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Off Base
The New Nationalsism

May 5, 2005

You know, talk softly and carry a big Hillerich & Bradsby.

You know what else? D.C. baseball isn’t such a bad idea, after all. I totally take back that “wouldn’t be prudent” crack.

The BaseballSavvy.com archives are littered with diatribes about the Canadian red, white and blue. I take that stuff back too. That theme I’ve been spewing for years. “The French are Toast,” “The French are Toast, Part Deux,” “The French are Toast, Part Deux, Reprise,” and most recently, “The French are Still Toast.” That crap.

“Let them eat cake, let them eat fries with vinegar.”

“Ex the Expos…off with their heads…and take the Tampa Bay Devil Rays while you’re at it.”

“French mustard yes, French baseball no.” I’m glad I said it, but I take it all back.

All I said about Washington not deserving a third chance, and how there were more worthy cities like Norfolk and Las Vegas ready and able. All back, especially the Las Vegas suggestion. Don’t know what I was I thinking.

And man, I absolutely hate to credit Bud Selig for a thing if I don’t absolutely have to. Actually, I don’t have to in this case either, come to think of it.

Now that the Washington Nationals are a reality, I think it’s a pretty good thing. Tell me those red “W” caps aren’t incredibly cool, and a cheery Beltway use of the letter.

Tell me it’s not fun reminiscing about watching “Damn Yankees” every night of a summer week on Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie” and a seventh time on Sunday. Tell me it’s not great recalling Frank Howard and Claude Osteen in blue.

For the young folk, here’s the dirt on the deal: December 4, 1964. The Dodgers traded Mr. Howard, Ken McMullen, Phil Ortega, Pete Richert and a player to be named later (Dick Nen) to the Washington Senators for Osteen, John Kennedy and $100,000 cash.

McMullen returned to Los Angeles from a former Los Angeles American League club (then named after a state in which it did business) in a 1972 trade that went like this: McMullen and Andy Messersmith to the Dodgers for Frank Robinson, Bill Singer, Mike Strahler, Billy Grabarkewitz and Bobby Valentine.

Anyway. Howard’s homers and the distance they traveled producing an equal amount of runs notwithstanding, the Osteen trade was one of the Dodgers best. Ever.

Osteen twice won 20, averaged 16 wins over his nine fine seasons in L.A., with ERAs of 2.64, 2.66, 2.79, 2.84 and several in the low 3's.

He averaged 40 starts a year from 1965 through ‘68, and was a vital member of two rotations which reached the World Series, teaming with Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Johnny Podres in ’65, and with Koufax, Drysdale and Don Sutton in ’66.

Oh, by the way : In the record books lies this little tidbit about lifetime World Series ERA: Jack Billingham, 0.36. Harry Breechen, 0.83. Osteen, 0.86. Babe Ruth, 0.87.

Oh, by the way, part deux : Babe Ruth’s 2.27 lifetime ERA still ranks 15th on baseball’s regular season list, for pitchers with a minimum of 1000 innings. After giving up pitching for other things upon his trade from the Red Sox in 1919, Ruth won his last five starts in New York, spread out through the years 1920, 1921, 1930 and 1933. The Babe pitched a complete game victory in his final start, at the age of 38…

With Jose Valentin out for good and Norihiro Nakamura ready for deportation, the Dodgers should limo Robin Ventura to Las Vegas right quick. He’ll hit better than what they have while he plays himself into shape, and be ten times better than bench man Jason Grabowski, after a trade for a regular third baseman is ultimately made...

Even with just a few weeks under his belt, Nakamura has already left Juan Castro in the dust, and is now the worst non-pitching hitter in Los Angeles history…

Adrian Beltre is being booed in Seattle, and might be brought back for two or three top prospects, including Edwin Jackson, at the All-Star break. It’s worth a phone call…

Solution for your “$2 Tuesday” problem? Why, fire two Vice Presidents, of course…

John Kruk had this to say about Daryle Ward on “Baseball Tonight:” “You give terrible people a chance, they can produce for you.” That’s an exact quote. I always have a pad and pen handy when I’m listening to Rick Monday, and it looks like I’m going to have be prepared for ESPN too. On the same broadcast, Karl Ravech said “The Dodgers [closing situation] has been a complete mess…”

One Lakers note : If Jerry and Jeanne Buss should be kissing slash making up with anyone, it’s Jerry West, not Phil Jackson. A choice between a tandem of Mitch Kupchak and Jackson, or West and Larry Brown is a no-brainer…

Statue for Sandy : The Koufax in bronze campaign continues, so please scroll down to the photo below and vote yes on 32…

Remember, glove conquers all…

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Copyright © 2005 by BaseballSavvy.com.