The Two Most Versatile Baseball Players

Babe Ruth started with the Boston Red Sox from 1914 to 1919.  In 1918, the team gradually shifted him from pitcher to outfielder.  His efforts as a pitcher rank him among  the best of his day.  His overall record with Boston was 89-46, an ERA of 2.19, and 14 shutouts.  Ruth  played in two World Series with the Red Sox; against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1916 and the Chicago Cubs in 1918.  His record was 3-0 with an almost invisible ERA of .87.  Whitey Ford in 1961 broke Babe Ruth’s record of pitching 29 consecutive scoreless innings in a World Series.

Remember too that Ruth pitched at Fenway Park, a left hander’s nightmare; and he never played a night game and balls travel more easily during the day.  This made his pitching really great.


Switch hitting and bunting are normally the attributes of spray hitters with high batting averages, good speed, but with little power and rare home runs.  Examples are Maury Wills, Larry Bowa,  and Pete Rose.  Rose averaged seven home runs per year but his early years at compact Crosley Field boosted his average.; but the very first bunter and switcher hitter was Mickey Mantle.  Mantle’s left handed bunting was more effective than from the right; but he had more power swinging from the right.

At first thought,  it might seem odd to have a good home run hitter bunting.  A few years ago I met Bert Campenaris, who played for the Oakland A’s in the their dynasty years of the early 70s.  This was in nearby Chaparral Park.  He said that Mickey Mantle often bunted to break out of a slump.   Mantle, like most home run hitters, struck out often. A bunt hit often restored his rhythm and confidence.       


The Basics at Dallas in 2010

Earlier I mentioned the two loses in 2009, at Oakland 13 to 9 and at home to Dallas 20 to 16.  Philadelphia, in both games, kicked a field goal to pull within a touchdown with about four minutes left.  After the kickoff,  the Eagles defense could not stop either team and  the clock ran out.  This past year, the same thing happened at Dallas with happier results and surprising means. The Eagles missed a chance to make things easier by kicking a 17 yard field goal on fourth and one from the Dallas 10 about midway in the fourth quarter.   The Eagles now led 30 to 20.  How much better that field goal would have been after getting a first down.   They could have run four additional plays.  Dallas then narrowed the score, 30 to 27.

After the kickoff  Micheal Vick just simply handed the ball to Shady McCoy.  He just ran straight head and Dallas simply could not stop him. There were no fake hand offs , no running around end,  or draw plays.  Just good basic football with perfect execution consumed four minutes. This was you saw from the Green Bay teams of the 60s, the Dolphins from the early 70s, and the first two of the Super Bows Pittsburgh won in 75-76.

This is rare in the NFL today due to the liberalized rules which mostly favor the offense.  It still shows how much the basics mean to football.     

Burress Burns the Birds

After serving his jail term, Plaxico Burress signed with New York Jets.   This year it’s the Eagles turn to play New York.  Burress through the years really had some great games against Philadelphia.

at the Meadowlands
Caught six passes for 113 yards; a 61 yarder assured a victory.  Giants 27 Eagles 17.

at home; this mentions another game
caught two passes one for 27 and the next for 10 yards; this kept the Giants in the game; they won in overtime 26 to 23; after a 4-2 start the Eagles went 2-8; winning this game plus the Monday Night give away at home against the Cowboys and this season would have been less disappointing.  Giants 26 Eagles 23 and Cowboys 21 Eagles 20.


at home
The Eagles wasted  a great defensive effort; they led 24 to 7 after three quarters, then fell apart in the fourth; for the day the Eagles had eight sacks of Eli Manning for 53 yards in losses plus a pass interception.  The Giants scored 17 points in the fourth quarter sending the game into overtime; Plaxico Burress caught six passes for 114 yards including the 31 yard winning touchdown reception in overtime; Giants 30 Eagles 24; had Philadelphia won, the BYE week in the post season was assured.

at the Meadowlands
Burress caught six passes for 180 yards.  The biggest was a 52 yard strike for a touchdown.  The Eagles won a back and forth thriller 36 to 22.


at the Meadowlands
Plaxico caught for four passes for 24 yards, one of them for the game’s only touchdown.  The Giants defense overwhelmed the Philadelphia with 12 sacks on McNabb.  New York won 16 to 3.

at home 
The toughest loss of the season. Burress caught seven passes for 136 yards. One 41 yard reception for a touchdown was the game’s biggest play.  The Eagles lost 16 to 13.

Burwell Morgan Mill-Winchester, Va

The Burwell-Morgan Gristmill is just outside of Winchester, Va.  I have talked  about this is separately from the other mills for two reasons.  It is very close to two other historic sites-George Washington’s Headquarters during the Revolutionary War and Willow Shade, the birth place of Willa Cather. The mill also has a unique geographic layout and construction site. 

Burwell-Morgan is actually in Boyce Va, just east of Winchester.  The grounds are nearly at a 45 degree angle sloping southward to the Shenandoah River.  In pioneer days, engineers’ designs  diverted part of the Sprout Run River through the mill by two streams. One goes horizontally to the mill and turns the wheel. The other moves diagonally downhill just in front of the Miller’s House.  Levees, still manually run, control the water flow and direction.  In heavy rainfall or when water exceeds the need, the workers divert funds to the run off.  During droughts or periods dedicated to visitors,  more water goes to the mill and there is grinding of corn or wheat.

Just beyond the view, the two run offs flow back into Sprout Run. The Sprout River River ultimately flows into the Shenandoah.  As you might expect, the Miller’s house often gets flooded. It was a strange place to build a house and I will try to find out why.

Entering on the mill there is that delightful musty smell  associated with wood, land, and water.  Art Galleries often occupy the grist mills and Burwell-Morgan is no exception.  On one visit there , there were painting of western art more suited to here in Scottsdale. I recall seeing Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Canyon DeChelly, Mount Zion, and Death Valley.

All of the four mills I talked about, to me, are worth multiple visits.  

09 Wins; Needlessly Close

Since 2006, the Philadelphia Eagles have often won close games that should have been easier.  This caught up with them at the year’s end and ruined chances for the Super Bowl.  Lopsided victories are a pleasure to watch, being easier on the fans.  Resting regulars and playing reserves is a real luxury. This lessens the likelihood of injuries; and if injuries occur, a team can cope with them better.   The record is before the games described in 2009.     

New York Giants (5-2) at Philadelphia (4-2) 

Although this was a one sided game, Philadelphia made one critical mistake.  The score was 33 to 10 in the Eagles favor midway in the third quarter. The Eagles were receiving the kickoff kick after the Giants  kicked a field goal.  Jason Babin made an awkward attempt to get the ball at Philadelphia 30.  Babin slipped and the Giants covered the ball.  A few plays later, Ahmad Bradshaw made a one yard touchdown plunge.  With the score 33 to 17, the fans started getting the jitters.  Shady McCoy put the game away with a 60 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.  The Philadelphia Eagles won 40 to 17 but 40 to 10 is easier sooner.  

Washington Redskins (3-7) at Philadelphia (6-4)

In the first quarter, Donovan McNabb threw a two yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson tying the game at 7-We thought.  A holding penalty nullified that play and the Eagles settled for a field goal and a 7 to 3 score.  With 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Philadelphia led 16 to 14. The Eagles’ defensive line had Redskin Quarterback Jason Campbell surrounded and primed for a sack at midfield.  The slightest hesitation can really hurt.   Somehow Campbell escaped and fired a 35 yard completion to the 15.  This led to a go ahead touchdown and swung the momentum to Washington. The Eagles won 27 to 24 on a last minute field goal; but they were putting roadblocks in their own way.         

Philadelphia  (8-4) at the New York Giants (7-5)

One play could have really opened the floodgates at the Meadowlands.  It also showed how a once great linebacker can fall off as he gets older.   Enthusiasm for the game only goes so far.  With four minutes remaining in the first quarter,  Philadelphia had a 14 to 0 lead.  Eli Manning threw a pass from the Eagles 40 to Kevin Boss at the 20.  Jeremiah Trotter had the ball in his hands. He seemed to be flipping the ball between each one.  Finally, the ball flipped  to Kevin Boss, who caught the pass and it returned it to the 20.   This set up a field goal and the Giants started moving the ball consistently thereafter.  New York even led 31 to 30 early in the fourth quarter.  Jeremiah Trotter, just three years earlier, would have made the  interception look easy and gone a long way; maybe even scoring a touchdown.  Once again, a muff made the victory needlessly difficult.  Final-Eagles 45 Giants 38.         

Denver Broncos (8-6) at Philadelphia (10-6)

This was almost one man give away.  Fans were ready to wrap it up with three minutes left in the third quarter.  With the Philadelphia Eagles leading 27 to 10, Asante Samuel  intercepted a pass and returned it to the 50.  Macho Harris was clipping after the pick and this moved the ball to the two.  This was the only game I can remember where a team gained momentum after throwing an interception.  The Eagles didn’t move the ball, Denver got good field position after the punt, and scored a touchdown.  Macho Harris fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Denver recovered, and scored a touchdown. The tying field goal came the next time Denver was on offense.  The announcer said this game was getting interesting.  I preferred a dull win.  Donovan McNabb ran for a first down on a third and 20. This was one of the best plays of the 09 season.  The Eagles still had to punt but this time the defense stopped Denver. McNabb threw to Jeremey Maclin and this set up the winning score.

The Philadelphia Eagles won 30 to 27.   Nevertheless, the soft spots were obvious in these four games.  The mistakes caught up with the Eagles in  the next two losses at Dallas.  24 to 0  regular season;  34 to 14 in the playoffs.

The Big Losses in 2009

Maybe keeping the Eagles out of the Super Bowl in 2009 were two losses, one at Oakland and the other at Lincoln Financial Field to Dallas.  In both games:

— the Philadelphia Eagles did not play well in one facet of the game,
–one play was the real killer,
— with just under five minutes left in the game, David Ackers kicked  field goal bringing  the Eagles to four points behind;
–after getting the ensuing kickoff, the other team ran the clock out; and the Eagles did not get the ball again.

At Oakland. The Raiders record was 1-4 to the Eagles 3-1.

The Eagles played well on defense with only one miscue.  DeMarcus Russell threw an 86 yard touchdown pass to Zack Miller in the first quarter. On offense during the entire game, Philadelphia gained only 67 yards rushing and yielded six sacks for 53 yards.  David Ackers booted his third field, this one from 45 yards, making the score 13 to 9 with just over four minutes left.   After receiving the ensuing kickoff,  Oakland moved the ball and did not have to punt.

Dallas At Lincoln Financial Field.  Both Clubs were 4-2

–Tony Romo scorched the Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary, going 21 for 34 for 307 yards and a touchdown,
–the biggest play was in the third quarter with Philadelphia leading 13 to 10; Sheldon Brown intercepted a pass and returned  it 50 yards to the Dallas 20.  However, the Eagles were clipping and this moved the ball inside the Eagle 20.   The turnover was the equivalent of a good punt and cost the Philadelphia Eagles 60 yards.
–Dallas was leading in the fourth quarter, 20 to 13, with just over five minutes left in the game. Donovan McNabb dropped back to pass from the Dallas 30.  The Cowboys’ seemed stuck to all  open receivers but Donovan had a open field facing him.  He began what I thought would be a first down run.  One Dallas defensive lineman tripped him with his arm and McNabb fell at the Dallas 25.  McNabb had obviously slowed down just a little over the years.  A few years earlier McNabb would have broken that tackle, had an easy field down, and maybe even a touchdown.  Age takes its toll.
David Ackers booted his third field, this one from 52 yards, making the score 20 to 16 with just over four minutes left.   After receiving the kickoff,  Dallas moved the ball and did not have to punt.

In the other three loses in 2009, to New Orleans, San Diego, and at Dallas, the better team won. 

Pioneering In Housing-Three Diverse Men

In 1947, the United States was facing a housing shortage from the pent-up demands of the World War II.  There was a war economy for over five years resulting in inadequate places to live.  Many people crowed into homes designed for single families.  There were slum in cities stemming migration from the south especially in the north east.  The crisis was getting worse requiring bipartisan support from the Federal Government.  Three diverse men in the United States Senate  undertook an historic piece of legislation.

Robert A. Taft- Senator Jacob Javits in his 1964 book Order Of Battle a Republican’s Call to Reason.  Mr. Republican usually “resolutely opposed assigning the federal government those functions which could in fact be better performed by the private sector, or by state and local governments.  As the facts of the case warranted, he was prepared to help bring the federal government into collaboration with the private enterprise system in order to get those indispensable things that could not be done in any other way.”

Allen Ellender-A Democrat from Lousiana who generally, though not always, was resistant to Federal expenditures in the social area

Robert Wagner-A New Deal Democrat from New York whose support for the bill was not surprising.

The bill Congress passed  and the President Truman signed was designed to support a weakening in the construction industry and to stimulate the mortgage money market.

Unless we can address needs with diverse groups around a common goal, the nation will be sharply divided no matter who governs. Ignoring the problem  will get us nowhere on any issue.