“I really feel like, in some ways, that rain delay was kind of divine intervention.”
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer
If the American League had not won the All Star Game, would the Indians be world champs? Or if the Rangers, the best team in the American League, had been in the Series, as logically and traditionally they should have been, would they have beaten the Cubs?
There would surely have been no 17-minute rain delay at the critical moment in game 7. Jayson Heyward used it to give his rousing locker room pep talk that sent the fired up Cubs out to score two huge 10th-inning runs.
Have you ever heard of a 17-minute rain delay in the entire history of the game, going back to 1869?
To me, the biggest stat of the wild, wonderful Series was this one:
1 – 3
That’s the record of the Cleveland team at home, where the Native Americans – ignored as usual by the press – were chanting and drumming their protests against Chief Wahoo.
Consider: Of the previous ten World Series 7th games, the home teams had won nine.
Not this year.
Cleveland could win two out of three games in Chicago, but they couldn’t even win half their games at home.
So, while one curse was ended – the Billy Goat Curse – another one continued.
The Indians might have deserved their bad mojo, at least the fans and their owner. But not the players.
And for 71 years the Cubs and their fans had done nothing to deserve the Billy Goat Curse. All that bad karma just because one guy got mad about a ridiculous minor insult 71 years ago.
If inviting a goat to a game can change a long fly out into a home run, well, you can do whatever you want to, but I’d have invited the goat decades ago.
And I would not defiantly wear a hated racist symbol on my hat when I had been politely asked to take it off.
Psychic mojo is apparently morally neutral. Like electricity, steam, or nuclear power, it works for both “bad” users and “good” users, against both deserving and undeserving victims. All the more reason to try to understand it and harness it before the other team beats you to it.
Some readers might scoff that it’s just a coincidence. If you have never experienced psychic phenomena, then it’s perfectly understandable that you believe that no one else can either. I know where you’re coming from; I came from there once myself too.
All RISPs are not created equal. A RISP when you’re six runs ahead or behind means almost nothing. But a RISP that ties the game or puts you ahead, now that’s different.
I call this a CRISP – a Critical RISP
For two years, I’ve been tracking the Washington Nationals’ CRISPs. This year I included both batting in a run and scoring it as well: You can’t bat in a RISP if there’s no RISP to bat in.
Here are the results:
2016 Nationals’ CRISPs
Danny Murphy 52
Bryce Harper 51
Anthony Rendon 44
Wilson Ramos 38
Jayson Werth 32
Ryan Zimmerman 31
Trey Turner 26 (73 games)
Danny Espinosa 17
Harper, the 2015 unanimous MVP, had a bad year in the traditional stats (HR, BA etc). But he led the team in CRISP until the very last week. The reason: walks. The pitchers were still afraid of him, or his reputation, and he seemed to be always trotting down to first. He not only gave his team a free base-runner and potential run, he gave them a 4th out.
Notice Turner. If he plays a full season next year, he could be the team leader.
We should also reward the unappreciated guys, who move the RISP into scoring position with a hit, a walk, a sacrifice.
And we should count the anti-RISPs – the guys who don’t get on base when the game is tight, who don’t move them around, and who don’t bat them in.
Any volunteers to do other teams next year?
Ask Questions. Question Answers
Enjoyed the article. Recently, I met a lady in Tempe, AZ who is a full-blooded Navajo and a baseball fan. She grew up in Cleveland in the 40’s and 50’s, when all Native Americans were admitted to Cleveland games free. She said she has no problem with the Indians’ logo. (Don Thompson)
(The question is: If she or someone else does object to Wahoo and asks you to stop, would you?)
Sounds pretty convincing to me. (Barbara Wolanin.)
I’ve enjoyed your baseball columns immensely. I look forward to your insights. Being 61, I love the nostalgic look at the “best” days of baseball. And I like the way you bring fine details of the game, behind the scenes stuff. Brilliant.
And now you’ve thrown a curve into a new path more spiritual. And I like it. Why? Very refreshing and hitting upon topics I am most interested in.
I’ve included the link of a “spiritual” day that happened to me just a few months ago in Cooperstown. I hope you enjoy it, and I know you’ll not be one bit surprised by it.
Keep up the great work! (Gary Kaschak)
See a great movie
The Eagle Huntress
In the bleak, beautiful, windswept Altai mountains of Mongolia, Kazakh (Cossack) men have been hunting with eagles for centuries. When a 12-year old girl wants to do it, all the men shake their heads. Except one: her father. He teaches her everything he knows, and she beats the guys in competition. A true story.
Eagles, incidentally, are trained and treated with the same affection we give our pet dogs.
This should be a prize winner.
See a Movie Classic –
Even Russian historians have to quote John Reed’s epic book, “Ten Days That Shook the World.” It’s probably the best source in any language for one of the major events of the 20th Century, the Bolshevik Revolution.
Warren Beatty directed, wrote, and starred in this biography of Reed, an American Communist who couldn’t speak Russian but rushed to St Petersburg to cover the story. He collected every handbill and poster he saw.
I just watched the film for the fourth time, on TV, and moved it to the top of my list of greatest American movies, ahead of “African Queen” and “Rocky.”
Beatty was nominated for three Oscars – only two other men have achieved that: Orson Welles and Woodie Allen – but he lost to “Chariots of Fire.” Diane Keaton as his lover and Jack Nicholson as playwright Eugene O’Neill, who seduced her, were also nominated, but all lost.
Reed broke with the Communists when they turned dictatorial. But he’s the only American buried in the Kremlin wall.
This is a great way to learn history. The film is in two parts, about three hours total. And I wouldn’t cut a minute of it.
See a Great TV Documentary –
The Battle of Chosin
If the names of all the Americans killed in Korea were put on a wall, it would be almost as big as the Viet Nam wall. And Viet Nam lasted ten years, Korea only three.
One GI who fought in both says, “Viet Nam was a Sunday school picnic compared to Korea.” That’s not to diminish the sacrifices of the men in Viet Nam. It’s to emphasize the unknown valor of the men in Korea. I was there and was wounded (ingloriously, by friendly fire), and I’ve just finished an oral history of that war, “Bloody Ground.”
Korea is “the forgotten war.” But to those dwindling few who were in it, it was unforgettable.
Korea was also our last “good war;” We saved Japan from a possible Communist invasion. All wars since then have been ambiguous or controversial. Even unnecessary.
PBS has made a gripping story of one chapter of the conflict – the Marines’ epic fight to escape a massive Chinese encirclement in the winter of 1950-51. At 40-50 degrees below zero, they didn’t have to put a bandage on a wound – the blood froze and didn’t bleed.
But the Marines were also the only division that brought their own cameras, so everything you see about the war has to come from them. Ditto World War II in the Pacific. If you think they fought it all by themselves, they don’t correct you, which is why Marines and GIs don’t get along very well.
Despite the caveats, this is a powerful record – the only film record – of a chapter of history that the American people know almost nothing about.
Many people don’t know it: Clinton actually finished first in the voting – she won about 700,000 more popular votes at latest count. This is the second time in the last five elections that the winner has been the loser. The last was Al Gore in 2000. I don’t know how to change it. The winners won’t, and the losers can’t. Hillary’s gracious speech the next morning was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. In a campaign that plunged to Atlantean depths, she ended on a Himalayan peak. I think school kids will read her words a century from now. I’m still basking in the afterglow.
See you next spring
By the time you read this, I’ll be four score and seven years old. I’ve still got five years of work to finish, and the time to do it in grows shorter every day. I’ve loved doing these essays and reading your reactions, but I’ve got to take a five-month break and work on my Bucket List – a 1,000-page Ted trilogy with new stories you’ve never heard, the most complete Negro league stats ever done, “Amazin’ Baseball” with more psychic eye-brow raisers, a few movie scripts, and a couple of inventions for better keyboards. I look forward to seeing you again in April.
God bless you all.