Heroes Of The Week! (World Series Edition)

Roberto Clemente

Montreal has its long deserved World Series title . . . And okay, so this isn’t what happened on Wednesday night. It was the Washington Nationals who actually won the World Series, but Imma stick with celebrating it under the Expos banner. Because this is the 25th anniversary of the baseball strike of ’94, which led to the cancellation of the World Series. It also canceled out a Montreal Expos team that possessed the best record in the game (74-40) when the lights went dark.

The Nationals season could be titled “The Comeback”. They dug themselves out of a 19-31 start to make it to October. After which they came from behind in the eighth inning of their winner take all playoff game against the Brewers to advance. They weren’t supposed to beat the heavily favored Dodgers in the NLDS, until they came from behind and did just that. And then lost three straight games in Washington after taking the first two in Houston to start the World Series, and so everybody figured this was the end of the Nationals magical ride. Because no team had ever won four road games in a postseason series. In any sport. 

When the Astros went up 2-0 in the 7th inning on Wednesday night, it started to feel as if all the crazy chances the Nats had rode in on were about to turn into pumpkins. And then Anthony Rendon turned on a Zack Greinke sinker that didn’t sink, and then the Nationals were coming back again. All the way back. Again. Twenty five years worth of comeback, painted in red, white and sacre bleu.

On the flip side of all that nostalgic feel good, there’s the MLB. Coming off an historic World Series in which the visiting team won every game, you’d think the league would be riding a wave. But you’d be thinking wrong, on account of the fact that most peeps who might have watched, didn’t, since every game lasted longer than a Ted Cruz filibuster. I mean, how in blessed hell do they expect to grow the game when future fans are fast asleep before the final outs are recorded?

Would it kill Rob Manfred to start World Series games at 7 pm on the East Coast, thereby giving kids a chance to stay up and watch? And would it be such a bad thing if they streamlined the bucco pitching change process instead of making each one a five minute commercial break? And how’s about getting rid of instant replay, which is anything but instant and kills the flow of a game? And don’t even get me started on the juiced balls the league went to during the regular season in an inane attempt to make each game read like an NFL score. The bosses seem intent on ruining the qualities that make it unique from any other game. Why?

The Houston Astros have done just about everything right over the last five seasons, following a painful rebuild in the first half of the decade that saw them lose over a hundred games three years in a row. From the ashes of that rebuild came what looked to be baseball’s next dynasty. And it got cooking in 2017 when the Astros won 101 regular season games and then beat three of the best teams in baseball in the postseason (Boston, New York, Los Angeles) to capture their first World Series title. Over the last two seasons, Houston has arguably had the best team in baseball- best lineup, best rotation, best manager- and they just won 107 regular season games to make it three seasons in a row in which they’ve topped the century mark. And yet, that dynasty hasn’t quite happened the way most of us figured it would. Maybe it still happens, as the Astros are early Vegas favorites to win it all next season. But it just goes to show how hard it is to win, in any sport. And maybe Houston never gets its dynasty, but I wanted to take a moment to recognize the damn good baseball they’ve given the sport.

Once upon a time Josh Hamilton was a feel good story. A blue chip prospect, he was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1999 MLB draft. His life was full of brilliant possibilities when a car accident in 2001 changed everything. It led to Hamilton’s addiction to drugs and alcohol and a spiraling journey that saw three teams cut bait with him before his recovery. In 2008, he landed with the Texas Rangers and it seemed as if all those brilliant possibilities had finally shown up. Hamilton made five straight All Star games, won a HR Derby and an American League MVP. He scored a $125 million contract with the Angels in 2012. But things never reached that zenith again as Hamilton battled injuries and then a relapse. For all intents and purposes, his baseball career came to an end in 2017.

Hamilton was arrested Wednesday on charges of injury to a child- a third degree felony-  after being accused of physically assaulting his 14 year old daughter. And now all those brilliant possibilities he once carried with him feel like they happened a million years ago. And how tenuous a thing it is, to have it all.

And finally, Imma take the way back machine to get to my hero of this particular edition. Way back to 1972 and a baseball player named Roberto Clemente. Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, he received plenty of push back in his climb to the major leagues on account of the fact he was a black man from Latin America who did not speak English. This was a triple edged sword that he overcame by sticking to the lessons of his upbringing.

It served him well, to the tune of a Hall of Fame career in which he was both a National League MVP and World Series MVP. He amassed 3,000 hits, was a four time N.L. batting leader, a twelve time Gold Glover and a fifteen time All Star. But it was his influence off the field that has resonated.

Clemente became the Latino equivalent of Jackie Robinson, as he was one of the first Puerto Rican born players to reach the majors in 1955. Today, almost thirty percent of the league is comprised of Latin born players.

His work off the field is what lands him in this spot, however. Because Roberto Clemente never forgot where he came from, and he understood his responsibility to those in need. His legendary efforts on the field exist on equal footing with his immense contributions off of it. He spent his off seasons doing charity work, bringing aid and hope to those in need. As a result of his example, the Commissioner’s Award- given to the player who ” . . best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team . .” was renamed after Clemente in 1973.

It was a posthumous undertaking, as Clemente was taken from the world he had given so much to on New Year’s Eve of 1972. He was accompanying a relief mission on a plane he had chartered to Managua, Nicaragua after the capital city had suffered a devastating earthquake the week before. It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff. So distraught was his best friend and teammate Manny Sanguillen, that he decided not to attend the memorial service. He dove into the waters where Clemente’s plane had been lost instead. His thoughts inside those desperate moments is every bit as relevant almost fifty years later.

We didn’t get nearly enough of him.

 

 

65 thoughts on “Heroes Of The Week! (World Series Edition)

  1. Finish(ed) the Fight! Congrats to the Nats. While I wouldn’t have been broken-hearted if the Astros would have won, the side story of the firing of their assistant GM left an icky taste in my mouth. Other than the improbable Cinderella story by the Nationals to make me feel good, MLB left me grateful the season is over. The length of the game during the World Series was mind-numbingly too long. It seems that all broadcasted sporting events have been seduced by advertising dollars which means the fans will [continue to] suffer. For a game that often is like watching paint dry, that’s not a good thing. Bring on the fast moving sport now-hockey. 😉
    P.S. Those bums at Altitude Sports finally entered into a contract with DirecTV yesterday so I’ll finally be able to watch the local winter teams. Their records will probably go into the crapper now. LOL

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Nationals just had that feeling once October came on strong. Coming from behind against Hader in the Wild Card game was the first sign that this team was playing with house money. Add in all that talent and you knew they had a legit chance to win it all.

      As for the length of these games, I’m dubious that anything will change. It’s all a money grab, so while the powers that be bicker over ways to shorten the games, the conversation about commercial dollars will remain non-negotiable.

      Instant replay drives me mad. It was introduced as a way to fix egregious calls. NOT boom/boom plays that need to be watched a hundred times in order to determine what exactly happened. That play with the Nationals Trea Turner that took ten minutes to determine an ‘unreviewable’ call? Ridiculous.

      Bring on hockey!

      Isn’t that how it goes? LOL

      Liked by 3 people

  2. B,

    ‘Tis glad I am that you are sticking with celebrating under the Expos banner – well, for obvious reasons, being a Montrealer and all that. Some peeps here are so very bitter about the Expos’ demise that they wished all sorts of nasty thing on the Nationals. I just don’t dig on that type of shit.

    And talk about a comeback. I cannot believe YOU got me watching and caring about baseball beyond the movies! Amazing that they won all those road games. Carazy good stuff.

    Now. To that flip side. Good golly.. that’s why I loathe watching baseball on TV (doesn’t hurt so bad in a stadium, for some reason). The games are soooo long. See, in movies, well, never more than two hours 😉 Plus you get romance and dreams and ridiculous storylines that we buy into coz it’s just that fun to do so.

    And right. Why not start them earlier. Bloody hell, you are not going to create a next generation of baseball lovers if they never see the end of the game.

    The Josh Hamilton story is a sad one at first then one that makes me angry. And there is no excuse for abuse. (I didn’t do that on purpose.) I can get the addition following injury – it’s a nasty business. Conquering an addiction, I know only too well (not personally) is a tenuous thing and the success rates are grimly low.

    Way to go on the Clemente story. This has feel-good all over it except for his candle being snuffed out way too early.

    Wonderful choice of music, as per… You da words and music man.

    Q

    Liked by 1 person

    • Q,

      I just don’t get that type of shit. So a team leaves and the players on that team have exactly WHAT to do with that? Even the owners of the Nationals are different, so what’s the deal with all the hate?

      It was Soto and that smoove swing, wasn’t it? Kid is gonna do big things in the MLB over the next fifteen years.

      The games have become interminable. One pitching change after another, commercial breaks and the bane of my existence . . . instant replay. Which is the antithesis of instant in most cases.

      It was sad, when the Yankees won the World Series in 2009, my son didn’t get to see the end of any of the games. How is that cool?

      Yeah, if the addiction would have been the story with Hamilton in 2019, I would have been like “there but for the grace of God go I . .” but the abuse is a totally different story.

      Thirty eight years old, not nearly enough time.

      Oh come now, LOL

      B

      Liked by 1 person

      • Neither do I. It pisses me off and is ridiculously misplaced hate.

        It was! So love watching him hit.

        The instant replay with all the damn sports – it’s like the news showing the same thing over and over and over. Enough already. Once is enough.

        You are such a mean dad 😉 No, seriously, Not fair to have them go so late.

        Yep. Can’t justify abuse no matter what hell you are going through.

        Way too young.

        What? You are a fabulous writer and know how to match the right tune to the occasion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sports fans and city pride usually make for dumb behavior, LOL.

          As Mr. T once said, he’s got a lot of ‘mo!

          It’s just a big mistake, I think. The idea WAS to get it right, but even with all the time spent going over these reviews, they still get some of them wrong anyways!

          Hey, it was HIS decision to go to bed, LOL. He was always a serious minded kid.

          And the whole thing where Hamilton found God. Welp . . I guess God was out to lunch when this happened.

          Much.

          Gracias! Gracias very mucho!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ain’t that the truth.

            Didn’t he use to say “I pity the fool!”

            Yeah, I know. But man, just like anything, overkill.

            That explains it! I figured you’d be the type of dad who would allow at least the final game…

            That is the excuse I loathe. Simply because it’s never truly real.

            Yes.

            De Nacionale! Coz.. I call it like I see it…

            Liked by 1 person

          • I’m sorry, yes . . Mr. T did say that. I erred in saying it was him when it was really Mr. T’s turn as Clubber Lang . . the heavyweight foil from Rocky 3 who said that, LOL

            You would think once something is killed, there wouldn’t be a need for ‘over’, huh?

            I would simply put a post it note on his night table after each Yankees win, so when he woke up he knew what had happened.

            From the beginning, it has always been God’s fault for having been God’s grace. The use of religion as a get out of jail free card.

            For the WIN!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ha ha ha! Love it. Sorry I didn’t make the Rocky connection on my own 😉

            You would think. But do these folks?

            You are such a caring dad…What a sweet thing to do.

            Yes. I just can’t do that get out of jail card.

            Woot!

            Liked by 1 person

          • That’s when the Rocky franchise went Disco Carnivale for a spell.

            Do they think? Probably not.

            It was the least I could do. But really, if the MLB didn’t have its head up its ass . . I wouldn’t have needed post it notes.

            Too many people do it. They perpetuate every manner of bad shit and then go to church on Sunday to absolve themselves of all the shite they do all week. As if.

            WOOT!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Seriously!

            No. Well, they think on how they can prolong the game more than necessary!

            This is true. Still. You earned points on that one.

            Way too many. And this makes me think of what I always say of the little villages in Quebec. The church is always right next to (or not far from) the hotel so’s peeps can repent for their ways from the night before…

            🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Commercial time equals more green, so anything that introduces the profit of those thirty second yummies is something Manfred and Co will always cozy up to.

            I put the number after every win . . 1 . . 2 . . 3 and then when they won it all, I ended it with 27, which stood for their twenty seventh title.

            And I just don’t get how they think it’s all gonna be coo, if there is a God to speak and answer to. But I guess they’ll have to figure that out in due time.

            Liked by 1 person

          • This is true. How else are they gonna pay for the exorbitant salaries?

            Love it!

            I think people will justify whatever they want however they want. Which is why sometimes I feel we are all going to hell in a hand basket.

            Liked by 1 person

          • They peddle these mindnumbingly insulting remedies to the game’s pace . . . stuff like pitching clocks and pitching mound visits. It means nothing and is only done to appease.

            You want to quicken the pace of games? Have four ‘seamless’ innings in the nine inning frame, whereby the sides switch immediately and get to playing. The network can have a small box for the game while it airs a commercial or two before returning. Also, no more instant replay on every fucking boom/boom play. ONLY egregious calls and make it INSTANT by having someone or someones getting to it and delivering a verdict instantly.

            We are all going to hell in a hand basket made in China and paid for by the Russians for Trump Committee.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Indeed. And it appeases who?

            Yes! I dunno how well the four ‘seamless’ innings would fly but for the rest, that is soooo doable! We don’t need to see every fucking replay a bazillion times. Don’t need to see ’em at all unless, like you say, it is an egregious (great word) call.

            Sigh. I fear you are right.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Sports fans is who. Most of whom don’t even get the insult.

            Oh, it won’t go because it makes too much sense and sense is not what anything is about. Instant replay . . that was supposed to be used ONLY in cases of egregious calls. Somehow it became a fine tooth comb dynamic.

            Me too

            Liked by 1 person

          • I guess there are those who like mindless TV…

            This is true.. I have noticed that about, well, everything. If it makes sense, it ain’t gonna happen.

            That’s coz we are smart.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You know I’m not a sports fan, but you tell a great tale on any subject. Sad bit about Montreal getting their plug pulled at the wrong time. Congrats to all the Nationals fans.

    Roberto Clemente: heart-warming and tragic, too. I remember being in Managua about 1976 and the earthquake devastation was still everywhere. Also lived through the Guatemalan quake that year. Horrible stuff. Sad when people trying to render aid die in the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eilene,

      Thank you for that wonderful thought. And yes, Montreal was a good baseball town that never got the chance to see what might have been in ’94. That was some team.

      How horrible. And the idea that Clemente only got thirty eight years, just so sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I struggled with who to root for in this WS. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Expos because of that 1994 travesty, I mean season … I mean, wait, how can it be considered a season when it was cancelled. I’ll go back to travesty. Probably one of the best collections of talent ever and they lost it all because of the stupidity of that strike.

    And also because when I was seven years old, we went to see a Giants game in old Jerry Park against the Expos — four or five years before they moved into Olympic Stadium.

    But the Nationals are not the Expos — I don’t care if that is their origin. This wasn’t a victory for Montreal. What are they? A team from Washington, D.C. – and who roots for anything or anybody from D.C. these days.

    Rooting for the Astros is just as problematic. Us Californians can’t possibly root for anything Texas these days. We are deep blue and they are deep red.

    So, I just didn’t root except for close, well-played games. Which rarely happened in this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And yet, Bud Selig is in the Hall of Fame. In spite of the fact it happened on his watch, as the lackey for the owners . . and not to mention he WAS one. How in the hell he is heralded in ANY corner is a mystery.

      I saw the Expos a couple times at the old Shea Stadium. This was back in the eighties, when Ellis Valentine played right field for Montreal. Dude had a howitzer for an arm.

      I don’t, which is why I chose Montreal as my theme for this World Series. Because if Selig can play look away on juiced players and Manfred can play look away on juiced balls, Imma play look away on who I’m seeing. And D.C. ain’t in my equation.

      The Astros would have been fine, seeing as how they beat my Yankees and I won’t ever root against the team that beats mine . . . even if I don’t root for them.

      And yet, the games WERE dramatic. In vignettes . . for those who stayed with it or stayed up. Both.

      Like

          • Yes – the hubs was just chatting with a redskins fan about that Monday night – saying as long as the current owner is who he is — well he might be the problem
            And then they brought up the early 90s – and I lost a bet in 92 hoping my Bills would win the super bowl
            That year…

            And funny how teams change! And our views of them! Like my hubs is broncos fan and the raiders and Chiefs were always just hated – but not hated rivals anymore ….

            Liked by 1 person

          • Snyder was a lifelong fan of the team, but he has been horrible since buying the team. And don’t get me started on their GM, Allen . . .

            The Bills were thisclose to beating the Giants in their first Super Bowl. If only . . .

            Now the Raiders will be playing in Vegas . . where EVERY team is welcomed into town. With comps!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Haha – laughing stock the comps –
            And I cannot believe how they can move teams like this –
            But I guess it is what we needed –
            And I never minded the Bills playing in Toronto –
            In fact –
            My nephew (RIP 2017) made friends with a lot of Canadians while tailgating Bills’ games…. and it was fun to see the expanding fan base.
            However – quick question for you-
            If we added teams to the NFL –
            More players more numbers –
            Don’t you think they should have added at least one more spot to the green jacket hall of fame ?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Prior,

            Truth, LOL.

            And yeah, I have no problem with teams moving if that’s what they feel like they need to do to stay competitive. It sucks for the fan base that attends the games close to home but for those of us (me) who root for teams that don’t live in our geographic location . . no worries. Like, if the Dolphins moved to London, it would only be weird from the standpoint of Dolphins . . in London. They would probably have to change the team name of whichever team did move to London. Hey! How about Werewolves?

            And yes, I agree. More spots . . and we can move to letters for the players if need be.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Now I have that song in my mind – wait – I have kid rock’s mixed song in my mind. All
            Summer long….
            Where he mixed Werewolves of London” and Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”.
            One day – my mom was jamming to it in the car / and the song still makes me think of her – but she had no idea what the lyrics were – she just liked the beat and part of the chorus – I doubt she would have been jamming (in her late 70s) to those lyrics – cracks me up

            Liked by 1 person

          • My mom is a non-swearing conservative Christian (super sweet) and seeing her jam to that beat and loosely sing along was and is fun.
            And yup – most don’t know skynard – they don’t know what Alabama means when their sign says “welcome to sweet home Alabama” and they don’t know musical instruments – ha

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Clemente is definitely one of baseball great humanitarians, so the award is rightly named after him.

    Had to look up the ’94 Expos roster. That was some outfield … a solid team! Let us not forget that is where Andre Dawson started … and let us not forget the great John Boccabella!

    Definite congrats to the Nats. They earned the title the good old fashioned way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is most appropriate, ain’t it?

      That team was locked and loaded. A young Pedro, a Larry Walker, Moises and Marquis with ups and Wetteland out of the pen. Wowza.

      I wouldn’t have been unhappy either way, seeing as how the Astros blueprint has worked remarkably well.

      Liked by 1 person

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