Tuesday, February 13

Nicknames, Nicknames, Nicknames!!!

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE TOP 100 RED SOX.

More fun from the Top 100 Red Sox Project.

1. Jim Tabor
Rollin', rollin', rollin'
His throws he’s not controllin’
40 error years need consolin’

His hitting was much better
Though he din’ flash much leather
Sailing his throws so high and wide
His lifetime OP eh-hess,
It ain’t that great ya gu--hess,
740 don’t give him much pride

Men are on, Batter up
Batter up, men are on
Men are on, Batter up

Throw em out, drive em in
Drive em in, throw em out
Throw em out, drive em in

Keep movin', movin', movin'
His swing it was improving
In ’41 he’s grooving

Played well through ’44
‘Til the army wanted him more
That ended his good Boston ride.
He was sold to Philly .
His play was willy-nilly
At thirty six years old well, he died.

Men are on, Batter up
Batter up, men are
Men are on, Batter up

Throw em out, drive em in
Drive em in, throw em out
Throw em out, drive em in


As you may have guessed by now, Jose loves the Blues Brothers. Also, Jim Tabor, who played third for the Sox from 1938-1944 was nicknamed “Rawhide.” But what do we really know about the man from New Hope, Alabama, a little southern town named for the as yet to be produced fourth chapter of the Star Wars saga? While he debuted in 1938, he didn’t really make his mark as a true rookie until 1939, when his 14 home run 95 RBI debut season was cast into shadow by the far brighter light of fellow rookie Ted Williams. His career was respectable but by no means brilliant. For instance, his top comparable according to Baseball Reference is Aaron Boone, who, as we all know, has yet to do anything of note in his career.

Still, there are a few quirks that make Tabor more noteworthy than the typical .270 career hitter. First, he is one of the small fraternity of players to hit grand slams in consecutive innings, a feat he accomplished on July 4, 1939. Second, he is one of very few major league baseball players whose last name is actually an acronym. TABOR, of course, stands for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a controversial Colorado constitutional amendment that has, since 1992, greatly restricted the state’s ability to raise revenue. Among the other Major Leaguers who have an acronym for a last name is Melvin Mora, named for the Michigan Off-road Racing Association. Mora, curiously, is Baseball Reference’s third best comparable for Tabor.

2. Bob Stanley
Bob Stanley, nicknamed “Steamer” because like the Stanley Steamer vacuum, he sucks, is perhaps the best Red Sox player to be almost universally disliked in the popular imagination. Roger Clemens may be hated by many, but others still love him. Jose Offerman and Mike Lansing might be derided, but they weren’t terribly good, but ol’ Bob Stanley was both awfully good and awfully disliked by the Red Sox faithful.

Be honest, have you ever met a Bob Stanley fan? (Note: Okay, at his Baseball Reference page his fenwaynation.com sponsors describe him as “Forever beloved for plunking Mike Barnacle at the 1992 Sox Fantasy Camp In Winter Haven.” But they don’t count. And have you noticed Jose is borrowing heavily from Baseball Reference in these? Wikipedia too, but not that he’s mentioned it, it’s not plagiarism.)

But why was Bob Stanley so disliked? Was it his wild pitch that allowed Mookie Wilson to score the tying run in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series? Nope, every one knows that was a passed ball. Beside, Dave Stapleton should have been pitching, or something like that. Was it the relish with which he played his role as the bullpen fun police and heartless killjoy? Possibly, this is the guy who ceremonially popped a beach ball with a rake on his appreciation night at Fenway. Really. Still, probably not.

No the reason, that Bob Stanley is widely unloved despite being the Red Sox All-Time save leader with 132, despite having a career ERA of 3.64, despite being a two time All-Star is that Bob Stanley, for all of his excellence, never, ever allowed fans to feel safe when he entered a game. Even in 1983 when he was second in the A.L. in saves with 33 and plunked down a nifty 2.85 ERA, did you ever relax when he entered a game? No, you didn’t, unless you responded to his entering a game with 50mg of valium.

A while ago, Jose suggested that a new statistic be named after Steamer. He suggested that when a reliever picks up a win after blowing a lead, effectively stealing the win, he should be credited with a “Stanley.” Look at his numbers. In 1983, arguably his best season, Stanley saved 33 games while blowing 14 saves, tying a major league record. At the same time, he had eight wins and 10 losses. Do you ever feel good when your closer has that many decisions? Chances are quite a few of those wins should be scored as Stanleys.

Yes, yes, the single season blown save record is shared with a couple of pretty good pitchers named Fingers and Sutter, but still, 14 in a year? Only in a situation like that, could Calvin Schiraldi swipe the closing job.

3. Manny Ramirez
We have reached a strange and wondrous time in baseball writing. What else can you call it when age old sayings like “you’ve got to play who’s on the schedule” “Hit ‘em where they ain’t” and “I can’t pinch run, I’ve got a herpes outbreak” have all slid down the cliché totem pole behind what is unquestionably the most non-expository and overused platitude in the game today “It’s just Manny, being Manny?”

It’s just Manny being Manny. What the hell does that mean? In common parlance, it seems to suggest that one take’s the good with the bad, that along with the more than 30 home runs and 100 RBI every single year, one must accept the awkward fielding, the occasional failure to run to first, the peeing in the wall, and the incessant trade demands.

But is that what it should mean? How should we interpret this phenomenon of Mannyism. Is Mannyism some curse, some disease whose sufferers must be quarantined lest they contaminate the whole lot? Is it an infection or merely a functional disease? How far away are we from
nervous soccer moms pestering overburdened psychiatrists to prescribe gleemonex to treat their children’s latent Mannyism? And how far away are we from the day, when the most anxious among these mothers start blaming pesticides, refined sugar or vaccinations for the epidemic of Mannyism sweeping the country? But Mannyism is not a disease, and we should not treat it as such.

No, Jose rejects the clinical definition of Mannyism and instead proposes his own. “Mannyism. Noun 1. A condition wherein one competes without malice, plays without anger, and achieves astonishing excellence without forgetting that he is playing a child’s game.

We live in a sporting world filled with angry men. These bitter ones fume that athletes do not adequately appreciate their gifts, they rage that stars are not as driven as they would be if only they had the arm, the speed the strength. To them Manny is anathema, a petulant, casual fool, to be derided for his unwillingness to sacrifice, body and soul for the game.

They are wrong. Manny is what the game is all about. You know the kid in little league who is so interested in the bugs in the grass that he forgets about a flyball headed towards him? That’s Manny. The kid who stands in front of the mirror swinging an imaginary bat and imagining the roar of the crowd? That’s Manny too. And the goofy kid who is loved by all of his teammates, regardless of what he does on the field? Manny being Manny.

Manny is the spacey kid made good. The kid who loves to have fun, who loves to swing the bat and grew up to be the man. He grew up to be the man who has been on ten All-Star teams, who won nine silver sluggers, two Hank Aaron awards, and a World Series MVP, all without ever losing his sense of fun.

From being taunted with chants of “Manny’s hitless,” when he roamed Fenway’s right field for the Indians in the 1999 ALDS to being cheered by the Fenway faithful for… well, pretty much everything. Manny has always been Manny. And that’s all we could ever ask.

I’m Jose Melendez and those are my KEYS TO THE TOP 100 RED SOX.


Sam said...

The last 5 paragraphs (from after the last photo) is one of the most carthritic things I've ever read-- you've put into words how I've always felt about this whole damn Manny being Manny circus. I thought I was the only one who wasn't crazy!

Seriously awesome.

The Renegaducator said...

I'll go on record as loving Bob Stanley. Bigfoot was a delightfully illiterate postgame interviewee, and it was great to watch him sneak up on the beachball and mercilessly bludgeon it with a rake.

Your Manny synopsis is right on, as usual. Just further proof that the wrong writers are writing for the Boston newspapers.

Jose Melendez said...

No, you don't. No one loves Bob Stanley. Not even his children.

Jesse said...

Your segment on Manny is spot on. Great blog, btw.

Devine said...

Yay Manny! Great "Rawhide"...erm...parody? Filk? Whatever, it was funny.

Anonymous said...

I know you have mentioned Rob Bradford here before. I didn't know if you knew he had a new blog. It is at www.bradfordonbaseball.com. It is really really good.

Anonymous said...

Nobody likes Bob Stanley? Maybe you still hold a grudge for the passed ball in '86, or maybe it is because he isn't hispanic (your support of Manny is rediculous...he is a hack, Manny Ramirez epitomizes everything that is wrong about today's game). The fact of the matter is that there are PLENTY of Red Sox fans, old and new, who like the "Steamer", as evidenced by the outpouring of support he gets at card shows, charity events, Red Sox Fantasy Camp, and other public events. Bob Stanley is one of the most personable professional athletes you could ever meet. Your opinion is your opinion, but unfortunately for you, you are in the minority on this matter.

Jose Melendez said...

At least you agree that it is unfortunate that Jose is in the minority. Truth be told, Jose actually really like Stanley in his youth. He has no idea why, he just did. However, Jose has observed, that he seems to be pretty unloved for a fairly good Red Sox lifer.

Anonymous said...

What exactly are you trying to say, and why are you referring to yourself in the third person? I know it may be difficult for you, but please try to embrace the english language as much as possible. You make it very difficult to comprehend your response. As for the matter at hand, with whom do you associate where you would get that type of response and hatred for one of the most underappreciated Red Sox players of all time? It appears to me that you may have found a cluster of Red Sox haters, rather than people who dislike the Steamer. If you talked to people who were old enough to actually comprehend and recognize all that Stanley brought to the Red Sox, then you would find that a vast majority of them supported and appreciate all that he did for the team. How many relievers do you know came in and pitched 9+ innings of relief in a single game? Stanley did this twice in one season. Not only did he have many roles as a reliever, but he also was a starter for the Red Sox. He holds the AL record for most relief innings pitched in a season (I believe the record still stands), obviously he was no slouch if he was relied upon that much. Your bashing of one of the greatest Red Sox relievers in team history invalidates your credibility as a writer. You may want to put some more research and thought into your work before your spew such bogus claims.

Jose Melendez said...

This is just fascinating. The only time any one has ever been this pissed about anything written on KEYS is when Jose pointed out that Pride and Prejudice is a really boring book. Jose will have to write to compare P&P with Steamer in the future.

As for doing more research and putting more thought into his posts, Jose categorically rejects and defies your demands. Jose did not start blogging to report facts; no he did it to kill time, venerate Manny and sell thongs.

Anonymous said...

That response just about sums it all up. You are nothing, you know nothing, and you will be nothing.

Jose Melendez said...

So Jose has done some research, a focus group if you will, and it seems to confirm his thesis. Bob Stanley was a good pitcher, a very good pitcher, but he was not loved, or even really liked as a player. He made fans nuts. This is not to say he is a bad person, but he was responsible for a lot of nervous breakdowns during his career. Do people hate him now, no, of course not, but they hated watching him pitch, hated it.

Your pal,


Anonymous said...

If those are the results you gathered then so be it. But I suggest you put a little more work into gathering your focus group, because it seems to me that you missed out on a large segment of Stanley fans. I totally disagree that Stanley was not liked as a player, I think you are dead wrong there. As for people being nervous when a pitcher comes into the game...you ask any fan of any team and you will find out that they feel the same way about 99% of the pitchers that come into a game now and in the past. It is all part of being a fan and being passionate about something, you are never assured of victory, there are never any sure things. There are a few exceptions to the rule, such as a Mariano Rivera, but he is one of the greatest closers in baseball history. Of course Stanley was never a Mariano Rivera, pitchers of his caliber come few and far between. My point is, that a TRUE fan is always going to be nervous of the outcome, no matter what the score, no matter who is in the game. It is only natural to second guess every move that is made and every pitch that is thrown, that is what all fans do. That is passion. It is not because of Stanley, it is because you are a fan.

On a side note - I appreciate the comprehendible response this time. But the third person b.s. needs to stop.

Jose Melendez said...

You're new here aren't you.

Anonymous said...

What does that matter? Am I not allowed to dispute your bogus claims? Or am I too much for you to handle?

Jose Melendez said...

You may do whatever you wish, but if you don't like the third person, this may not be the blog for you. You see, when it mentions "third-person" in the heading, that might be a clue that there's going to be a lot of third person in the blog.

Think about it this way, it's sort of like watching ER. If you want to complain about specific plot elements go ahead, watch, enjoy, criticize, but if your base complaint is that there's too much doctor stuff on the show, you may be better off spending your time elsewhere.