always a nice distraction from the dreary streets of downtown Portland. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Home Inspection #1563

This morning was about as exciting as it gets these days. The money was deposited in our savings account to cover all the closing costs on our new Florida home and the builder took us on a detailed tour of the exposed wiring, plumbing, and structure. Our new home is slowly coming together based on the model we selected and the modifications that we arranged. Ten-foot ceilings, eight-foot doorways, a larger garage, upgraded appliances, and a pool are gradually becoming reality. I will share the floor plan and some photos with my friends shortly in a Zoom “Leadership Meeting.”

This afternoon, I will then put together a plan for to tomorrow’s baseball card show. I want to fill in some lineups for the 1954-1972 White Sox teams. I also added some photos to my Sherm Lollar collection this past week with some E-Bay purchases. Switching back and forth between hobbies keeps things from getting too routine. Card collecting, genealogy, and writing have been the mainstays of retirement. It’s been frustrating not being able to travel, as well, but at least a trip to Florida is only a week away. We’ll check out the house in person, visit with friends & family, drive down through The Keys, and spend a week in Miami. Florida is the one place that has been consistently open this past year, so we’ve managed three visits, including the cross-country drive. 

It was another frustrating finish for I.U. basketball last night. A chance to beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time in 23 years fell short in double overtime. We were on the verge of winning in regulation and overtime, but the second extended period was all Badgers. The next game is Sunday at Nebraska, with must-win expectations. The new year has not been kind to the Hoosiers with key losses in both football and basketball. At least, I have a new home to look forward to in March since Madness may not happen again for this very average BIG team. Today’s home inspection, however, has lifted my spirits about the future. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Christmas Story #1546

Another long day of doing nothing. I’m beginning to notice little things like there are no receipts in my wallet yet my credit card bill still goes up. I did receive  my new calendar from our financial advisor, but it’s words this year not pictures. It will be a relief to tear off that final page of 2020 and turn over that first of 2021. The calendar has been a desk-top tradition for many years now and an inspiration for an occasional blog post. Everything in my life tends to be digital so to have something to hold on to is somehow comforting. 

I watched A Christmas Story yesterday, rekindling some childhood memories. I never had a BB gun, but nearly once poked my eye out with a sharp stick. I was running through the woods and did not see the broken limb that knocked me off my feet. It’s disturbing to think about all those close calls in life. This time of year we often stayed in a Marriott hotel near the Indiana Welcome Station that features a permanent display of A Christmas Story, including a flagpole out front with Flick’s tongue stuck to it. I would run by and give him “five” before we made the drive to pick up my wife’s mother and head to Indianapolis for the holidays. 

I did receive a childhood memory in the mail yesterday. I ordered a tattered, felt Chicago White Sox pennant on e-Bay that was similar to one that hung on the wall of my bedroom as a kid. It arrived in a package that brought back a similar excitement to opening that long-awaited Ovaltine decoder ring. On the other hand, I was disappointed, however, to be out-bid on a rare Banty Red Sherm Lollar baseball card from 1952. It’s now in someone else’s collection, that probably isn’t as big of fan of the White Sox catcher. At least, I made him pay more for it, while he used an auction snipe app to cheat me by a buck at the buzzer. What fun is that?

I did not get to see the Christmas Star or Jupiter/Saturn conjunction last night because of overcast skies here in Portland. It was all the buzz on Facebook for those fortunate enough to capture pictures of the once-in-a-lifetime event. We’re lucky to even see the moon this time of year, and by the same token have not witnessed any of the key astronomical occurrences this year. It rained again this morning just before my run, with more on the way. We certainly won’t see white – just wet! For that matter, other than a couple of family Zoom calls, there won’t be much of a Christmas Story for me to talk about this year! 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Fantastic Finishes #1489

It’s a fantastic finish only when your team wins, otherwise it’s a nightmare! I saw two such glorious endings yesterday, in pandemic times when excitement is often hard to find. Thankfully there are at least live sports to watch on TV, plus I.U. athletics are up and running again. Yesterday, I was consumed in college football and World Series action. Even when my team isn’t playing I can always find another to hate and therefore someone else to root for. This is the case in the Fall Classic as the L.A. Dodgers battle the Tampa Bay Rays. The adrenaline was still flowing from the Indiana vs. Penn State game that kept me on the edge of my seat for four hours. 

I watched my Hoosiers fall behind early, as the Nittany Lions dominated the line of scrimmage but not the scoreboard. Two missed field goals, two interceptions, and critical penalties penalties allowed I.U. to lead 17-7 at half time. The end of the first half was a comedy of errors by both teams, so it was an emotional relief to take a break and catch-up on other scores. I.U. had not beaten a top-ten ranked team since 1987 at Ohio State. Penn State was ranked #8 in the country, so a 10-point halftime lead and getting the second half kickoff put the Lions on the ropes. I could smell blood in a moment of temporary insanity, but the punch-less Hoosiers could only muster a 48-yard field goal in the second half and fell hopelessly behind 21-20 with 2:30 remaining in the game. After a futile attempt at the two minute drill, the Nittany Lions were in a position to run out the clock. Miraculously, Penn State running back, Devyn Ford, took an unadvised step into the end zone. He realized his mistake too late, giving the Hoosiers one last chance. It led to their only TD of the second half, followed by a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 28. With 22-seconds left on the clock, I thought we were headed to overtime but a squib kick attempt went array, allowing Penn State a last second field goal attempt – it was their third miss of the day, just short of the school record distance. 

Both team scored in overtime, as the I.U. faithful like myself continued to sense another close loss. The game came down to a gutsy 2-point conversion by Hoosier QB Michael Penix, Jr. I held my breath as he attempted a dive for the goal line. It was unbelievable how he launched himself towards the pylon in desperation. It was questionable if he scored, but after a thousand replays it was confirmed. The decision was the break we needed to destroy the curse of loss expectation that has plagued the program since I can remember. A fantastic finish!

But there was more on this day of breathtaking endings. As a Cubs and White Sox fan, I have many reasons to hate the Dodgers more than the Rays, so picking a favorite in this year’s World Series is easy.  I watched a back-and-forth game-four with the evil Dodgers hoping to gain a 3-1 advantage over the less-evil Rays. They led 2-0 in the 3rd, 4-2 in the sixth, 6-5 in the seventh, and 7-6 in the eighth. The Rays had one last chance to win or send the game into extras, with rookie hero Randy Arozerena due to hit if they could just get a man on base. Kiermaier singled with one-out, while Wendle lined out to left. It was the World Series scenario that every kid dreams about, even in Cuba. Two-outs, full-count, and a home run wins it all. It was all set up for a Bill Mazeroski walk-off moment, but instead “Randy-Roza” walked in less dramatic fashion. However, he was soon to make an impact, as Phillips then singled to right center, scoring the tying run. Arozerena tried to stretch his luck, as Taylor bobbled the Phillips blooper and stumbled rounding third base on a dramatic attempt to score. The throw to the plate was mishandled, allowing Arozerena to score the winning run and tying the series. Another unbelievable, fantastic finish – two on the same day for my favorites.

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Elimination #1466

I suppose that yesterday could have been a much worse day for my baseball teams, but rain prolonged the agony. The White Sox frustrating 6-4 loss to the A’s was enough for one day. The Sox were forced to use nine different pitchers and the A’s eight, so the game lasted an eternity. (Not as if I had anything else to do!) Injuries also had an impact on the final score.  However, one man’s misery is another man’s triumph, as the A’s ended 14-years of playoff futility to move on and face the Astros in the next round. 

Home field advantage for the A’s this year boiled down to last at-bats, since only a few family members were allowed inside the stadium. A 487-foot monster home run by Luis Robert was not enough to win, as the Sox stranded 12 baserunners, matching the A’s inability to drive in runs.  Sox pitchers gave up nine walks, including two with the bases loaded. It was a pitcher’s dual of the worst kind, and a bitter end to a promising season. I guess I should just be satisfied that the Sox won one playoff game, after twelve years of failure to even make the postseason. 

At least the Sox scored some runs, unlike the Reds that were totally shut-out in their two games with the Braves. Their AL Central division foes, the Twins and Indians, failed to win a game.  The Cubs got another day to think about their opening game loss to the Marlins, as rain postponed the action at Wrigley Field. The Cubbies remain my last hope for postseason success. Their division rival, the Cardinals, won their first game but in the process woke-up the sleepy Padre bats. That series will also be decided today. There have been few surprises with the undefeated Yankees, Rays, Braves, Astros, and Dodgers advancing with ease. Will the Cubs or Marlins join them? 

The Cubs still can’t hit, but have the advantage of Yu Darvish on the mound today. He’s had a remarkable season, considering the disappointment of his first couple years in Chicago. With a “W” today, fans could begin to feel some redemption regarding his addition to the team after a 2-4 record in six postseason starts. He has not pitched well against the Marlins. Even though they won the first game, “The Fish” may have lost center fielder Starling Marte with a hand injury suffered against Cubs pitcher, Dan Winkler. If you can’t beat them…hurt them! It’s a Cubs win today or elimination!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Monopoly Mutt #1464

My wife was out walking our schnauzer, Tally, the other day, when I guy on a skateboard went out of his way to say hi. “Your dog reminds me of my favorite Monopoly piece,” he remarked. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that the Monopoly dog is actually a Scottish Terrier, but there is a resemblance. It gave her a bit of a chuckle, even though her first thought was that he was going to rob her. Thankfully, first impressions are often wrong. My fancy Monopoly set that I bought years ago on a whim, was then coincidentally one of the conversations that I had with our moving estimator yesterday. The mahogany board with a swivel base, gold hotels, silver houses, and built-in cash drawers reminded me of our Monopoly Mutt. 

With a lack of space in our two-bedroom apartment, we have stuff crammed in every nook and cranny. The Monopoly set is currently stored under our bed, along with dozens of framed pictures. It all needed to be accounted for in our estimate, and served as a reminder of how daunting and expensive this cross-country move will be. There will apparently be two days of packing, another to load, and a week or more to get it to Florida.  At this point, we don’t know exactly when it will all take place, pending construction on the new house. Plus, we’re trying to work in a cruise from Barcelona, Spain, once we get everything somewhat organized. This trip is at the mercy of Covid restrictions that have cancelled most of our other travel plans. It’s much more pleasant to look forward to the cruise than the stressful move.

The Moving Company rep interrupted my day of baseball, that turned out to be a major league disappointment.  Both the Cubs and Sox are now facing elimination today. In addition, the Twins lost their record 18th consecutive playoff game, after surpassing the Sox for the American League Central division championship in the final days of the regular season. The Indians also sneaked by the Sox in the standings, once the Cubs took two of three from their faltering Chicago rival to claim the top spot in National League Central. It will take much more than lucky socks to assure that today is not the end of the (Red) line for both of my Chicago teams. 

One of the punishments in the game of Monopoly is drawing a card that states, “do not pass GO and do not collect $200.” It was the only card that I was dealt yesterday, hoping that someone unexpected wins this season of Covid challenges. I naturally found myself rooting against the perennial favorites like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cardinals, but they were all winners, while my teams are beginning to go “bankrupt.” By this evening, I will know the fate of the Cubs and Sox in their quests to somehow pass GO. Maybe my newly-dubbed Monopoly Mutt has the answer?

 

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