Hot Stove is five years old. It started because of this…
During the 2014 and 2015 postseasons, I sent emails to some friends to convey my thoughts on the games, sprinkled with some nostalgia and trivia. The mailing list kept growing. I got a lot of nice comments. So after the 2015 World Series I decided to continue during the off-season to keep the conversation going. This is traditionally known in baseball as the “Hot Stove League,” going back to fans gathering around a hot stove in winter to discuss baseball and await spring training.
To see if there was enough interest, I sent this to the postseason readers:
“My posts on baseball started with just some back and forth with baseball pals. But as World Series fever hit last year and then again this year, I cast a wider net and may have caught some folks whose tolerance for trivia and nostalgia may not match up with quirky baseball nuts. Or, now that the thrill of the postseason is over, some will just want to get on to basketball, football and/or the holidays. Or work.
My posts will continue to my baseball pals in the off-season (a/k/a the “Hot Stove League”). In addition to memories of Campy, George, Yogi, Mickey, the Babe and the like, they will also get stuck with an occasional movie review or a stretched reference to some rock ‘n’ roll record. There will also likely be talk about the Royals and free agents, links to Angell, Posnanski and Boswell, and items sent in by folks getting my posts. The posts won’t be as long or as frequent – the scrappy Royals made for a lot of good copy in a magical month.”
A couple of things did not work out as I had planned. I thought the frequency would be once a month at most. It’s been more like two to three a month. Stuff happens and I get the urge to share. The biggest miss was saying the posts would not “be as long” as during the playoffs. For that transgression, Hollis Hanover introduced me to an internet acronym: “TL; DR.” I looked it up. “Too long, didn’t read.”
With that thought in mind, this is a good place to acknowledge that Hot Stove may have dropped in priority in your reading world. Things change over five years. If so, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email to unsubscribe.
Inaugural Post – November 30, 2015: When the first Hot Stove message was posted in November of 2015, the Royals were looking forward to 2016. They expected to lose Alex Gordon through free agency – the team was unlikely to participate in a high-dollar bidding war. I ran this Lee Judge cartoon in Hot Stove to depict the situation.
As it turned out, the Royals did not need to sign Superman. They signed Gordon to a 4-year deal worth $72 million, and then added a fifth year for the 2020 season. Although Gordon’s hitting stats dropped in his years after the World Series, he remained an elite left fielder. His career total of eight Gold Gloves as a Royal is matched only by Frank White. In 2020, Alex also won the Platinum Glove award as the best fielder at any positon in the American League.
A good finish for a fine 14-year career. Thank you Alex.
On the Internet: That inaugural post and all that followed can be found on the Lonnie’s Jukebox website set up by my son Brian. The primary purpose of the site was to archive Hot Stove, but other interests are included – politics, movies, rock ‘n’ roll, travel, etc. If you get tired of baseball, feel free to click on Travelogues to see wild animals in Africa and penguins in Antarctica.
Family (1) Hamilton (3) Hot Stove (152) Ken Hill (4) Lonnie’s Jukebox (1) MLK (10) Politics (14) Rita’s Cancer Journey (5) Rock And Roll (8) Stadium Tours (4) Telluride Film Festival (6) Tom Eagleton (7) Travelogues (8) Tributes (6)
Donald Trump/Cleveland Spiders – Biggest Losers: In Hot Stove #141, I wrote about the Cleveland Spiders, a team that folded in 1899. They made news twice in 2020: (i) “Spiders” is being floated as a new team name for the Cleveland Indians, and (ii) the Spiders major league record of hitting a grand slam in four consecutive games (in 1895) was broken by the 2020 San Diego Padres.
The legacy of the Spiders is secure in one category. They played the worst season in major league history, going 20-134 in 1899. They never played again. But they are on Twitter this month:
Jay Jaffe is a sportswriter for FanGraphs and the author of The Cooperstown Casebook, considered by many to be the bible of ranking eligibility for the Hall of Fame. He also tweets about politics. In this tweet, he was referring to the won-loss record of the Trump/GOP lawsuits attempting to override the will of the voters (a/k/a stealing an election). When Jaffe sent the tweet on the 18th, I think the lawsuit record was 1-23. As of today it is 2-34. And the two winners did nothing to change the electoral vote.
To put that in perspective, the 20-134 Spiders’ season reflected a winning percentage of .130. The Trump litigation record of 2-34 is a percentage of .056.
Another team having a bad season is the GOP Senate. I believe four of the current 53 GOP U.S. Senators have been willing to publically recognize that Joe Biden will be the next president. The others are complicit, evasive or silent (e.g. Josh Hawley of Missouri had this to say when asked about Trump’s actions, “I haven’t followed it super closely.” Yeah, right.). The GOP’s Spiderlike record of 4-49 converts to a winning percentage of .075.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social [presidential] transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
Or to use Lin-Manual Miranda’s lyrics from Hamilton: “History has its eyes on you.”
Biden? In electoral votes, he has a won-loss record of 306-232, a solid percentage of .569. No Spider comparisons for him.
Joe Biden – Center Field In the Little and Big Leagues: Joe Biden started playing Little League baseball at the age of eight in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He began as a shortstop before moving to center field. In 2009, he was inducted into the Hall of Excellence at the Little League Hall of Fame. This is an annual award given to Little Leaguers who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their chosen profession and exemplify the values learned as children in the Little Leagues.
Biden’s son Beau was a Little Leaguer in Delaware. In November of 2014, six months before he died, Beau tweeted a father-son photo (circa late 1970s) and added this message:
“Happy Birthday to the best coach I could have asked for. Love you Pop.”
As reported in the last Hot Stove, Biden played center field for the Democrats in the annual Congressional game. This prompted Hot Stove reader Bill Goetze to merge Biden’s baseball position with his pending presidency and John Fogerty’s “Centerfield”:
“Put him in coach! He’s ready to play!”
The song is played on a regular basis in almost every baseball stadium (see the wonderful nostalgia-filled music video here).
Biden is of course ready to play, but his transition is being blocked by the current administration. In time, the logjam will break, and then…
Well-a, beat the drum and hold the phone,
The sun came out today.
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home,
It’s a brown-eyed handsome man,
Anyone can understand the way I feel.
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, I can be, Centerfield
Don’t miss Opening Day, January 20, 2021, when Joe Biden is sworn in as #46.
Small World Baseball Birthdays: I went to about 20 A’s games in 1955, the team’s first year in KC. I specifically remember two of them – Opening Day (April 12) and the Saturday afternoon they lost 29-6 (April 23). When I wrote about the Opening Day game in Hot Stove in 2018, I got a note from John Sherman (not yet the Royals owner) that he was born on that very day in 1955. Last month, I wrote about the 29-6 game and included the headline shown below. Tom Turner emailed to say he was born on the date above the headline.
That was the bait. Now the switch. Tom Turner is the president of Bishop Sullivan Center, one of the finest charities operating in Kansas City. I was introduced to the organization several years ago by my late friend Albert Riederer. I have been constantly impressed by the scope of the aid they provide. Food pantry. Restaurant. Mattresses. Air conditioners installed by volunteer college students in the summer. An employment service program. Cars for those who get jobs, but need transportation. And a lot more.
Always while treating the people they serve with dignity.
Some of the most impressive work is for those who need short term help. Like for utilities and rent. Due to Covid, the demand for these services has been very high. People have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced. Until they find another job, they need help to “cover a bill” to avoid an eviction or have a utility cut off. So Bishop Sullivan Center is looking for donations to help cover some bills. Mike Garrett, former Chiefs player and Super Bowl Champ from 1970, has joined the effort and is shown below covering the bill of his cap to symbolize his support. Those giving $100 or more will get a Chiefs cap like Mike is wearing
So here is my pitch. If you are looking to share some Thanksgiving/Christmas goodwill, think about covering a bill for someone in need. Click here for the details. Thanks for your consideration.
Update – Negro Leagues 100th Anniversary: Although the pandemic has delayed some centennial events, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has been creative in keeping the celebration going. On November 13, the date of Buck O’Neil’s 109th birthday, the RideKC Transit family unveiled a streetcar dedicated to Buck (#22). Also unveiled was a bright red metro bus designed as a vintage barnstorming bus for the Kansas City Monarchs.
Four standouts in the world of baseball joined for a streaming event on Buck’s birthday. NLBM President Bob Kendrick was joined by documentarian Ken Burns, sportscaster Bob Costas and sportswriter Joe Posnanski for a delightful hour of baseball nostalgia. If you need a fun break in your day, the video is here (starts at 7 minute mark).
Long Walk Update: Since last March – my goodness, eight months – Rita and I have been walking midtown KC almost every day, three to four miles. But it’s getting cold outside. So we bought a treadmill that does not enhance the interior decoration of our library/TV room. We may occasionally put on our parkas and venture out, but don’t expect to see many photos of winter walks. But here are some from walks on warmer days…
At the Kelly’s intersection in Westport, these signs caught Rita’s eye. The upper one recognizes the stagecoach days of Westport as part of the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails. Today, it’s on the Bike Route. In keeping with the theme of the transportation hub, note the rental scooters behind Rita.
I previously posted a gray heron photo from Loose Park, but this bird (maybe the same one) was stationed in Volker Park alongside Brush Creek.
Thanks to building owner David Block, CBD American Shaman and five local artists, there are some new colorful 5-story murals across from Mill Creek Park. Among the jellyfish and abstract art, you can spot Abraham Lincoln and maybe Patrick Mahomes.
The Jannes Library of the Kansas City Art Institute lies on the northwest edge of Southmoreland Park. Thomas Hart Benton is out front to greet visitors. A believer in science, he is wearing a mask.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Pair of Queens: The hottest new show on Netflix is The Queen’s Gambit, a 7-episode series about a female chess prodigy (played brilliantly by Anya Taylor-Joy). No knowledge of chess is needed to appreciate the show. And Queen Elizabeth II has returned to Netflix for Season 4 of The Crown. Each series features period music, the ‘60s for Gambit and the ‘80s for Crown.
Click here to see the trailer for The Queen’s Gambit. The singer in the trailer is Dionne Warwick. Below, click on the song titles for some music from the show.
“You’re the One” by the Vogues.
“Venus” by Shocking Blue.
“Classical Gas” by Mason Williams.
Click here to see the trailer for Season 4 of The Crown. Much of the Season 4 music centered on Princess Diana (Emma Corrin).
“Call Me” by Blondie. Played when teenage Diana gets her first call from Prince Charles.
“Girls On Film” by Duran Duran. Diana roller skates in the halls of Buckingham Palace while listening to one of her favorite bands.
“Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. Spoiler alert. The video is from the show.
Trip Queens: I’m going to stretch a little and add one more Queen. Princess Di is happily singing along while driving. The song is “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by………Queen.
Bonus Netflix Selection: Rita and I recently watched My Octopus Teacher, a nature documentary that we highly recommend. See the trailer here.
Please have a SAFE Thanksgiving. We’ll leave the Plaza Lights on for you.