Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Zisk Issue # 2


Highlights From the 1999 All-Star Game

Zisk Baseball Lists

Pete Rose Is Alive and...well, uh by Andy Maltz

Peter Angelos' Eyebrows or Commish for a Day by Bob Mason

Second Half Predictions by Bob Mason

From Joey Cora to Joey Ramone: The Connection Between Basbeall and Punk Rock by Kevin Chanel

Re-Defining the Win (Or, Don't Let Bob Gibson See That Box Score) by Mike Faloon

My Big League Try Out by Matt Braun

Rants From the Upper Deck by Steve Reynolds

Baseball Card Confidential: Part Two, Descent Into Madness by Evan Cohen

Mike Faloon vs. Barry Bonds by Mike Faloon

One More Call For The Shuffler: The Strange But True Tale of Phil Douglas by Mike Faloon

Zisk Baseball Lists

Four Nicknames You’ll Never Hear Chris Berman Say on Baseball Tonight

1)  Darryl “I’m Not Really Using Coke if I Sniff It Through A” Strawberry

2)  Bobby Bo-“I Blame All My Problems This Year Not on My Attitude, Just My Hurt”-nilla

3)  Albert “I’ll Decide If I Want to Run Out an Out Without Crap From My Manager, Who if He Pulls Me Again I’ll Ring His” Belle

4)  “I Can Barely” Chuck “This Ball” Knoblauch

--Steve Reynolds

Pete Rose is Alive and, uh….by Andy Maltz

Okay, I admit that my first reaction could be considered smug and superior--how low can ya go--but when I read that Pete Rose had entered the world of professional wrestling, I laughed. When a couple of days later I brought up this fact with a few friends, we all laughed. Let’s face it, if this is the first time you are hearing it, you’re probably laughing right now. It’s funny. Don’t feel guilty, I have a feeling that Pete wouldn’t want you to anyway.

When Pete Rose stepped into the wrestling ring in Boston and started harassing locals with derogatory comments about their “loser town” and dissing among others, Carl Yastremski, he drove the crowd into a frenzy. When one of WWF’s star wrestlers, a fella who goes by the one syllable moniker “Kane” jumped in the ring to stop this blasphemous screed, the audience was wound up even tighter. And when Kane upended Rose and dropped him to the canvas with his trademark “tombstone” maneuver, Rose was removed on a stretcher and the crowd, having already gotten their money’s worth screamed with approval. When Pete Rose left the auditorium that night, he had only done what he did for more than 20 years on the baseball diamond: he entertained the people.

I’m sure that Pete was remunerated for his evening’s labor. The WWF reported a gross of $1.3 million just for the live gate; this is a record for Massachusetts.

By all accounts Pete Rose is what is called a “hard sign,” meaning that he is aware of his value and is not afraid to ask for it. He was criticized for this early on in his baseball career. When baseball players were considered to be little more than serfs who were lucky to be playing a game and getting paid for it, Rose realized that he was a draw. With his style of playing--running to first on a walk; stretching a single to a double; a double to a triple; the head first slides--Charlie Hustle was bringing people to the ballpark, and he only thought it was fair to share the wealth. Now mind you, we’re not talkin’ a whole lot of money even by early sixties standards; Rose just didn’t want to have to sell used cars during the off-season to make ends meet. So he asked for the money. And I bet he can still ask.

Before you say, “But that’s baseball; this is (gasp) WRESTLING!,” I say to you at the end of the night the equation is the same. Rose played baseball in a way that above all else was exciting and entertaining. This is not to say that he was hot doggin’ at the expense of the tam, or wasn’t playing to win. On the contrary it was precisely his teamwork and will to win that added the spark that made Pete Rose something special on the ball field. He played baseball the way it was meant to be played.

Pete Rose holds at least 12 major league records. The record that really speaks volumes is this: Pete Rose has played in more winning games than any player in the history of baseball. That means if you were a reds or Phillies fan (I won’t mention the Expos) when Pete Rose was playing, you got your money’s worth. Same as those people in Boston.

I’m not saying that Pete Rose would pave your driveway for $50. But if you upped the price to $50,000, put your driveway in a hockey rink filled with people, and gave him some competition (let’s say maybe Lou Ferrigno) you’d probably have a deal.

Rants From The Upper Deck by Steve Reynolds

The 1999 baseball season has just been odd.  Let’s face it—when Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez is hitting close to .300 at the mid-way point, things are NOT RIGHT.  A .242 career hitter who hits over .380 after dying his hair makes me put down that bag of peanuts for fear that I might choke on them in disbelief.  And he can still make amazing plays with the mitt.  Rey’s amazing turnaround almost parallels the fall of the Yanks second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.  This guy is like the second coming of Steve Sax—arrive in New York, and then lose the ability to hit the first baseman.  Sure he’s picked it up a notch sense the All-Star break, but you can still almost hear people hold their breath at Yankee Stadium when a ball is hit his way.  Is there any player who slipped into mediocrity quicker than Chuck?  Aren’t the Yanks glad they gave him a contract extension?

Major League Baseball is suing ESPN (and the Disney company is countersuing) over three Sunday Night Baseball games that are going to be shifted to ESPN2 (“The Deuce”) for early season football games.  This is yet another idiotic maneuver by the baseball lords—ESPN2 is only about 8 million subscribers less than the original entertainment and sports network, and baseball should be ecstatic whenever it gets national exposure.  Their flawed, egotistical logic will yet again bite them in the ass.

There’s a three-way tie for the worst money spent in baseball this year:  The Los Angeles Dodgers, the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Mets.  The Dodgers are now just another programming tool for Fox, and the Rupert Murdoch behemoth went out and spent gobs of cash to get Kevin Brown, and unloaded Bobby Bonilla for Mel Rojas, and picked up ex-Met All-Star catcher Todd Hundley.  What has it got them?  A sub-.500 record that must have most small market execs jumping for joy daily and perhaps the worst team chemistry since, well, this year’s Baltimore Orioles.  Could Davey Johnson’s magic finally run out?  The Mets—who are having their best season since 1988—got Bonilla from those Dodgers, along with Roger Cedano.  I’ll admit I thought Bobby Bo’s second tour with the Shea dwellers would be better than 1992-1995—I was wrong, very wrong.  He single-handedly almost split the team apart (he did get help from Bobby Valentine, the luckiest loser in baseball).  On the plus side, Cedano has been a true find, and should be in the Mets outfield for years to come.  The Orioles?  Let the fire sale begin here.  Force Ripken to retire next year and rebuild.

There is no tie for the dumbest act in baseball this year—the umpires mass resignation has to be the worst labor faux pas since the air traffic controllers strike in the ’80s.  Richie Phillips should be tossed out on his ass and the union should try to massage its public image and relations with the players and owners.

A close second for dumbest act in baseball? Turn Ahead the Clock Night.  If baseball uniforms look like those ghastly creations 20 years for now, I’ll have to spend my summers watching tennis.

I picked the Reds to win the NL Central after Moises Alou went down with a knee injury.  The Reds pick-ups of Denny Neagle and Greg Vaughn seemed like steals.  Of course, to my dismay, Nagle and Vaughn have been as useful as a screen door on a submarine.  But the bullpen has solidified like no other in the NL, and Sean Casey hits like Tony Gywnn used to.  And best of all, Marge Schott is selling!

I picked a Dodgers-Yanks World Series back in March—how wrong could I have been.  This year, I’ll go against my heart in the N-L (my Mets and those upstart Reds) and pick the Braves to actually make it to the series.  Turner’s team hasn’t had to break a sweat in the regular season for years, but fighting for the division will mentally toughen them, getting them over the hump.  I still like the Yanks to go all the way, but the series should go at least 6 games this year.

Here’s the Ranter’s pick for the season end awards:

AL MVP - Derek Jeter, NY Yankees  Without him, the defending champs would have fallen way behind the Red Sox in the first half of the season.  Will eventually be the best player in the A-L.

AL CY Young - Pedro Martinez, Boston Red Sox He was slowed down by injury after the All Star game, but he’s still shoulders above everyone else this year.

AL Manager of the Year - Art Howe, Oakland Athletics  The best baseball per dollar this season besides Cincinnati.  Howe, along with a savvy front office, has shaped a team that could shape up to be the best since the heyday of the Bash Brothers.

NL MVP - Matt Williams, Arizona Diamondbacks  The D-Backs have been on top of the N-L West mainly due to his resurgence—well, okay, and Randy Johnson too.

NL Cy Young - Jose Lima, Houston Astros  Keeping them in the race for first by stepping up to be the ace of their staff.  This guys gets his team psyched up every time he starts.

NL Manager of the Year - Jack McKeon, Cincinnati Reds.  The old man has done good…