Just as there was no joy in Mudville when Casey struck out, there is no joy in England today. The English National Team made it to the Finals of the European Championship against Italy; the Three Lions led at the half but could not hold on. The game went to penalty kicks and the English goaltender saved two of the five Italian tries. But three of the English penalty kicks were unsuccessful and the Italians prevailed 3-2 on penalty kicks. The game was played in London making it a “home game” for the English but “home field” has not been kind to teams in the European Championships over the years. The last team to win the Finals on a home field was France in 1984.
Congratulations to The Azzurri – the Italian National Team – as European Champions for 2021.
In another bit of international soccer news, Argentina won the Copa America on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Brazil. This was the first major championship win for Lionel Messi as part of the Argentine National Team.
Congratulations to the Argentine National Team as Copa America champions in 2021.
About a week ago, the NY Mets and the NY Yankees played a subway series. As you might expect, tickets were hard to come by and when one could find access, the prices were steep. No problem there; no big surprise – – so far. Then, there was rain on the night of the opening game and here is what happened:
- The game was announced as “delayed” and fans made their way to Yankee Stadium.
- Fans were held in suspense for more than 2 hours – while indulging in food and drink and perhaps visiting the team stores – before they were told that the game has been postponed. But wait, there’s more…
- For the make-up double header, the games were each 7 innings in length AND there were separate admissions to the two games.
I know that price gouging has become commonplace in professional sports but someone in authority needs to issue an edict here:
- When double-headers are 7-inning games, there is a single admission to both games. If there are to be separate admissions, each game must be of the 9-inning variety.
- So let it be written; so let it be done…
I was perusing Gregg Drinnan’s blog, Taking Note, and ran across these stats for Bob Gibson in the months of June and July in 1968. That was the “Year of the Pitcher”, and MLB lowered the pitcher’s mound starting in 1969 to bring more offense into the game. Gibson was the most dominant of the hurlers that year; here are his June/July stats:
- 12 starts
- 12 compete games
- 12 wins
- 8 shutouts
- 6 runs allowed.
- Drinnan added also, “0 pitch count worries”.
Two things came immediately to mind when I saw that. First, I chuckled at the idea that any starting pitcher in 2021 would be allowed to stay in for 12 complete games in a two-month span. Indeed, loads of starting pitchers do not throw 12 complete games in a four-year span anymore. But second, I thought that it is probably unfair to pitchers today to hold them to a standard from 50 years ago – – just as it would have been wrong to think of Gibson’s achievements as “marginal” as compared to Cy Young in the deeper part of baseball history.
Today, the Mets’ Jacob deGrom is having an outstanding season. His record is 7-2 and he has an ERA of 1.08. Those stats are exemplary without any sort of qualification or comparison. deGrom has only 1 complete game in his 15 starts in the three-and-a-half months of the 2021 season but that does not diminish him as a pitcher; it reflects a significant difference in the way baseball is played and managed in 2021.
When Bob Gibson was on his dominant streak in 1968 – or when Robin Roberts threw 28 consecutive complete games spanning two seasons in the 1950s – there was no managerial fear that Gibson or Roberts would have to face batters for a third time in a single game. That fear is a byproduct of the analytics guys who did not exist in 1968. None of this is of Jacob deGrom’s doing; he need not be held to a standard that does not exist anymore.
[Aside: deGrom’s ERA of 1.08 is other-worldly but he has come close to this before. In 2018, with 32 starts and 217 innings pitched, his ERA for the season was a miserly 1.70.]
Bob Molinaro had this comment obliquely about Jacob DeGrom in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week:
“Skipping: The Mets’ Jacob deGrom, the game’s most dominating pitcher, can’t be bothered to attend the MLB All-Star Game. Neither can Houston Astros infielders Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, and who knows who else? That’s bad form, but the players are sending a message. All-star games are obsolete.”
I totally agree with Molinaro on this point. The most damning part of his comment is that the MLB All-Star Game is the best of the lot by a significant margin – – and it too is obsolete and irrelevant.
Finally, since much of today’s rant dealt with NYC and its players/teams, let me close with a comment about New York by author Donald Barthelme:
“This muck heaves and palpitates. It is multi-directional and has a mayor.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………