Off The Ledge
Wednesday, August 23, 2006, 11:18 pm
Hang In There
This is not the end of the world … it just may sound like it and feel like it from moment to moment.
It is worth noting that in each of the last three games (all key), we faced a pitcher who likely will finish among the AL Top 5 in Cy Young Award voting. Like a basketball team that doesn’t shoot well, it is tough to look like you have energy when you are facing good pitching. We know because we did it to Boston, Los Angeles and Houston last October.
While this year has been at times frustrating, disappointing, annoying (etc. … you pick the emotion), if you ask me, last year was worse. Last year, you had the feeling like we were going to blow this monumental lead. That it would be a disaster baseball historians would write about forever. Instead, magically, we came out of it in an amazing way.
So let’s take stock of where we stand …
We still hold the lead in the wild card
We play our closest challenger for the wild card six times (three and three)
We rank second in the Majors in runs scored
We have the fourth-best record in baseball
We have a 42-33 (.560) record against teams remaining on our schedule
If we play at that same pace over the final 37 games (21-16), we finish 94-68
But, of course, we need to play the games
Fun And Games
Yesterday was our annual employee golf outing at Cog Hill (which is one reason I didn’t post).
Every year, my foursome is Bob Grim, Don Brown and the great Moose Skowron.
If you haven’t played golf with Moose, you haven’t golfed.
He is an agitator … cheering his ball along or telling yours to "Stop" or "Run off the Green", funny and perpetually cheerful (upon reaching the half way house at 10:30 yesterday morning, he slathered a hot dog with relish and said, "Isn’t this the greatest. What a life!" … which quite honestly, I have never said over brunch of a golf course hot dog). He is loud. And he is funny. Very funny.
He has a unique style of play, hitting his driver on Par 3s and using a 9-Wood.
And of course, he tells the greatest of stories.
He hates golf, describing it in two words which I can’t write here but if you say quickly enough together, can sound like one word.
Well, yesterday, he had the round of his life, scoring par on three straight holes at one point. "I hate this game, but I am going to go out and play tomorrow," Moose joked.
Twice on Par 3s, his drive (yes, that is the appropriate term) hit the cart path and bounced onto the green. Once, he ended up 12 feet away. The second time, he won closest to the pin with his ball ending up 24 inches from the hole.
Another time he hit out of a greenside bunker with his 9-Wood. The ball dribbled out, ran across the green, hit the flag and fell in.
It was Moose’s day.
And the stories …
About tearing wall paper off the wall at his home … about getting signed after playing semipro ball for the Austin (Minn.) Packers (A Yankee scout saw him strike out twice and beat the catcher’s throw to first base each time. He offered Moose a contract. A Cubs scout saw him homer four times and didn’t offer to sign him) … about his dad … about his kids and family (he cares so much for them) … about the Sox … about Steve Alford (he got to know him through his friendship with Coach Knight) … about Seattle Mariners owner Chuck Armstrong (Purdue ties) … and of course about Mickey, Yogi and Hank.
"I got hit in the head one day by (blank) of the Red Sox. I had homered off him earlier in the year and he wanted to get back at me. Split my helmet in two right along the N-Y. Casey came out and asked me if I could read the scoreboard. I could. My roommate, Bob Cerv, was the next hitter. I told him, C’mon roomie, hit a ground ball … because I wanted to get someone at second base. Sure enough, he hits a ground ball to short. Gene Mauch is playing second base and covers second. I hit him so hard I break his leg. Ends his career.
"Years later, he comes up to me and thanks me. Says I helped make him a major league manager."
Another response came when Bob and I were heckling him over a putt:
"I’ve had 40,000 people booing me, you think the two of you are going to make me choke?"
To quote Moose once more, "What a life!"