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The New Season:  Giving Credit

The New Season: Giving Credit

By Tim Kabel

March 24, 2022


I don’t go crazy over spring training games. I pay attention to them, and when they are on TV, I watch them. I suppose I will also listen to them when they are on the radio, so I can hear John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman lovably bumble and fumble their way through the game, However, I believe spring training has a clear purpose. It is for the players to get in shape and get ready for the season. It is also a time for the management, and coaching staff to assess players. They can determine if rookies are ready to make the majors or if veterans need to be moved. Again, I don’t obsess over it but, there are things that are noteworthy.

I have written repeatedly that I think Gleyber Torres should be moved, and DJ LeMahieu should be named the starting second baseman. I was basing this on the fact that Torres had two down years in a row, and his offensive production had essentially fallen off a cliff. At age 25, he was a mere shadow of his former self. He also did not impress me as someone who put forth a tremendous amount of effort. He did not seem to be driven or diligent in his pursuit of excellence. Mediocrity appeared to be acceptable with him.

The Yankees have been playing games in spring training for about a week. In an extremely small sample size, Torres has six hits in nine at bats. He has driven in three runs. Perhaps more importantly, the home run he hit last night and at least one or two of the other hits have been to right field. At this very early stage, he is showing some of the old form he had at the beginning of his Yankees’ career.

Even more important was the fact that Torres was originally given the day off on Sunday, due to the birth of his child but, he insisted on playing. That is a level of dedication that may have been missing in the past two years. Now, it’s a long way until the end of the season. But I believe in giving credit where credit is due. If Torres becomes the player we thought he was going to be, he will be a major asset to the team. That will allow LeMahieu to fill the rotating role the Yankees had planned for him originally. I am not completely reversing my position. However, I am willing to admit I may have misjudged Torres. We will have to wait and see. If I am wrong, I will happily admit it because that would mean the team would benefit.

Speaking of giving credit, on Saturday, I included the poem, Casey at the Bat in my article to celebrate the beginning of the season and the tradition that many of us have experienced by hearing that poem or reading it. Well, there was a follow-up to that poem written by the comedian, Foster Brooks. Brooks was best known for his comedy bits in which he played a lovable drunk, who attempted to make speeches or deliver an address of some kind. Eventually when public sensibilities and opinions toward alcoholism changed, he modified his act. In the spirit of giving credit where it is due, I now present Riley on the Mound.

Riley On The Mound Foster Brooks – 1978 If I were to say to you That Riley was me name I expect that you might say, So what’s your claim to fame? I don’t suppose you’ve heard of me Their ain’t much doubt about that But I’m the guy who made ’em write “Casey At The Bat”. I was on the mound that day When Casey met his doom I turned a very happy town Into a state of gloom. I’d heard about this guy a lot A “hero” in Mudville town And I decided right then and there To make that bum a clown. I remember the big game very well We were leadin’ four to two Git ’em out just one more time Was all I had to do. Cooney was the first man up And tried to start some trouble When he lined a single to deep right field But we nipped his stretch for a double. Burrows was next in the batter’s box And drove one clear to the wall He stumbled as he turned first base And we beat ‘im to second with the ball. Two men out – Flynn was at bat And he was about their worst But I must’ve eased up ’cause he caught one And wound up standin’ on first. Blakey came up and belted one I got a little careless I reckon Flynn was safe then on a slide to third As Blakey pulled in at second. The roar that went up from the grandstand Could be heard for twenty miles Five thousand fans goin’ stark ravin’ mad Their faces all covered with smiles. I knowed what it was that set ’em off Their “Hero” was comin’ to bat – ha ha ha Ol’ “Mighty Casey” was strollin’ to the plate But I could take care of that. He wouldn’t get lucky like Blakey and Flynn On him I’d really bear down Like I said before – I’m the guy Swore to make the bum a clown. He tipped his cap and waved his hand And that made the fans more wild But it didn’t bother me one little bit I just stood there and smiled. He’d been on twice on two bad calls And once on a very close play But here – it was time to go to work And put this joker away. I put me fast one just inside And Casey let it go by “Strike One!” the umpire screamed And Casey didn’t bat an eye. Some of the fans started for the field But stopped when Casey raised his hand And I’ve always thought – if he hadn’t done that They might’ve torn down the bloomin’ stand. When the umpire called the next one a strike I thought they’d chase ‘im out of town And it looked as though they might’ve too If “Ol’ Case” hadn’t calmed ’em down. The pressure was getting’ to us both by now I pulled me belt up a hitch And let one go that had to be Me number one “Sunday Pitch”. Casey swung with all his might He gave it all he had And even though I struck ‘im out I couldn’t help feelin’ sad. Sure, we won the pennant But when I looked at the crowd They all turned their backs on the “Great Casey” As he walked away head bowed. Now – All this took place many years ago And ever since then we’ve read About poor ol’ Casey strikin’ out It should’ve been about me instead. So when you guys are sittin’ around Jawin’ about our favorite game Remember Casey if you want But it was Riley put ‘im to shame.


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