posted on Mar, 24 2006 @ 05:03 AM
Well, after 4 a.m., and ANOTHER bout of insomnia. But I just realized it was not Atlanta which was dumb enough to get Soriano. It was Washington,
which tells you THIS much for SURE:
The decision was made by someone at the top of the team, NOT by Manager Frank Robinson.
I remember Frank Robinson as a player, and he can only be called GREAT. I've heard people mention him in the same breath with McCovey, and that's
like the same idiots who mention Bonds in the same breath with McGwire. Frank Robinson, in his prime, would have been the best player in the N.L. at
most points in NL history. OK, he had to compete with Mays and Aaron, and OK, he loses the comparison--at least, to Mays. It is NOT clear to me that
through 1966, Aaron was the better player, though from that point on, it is.
But Robinson was a tremendous player. He took walks. He won a Triple Crown, and he didn't do it with the b.s. numbers Yaz did, in 1968. He was--and
perhaps still is (I don't know)--the only player ever to win an MVP in both leagues. He retired with a staggering 586 HR's, and NONE was tainted by
steroids or HGH.
rAnd here are the big things:
Frank Robinson was NOT blessed with anywhere near the natural talent of Mays, Mantle or Aaron. I mean, don't get me wrong: Robinson was a
fine athlete, and the other three--well, at least Mays and Aaron--worked their @sses off to take advantages of their godgiven talents. But Robinson
was relentless and was like Oscar Charleston, Tris Speaker and a couple other of the very few superior players in baseball history: He
accomplished all of his staggering feats on about 30% talent and 70% attitude, hustle and relentless, burning intensity.
Anyone who saw him can tell you this is true. And anyone who wasn't around then, and who now opines that Clemente was the #2 RF in the NL, belongs in
a lunatic bin.
Well, Robinson didn't change when he quit. He was explosive as the manager of the Indians in the mid-to-late 70's, and I can tell you from seeing him
with the Giants in the early 80's, he was no less maniacal then. Like most phenomenal players (in most team sports) who become coaches, he perhaps
expected more than some players could give, but then, he had surely produced more than he legitimately had to give.
And in 1982, he took a team full of nobodies, plus a RF named Jack Clark--who had a lot in common with Soriano--even more abominable fielding, as bad
a RF as I've ever seen, and worse at 1B when the Cards got him, costing them the 1985 W.S., along with Denkinger's call. But Clark was a much better
hitter than Soriano, AND he took balls.
Anyway, Robinson was relentless with those guys, and I was at "The Stick" one day when #5 starter, Jim Barr, was on the mound. Robinson came out to
remove him real early--say, Inning #4 or #5. Barr was P.O.'ed and turned his back on Robinson to walk for the dugout, flipping the ball over his
shoulder to Robinson, as he did so.
Big mistake. Robinson went nuts. He grabbed Barr HARD, spun him around and pulled him up to Robinson's face. And he then stood there for about 4
minutes, giving Barr the most obvious and public @ss-chewing I've seen in my nearly half-century as a baseball nut. Barr was about 30 and a pitcher;
Robinson was about 46; Barr stood and took it, and that was a damn wise choice.
SOOOO, to get to my now-obvious point:
If what we've heard so far about Soriano is any kind of harbinger--and how could it be anything else--he is going to suffer about like Owens will in
Dallas if he doesn't do a MAJOR reformation in his first year for Parcells. And for most of you, who aren't old enough to remember Robinson (who got
arrested early in his career for carrying a concealed firearm, and got in a few dozen on-field fights, losing maybe one or two), I'd probably rather
go one-on-one with Parcells than with the man with 586 the clean way.
Stay tuned. It could get VERY interesting on that team. Not least of all when Soriano starts swinging at one pitch after another which is 22 inches
off the plate.
Frank Robinson, among many other stats, had:
(1) Almost 1,200 extra base hits, #8 all time;
(2) 1829 runs scored and 1812 runs batted in, both Top 20;
(3) #11 all-time in total bases;
(4) #4 all-time in HR's not tainted by HGH or steroids;
(5) Enough walks to give him a better lifetime on-base average than either Mays or Aaron, .389;
(6) At least 20 HR's in every one of his first 16 years except for 1968, the worst hitters' year perhaps ever, and certainly since well back into the
Dead Ball Era. If Yaz had not had a great day on the final day of the year, the A.L. would have had no .300 hitter. Gibson had a 1.12 ERA;
Drysdale--a hugely overrated pitcher who belongs in the Hall only slightly more than me--broke Walter Johnson's consecutive scoreless innings streak.
THAT was what it took to take Frank out of his 16-year streak of 20 to 49 HRs every year;
(7) Robinson, playing as an EXACT contemporary of the defensively brilliant rightfielders Aaron, Clemente and Kaline, STILL had a fielding percentage
which was 27.9% better than the average outfielder of that time. And he was about 4% ahead of all OF's, which includes CF's and LF's, on range. THIS
from a guy who was 6'1" and 195;
(8) As part of his team-player, do-whatever-it-takes-to-win approach, Robinson is the #7 player all-time in being hit by pitches;
(9) He ranks #15 all-time in this state-of-the-art stat, Runs Created, despite the fact the A.L. was almost totally segregated until the early 60's
and Robinson had to compete with FAR more naturally talented players: Mays, Campanella and Aaron, e.g.
This is a guy who had one of the all-time great baseball careers, and who had it by working his @ss off at all times. From what we know of
Soriano's pitiful career stats, and his opening show conduct, and taking me at my word on what I just told y'all about Robinson's fire-and-brimstone
personality.... How long do you think it will take for him to erupt all over Soriano, whether it's for repeatedly swinging at garbage, or for not
hustling and at least TRYING his best in the field, or for his prima donna mouth and disruptive antics?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.