Remember the all-American Hot Dogs, Apple Pie sport Baseball? Apparently, a new study says that only 36% of Americans now follow baseball. That’s down from 41% last year. Why is baseball so down in the dug out? Many people say that it’s just too doggone expensive to go to a game and to hard to even get tickets!
This week’s Major League Baseball’s all-star game has earned its lowest-ever U.S. television rating. The National League’s 3-1 victory earned a 7.5 fast national rating and 13 share. That’s down 16 per cent from the 8.9/15 for last season’s game, a 4-3 win by the AL. The previous low was an 8.1/14 in 2005.
Favorite Teams according to the survey?
- New York Yankees
- Boston Red Sox
- Atlanta Braves
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Chicago Cubs
- New York Mets
- San Francisco Giants
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Minnesota Twins
1. New York Giants (1951)
Last year, the Giants admitted they had an elaborate sign-stealing system in place at the Polo Grounds in 1951. Did Bobby Thomson know what Ralph Branca was throwing when he hit his “Shot heard around the world?” Coach Herman Franks would sit in the Giants clubhouse, conveniently located past center field, and use a telescope to read the catcher’s signs. He’d then set off a bell or buzzer in the Giants bullpen that would identify the next pitch, and a relay man would signal it in to the hitter.
2. John McGraw (3B, SS, OF, Orioles, Cardinals, Giants, 1891-1906)
In the field, wrote Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns in “Baseball: An Illustrated History,” the 155-pound McGraw “held far bigger base runners back by the belt, blocked them, tripped them, spiked them — and rarely complained when they did the same to him.” He was known to grab onto runners belts as they were rounding third, and grab the belt loops of runners tagging up at third. “He uses every low and contemptible method that his erratic brain can conceive to win a play by a dirty trick,” wrote one reporter.
3. Gaylord Perry (pitcher, Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners, Royals, 1962-1983)
Perry, a Hall-of-Famer, compiled his 314-265 record on the wings of a Vaseline ball. He’d stand on the mound, touching his cap or his sleeve, either loading up the ball or trying to convince batters he was doing so. In 1982, he became one of the very few pitchers to be suspended for doctoring the ball.
Gene Tenace, who was Perry’s catcher with the Padres, said the ball was sometimes so loaded he couldn’t throw it back to the mound. Indians president Gabe Paul defended Perry: “Gaylord is a very honorable man,” he said. “He only calls for the spitter when he needs it.”
4. Albert Belle (OF, DH, Indians, White Sox, Orioles, 1989-2000)
Albert Belle reportedly used more cork than a vintner.
On July 15, 1994, Belle’s bat was confiscated by umpire Dave Phillips after White Sox manager Gene Lamont voiced his suspicion that the bat was corked. The Indians knew it was corked, and set out to replace the bat, which Phillips had put in his locker. During the game, Indians pitcher Jason Grimsley wriggled through a crawl space above the ceiling above the umpires’ locker room, dropped through an escape hatch, and replaced the corked model with a conventional one. “My heart was going 1,000 miles a second,” said Grimsley. “I just rolled the dice, a crapshoot.” In his autobiography, released just a few weeks ago, former Belle teammate Omar Vizquel wrote about the “Batgate” incident: “I can be naive at times, but I’m not stupid. Certainly not stupid enough to steal Albert’s corked bat and replace it with one that looked completely different — one that was autographed by Paul Sorrento. That wasn’t even a nice try. The problem, of course, was that all of Albert’s bats were corked.”
5. Joe Niekro (pitcher, Cubs, Padres, Tigers, Braves, Astros , Yankees, Twins, 1967-1988)
Aug. 3, 1987: Niekro’s on the mound in Anaheim, pitching for the Twins against the Angels. He throws a slider that breaks the laws of physics. When plate umpire Tim Tschida visits the mound to have a look, an emery board flies out of Niekro’s pocket. Niekro’s also carrying a small piece of sandpaper “contoured to fit a finger,” according to second base ump Steve Palermo.
Niekro’s ejected and suspended for 10 days. “The guy was so blatant,” said Palermo. “It was like a guy walking down the street carrying a bottle of booze during Prohibition.” Niekro denied any wrongdoing, arguing that as a knuckleballer, he needed the emery board to file his fingernails. And the sandpaper? “Sometimes I sweat a lot, and the emery board gets wet,” he explained. “And I’ll also use the paper for small blisters.”
6. Whitey Ford (pitcher, Yankees, 1950-67)
Whitey Ford got help from mud, gunk and catchers.
Ford used his wedding ring to cut the ball, or had catcher Elston Howard put a nice slice in it with a buckle on his shin guard. Ford also planted mud pies around the mound and used them to load the ball. He confessed that when pitching against the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series, “I used enough mud to build a dam.” He also threw a “gunk ball,” which combined a mixture of baby oil, turpentine, and resin. He kept the “gunk” in a roll-on dispenser, which, the story goes, Yogi Berra once mistook for deodorant, gluing his arms to his sides in the process.
7. The Bossard Family (groundskeepers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, 1920s-present)
When Gene Bossard, who took care of the Comiskey Park field from 1940-83, died in 1998 at age 80, he knew that his legacy of altering the field to the White Sox’s advantage would continue through his son, Roger, who followed him as head groundskeeper. According to his Sun-Times obit, “The Comiskey Park infield once was known as ‘Bossard’s Swamp’ because he kept it watered down for sinkerball pitchers Dick Donovan, Tommy John and Joel Horlen. He also soaked the area around first base when opposing base stealers came to town, and he kept the baselines raised so that Nellie Fox’s bunts stayed fair.”
8. Norm Cash (outfielder, White Sox, Tigers, 1958-74)
By his own account, Cash used a corked bat during the 1961 season, a breakout year he never came close to duplicating. In ’61, Cash led the AL in batting with a .361 average, hit 41 homers and drove in 132 runs. After he retired, he demonstrated for SI how he doctored his bat by drilling an eight-inch hole in the barrel, filling it with glue, cork and sawdust.
9. Graig Nettles (3B, OF, Twins, Indians, Yankees, Padres, Braves, Expos, 1967-88)
On Sept. 7, 1974, the Yankees’ Graig Nettles hit a home run against the Detroit Tigers. The next time up, he hit a broken-bat single. Tigers catcher Bill Freehan scrambled for the six superballs that came bouncing out. “I didn’t know there was anything wrong with the bat,” Nettles said after the game. “That was the first time I used it. Some Yankees fan in Chicago gave it to me and said it would bring me good luck. There’s no brand name on it or anything. Maybe the guy made it himself. It had been in the bat rack, and I picked it up by mistake, because it looked like the bat I had been using the last few days.” Nettles was called out on the single, but his solo homer was allowed and the made all the difference as the Yankees won 1-0.
10. Amos Otis (OF, DH, Mets, Royals, Pirates, 1967-1984)
After retiring, Otis, a five-time All-Star who hit 193 career home runs, admitted that he used a funky bat much of his career. “I had enough cork and superballs in there to blow away anything,” he said. “I had a very close friend who made the bats for me. He’d drill a hole down the barrel and stuff some superballs and cork in it. Then he put some sawdust back into the hole, sandpapered it down and added a little pine tar over the top of it. The bat looked brand new.”
11. George Brett (3B, DH, 1B, Royals, 1973-93)
On July 24, 1983, at Yankee Stadium, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals came to bat with the Royals down, 4-3. He slammed a two-run tater off of Goose Gossage, giving the Royals the lead. By the time Brett had made it to the dugout, though, Yankee manager Billy Martin (acting on the advice of Graig Nettles, who, perhaps prompted by the superball incident, had read the rulebook) was protesting to home plate umpire Tim McClelland. McClelland asked for Brett’s bat, examined it while conferring with his crew, and then called Brett out for having too much pine tar on his bat. According to the rules then, pine tar and similar substances couldn’t be higher than 18 inches from the bat handle; Brett’s bat was covered up to 19 or 20 inches. After the enraged Brett had been ejected for arguing the unusual call, the Yankees went on to win 4-3. The Royals protested the game, and AL president Lee McPhail overturned McClelland’s ruling, reinstating Brett’s homer.
12. Rick Honeycutt (pitcher, Mariners, Rangers, Dodgers, A’s, Yankees, Cardinals, 1977-97)
When pitching for the Mariners against the Royals on Sept. 30, 1980, Honeycutt taped a thumbtack to his finger to cut the ball. Willie Wilson, after hitting a double, spotted the tack from second base. When the umps came out to have a look, they not only found the tack, but also a gash in Honeycutt’s forehead — he had rubbed his face absentmindedly, almost poking his eye out in the process.
“I should have known right then that it wasn’t going to work,” he later said. “It didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. I only did it once and I did it badly and got caught at it. I was really struggling at the time. We were getting ready to go out onto the field, and I passed a bulletin board and there was a tack in it. I put it on the middle finger of my glove hand.” Honeycutt was ejected, suspended for 10 games, and fined $250.
13. Don Sutton (pitcher, Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, Angels, A’s, 1966-88)
Late in his career, Sutton was often accused of scuffing. In 1978 he was ejected and suspended 10 days for defacing the ball, but when he threatened to sue the National League, he was let off. Was teammates with Gaylord Perry for a while. “He gave me a tube of Vaseline,” joked Sutton. “I thanked him and gave him a piece of sandpaper.” Umpires took the allegations seriously, and sometimes gave him a good going over. Once, he left a note inside his glove for the men in black. It said, “You’re getting warm, but it’s not here.”
1. Billy Mays died about a year ago. What kitchen gadgets have you bought that you’ve used less than three times? What are they?
I’ve used all of my gadgets. I don’t buy it if I’m not gonna use it. I’d rather waste money on useful items like handbags, shoes and dog bones.
2. What celebrity would you like to shake some sense into, and why?
Mel Gibson- what an idiot!
3. Jimmy Buffett just did on concert to benefit the victims of the Gulf. Name a Buffett song that you like.Mean there’s more than 1? Guess I was so drunk on Margaritaville I never noticed.
4. How did you feel about Ringo Starr turned 70?
Not sure why I’d feel anything. He’s probably grateful to be one of the 2 remaining.
5. What sport do you absolute see no point in watching?
6. Trivia time. Do you know the first names of the French twins?
Have you noticed that they are rarely ever the same people? I swear I’ve even seen them change colors. Last week they were guys.
7. You are in the best seafood restaurant in Canada. What type of meat do you order? Haven’t renewed my Passport. I’d never be there to find out.
8. How far would an electric car have to go without a recharge before you’d buy one? I don’t live in a big enough town to have to be concerned about being stranded.
9. Did you see that a high court ruled that you can swear on regular TV? What word can you just not wait to hear? I really only watch cable. I’ve heard every word. It’s not an issue for me.
10. You are in the finest steak and rib joint in Kimberville (Arizona). What seafood dish do you order? Salmon
11. What was the last concert that you attended that really sucked?
It wasn’t really a concert but, at a wedding last month, this woman stood up and started singing and it would get louder and echoed more and more by the moment. Just when you thought she was done, in would come another verse. uuuggggghhhh
12. What type of accent would you like to have, if you were forced to change yours? I’ve been listening to a lot of Gavin and Stacey while I work lately (I am so addicted). I think it’s Welch- correct me if I’m wrong.
13. Kimber’s got four kids with chicken pox. Berleen is not feeling the love today, so I was asked to host. What do you miss most when neither originator of TT is asking the questions?
Dude…I can’t answer this. I’m pretty sure you know my answer.