6
Aug 18

Onward and Upward

Dave Empey

Dave Empey has developed four major league
players, including James Paxton, the ace of the
Seattle Mariners, and 
Ryan Dempster, who
pitched for 16 MLB seasons, was an all-star twice, 
and won a World Series ring with the Red Sox.

Dave has coached 19 pros, 11 members  of the
Canadian national junior team, and more than
100 collegiate players.  

As a sports writer with the Vancouver Sun
Dave interviewed the likes of home run king
Roger Maris, iconic heavyweight champ Rocky
Marciano, legendary sprinter Jesse Owens, Hall
of Fame pitcher Bob Lemon, daredevil Evel
Knievel, and NHL hard rock Tiger Williams.

Dave has covered almost ever sport you can
name, including baseball, football, basketball,
soccer, hockey, horse racing, lacrosse, boxing,
tennis, track and field, swimming, figure
skating, curling, rugby, skiing, hang gliding,
and hydroplane racing.

He had the honor of taking a blistering
three lap 150 mph trip with Billy Schumacher,
the greatest hydro driver of all time.  "That
ride with Billy was an atomic blast," he says.  
 

Dave also managed and produced an album for
the rock band "Paul Anthony and The Invasion." 

      Dave Empey can be reached at 604 771-9736
 

Ryan and Dave in Las Vegas

2017 visitors--16,394
January to July visitors--11,666
August visitors--5,971

TODAY’S LINEUP

BASEBALL PUZZLE
NEW--Rocky and the Nerds 
REDUX--Moneyball, the Farce
NEW--Killer Koepke and The Assassin 
NEW--"White Lightning" at 110 mph
BASEBALL PUZZLE
NEW--Johnny Chung, the Celestial Comet
NEW--The Catch 22 of Relief Pitchers
NEW--Shadow Boxing Your Delivery
REDUX--Sidd Finch and his 168 mph 
Fastball
NEW--What Utter (Bleeping) Nonsense

Selects Rev Up for Canada Cup
Hands as Deep as an Oil Well
Hitters: Forget the Useless Knee Raise
The Terror of The Dreaded Shift

"Knock Somebody Down"
The Cougars are prowling once again
Wind Sprints--Fast Twitch Endurance
Playing Shortstop on a Donkey

Balance Like a Gymnast
What Are Scouts Looking For?
A Cure for Betances

The Six Foot Basketball League
Thank You, Aaron Judge
Sweet, Sweet, Sweet Caroline
Baseball Players--Tough as Marshmallows

We Are All Unique

Sale Shovels Horse Manure
The INCREDIBLE shrinking Strike Zone
How Many Rings are on the Wrong Fingers?

The Cure for Sorearms?

The Saga of Showalter and Bonds
The Tragedy of Brien Taylor
A Controlled Knee Raise
The Gold of Coil and Go

The Mick's 600-Foot Home Runs

Lefthander's Pick-off Move
Stealing Against a Lefthander

Blue Jays: No Standards, No Discipline
James Paxton--The Blueprint for a No-Hitter
Paxton KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

"Play it Loud"
The Sportsnet Cheerleaders
The Blaze Turn Up the Heat
Tyler O'Neill and his Magnum Guns
Back Foot Pivot
Giancarlo, Are You Listening?
The Virus Invading the MLB Cyberworld
Are the Sox an Australian Cricket Team?
Using Ted's Head for BP
It's a RELAY, Buck, Not a Cut
Pillar Didn't Steal Home
Killer Steroids
Eating for Explosive Energy
The Magic of Man City
March Madness and You
Living One Pitch at a Time
Do You Really Want Two Hour Games?
The Split and the Greaser
Mike Tyson, Discipline
Rodney, Deion, Romo and Delmonico
Sandy Koufax--Lead with your Hip
Osuna and the WBC
Stealing Signs
Kyle Chalmers--Godzilla
The Curveball
Should Young Pitchers Throw Curveballs?
Tom Glavine--Ultimate Command
The Odds of getting to the Big Leagues
Teaching Charges to Little Guys
SEE  HOW EASILY YOU CAN THROW HARD

The 12 Infield Throws
The Terminator at Shortstop
Is Clayton Kershaw a Communist?
THE GREATEST BASEBALL PICTURE EVER
Did I Mention Simplify?
Shaking off the Catcher
Stay Inside the Ball
Dock Ellis and the acidic no-no
First Pitch Cutters
Developing COMMAND
Why Infielders Commit Errors
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Wisdom from Mike Trout

 

              Keeping Dave Talks Baseball Alive and Well

I love producing this blog but I also like to eat.  I’m a professional writer and I’d appreciate any support--$5, $10, $20, whatever you can afford.      

I’ve set up my PayPal account to accept contributions.  Just click on the "Donate" button right below this puzzle.  Thank you for keeping DTB alive and well. 

(So far the response has been rather underwhelming.  Unless it gets better I'll either end the blog or start charging a subscription fee.  The ball is in your court.) 

 

                 BASEBALL PUZZLE

When Whitey Herzog was managing the Cardinals there were times he’d  bring a reliever in and tell him to intentionally walk the next hitter.

Remember, of course, in those days you had to throw four wide ones for an IW.  This caused such outrage from the TV gurus they needed acupuncture, a psychiatrist and a stiff shot of Jim Beam to settle down.

“Why would he do that?” they belched.  “When you bring a guy in he needs to establish his command, his rhythm.  Throwing four wide ones gets him totally out of synch.  The pitcher he was pulling should walk the hitter before he comes out.”

But Herzog had a very logical reason for having his relief pitcher issue the Intentional Walk.  What was it?

I’ll give you a few days to figure it out.

2
Aug 18




A TALE OF TWO GIGABYTES

           Rocky and The Nerds

“I’d pin Ali on the ropes.  When he covered up I’d keep pounding on his arms.  By the seventh or eighth round his arms would be so numb he wouldn’t be able to lift them.  And then I’d knock him out.”
        --Rocky Marciano, undefeated heavyweight champ

 

"They've got all these Super Nerds who know nothing about baseball but they like to project numbers.  It's killing the game.  Just put computers out there and let them play. It's a joke."
                   --Former MLB outfielder Jayson Werth

 

If you’re wondering how I can tie those quotes together you have to understand my IQ is well above 160 (he said without offering one iota of proof) so it’s pretty easy.

It all comes back to computers.

I interviewed Marciano in 1969 when he came to Vancouver to promote the Golden Gloves and boxing was one of my many beats.

I asked Rocky, who was 45 and long retired, how he would fight Muhammad Ali.  His face lit up, his eyes sparkled like diamonds, and he grinned, as if he’d been transported back into the ring.  You could see the visions sliding through his mind, Ali leaning on the ropes in his Rope-a-Dope, and Marciano, the epitome of a non-stop brawler, hammering away like a piston.  And I love the quote so much I’m doubling up.

“I’d pin Ali on the ropes,” The Rock said.  “When he covered up I’d keep pounding on his arms.  By the seventh or eighth round his arms would be so numb he wouldn’t be able to lift them.  And then I’d knock him out.”

         Marciano lands a right cross to the jaw of Jersey Joe Walcott.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“These guys from MIT or Stanford or Harvard, they've never played baseball in their life.  We're creating something that's not fun to watch. It's boring. You're turning players into robots. They've taken the human element out of the game."
                                       --Jayson Werth

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Not too long after I interviewed Marciano a dude named Murray Woroner promoted the Super Fights.  He matched 16 of the greatest heavyweight champs of alltime, squaring off in the cyber world of an ancient computer with far less than one per cent of the power kids take for granted in this world of smartphones.  You know, about the same amount of 1’s and 0’s that put Neil Armstrong on the moon.

After a series of eliminations the computer declared Marciano the ultimate champ, stopping Jack Dempsey in the final.  How could it be otherwise?  Marciano was 49-0 with 43 knockouts.  Feed that into your laptop and he can’t be defeated.  Zero losses?  Okay, boss, zero it is.

But Ali threatened to sue for defamation.  So Woroner had an idea.  Marciano lost 50 pounds, got in great shape, and stepped into the ring with Muhammad for 70 one-minute rounds of sparring, all of it on film.  Both of them faked being knocked out.

                                         Ali at his best.

Eventually it was released as a movie and tens of thousands of fans watched Marciano stop Ali in the 13th round.  In the U.S. and Canada.  In Europe it was Rocky who got KO’d.

Ali became friends with Marciano, a man he admired, and they even planned to tour inner city ghettos like Watts to do admirable good deeds.  But three weeks later Marciano died in a small plane crash one day before his 46th birthday.

All of which brings us back to Werth and the Nerds.

Understand, I love science.  I much prefer it to anecdotal mythology.  Spray charts and tendencies and pitch counts all make sense.  But how does a computer measure a man’s heart, his competitive spirit, his perseverance?

I heard this from a play by play guy the other day, “The analytics say there was a 47 per cent chance the centerfielder would make that catch.”  Whoa.   With all the infinite intangibles—the wind, the sun, the lights, the grass, what he ate for breakfast, his sore toe, the affair his wife is having with his best friend, the shortstop—who in the hell came up with that algorithm?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The game is a freaking joke because of the nerds.  These guys played rotisserie baseball at Harvard or wherever the (bleep), and they thought they figured the (bleeping) game out. They don't know (bleep).”
                 --Unhittable Yankees closer Goose Gossage

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

            The Goose, one of the toughest closers of alltime.

As Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.”  If you live by exit velo and analytics, and WAR, whatever the hell that means, and OPS, and every useless stat that clogs up the broadcast booth, you live with a damn lie.

Statistics often tell the opposite of the truth and every hitter or pitcher knows this all too well.

A crushed line drive right at the shortstop.  A blistering groundout.  A cannon shot the outfielder catches diving into the wall.  Three outs.  And the TV guru says, “He got the job done.”  No he didn’t.  He got annihilated.

Or there’s a blooper, a dribbler, and a routine groundball with eyes.  Three straight “hits.”  And this time, “He didn’t get the job done.”  Sure he did.  He jammed up three hitters like the Grand Coulee Dam.

I used to have a stat I called HH for Hard Hits.  Every time you hammered the ball you got a point.  After awhile the hitters were looking more at their HH totals than their batting average.

Werth talked about beating The Shift and the advice from the Analytic Nerds.  “Should I just bunt?  They're like, 'No, don't do that. We want you to hit a homer.' It's just not baseball to me.”

By the way, Jayson is far from alone.  Gossage, who seared the zone with blazers and a violent slider when he closed for the Yankees, summed it up for a plethora of players with that quote above.

Bleeping cool, Goose.

 A lot of this nonsense started with Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, as recorded in Moneyball.  So let’s take a look at that post again.

 

Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Koch, Tejada

              Moneyball, the Farce

 I’m watching Brad Pitt in Moneyball a few weeks ago.  When you talk about Alternative Truths this flick qualifies like Dubbya and The Donald.

Now I concede that Billy Beane is a brilliant baseball mind and the highest profile GM since Branch Rickey.  He thinks so far outside the box he isn’t even in the cereal.  Beane is a diamond heretic.  In the Baseball Almanac you look under the word Rebel and you see his selfie.  Billy Beane doesn’t wait for a consensus.  He acts on his own perceptions.  He’s the epitome of Sinatra’s My Way.

I like all that.

                                                             Billy Beane, the Rebel

And I think he had some very interesting ideas as summed up by the Michael Lewis book and the movie of Moneyball.  Lewis is an exceptional writer and The Big Short is his masterpiece.

But Moneyball is all garbage.

It’s really pretty simple.  The Oakland Athletics won 103 games in 2002.  What’s more, they ticked off 20 victories in a row that August, which happens about as often as housing prices drop in Vancouver.  But not because of Scott Hatteberg or Chad Bradford.  Try these names:

Tejada
Hudson
Zito
Mulder
Koch
Liddle

Miguel Tejada put up astronomical numbers in 2002.  He ripped 204 hits for a .308 average.  He scorched 34 jacks and drove in 131 runs.  He also scored 108 times.  But then, of course, he was only a shortstop and that’s not a very important position, is it?  After all, middle infielders pop 131 ribbies all the time.  Don’t they?

Was Tejada even mentioned in the movie?  I don’t remember.

Okay, Hatteberg did notch .280 with 68 RBI’s.  So, obviously, he deserves star billing over Tejada because he fits the protocol of Billy Beane and the Sabermetrics of Bill James.  Right?  The truth be known, Beane dissed Tejada, calling him a wild free swinger, which didn’t fit the Moneyball Code of Honour.  So ignore 34 big flies and 131 clutch runs.

Which brings us to the real reason the A’s were Top Dogs.  Take a look a these numbers.

Barry Zito, 23-5 and 2.75.
Mark Mulder, 19-7 and 3.47
Tim Hudson 15-9 and 2.98
On top of that the closer, Billy Koch, went 11-4 and gunned 44 saves.

Barry Zito.  Did he really assassinate JFK?  Or did he just win 23 games?

As a Quartet of Lethal Terminators those guys were 68 and 25.  That’s as good as it gets, like selling a script to Steven Spielberg.  All the Sabermetrics in the heavens don’t mean dung compared to pitching that dominant.

So, of course, you heard Brad Pitt piling on the praise for Zito and Mulder and Hudson and Koch over and over in the movie.  Over and over and over.  You heard that.  You did.  You didn’t?  Well, at one point I think he told Hudson to throw his slider more, or something like that.  Perfect recognition of a great pitching staff.

I guess 68 and 25 doesn’t compare to Bradford’s four wins.

Cory Liddle?  Well, he was only 8-10 but he won five straight in August with a 0.20 ERA and that included three victories when the A’s put up their ineffable 20-game streak.  By the way, Koch had either the win or the save in 12 of those games.

Moneyball is an interesting movie.  And Lewis is a brilliant writer.  But it’s all a farce, as far from reality as the fairy tale of the delusional conspiracy addicts who believe JFK was assassinated by Martians.  Or Jimmy Hoffa.  Or Babe Ruth.  That’s it.  Ruth did it.  Or was it Barry Zito? 

  _____________________________________________________________

          "The Masters, a tradition unlike any other."
               --CBS announcer Jim Nance
__________________________________________________

IMAGINE LeBRON AT AUGUSTA

        Killer Koepke and The Assassin

There are more than half a million blacks living in Greater St. Louis.  But you’d need a magnifying glass to find one in the gallery for the PGA.  You had more chance of seeing Al Jolson at Bellerive.

PGA stalwarts and their fans, who line the rough in silent admiration, are etched in white.  Hmm.  Wait a second.  Isn’t there a word for that?  A word that starts with the letter R and ends in ism?  Sort of White Lives Play Golf. 

Yes, I know, there’s Eldrick Woods but he’s really the whitest dude out there.  And that, by the way, is his name.  Not Tiger.  Eldrick.  Obviously, Tiger is monumentally more intimidating than Eldrick.  Did you see that shot Eldrick just made?  Eldrick is one under after 16 holes.  Doesn’t really have the same resonance as Tiger is making his charge on the back nine.

So I’d advise the rest of the crew to insert WWE nicknames into their scorecards and insist on that listing on the leader board.

Killer Koepke.  Dynamite Spieth.  Hit Man Fowler.  Panther McIlroy.  Justin “The Hulk” Thomas.  Hammer Rahm.  Double Bubba Watson.  Slasher Scott.  Dustin “The Assassin” Johnson.  Unfortunately, even changing their name to Michael Corleone isn’t going to make Ian Poulter, Charley Hoffman or Patrick Reed look threatening.

                                        Eldrick surveying his plethora of fans.  

Golf fans are always winners.  Whoever’s ahead on the final hole is their guy.   They live vicariously through the wonder of his magnificence.  He’s their knight in shining Nike’s.  He’s so precious.  He waves to them as he approaches the 18th green and they applaud madly, tears welling up in their eyes.  He’s my guy, my hero, I own him.  What’s his name again? 

I often chuckle when I see this.

Imagine what it would be like if golf and tennis weren’t just country club sports for the rich and privileged.  Not just reserved for pampered prima donnas from the right families, who scowl like Tony Soprano when some uncouth clown breathes or coughs while they’re on the tee or serving.

What if these elitist sports were wide open to inner city kids and backwoods phenoms.

Imagine 6-8 LeBron James or 6-6 Aaron Judge with a driver in their hands.  A pair of extraordinary athletes, as strong as bodybuilders, and dedicated to working their butts off to get better every day.  By the time they’re 18 they’d be driving a Titleist 400 yards.       

                          And what if this was a three wood?

Imagine 6-6 Michael Jordan, the greatest athlete who ever lived, or 6-2 power pack Mike Trout pounding a TaylorMade iron shot.  They’d make a par five look like a Pitch and Putt.  Eagles would fly.

Imagine Seth Curry on the green.  With his touch and hand-eye a 15-footer would be a gimme.

Imagine 6-11 Kevin Durant or 6-11 Dwight Howard or 6-11 Tim Duncan (the 6-11 club) serving at Wimbledon.  That blur at 150 mph was the poor tennis ball crying for mercy.

Imagine Jerry Rice or Terrell Owens or Mookie Betts or James Harden dancing at the French Open.  They’d cover more clay than the White Cliffs of Dover.

Imagine.

You would never have heard of Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler or Phil Mickelson.  Maybe Eldrick and Killer Koepke and The Assassin would be athletic and strong enough to make the top 100.

Federer and Nadal would be finalists in the Sheboygan Invitational.

                               "The Assassin" 

I’m not saying these golf and tennis stars aren’t talented.  I’m just saying their sheltered sports are closed off to most of the greatest athletes this world has ever known.  Which seems to suit a lot of white folks.  Jeez, Dave let us keep something. 

          Ah, yes, the Augusta Jewel

Then there’s golf’s shining jewel, The Masters, the most prestigious tournament of them all.  Augusta, where men are white and women are in the kitchen where they belong, dammit.  Back to the Future and three cheers for 1895.

Here are a few of the highlights from Augusta.

*** Until 1983 blacks were only used as caddies for the white men in the Masters.  That was a rule within the club.

 ________________________________________________

“As long as I’m alive, the golfers will be white and the caddies will be black.”

          --Long time Augusta chairman Clifford Roberts
__________________________________________________

***Charlie Sifford, the first black man to play the PGA tour, won a pair of tournaments in 1969 and qualified for the U.S. Open but was never invited to the Masters.

***When Lee Elder played at Augusta in 1975 he received hate mail and death threats.  Fearing for his life, Elder rented two apartments and traveled back and forth.  And this was almost 30 years after the legacy of Jackie Robinson.  (Elder shot 74 and 78 and missed the cut.  Did he take a dive to get the hell out of Dodge?  Wouldn't blame him.) 

_____________________________________________________

"What no CBS commentator has ever alluded to, even in passing, is Augusta's history of racism and sexism.  Even when people were protesting just outside the grounds they never acknowledged it. So not only will I never work the Masters because I'm not at CBS, but I'd have to say something and then be ejected."

                   --The incomparable NBC analyst Bob Costas
_____________________________________________________

                   

           Does Costas have the Fountain of Youth in his backyard?

***You don’t apply to join Augusta National, it’s invitation only.  Finally, in 1990, the enlightened Augusta directors saw the light (or the dark) and invited their first “black gentleman” to join the club along with eight white men.  Apparently, he’s a solo act and, as is their policy, his name has never been revealed but he must be as loaded as the Rockefellers and a pillar of society.

***It took considerably longer for women to get hitched to Augusta.  It wasn’t until 2012 when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore were anointed.  That was a doubleheader for Rice, who was not only feminine but black.  Holy emancipation, Batman, a black women in our midst. 

 ______________________________________________________________

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome these accomplished women who share our passion for golf.  Both are well known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their Green Jackets”

        --Current former Augusta chairman Billy Payne
 ____________________________________________________

 ***Warren Buffet and Bill Gates both belong to Augusta National.  It would be mighty interesting, indeed, to ask them why.  But I haven’t talked to Warren or Bill since I never met them in 2003.  

 ***Fuzzy Zoeller called Tiger Woods a “little boy” and said if Tiger won the Masters they should tell him to not order “fried chicken or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve” for the Champions Dinner.

 _____________________________________________________________

"I think someone should have the guts.  Broadcaster, executive, somebody should say, This is not Nightline or Meet the Press, we understand that. But this is an issue. And it's the elephant in the room. We're going to address it as concisely as we can so our heads are not in the collective sand trap."

                   --Bob Costas
_____________________________________________________

I don’t give a damn if Augusta is racist and sexist when it comes to membership.  It’s their private club and they can do whatever they damn well please.  It’s CBS and the Golf Channel and the hypocrisy that makes me itch.       

NOTE: I don’t use the term African American because I have no idea what it means.  African and American are nationalities, not races.

If a white professor born in Pretoria moves to Toledo is he an African American?

If an albino born in Ghana moves to Des Moines is she an African American?

In fact, I’d prefer not to use any of these terms.  Most blacks aren’t black, they’re brown.  So I guess they should be called Browns, unless that’s reserved for UPS.  And I’ve never seen a white who is white.  Caucasians (and there’s another beauty) are somewhat tanned but I’m not sure what shade of beige you’d call it.

Quite frankly, I don’t give a flying (bleep) about the (bleeping) color of your skin.  All I care about is whether you have compassion and integrity and enough intelligence to keep your mind as open as the Grand Canyon.