Archive for April, 2009

Samples from our first issue – Glasses!

April 17, 2009

And many, many more at our Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/groups/balkmag/

Dave Sisler

Lee Walls

Jim Bolger

Greg Minton

John Lowenstein

Ron Davis

Mark Lee

Craig Kusick

Adrian Devine

Dave Johnson

Mario Mendoza

Darrell Porter

Advertisements

Complete Games?

April 17, 2009

Rick WiseHere’s a question we found on the back of a baseball card: Who was considered to be the 1st authentic relief pitcher?  Answer: Doc Crandall, Giants 1908-13.  Well, let’s take a look at Doc Crandall’s stats, shall we?  According to my math, Doc Crandall pitched 48 Complete Games from 1908-13 (all with the New York Giants), and 91 over his 10 year career.

That begs the question: What the fuck? How is Doc Crandall considered to be the first authentic relief pitcher when he’s averaging 9 CG a year?  Is it as simple that whoever wrote that quiz is a moron?  Or is it something more?  Is it that pitchers used to be MEN?  MEN who could take a break from their relief pitching duties to throw a Complete Game once every couple weeks?  I’m leaning toward that answer.  Because, seriously, these modern pitchers are PUSSIES.

In 2007, something happened that made me crap my pants.  A guy who didn’t pitch a single complete game all year (not one!  As in zero!) won the NY Cy Young award.  Jake Peavy, by the way.  And the AL CY winner that year (CC Sabathia) had only 4 CG!  That’s a total of 4 CGs for the 2007 CY winners.  The first authentic relief pitcher Doc Crandall could do that by himself in a couple months.  In 2008, the CY winners managed to top that embarrassing total by 2.  Let’s compare that to as recently as 20 years ago, when Orel Hershiser and Frank Viola were winning the Cy Young: Orel threw 15 CG while Viola racked up 7.  That’s a total of 22.  Not bad.  Until you realize that Phil Niekro had exactly that many CG ten years earlier in a season in which he lost 18 games!

Still, at least in the 80s and even early 90s it was respectable.  What’s happened to starting pitching since then is an abomination before the Lord.  I think it’s bullshit that starting pitchers don’t throw Complete Games anymore.  Don’t these guys have any balls?  No pun intended.  Look, Johan Santana, who I personally feel is overrated, has to fight off the hordes of fans and writers who want to proclaim him the best left handed pitcher in recent memory.  I’m sorry, but I have a big problem with that.  I know he’s won 2 CYs since 04, but I also know that he’s thrown only 9 CG that whole time.  The same number that first authentic relief pitcher Doc Crandall used to throw in ONE season.  I just can’t put Santana’s numbers up against, say, Sandy Koufax’s and overlook the fact that from 1962-66, SF threw 100 CGs to Santana’s 9 from 2004-08.  Oh, and he also saved 4 games in that same span (Johan wasn’t savin’ no games).

Which brings us to the question: Just how many games did first authentic relief pitcher Doc Crandall save from 1908-13?  24.  Huh?  How is that possible you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Because starting pitchers used to pitch Complete fucking Games!

Bruce Bochte: A Spiritual Warrior for our times

April 17, 2009

And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
– Percy Shelley, Ozymandias

On April 8, 1987 (2:46 in the afternoon local time) in the city of Minneapolis Minnesota, the decline of Western Civilization began in earnest.  Only 12,577 people were there to witness it.  Hundreds of years from now, enterprising historians will be all too aware of this momentous event in the story of humanity. Mark McGwire took over the starting first baseman’s job from Bruce Bochte.  The harbinger of doom emerged from his dark lair and unwittingly heralded an age of darkness and chaos.  He went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts in a 4-1 loss.

Bruce Bochte

Bochte was no longer on the A’s in the spring of 1987.  He had retired for good.  But from 1984 to 1986, Bochte had been Oakland’s starting first baseman, and a pretty decent one too.  He was a former All Star with the Seattle Mariners whose team records would later be broken by guys like Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Ichiro Suzuki, and that doped up fucking asshole choke artist who plays for the Yankees now.  Bochte abruptly retired after the 1982 season, citing his disgust with the spiraling influence of money in baseball as his reason.  The A’s were able to lure him back to play Major League Baseball in the Bay Area after his one year hiatus, and after his three year stint as their starting first baseman, he left the game once and for all at the age of 35.  In a 12 year career he hit .282 with 100 HR and 658 RBI.  In his only official All Star game at bat he singled off Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry to put the AL ahead 6-5.  An inning later he successfully sacrifice bunted Brian Downing to second off Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter.  The NL won that game 7-6, mirroring Bochte’s luck  – he never played for a winning team his entire career.  After he left baseball, he never looked back.  He became a San Francisco hippie, working diligently to save the environment.  He worked for a while at the Center for the Story of the Universe, a research affiliate of the California Institute of Integral Studies, which emphasizes higher education for the mind, body and spirit.  He truly is a man among men, a spiritual warrior.

The man who replaced him at first base in 1987 became a superstar.  But we all know what became of Mark McGwire.  What he represents.  What he embodies.  Cheating.  Dishonor.  Shame.  He lied to Congress, or at least refused to tell the truth.  He wasn’t voted into the Hall of fame with Hall of Fame numbers, and he might never be.  But an important fact we must never forget is that for over 15 years, especially after he broke Maris’ single season Home Run record in 1998 (along with Sammy Sosa) Mark McGwire was one of the most beloved, respected athletes in American history.  He, like Roger Clemens, are our fallen heroes – men who represent the fickle, uncritical, herd mentality that is overtaking our society.  While no one outside a few baseball fanatics who remember Bochte for coining the phrase “Mendoza Line” recall him at all, or even paid him much attention while he was playing.

One day we will look back at this dichotomy, and weep.  Fuck, I’m doing it right now.

Getting there…!

April 4, 2009

Alright, the first issue is now posted to the right, under the ‘Issues for Download’ link (duh). We’ll be getting some commentary up shortly, but in the meantime check out the flickr group to see the cards: http://www.flickr.com/groups/balkmag/

Enjoy!