Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Frankly Speaking With a Baseball Legend: Herman Franks

A left-handed hitter who threw right-handed, Herman Franks broke into baseball with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1932, but he was soon acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals and joined their large farm system. All you really need to know about his playing career was that he played primarily as a backup and finished with a batting average of .199 with three home runs in 188 games over parts of six seasons. In 1949 Franks landed his first coaching assignment, as an aide to Leo Durocher with the New York Giants.

He was a member of two National League championship clubs (1951, 1954) and one World Series (1954) title team through 1955. According to author Joshua Prager in his 2006 book The Echoing Green, Franks played a critical role in the Giants' Bobby Thomson's famous pennant-winning home run in the 1951 NL playoffs -- Baseball's Shot Heard Round The World. According to Prager, Franks was stationed in the Giants' centerfield clubhouse at the Polo Grounds, their home field, stealing the opposing catcher's signs through a telescope and relaying them through second-string catcher Sal Yvars (who was stationed in the bullpen) to the Giants' coaches and hitters. When asked where he was when Thomson hit his home run, Franks said, in 1996, that he was "doing something for Durocher" at the time.
Whatever his role may have been on that day, Franks was known as a devotee of Durocher-style, win-at-any-cost baseball, including intimidation through flying spikes and brush back pitching. Author Roger Kahn quoted Dodger outfielder Carl Furillo that Franks would poke his head into the Brooklyn clubhouse to taunt Furillo that Giant pitchers would throw at his head during that day's game. Furillo, whose hatred for Durocher was so intense that he would engage Durocher in a fistfight in the Giant dugout filled with enemy players, said of the Giants, in Peter Golenbock's book Bums, "They were dirty ballplayers ... They all wanted to be like Durocher, to copy Durocher. That Herman Franks, he was another one."
Franks managed the San Francisco Giants for four years from 1965-1968, and produced four frustrating second-place finishes in the National League. The club won 95, 93, 91 and 88 games and finished 2, 1½, 10½ and 9 games behind the league champions. He then coached nd managed off and on for the Chicago Cubs over an 11-year period. Although Franks compiled a poor record as a player, he notched a winning record as a manager - 605-521, .537.
On his role in the Thomson home run: “They say that I stole Brooklyn’s signs that day and I’ve never admitted to anything. And I never will. There’s been a lot of talk about it since ’51. People don’t ever get tired of talking about it. I must have talked to this writer Prager more than 50 times. He even flew out here to Salt Lake City to interview me. Prager researched the hell out of that story, let me tell you. I read things in there I didn’t know. Sal Ivars has blabbed all over the place, but no one else has talked. Alvin Dark didn’t talk; I didn’t talk; Whitey Lockman wouldn’t say nothing about it. But, there are a lot of them still alive who did a lot of talking. When Bobby hit that ball it was one of the highlights of my baseball career.”

His relationship with the Brooklyn Dodgers’Carl Furillo: “Carl Furillo died a broken man; mad at the world. He got blackballed and was angry at the world. He couldn’t get another job in baseball and he blamed it on everybody but himself. He said a lot of bullshit about me. In those days, we all jawed back and forth. The Dodgers had some tough pitchers in those days, Don Newcombe especially, and everyone threw at each other and knocked each other down all the time. You protected yourself. They were fiercely competitive in those days, Brooklyn and the Giants. Those two teams hated each other. In those days, there was a league rule—if you talked to the other teams’ players out on the field, you got fined. It’s not like today where the players chum around with each other; not at all. Now they go out to dinner with each other after the game; they’re all buddy-buddy.’ It’s just different now.”

About steroids and managing the game today: “I am so sick of them talking about steroids. Barry Bonds is one of the best damn hitters I ever saw. He can flat ass hit. And he set all those records when there was no law against them, right? A lot of this bullshit wouldn’t go on if I was still managing. Maybe I couldn’t manage today’s game the way it is, I don’t know. I think the players are managing the managers today—agents telling the managers when they can pitch their pitchers, and all that kind of bullshit. That wouldn’t go with me. And the money—the most I made as a manager was $125,000, with the Cubs, which at the time made me one of the highest paid managers at the time. Now they get millions”
Bench jockeying: “Durocher was a helluva bench jockey, that’s well known. But, in those days you could holler from the bench. ‘Stick it in his ear,” stuff like that. ‘Knock him down!’ You don’t dare say that today. Hell, I seen Leo walk up to the plate and get knocked down four straight times. He never complained. Everybody hollered at each other!”
The 1965 Giants: “The best team I ever managed, except I didn’t have a shortstop or a second baseman. We couldn’t make a double play. If I had had that I would have won the pennant all four years. We tried out a bunch of shortstops and second basemen, but we couldn’t find anyone to fill the holes there. We had five hall of famers on that team—Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. I taught Gaylord Perry how to throw that spitball; that’s what made him. We won 90 games three times during those four seasons and finished second each time. Today you win 90 games and you’re in the playoffs.”
(Parts of this article are from Wikipedia and www.thisgreatgame.com)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hydroxycut Works!

Most of us don't want huge muscles, bulging through our shirts. We also don't want to be so fat that our ass envelopes a chair whenever we sit down. The majority of the people out there in this country just want to be fit. Sometimes we need help getting there, and that's where Hydroxycut comes into the picture. Hydroxycut is a great way to get ripped without getting ripped off. Let's face it, a lot of the diet/fitness supplement products out there right now are bogus. But, not Hydroxycut--it's been around for a long time and is proven. You will not be disappointed with Hydroxycut--just read the testimonials and you'll see how effective it is. So, if you want to be fit, healthy and looking good--give it a try! What do you have to lose?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crazy Cats!

"Hey Ed, check this out!" Angelina said as she pointed out the back window.

"What the..?" I can't believe what I just saw, I thought, blinking as if clearing my brain and vision might give me a different result.

The neighbor's cats were jumping around as if being electrocuted, caught up in this weird, almost rthymic dance, bobbing and weaving, rising and falling, like two over-amped out-of-control marionettes.

"We better call the guy next door," Angelina said with a slight tinge of fear and confusion in her voice.

In minutes, our neighbor Danny The Greek was at the door. When he saw his two felines doing this strange ritual on our back lawn, he knew what had happened.

"Oh, no--not again," he exclaimed.

"Why are they doing that?" we both asked simultaneously.

"They got into my diet pills again. They must have eaten a handful each."

Just then one of the cats slammed into our back fence, nearly redeeming one of his nine lives.

"What? Your diet pills?" I asked.

"Yeah, they've done it before. They eat the pills and then act like this for a few days until the effect wears off. I hide them in the bathroom, but they always seem to find them."

"You need diet pills with less caffeine in them, Danny. If they're doing this to your cats, just think what they're doing to your system. I would check out http://www.dietpillsdietpills.com/, to find a less-speedy more healthy alternative."

"Thanks, man--I will." Danny promised as he started to leave.

"Hey, what about the cats?" Angelina inquired.

"Oh, they'll be like that for a few days. When they pass out, can you call me again and I'll come get them?"

"Sure," we replied.

It was going to be a long weekend.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yuletide Yuckfest 2008 Announced Today

Due to the current economic crisis, Toys for Tots needs more toys than ever. Come support a worthy charity as we celebrate or 11th year! Admission is $10 with an unwrapped toy and $15 without a toy. Music by Chubby's All-Stars starts at 7 pm (featuring special guest Viv Savage from Spinal Tap); and comedy, featuring headliner Larry Bubbles Brown (as seen recently on David Letterman), Jeff Applebaum, Nick Leonard and other special guests, starts at 8 pm. Call (415) 595-4555 for reservations.

Crib Notes

Why is this child so frazzled? What has happened to this toddler to make her so disheveled? Maybe it has to do with her crib bedding. Crib bedding is so important to a baby's early years, because it helps them get a good night's sleep or daytime nap, safe and sound in a well-designed, durable bedding set. Being in a crib cannot be a lot of fun. I used to climb out of mine all the time (or so I've been told -- my memory is fuzzy). http://www.babyearth.com/ has some of the finest crib bedding on the market today, in a wide range of fresh, vibrant color schemes and styles, with upholstered bumpers to make sure your little one(s) doesn't bump his or her head. If this kid's parents clicks through to http://www.babyearth.com/, their toddler will feel better and her hair will probably return safely back to her scalp.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Can L.A. Dodge the SI Cover Curse?

I am so excited about the Dodgers being in the National League Championship Series that I can’t even tell you. I have waited 20 years for this to happen and tomorrow it is finally here. I was very hopeful of their chances against the Phillies until I went down to collect the mail this afternoon. When I saw Manny Ramirez on the cover of Sports Illustrated, I nearly lost control of my bowels.
Nothing will kill a team worse that the SI cover curse. You think the Chicago Cubs are cursed? Steve Bartman is their guardian angel and the legendary goat is a blessing compared to the Sports Illustrated cover curse. It has ruined careers, caused teams to fold like omelets and wreaked havoc on sports stars and their teams for well over 5 decades.
My only hope is that none of the Dodger players will see the SI cover. But, what are the chances of that? Joe Torre needs to hold a meeting and address the situation immediately. Why couldn’t they have put the Bosox or the Rays on their cover! This is the worst thing that could ever possibly happen.
This is an interesting article that appeared yesterday on the Sports Network:
An old rivalry will be renewed when the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers square off on Thursday in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park.
These teams have met in this round on three other occasions, but this will be their first playoff meeting since the Wheeze Kids Phils defeated the Dodgers, 3-1, to advance to the 1983 World Series.
Los Angeles, though, defeated the Phillies the first two times these teams squared off in NLCS play.
Unfortunately, the winner of the past three LCS matchups between these two has gone on to lose the World Series.
These teams split their eight meetings in the regular season, with each squad capturing a four-game sweep at home.
As an introduction to this NLCS matchup, let's take a look at the keys to winning the series for both clubs:
As has been the case since he arrived in Los Angeles, as goes Manny Ramirez, so go the Dodgers. Ramirez continued his strong play down the stretch into the NLDS, where he hit .500 in the sweep of the Cubs, belting two home runs with three RBI.
The Dodgers hope Ramirez can duplicate his numbers from last year's ALCS, when he hit .409 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI for the Red Sox in their seven-game win over Cleveland. He is a lifetime .319 hitter in LCS play with 10 home runs and 23 RBI in 39 games.
If Joe Torre has his way he is going to pitch Derek Lowe three times this series. There were few pitchers hotter down the stretch than Lowe, who won six of his last seven decisions. He carried that strong finish into his Game 1 effort against the Cubs, who managed just two runs in six innings.
The lefty- heavy Phillies lineup has traditionally battered right-handed pitching. However, despite Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell all boasting averages better than .300 against Lowe, none of them has taken him deep.
Now if these two still aren't hitting this might not be much of a problem, but either way, who on the Dodgers' staff is going to face them late in a game? How about 20-year-old phenom Clayton Kershaw?
Kershaw has electric stuff and won his final three decisions of the year, but was not used in the NLDS. Torre could use Kershaw in a Game 4 start, but depending on the situation he may opt to use Lowe on short rest in that spot.
If the Philadelphia Phillies have one question heading into this series, it is what the heck is going on with Utley and Ryan Howard?
After going 2-for-11 in last year's sweep at the hands of the Rockies, Utley has again seen his bat go silent, managing just two hits in 15 at-bats against the Brewers. However, he had perhaps the biggest hit of Game 1, a two-run double that probably should have been caught by center fielder Mike Cameron.
The Dodgers could be the perfect team for Utley to break out against. He batted .355 with two homers against the Dodgers this year and is .339 lifetime against them for his career.
Howard, meanwhile, had another MVP campaign, basically strapping the Phils to his back in September. But, once again he is struggling here in October. Howard managed just two hits in 11 at-bats. Unlike Utley, though, he rarely got a pitch to hit and walked five times against the Brewers
Facing Lowe won't be an easy task for Howard, who is just 2-for-16 lifetime against him.
As much as Utley and Howard struggled in the NLDS, Rollins and Shane Victorino thrived. Rollins batted .375 with two runs scored, while Victorino hit .357 with a grand slam in Game 2.
If those two continue to get on base and Utley and Howard come around, this could be a short series.
Brad Lidge has made things interesting lately for Philadelphia. Rarely does he get a 1-2-3 inning, but he still hasn't blown a save and is a perfect 43- for-43 in save opportunities this season.
However, a lot of people still remember that mammoth home run Albert Pujols hit off of him in the 2005 NLCS. Could we have another moment like that should he have to get Ramirez out in a big spot?
Lidge has been bending an awful lot as of late, but until he breaks you can't complain.
10/08 10:53:52 ET

Admin Jobs Online

If you're looking for admin jobs online, you should really know more about http://www.administrativejobs.com/, a great Web site that features tons of administrative jobs of all kinds. As the economy weakens, good admin people are going to be more important than ever. They are pretty secure positions when you think about it--big-time managers with big salaries will get dumped when things get tough, but a good secretary is indispensable to a success of a company. A lot of people have lost their livelihoods this year (approx. 700,000 to-date), but top-flight admin workers will be around for the duration, I believe!

Don't Mess With Housewives!

The vacuum cleaner salesman dumped a big bag of sawdust on the living room floor and smiled.

Susie Housewife was not amused.

"You had better clean that up right now," she scolded the salesman, causing his beady little eyes to glaze over, like a bullfrog using his second eyelid.

"No problem, Miss...I."

"Because if you don't, I'll have to pull out my brand new Electrolux vacuum. Electrolux vacuums make yours look like a child's toy. They have more suction; they are easy to use; they never break and they don't cost a fortune. Should I continue?"

"Well, uh,..this premier vacuum does so many things, it.."


"But, I..."

"You're wasting my time. You're trying to sell me a Hyundai and I already have a Ferrari. I have an Electrolux. What part of that don't you understand?"

"But, I..."

"You already said that. Clean up this mess and then hit the road, whatever your name is. If you don't say another word, maybe I'll let you borrow my Electrolux!"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Love Lost & Found

We walked hand in hand, down the road that Carl Sandburg said should be avoided at all costs.

"You give good shadow," she said.

"What?" She often caught me off-guard and I loved it.

"Your shadow--it's nice; no jagged edges."

"Uh, really? Thanks." I mean, how does someone respond to that?

"My ex-boyfriend had a really obtuse shadow and the first time I saw it, I knew we were over. I told him about it and he just looked at me and said, 'I've lost you.' I couldn't believe it."

She came up for a breath and starting speaking before I could squeeze a word in.

"So, I told him--if you want to re-find me--get a clue. Hold me once in a while. Make my tea. Pay attention to me. And respect my shadow. And while you're at it, get a Garmin GPS, the number one navigation system in the world today. You'll never lose me again if you get a Garmin GPS."

I was stunned. Like a 5-year-old hooked on bad phonics, I found my way around several very meaningful words but that was all.

She had made her point.
Subtlety wasn't her strong suit.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Billiards: A Rich History

I must admit that I am a lousy pool player. Every time I play billiards, I embarrass myself with inept play and countless errors, kind of like the Chicago Cubs in the MLB postseason. I like to play; I'm just really bad. I found a web site the other day that dealt with the wonderful history of the sport in all its different forms. First off, if you did not already know it, there are three kinds of billiards. First, you have carom billiards, which is played on a table without pockets, including what they call balkline and straight rail, cushion caroms, three-cushion billiards and artistic billiards. (If you think straight billiards is tough, you have not tried carom billiards--it's even more difficult!) Second, you have pocket billiards, which is very popular in the United States and is generally played on a table with six pockets, including 8-ball, which is the world's most widely played form of billiards. Third, there's what is called Snooker. Snooker is technically pocket billiards and is classified as a completely different kind of game--one of the oldest and very popular in Europe. Mary Queen of Scots was buried wrapped in her billiard table cover in 1586. She must have really played a mean game of Snooker! Some of my favorite folks loved the game of billiards, including Mark Twain, Bob Hope, Babe Ruth, Jackie Gleason, Teddy Roosevelt, Lewis Carroll and W.C. Fields.

A Twain Wreck

Last night I dreamt that I was playing billiards with Mark Twain.
But, things were not going well with Mr. Samuel Clemens on this day. He was beating me like a rug at eight-ball and wasn't in a particularly good mood.

"Uh, Mr. Twain?" I asked.

"Yes, son?"

"Was Tom Sawyer a metaphor for society's mistreatment of the young?"

"No, son -- it was a reason to get paid. I started writing it hungover and was drunk when I finished it." He blew smoke in my face as he said it.

"Was Huckleberry Finn the devil?"

His cue froze mid-stroke. I could tell it was not a good question.

"Son, those are some of the most ignorant questions I have ever heard. You must have had a really terrible American Literature teacher. Either that or you were dropped as a child. Now, are we here to play pool or talk? Because I have a date with Mae West in about an hour."

Please let me wake up, I thought to myself.

But, just then he sunk the 8-ball.

These dead celebrity pool tournaments were not going well. Maybe it was time to take Bing Crosby up on his invitation to play golf.