Mr. Cub Ernie Banks passed away last night at age 83, meaning another timeless legend has left the earth forever. At a time when it seems like these generational talent ballplayers from our father’s youth are becoming extinct like dinosaurs, it’s important to remember that guys like Banks were more than just a guy with gaudy numbers.
So let me begin with the numbers
Banks played in parts of 19 seasons, compiling 512 career home runs and a 67.5 bWAR. When you ask someone what position Banks played, they’re going to tell you shortstop. But Banks actually played the second half of his career primarily at first base – something I didn’t realize until I took a look at his numbers thoroughly. In fact, he appeared in 1259 career games at first base compared to 1125 at short, mixing in 46 sporadic appearances in the outfield. This was an exceptionally versatile slugger whose best overall season came in 1959 when he had a WAR of 10.2, hit .304 with 45 home runs and 143 RBI. He won the MVP award in back to back years in 1958 and 1959.
More than anything – Banks signified a culture – known as “Mr. Cub” he was possibly the most beloved of a fan base who has been known as the most loyal and die-hard in the rich history of the game.
Banks played in an era of innocence, when players weren’t as selfish. They played for less, and they probably gave more of their time. His most famous quote was at it’s very core, about his love for the game and playing it:
“It was about 105 degrees in Chicago,” Banks told the Houston Chronicle’s Richard Dean. “And that’s a time when everybody gets tired. I came into the clubhouse and everybody was sitting around and I said, ‘Beautiful day. Let’s play two!’ And everybody looked at me like I was crazy. There were a couple of writers around and they wrote that and it stayed with me.”
If guys today are honest, they probably loathe double-headers at the present day. Double headers are loved by fans; they’re loved by kids who are in little league. They’re not loved by guys who are being paid to play the game who have other things to do when their five hours at the park are done. But Banks became known for this quote because it said everything about him by saying so little.
He also once said that digging for gold was more important than the gold itself. The reason he’s so heralded and beloved isn’t because of the exceptional numbers he put up – though they certainly didn’t hurt things – it’s because he was a great player who loved the game at his core and was approachable in a sincere manner. He’s a reminder of how innocent and bare bones the game used to be. When it was truly the soul of the country, a player like Banks was one of the reasons our fathers and grandfathers loved the sport.
I am so mad that I missed this and did not somehow turn the game on yesterday. Instead I was meeting Santa Claus at the mall with a one-month old.
It seems like one of baseball’s most unique ballparks did just fine moonlighting as a gridiron.
Memphis beat BYU 55-48 in double overtime. I miss baseball; sure. But Holiday football wild ones like that one this time of year live on in the memory forever.
Doc Gooden’s letter to his younger self in the Player’s Club a few days ago is the type of thing I love reading. Namely, I enjoyed this part of it:
There is one pitch that will forever haunt you. It will happen during the 1988 NLCS with your team up 4-2. In the 9th inning, you’ll walk John Shelby on four pitches, and then face Mike Scioscia. The guy is not a home run hitter but you should respect him as a veteran with a lot of experience. Everyone in the stadium, including Scioscia, knows that you’re going to throw a fastball. With your first pitch, your instinct will be to try to throw it over the middle to get ahead on the count with a quick strike. What you should do is throw it low and away.
Read that last line again. Throw it low and away.
He of course is talking about the home run that ended the Mets run of dominance, the one pitch that everything changed with.
I’m a big fan of 80’s Mets talk, and was surprised by what a good and reflective writer Gooden actually was in this piece.
Today, the final Saturday before Christmas 2014 hits on the calendar. This time of year will forever remind me of open gyms, indoor hitting, conditioning and lifting weights, asking my parents for things like eye black, pine tar, batting gloves, and if I was lucky enough; a new bat.
With as quickly as it feels like that the holiday has arrived this year, in some ways it is a reminder that before too long we will be opening up the 2015 season once again, celebrating in unison with other baseball lovers.
Until then, here’s Giancarlo Stanton getting a good piece of one from April 2014:
Possible MIA lineup: 2B Gordon, LF Yelich, RF Stanton, 3B Prado, CF Ozuna, 1B Morse, C Saltalamacchia, SS Hechavarria.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 19, 2014
So the biggest news of the past few days had nothing to do with baseball in my world (and that’s big wrestling with the Heyward trade and the Stanton contract).
On November 18th (born on the same day as Big Papi Ortiz) at 9:18 AM, my daughter Harper was born 8 pounds and 7 ounces. I have seen a lot of amazing things in my life with these eyes, but I have never seen anything in my life that comes close to comparing with the first time that I saw my little daughter. The sheer emotion and happiness overtook me.
I knew when I looked at this amazing little creation that for the rest of my life I was done putting myself first. I love this little girl more than I have ever loved anything. I can’t believe how blessed I am to be able to have the opportunity to be her dad!
And no, she wasn’t named after Bryce Harper! My wife just liked the name. But it’s a nice little coincidence in case he ends up hitting 600 home runs and racing into the Hall of Fame.
Because many of us have never seen a press conference to discuss a $325-million dollar contract.
Look at the miser Loria as they sign the dotted line together! He’s like ‘sign the fuckin papers’ almost grinning that he pulled this off!
I think that Stanton plays his entire career in Miami and retires with about 550 big league home runs. To lock that down for over a decade is never a bad thing. I just can’t overstate how happy I am to see this elite talent stay with his original organization.
At 13 years, $325 million dollars; Giancarlo Stanton has signed the most lucrative contract in sports history.
And I think I’m in the minority of folks who believes that this is a great deal for baseball. I hear a lot of people say being critical – saying that the Marlins overpaid – and to these folks I say that teams like Miami simply can’t win with you. They did exactly what they needed to do in backing up their talk that they would offer Stanton a record deal. Prior to learning the terms, many folks said that Stanton would be offered a joke of a contract that wasn’t up to par and the Marlins rhetoric would be ‘well, we tried’.
The Marlins have taken the first step – a large one – in being a credible franchise. They’ve got their cornerstone signed now, and they will continue to make good on their promise to try to build around him. I can’t wait to see how creative they get, because with the pieces already in place there in South Beach (Yelich, Fernandez, Alvarez, Hecheverria) they have a chance to put something fun together in that neat park of theirs and create a good baseball environment.
The curmudgeon owner got off his fortune and wrote a hefty check. It’s on the fans of Miami now to come out and support the team if they appreciate the Marlins getting this deal done and keeping the National League’s finest talent in town.
As the national media is quick to pounce on the first opportunity to mention that Stanton’s contract is ‘heavily backloaded’, the truth is that the player did the good-guy act of allowing his organization to try to get a few complimentary pieces to put a competitive team around him.
The Marlins should be an entertaining watch in 2015 and will likely go for it all in 2016 when Jose Fernandez is fully recovered and they’ve had a year to see what should stick and what should not.
One thing is for certain though, the Marlins are no longer the misfits of the baseball world, and this is one fan who really appreciates that they did all they could to keep their homegrown star.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 14, 2014
This is awesome. The mega-contract in all of baseball (and sports) history is being pulled off by the Miami Marlins, says Jon Heyman. We’re glad it’s going to Stanton and he’s staying put. Cuban Sandwiches are about to be a bit more expensive at Marlins Park.
Early in April, I saw something in Jose Abreu that intrigued me. He hit a couple balls to spots of Coors Field that they shouldn’t have been hit to pretty effortlessly, and then a few days later; he hit a couple more out against the Cleveland Indians in Chicago to similar spots that aren’t usually reached in a game.
I knew then that the White Sox had a prolific power hitter on their hands; it was just a matter of was he a .270 hitter who could drop bombs or a guy who could hit for some average? Forget all about the White Sox blowing it with a six-year contract for the Cuban defector.
Well, Abreu finished the season with a .317 average, showed some surprising plate discipline, and hit 36 home runs despite missing some time with a disabled list stint. Due to this, we’ve got a unanimous selection for the American League Rookie of the Year today.
As a guy who has love for the ChiSox, I’m happy about this. I loved stealing Abreu in the fifth round of a fantasy draft in my big money keeper league, rejecting huge trade offers for him all season long, and seeing him sustain such success.
The next half-decade is going to be a glorious ride.
I have written extensively about baseball betting on this site; with baseball season being over I have had to find other things to hold my interests. I’ve found myself betting on NBA basketball and NFL point spreads. It’s not wise to do without the help of a trained professional who has your back.
That’s why I’ve been following a guy on twitter named @PTGoldenBoy, an absolute gem within a business of a lot of frauds who don’t own up to their losses (they delete their picks on their timeline) and a bunch of others that cannot pick winners. This guy is the real deal, winning NBA picks at over an 80% clip and filling NFL Sundays with picks at a high success rate week after week. He also predicted the San Francisco Giants would win the World Series at the beginning of the MLB postseason and destoryed the MLB Playoffs at an 80% clip.
My readers here who enjoy sports handicapping need to check this guy out. Take it from me, it’s hard to beat the books on your own. It’s near impossible. Typically, the common person is just guessing with his pick. You need a little help from the sharks to swim in those waters. Let Golden Boy help you line your pockets and increase your units and success rate when you do decide to bet. Take my word for it, and tell him Mevs sent you.
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