The Pine Tar Game

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Today marks the 32nd Anniversary of the infamous ‘Pine Tar Game’ between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees. To celebrate this memorable game, I decided to watch the entire game. I realized once I started, that watching a game from 1983 was amusing to say the least. So with that said, here is a thoughts column on a game that will forever live in baseball lore.

  • Ooooooo, 80’s graphics! My son couldn’t grasp why the graphics were so bad. I told him that was the best we had at the time. He said that was sad.
  • Bert Campaneris was still playing in 1983?
  • The Yankees announcers are horrid. Yes, it was a different period, and I realize that. But it’s amazing to listen to just how bad the commentary was back in this era. There is literally no statistical analysis at all. In fact, Phil Rizzuto has discussed so far moustaches, buttons on the jersey and the tobacco in Leon Roberts mouth. The sad part is they are probably on par with Steve Physioc. Yes, Phys is that bad.
  • I realized this when I watched the 1985 World Series recently, but I have really gotten used to having all the information on the screen during the game. The only part that drives me crazy is not being able to see the score and outs at all times! We sometimes tease that there can be too much information on the screen but at the same time it has become a vital part of our baseball watching experience.
  • Steve Balboni without a moustache is blasphemous. Although without the lip hair he has a passing resemblance to John Belushi.
  • U.L. Washington still has his toothpick in his mouth. The. Entire. Time.
  • I almost forgot Don Slaught spent some time in Kansas City. I keep picturing Slaught with that guard covering his face after he had gotten hit in the face later in his career.
  • Since I didn’t see Dave Winfield until later in his career, I think I forgot just how crazy athletic he was. He is playing center field in this game and a few innings in it makes total sense.
  • Trash talking on Municipal Stadium in Cleveland…beautiful!
  • John Wathan should be in the Royals Hall of Fame. Yes, Wathan wasn’t a great player, but he was a solid part of these Royals teams in the 80’s and has stayed in the organization throughout the years, whether he was managing or scouting. To me, Wathan is a guy transcends any numbers he compiled in his career.
  • Frank White was pretty damn graceful on defense. I don’t think I am saying anything you didn’t already know.
  • There is a lot more discussion in the broadcast about strategy and I like that. Part of the beauty of baseball is the mental back and forth that goes on between the two teams as they decide what is their best move in a close game.
  • Skoal Bandit tote bag day at Yankee Stadium? Pretty sure you wouldn’t get a tobacco company to sponsor any giveaway at the stadium in this day and age.
  • Lou Piniella(seriously, I thought he had retired yyyyyyyyyears before this) made a catch that was very reminiscent of Nori Aoki. In fact the route Piniella took was straight out of Aoki’s playbook.
  • There has been some talk about the Royals needing pitching. Within a year of this game, the Royals would have Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza, two young pitchers in their farm system, in the majors. By 1985 you can add Danny Jackson to that list. Pitching was a big part of that 1985 championship team.
  • There aren’t enough pitchers who throw sidearm in the majors these days. Take note, youngsters.
  • Don Baylor scares me. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley in the 80’s. I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t want to today.
  • Let’s go to replay…oh yeah, they don’t have that yet…
  • Every generic 80’s song used for these games used a synthesizer. People loved their moog’s back in the 80’s.
  • Amos Otis might be one of the most underrated players in Royals history. He wouldn’t quite be on the Royals ‘Mount Rushmore’, but he would be pretty damn close.
  • Don Mattingly as a defensive replacement? Wonder if Balboni was higher on their depth chart in 1983.
  • I know it’s Rizzuto, but do you need to ask whether or not Willie Mays Aikens was named after Willie Mays?
  • Brett vs. Gossage is such a classic matchup. Is the modern day equivalent Aroldis Chapman vs. Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?
  • Brett just seemed so locked in there against Goose. It seemed like no matter what Brett was going to drive a pitch during that at bat.
  • If you are a lip reader, don’t watch George’s mouth after he runs out. I noticed a plethora of four letter words spewing from his mouth.

 

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The funny thing about this game is that this situation will never happen again. The whole reason the pine tar rule was even in the rulebook was so the tar wouldn’t muck up the baseballs. Having pine tar on the bat does absolutely nothing to the ball if hit. This game is now one of the most famous games in history and will probably be discussed for hundreds of years to come. If you want to know more about the game, there is a new book out this week called “The Pine Tar Game: The Kansas City Royals, The New York Yankees and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy” by Filip Bondy. You can get it on Amazon by clicking here. You can also watch this game in its entirety down below. Trust me, it is worth your time.

 

California Cat Fight-The Dodgers/Padres Brawl

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This past Thursday, the Dodgers and Padres became involved in one of the bigger baseball brawl’s in quite some time. There has been a lot said about what instigated this fight, and the fallout from it. There is even more intrigue for us Kansas City Royals fan, as former fan favorite and current Benedict Arnold impersonator, Zack Greinke, was the center of attention in this brouhaha. So what fueled this struggle on the coast? Read on.

Marty Foster, Matt Kemp

In the previous inning, the Padres threw a pitch high and tight in to Matt Kemp, a pitch that was dangerously close to Kemp’s head. There is no way of really knowing if that was done on purpose or not, but I tend to think that was just a pitch that got away. No harm, no foul, right? I think so. I don’t think the Dodgers, or Greinke were looking for payback. I don’t think the Padres think that either. Except for maybe Carlos Quentin. This leads us to the bottom of the inning.

 

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres

If you actually watch the at bat Carlos Quentin has against Zack Greinke, you can actually figure out what Greinke was trying to do. He starts by working him down, then Zack starts working on the outside of the plate. With a full count now on Quentin, and mind you with runners on base, Greinke then throws his 3-2 offering to Quentin and hits him in the shoulder. It was obvious Greinke, after throwing him away most of the at bat, was trying to then throw inside to Quentin, hoping to catch him off guard. But the pitch got away from Zack, and hit Carlos. But Quentin is notorious for leaning over the plate and crowding it to a point to where it is hard NOT to hit him. This can’t be mentioned enough, but plays into this scuffle and the history between these two.  Quentin led the NL in HBP(hit by pitch) last year. He led the AL the year before. He averages 26 HBP per year, and has the all-time minor league record for HBPs in a season with 43. Even Craig Biggio and Don Baylor think that Quentin gets hit a lot!! This is probably where we should also mention that Greinke has hit Quentin twice before, and Carlos had mentioned to his teammates that the next time Zack hit him he was going to go after him. Nevermind that Quentin is the only person to blame for getting hit. I would love to see a player like Quentin try his little tricks against someone like Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale. I don’t think he would like how those plate appearances would go. So Quentin gets plunked and we are off to the races.

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Quentin charges the mound, a few words are spoken and Greinke throws his glove down. There has been some debate as to what Greinke should have done here. Obviously, he couldn’t just run away. Could you imagine him trying to live THAT down? Maybe he should have been a bullfighter and moved at the last second to ole Quentin. There was also the option of jumping on Quentin’s back and riding him around the infield. Go ahead, get that visual in your head. Instead, Zack lowered his body and shoulder-blocked Quentin. What ensued was this.

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and this…

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and then it turned into this…

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More than anything, this fight was over Carlos Quentin getting hit by Zack Greinke for the third time in his career. This is what happens when you lean over the plate. You get hit. This wasn’t revenge, this wasn’t retaliation. I mean, if it was payback for the Kemp at bat, why would Zack do it on a 3-2 count? He wouldn’t. With runners on base? Nope, no way, no how. It was too close of a game to even chance it. Not even Zack Greinke, a flake if there ever was one, would do that. This obviously angered Matt Kemp quite a bit…

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and it didn’t exactly make Jerry Hairston happy either…

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In fact, this brawl continued after the game. It seems Matt Kemp had some choice words for Carlos Quentin in the parking lot after the game…

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I’m pretty sure Kemp didn’t wish Quentin a good night’s sleep and good health:

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So what did all of this solve? Well, Greinke broke his left collarbone and will be out close to two months. Quentin received an 8-game suspension for his actions while Jerry Hairston was given a 1-game suspension. Both suspensions are being appealed. The Dodgers are now without one of their top pitchers for awhile, and Quentin has soured his name, as many of his Padres teammates have said they don’t agree with his actions. This is probably where I should mention that the Dodgers and Padres play in the same division, so they play each other about 18 games each season. Oh, and if you thought the flames would cool by the next time these two teams play each other–the Padres travel to Los Angeles to kickoff a three game series on Monday. So there is that as well. Two lessons have been learned from this brawl. One, if you crowd the plate you are very likely going to get hit and two, when a batter is charging the mound, do NOT lower your shoulder and ram it into a guy who outweighs you by forty pounds. I have a feeling we might be hearing more about these two teams the first part of next week. Stay tuned…

 

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