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Thread: The Orange and Black(Sox)

  1. #1801
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    A little late to the party, but that was one hell of a ride.

    Congratulations sir.

    Any chance you could post the mog file? I would like to see the encyclopedia for this.
    When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist - Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara
    Career Paths: 1901 and Beyond

    My last.fm

  2. #1802
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    Couple of other thoughts.

    I would say that it is a given that Charlie is elected to Cooperstown. I kind of wonder how long it would take though.

    I also wonder about relocation and expansion. The A's still move, but where? With the Braves out of play, Milwaukee is still after a team. The other question is when do the Clippers leave Baltimore? And where to? The city loses 160k of it's population by 1980.
    When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist - Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara
    Career Paths: 1901 and Beyond

    My last.fm

  3. #1803
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    Quote Originally Posted by MadThespian View Post
    Couple of other thoughts.

    I would say that it is a given that Charlie is elected to Cooperstown. I kind of wonder how long it would take though.

    I also wonder about relocation and expansion. The A's still move, but where? With the Braves out of play, Milwaukee is still after a team. The other question is when do the Clippers leave Baltimore? And where to? The city loses 160k of it's population by 1980.

    A recap post of the next 50 years would be neat

  4. #1804
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    MadThespian: Thanks! It was fun for me. Sorry I didn't see your post for, oh, eight months or so.

    jshaw: Funny you should mention it. I have tried my hand at a sort of sequel off and on since this finished (well, after a long rest). Not sure if the sequel is ever going to go anywhere, but the first couple of entries are kind of what you were talking about. I could post them, with the sincere promise that (a) I will try to write the sequel story, and (b) I will fail to do so.

    Very flattering to hear of your interest! I do miss Charlie and his story...and I also miss the time in my life when I had time to write about him.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  5. #1805
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    birds that doesnt go anywhere is better than no birds at all! Post it please.

  6. #1806
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    hotchickenstew: Very flattering...I think...

    Okay, so here are what was going to be the first exposition chapters of a new dynasty that is not forthcoming.

    * * *

    Brooklyn Blues

    How Baseball Returned to Brooklyn and Won the Hearts of America


    By Jan Tyler

    * * *

    CHAPTER ONE: THE FAMILY BUSINESS

    His name is Jack Weston, and he was born for baseball. Literally.

    Seldom does one family so thoroughly dominate any activity. The Fords in cars, Barrymores in Hollywood, Kennedys in politics. These, and a few others, have managed to continue to produce heirs to the family throne who keep the dynasty going successfully.

    Many endeavors have sons and daughters who follow in the footsteps of successful parents, of course. But it is not without reason that the expression "from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" exists. The first generation has the drive, the energy, the ruthlessness, and the creative genius to stake out a new area and claim it in a way that makes him or her a byword for success in the field. The second has the advantages of name recognition and a strong head start, and maybe the cleverness to expand the empire around the edges while still maintaining the core. By the third generation, most dynasties are either bringing in new blood through marriage or simple stock transfer, or are beginning to flounder and squander hard-won resources. And the fourth is as likely as not to be working for someone else who's bought the company, or watching as it's sold off to pay the debts run up by the seemingly-inevitable wastrel raised in privilege.

    The Weston family's game was baseball, and they followed the pattern to near perfection.

    Willie Weston was born September 16, 1914, when the major leagues as we know them were in their infancy. The American League had only been founded 13 years before, and the National, though far more venerable at 38, was still something that the modern world wouldn't recognize. The single season home run record was 27, set by Ned Williamson of the Chicago White Stockings in 1884 (Babe Ruth, who would break it, had made his major league debut two months before Willie's birth, but as a pitcher. Of course, pitchers batted then). A man could earn the nickname "Home Run", as Frank Baker did, by hitting 12 in a season. The changes wrought by the mighty Ruth, by gambling scandal and new Commissioner Thomas Kimball, by dominance of one or two teams (the Baltimore Orioles, borne as an expansion team out of the 1919 World Series scandal, won American League pennants in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, and 1930, and missed 1924 and 1928 by one game each - and they were only the second most dominant team, behind a New York Giants team that won every National League pennant from 1921 - 1928), moved the game much closer to what we have in mind when thinking of baseball today.

    But when Willie Weston was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1932, baseball was a group made up only of white men who played on one of 16 major league teams in 11 cities, using primitive gloves and cloth caps, and while the top earners in the game made up to $45,000 per year, the average player in that Depression year could expect to see $5,000 or less. Integration was five years away, batting helmets ten or more, and expansion, while occasionally discussed, was 30 years in the future, waiting for more money and faster transportation. The home run record that year, as it had been since 1920, was Babe Ruth's 54.

    Willie first saw the major leagues in 1932, and was a regular by 1936. When he retired in October 1957, he had half a dozen trips to the World Series under his belt and was the toast of New York, on a Yankees team that was successful enough in the Forties and Fifties to make its fans forget the depths of the late Twenties and the even greater pit that was the Thirties. Great, and popular, as he was, his retirement was not the talk of baseball. That would be either the new home run record, set by Pat Chopcinski of the Cleveland Indians at 57, or the impending move of two franchises to the golden west. For that was the year in which Walter O'Malley and Horace Stoneham took the Dodgers from Brooklyn, the Giants from New York, and the hearts from thousands of fans. They left behind them two empty stadiums, and, due to a rule put in place when the perennially mismanaged St. Louis Browns fled to Chicago in 1932, their names and colors.

    One other thing went with them. Willie Weston by this time had two sons in professional baseball. The oldest, Bill, was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in that year, and so he was in Los Angeles the next, in which they became known as the Stars. Bill, a morose, generally surly man unloved by even his closest teammates, was nevertheless one of the premier pitchers of his generation. In 1963 he would pitch a no-hitter for the Stars, who by then were one of the most successful teams of their time, largely because of the home run prowess of their thoroughly beloved first baseman, Ernie Banks. Banks beat Chopcinski's home run record the year after Chopcinski earned it, smashing 68. The following year the record he broke was his own, with 74. In 1961, when expansion finally came, he hit 78, and thoughts of Home Run Baker were far, far in the past. The Stars were the best, and Brooklyn fumed. Even moreso because, when expansion arrived in the National League, the two cities to get teams were Houston, with the Colt 45s, and New York, with a team that chose to use the dormant name Giants.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  7. #1807
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    Brooklyn Blues

    How Baseball Returned to Brooklyn and Won the Hearts of America


    By Jan Tyler

    * * *

    CHAPTER ONE: THE FAMILY BUSINESS (continued)


    In 1963 Pat Chopcinski broke the long-standing career home run record of Lou Gehrig, who had retired with 616 when his health left him in 1939. Just as Banks didn't let Chopcinski's single season record last long, he broke his career record just two short years later. In the meantime, Bill Weston continued to thrive, and Willie was the first member of his family to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964. (Technically the second, because his uncle Charles Aaron, the former general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was given his jacket a few minutes earlier. But the names were different, as were the accomplishments.) But Willie didn't have one son in baseball, he had two. And Karl wasn't doing nearly as well as his brother.

    Both Westons had been drafted in the first round in 1955. Bill, as said before, had been chosen by the Dodgers. Karl was taken two picks earlier, at number six, by the woeful Red Sox. And nine years later, when his father stood on a platform at Cooperstown and his brother earned World Series rings and the acclaim of thousands, Karl had nearly made it to Seattle, the Red Sox AAA farm team. But not quite, and so he was still in Reading PA.

    Karl was much more popular than his brother. That was his problem. Nothing was serious to him. Having done his time in the service, he was court martialed for allowing a fellow soldier to sleep while on guard duty in Germany. He was punished in basic training for running the final lap of a mile run backwards. He continued to behave much the same in the Red Sox organization, at a time when the team's lack of success meant that they couldn't afford any distractions. He also managed to get a local girl pregnant when he was on the Sox' lowest-level team in Albany NY, and was a father of Steve Weston at age 20.

    Still, Karl was of the second generation, the one that maintained the legacy of the first. And thanks to his brother Bill, in what Karl often said was "the one decent thing the SOB ever did for anyone", he got a chance to prove it. Just before the 1967 season, after having already been the player to be named later in a forgettable deal with the Washington Senators, Karl was dealt to Los Angeles as a favor to Bill. The Stars' third baseman was struggling, and Karl got a chance. And hit 60 home runs, driving in 122 and winning the National League's Most Valuable Player award. And loudly telling anyone who would listen that he could have been doing that for the previous ten years if anyone would have let him.

    As the 1960s and 1970s went on, both Westons continued to shine, while the game changed around them. Venerable teams such as the Philadelphia Athletics and Washington Senators moved to Oakland and Dallas, becoming the Oaks and Texas Rangers. Expansion came again in 1969, adding the Royals, Pilots, Padres and Expos, all of which have continued as franchises to this day, though only one with very much success even now. The Orioles, once a dominant team, went through a 20-year dry spell, only returning to prominence with the end of the legal dispute between the heirs of late owner Martin Peterson, and the hiring Chuck Aaron (grandson of the original GM) to rebuild the franchise. And the American League decided, with many sunset provisions and "trial" runs, to allow pitchers not to bat but be batted for. The Nationals would not follow suit until the late 1980s, when Commissioner Ueberroth said what was on many people's minds, that it was silly for two leagues playing the same game to have different rules, and chose the American League way.

    Bill Weston retired in 1975, with 284 wins. Karl held on until 1977, retiring just over a year after his son Steven, the third generation, was drafted by the Pirates, and two weeks after Steven's major league debut as a September call-up. Karl finished with 543 home runs, leading him (if no-one else) to ask what he might have done had he been given a chance to play before he turned 29. Bill was called to Cooperstown in 1981, becoming part of the first father-son duo so enshrined. Karl joined him two years later. By this time, Steven had been traded to Seattle, the first of eight times he would be part of a deal before his career ended. He was well on his way...to proving the shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves adage exactly. Following in his father's time frame, he wasn't really ready to be in the majors until he was much older than usual. Also following Karl, once he was ready, he showed it, pitching a no-hitter against his father and uncle's old team in Los Angeles in 1990.

    By this time he was no longer on the Pilots, playing instead for the Atlanta Raptors. The next round of expansion, welcoming the Marlins and Rockies, came in 1993. Steve Weston, unpopular as he was, was left unprotected by Atlanta and taken as the third overall pick in the draft, by Colorado. Within two months he'd annoyed his new organization so much that he never wore their uniform, and was dealt to Detroit, his seventh team. He earned his 200th win and his third World Series ring that year (all three with a different team), and was able to celebrate with his grandfather Willie before Willie's death at age 79. By the end of 1994 he certainly had the statistics to make a case for the Hall of Fame - just no votes, because he was universally disliked.

    Even by his son Jack, drafted with the sixth pick in the 1996 draft by Montreal. He was still in their minor league system when his father retired in July 1998, with 253 wins, and nine major league organizations. And 3589 strikeouts, good for ninth on the all time list. And a fan club consisting of basically his uncle Bill. For a time, there were no Westons in major league baseball, the first time since Willie's debut as a regular in 1936. This lasted two years, but they were an eventful two.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  8. #1808
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    Brooklyn Blues

    How Baseball Returned to Brooklyn and Won the Hearts of America


    By Jan Tyler

    * * *

    CHAPTER TWO: MAKES US STRONGER

    By the late 1990s, baseball was no longer the same game Willie Weston played as a youth in Baltimore. Some of the differences were subtle, some not. There were more teams, meaning more players, and since not everyone could be as good as everyone else, this meant a dilution of the abilities found throughout the leagues. Ballparks were generally better, but also tended to be smaller. Strength and conditioning were no longer considered satisfactory just because the players tossed a medicine ball around for a couple of weeks in the spring - now, players were expected to work out and remain in shape throughout the year, and report ready to play in February. Pitchers no longer batted, and had not done so for ten to twenty years, depending on the league. And finally, there was the chemical enhancement revolution.

    When, in October 1997, Carmelo Martinez of the Cubs ended the season, he had hit 616 home runs. This was the same number as hit in his stellar career by the great Baltimore Orioles' first baseman, Lou Gehrig, from 1921 - 1939. Martinez had hit his in three fewer seasons. More importantly, Gehrig had retired with the major league record. On the day Martinez ended the season with 616, he was tied with Gehrig for 19th place on the all time list. Pat Chopcinski had broken Gehrig's record in 1963, and Ernie Banks had surpassed Chopcinski two years later. Banks was still, in 1997, the holder of the record, his 737 putting him ahead of Tony Solaita (719), Frank Robinson (716), and Willie Stargell (714). Even Chopcinski's 659 was no longer in the top ten, and Babe Ruth, who had done so much to make it all possible, was in 46th place all time.

    On a season by season basis, there was more stability, as Banks' 78 was still the record and had been since setting it in the expansion year of 1961. (There had been a move to put an asterisk next to the record that year, ostensibly to denote that it had been both an expansion year and a season in which teams played more games than before. This was widely seen as having racist motivations, as Chopcinsi, Gehrig, and Ruth were all white and Banks black, and the idea was quickly dropped.)

    And then came 1998. In which Los Angeles Stars' third baseman Tom Slade broke Banks' record on September 25 against expansion team Phoenix, and ended the season with an even 80. He also batted .340, and drove in an astonishing 199 runs, easily capturing Triple Crown honors, and for the first time raising suspicion that he had not done it alone, but had had chemical help. Still, his defenders pointed out that he had always been a power hitter (indeed the 33 he'd hit back in 1988 was his lowest season total, and he'd topped 50 three times). It was plausible enough, and nobody really wanted to believe that the game or its hero was tainted anyway.

    The next year it was harder to ignore though, when no fewer than five players all hit their 500th career home run. Jay Buhner, Albert Belle, Ken Griffey Jr., Bill Bathe, and Danny Tartabull reached that once-rarified total. Griffey was 30, by far the youngest ever to do so. And it didn't stop there. The summer of 2000 was a race between Slade and Martinez, now with the Marlins, to see who could get to number 700 first. Slade won, hitting numbers 700 and 701 in the same game on August 15, coincidentally in Martinez' home park in Miami. Number 701 moved him ahead of Dave Kingman, who had retired with exactly 700, and into fifth all time. Slade, only 35 years old, was widely expected to surpass Banks' record. He would have done so in 2001 except for a wrist fracture suffered in July which cost him four weeks, but he ended the season only two behind Banks. The fracture also cost him his job at third base, as 24 year old Braden Stone, his replaceent, hit 55 home runs and drove in 147 runs.

    The fracture also allowed a roster spot at the major league level for the Stars, which was filled by young Jack Weston, traded to Los Angeles in March 2001. What it did not do was stop the Stars on their pennant run of that year, which ended in a game seven victory over Baltimore. Tom Slade finally had, among all his other honors and the adulation of millions, the one thing that had eluded him - the World Series ring. Jack Weston had what he surely thought would be the first of many as well.

    Weston was dealt to Seattle in the off season, and Slade played only a few games before going back onto the disabled list. But on May 14th, in Milwaukee, with Ernie Banks looking on, Tom Slade hit home run number 738. People heard Banks complain that it was surely suspicious that all those players on the Stars were hitting all those home runs. And while it was true that the top ten in home runs were all occupied by members of the Los Angeles team, this was still largely dismissed as a cranky old man who didn't want to give up his place in the record books. Behind the scenes, in the Commissioner's office, Banks' comments gave new life to an investigation which had been floundering.

    A thrilling 2002 World Series, in which the Rockies and Seattle Pilots stunned the Stars and Yankees, respectively, to make it in the first place, kept everyone's minds off the looming scandal as much as possible. The Pilots fell behind three games to none, and then came roaring back to sweep the final four games, for the first time this had happened in a World Series since the all-Baltimore classic of 1950. Questions were starting to be asked more loudly about steroids, particularly about the Stars, though pitcher Sidney Ponson, asked about it on winning the first of his seven Cy Young awards, was memorably quoted as saying "If they're using something to hit it, why aren't we smart enough to use something to pitch it?" It seemed that everybody knew players who were using, everybody knew it was particularly true in Los Angeles, but nobody was willing to name names. In public.

    The Commissioner's Report which was released on January 14, 2003, named names. Oddly, the only team that did not have at least three players on it whose names appeared in the report was the Stars. Since in 2002 Stars outfielder Juan Molina led the majors with 64 HRs, Braden Stone was second with 63, and Stars second baseman Gee Renaldo third with 61, this seemed impossible. Two months later, when the Supplemental Report came out, all three were named, with evidence appended, including grainy, black and white surveillance photos showing them and many others in the act of using the drugs. Tom Slade was among them, though the evidece was not as iron clad in his case. It is for this reason that, while Molina, Stone, and Renaldo were suspended from the game for life, barred from a place in the record books - in effect, retroactively made to have never existed - Slade was simply forced to retire and banned from the Hall of Fame. This was largely seen as a wrist slap, but the owners and executives in baseball could not allow their Home Run King of Kings and Star of Stars (the name given him on the day he broke Banks' record by a somewhat over-enthusiastic Los Angeles sportswriter) to be completely tainted. They therefore allowed him to make the ludicrous claim that the evidence only showed that he'd begun using after hitting his 745th, and coincidentally final, home run. They all would count, and he still held the record, though the game didn't want to see him again.

    It was not until 2005 when the final lawsuits filed by Molina, Stone, Renaldo, all the other players, and their union, were settled. Settled, it must be added, almost entirely in the favor of Major League Baseball. 2005 was also the year in which Ken Griffey, his powers failing him and falling well short of the record, found himself traded to San Diego where he was able to hit 31 home runs and easily win Comeback Player of the Year. Finally, 2005 was the year in which the Montreal Expos, one of the worst franchises in the history of the game, failed financially and had to be taken over by the league, an action not taken since the Boston Braves in 1942.

    Griffey would go on to continue, year after year, until finally hitting home run number 738 against the Expos/Nationals in 2008. The celebration for taking over the second spot on the all time home run list was far greater than would be expected for such a non-record, but it had become apparent by then that most baseball fans, if not most of baseball itself, was simply willing to pretend that Tom Slade had never happened, and that Banks still held the record. Major League Baseball as an entity made much more of Griffey's home run number 746, on July 28 of that year. With home run totals dropping back to pre-steroid levels, and with the greatest home run record now held by someone who everyone in the game could not only like, but trust, baseball seemed to be back on a sound footing.

    But there was the matter of the Expos. And finances in general. And even a World Series for the ages couldn't fix all that was wrong.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  9. #1809
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    Birds sighting!!!!

    I was in the process of re-reading the story (as I have done countless times) and saw new posts from you. Awesome!!

  10. #1810
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    jdcoplnd: Great to hear from you! And thanks for the nice words. I had a little bit more written that I just got distracted from posting last week, so here we are. This basically brings us up to the point where I was going to start the next story. As I said though - highly unlikely.

    * * *

    Brooklyn Blues

    How Baseball Returned to Brooklyn and Won the Hearts of America


    By Jan Tyler

    * * *

    CHAPTER THREE: MONEY MONEY MONEY


    The Montreal Expos were never supposed to happen.

    In 1967, the major leagues consisted of 20 teams. The National League had the Atlanta Peaches, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Colt 45s, Los Angeles Stars, New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Earthquakes, and St. Louis Cardinals. The American League was represented by the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Athletics, and Washington Senators. California, Minnesota, Houston, and New York were all expansion teams, either five or six years old. Atlanta had been the Boston Braves by way of their time as the Baltimore Clippers (and would later keep their multiple personalities alive by becoming the Atlanta Raptors, and later still the Georgia Peaches). The Stars and Earthquakes had come from Brooklyn and New York, respectively, though former New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham had "seen the error of [his] ways" and sold his San Francisco Seals, using the money to purchase once again the team that played in New York's Polo Grounds. New Seals owner Charles O. Finley had immediately re-named the moribund San Francisco franchise after the city's most famous event, a measure of poor taste that was nevertheless approved, or at least not objected to, by the rest of the game. Bill Veeck had just sold his interest in the White Sox after many successful years there partnered with veteran General Manager Andrew Snyder - within nine months of the sale, he would get itchy to return to baseball, buy the Colt 45s, change their name to the Astros and latch onto America's Space Race for his marketing, lure Snyder away from Chicago, and together they would again build a multiple-time champion.

    But that was in the future. At the All-Star game in Anaheim that July, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had announced the formation of a committee to again study the possibility of expansion. Nineteen of the twenty teams in the leagues were at least making more than they spent in a year - the exception, the once-again woeful Athletics, were in behind-the-scenes talks with a potential new ownership group with great plans to revitalize the team and its fortunes in downtown Philadelphia. These plans would fall through, and the franchise would be moved in December 1967 to Oakland, California - Finley could not be allowed to have the entire San Francisco Bay area.

    On May 27, 1968, Expansion Committee chief Walter O'Malley announced the four cities which would be blessed with new teams. Kansas City and Seattle would get new American League franchises. San Diego would get a National League team. The final team, also to be in the National League, would be the re-birth of arguably the most successful organization of the 1950s, the Baltimore Clippers.

    The team had won four World Series championships during that decade, and six National League pennants, and had once again made Baltimore a city synonomous with successful baseball. Even as the Orioles experienced their first prolonged slump in the club's history, due to the penny-pinching of team owner Martin Peterson (and despite Herculean efforts by GM Andrew Snyder, the same Snyder who would have so much later success elsewhere), the Clippers won pennant after pennant. Owner Harrison Daniels, who purchased the team in 1951 from Arthur MacMillan, had one advantage over Peterson - while he also made bad baseball decisions, he did not allow them to deplete his minor league system. It was MacMillan's system which produced a stream of talent that created the success of the 50s. It was Daniels' mistakes, and Daniels' attitude toward the city and its fans, which drove attendance to record lows as soon as the success dried up. And it was Daniels who accepted Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen's offer to move his franchise to the south in 1965.

    Baltimore, though, was beginning to suffer as all major cities in the United States did after their heights in 1950. From a population high of 2.4 million, the city's numbers had begun a slow but steady decline, leaving them at just under 2 million in 1968. Long-dormant matters of race had flared up again, particularly with national events to incite them. Recently-elected Mayor Peter G. Angelos, who had won the 1967 election largely due to the financial support of Orioles' owner Peterson, was proving to be completely unable to deal with the running of a modern big city, and worse than that, completely unable to recognize this lack of ability. Plus, though he didn't know it, Angelos had done one other thing which would keep him from being able to run for re-election on the basis of having lured back a second major league team. He had insulted a woman named Susanna Aaron.

    Mrs. Aaron regularly visited Baltimore with her husband Charles long after the two had retired from Baltimore and moved to Florida. They had family in the area, and still had ties from their many years of residence in the city. The two were present at an annual celebration held by Baltimore United Charities in November 1967. No one recorded exactly what Mayor Angelos said to Mrs. Aaron, who was in frail health at the time, and in fact would pass away less than a year later aged 81. But it was noted at the time that the 81 year old Charles Aaron had responded to Angelos "with a vigor that belied his age", according to the couple's daughter-in-law, Vivian. This would have doubtless been dismissed by history as merely a mistake by an experienced politician, but for the fact that Charles Aaron was the former general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was still respected throughout much of the baseball world, and where he was not respected, at least still knew where the bodies were buried. Furthermore, after his wife's passing in June 1968 he had a lot of time on his hands. He made use of that time.

    Thus it was that, at the ownership meetings in December 1968, the Baltimore franchise was declared dead, and a new one rose in Montreal. The problem with that, as even Aaron acknowledged in an interview shortly before his death in 1976, was that the late acceptance of the bid for a team caused all sorts of problems for the new team, and put them behind the eight ball from the start - a place where they remained for the entirety of their existence in Montreal.

    It did not begin that way, perhaps. The Expos were not, after all, the worst of the four expansion teams. That would be the Seattle Pilots, who managed to eclipse not only the 20th century record for futility set by the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics with only 36 wins, but the all time record of the 1898 Cleveland Spiders and their 20 victories. The Expos would have held the record, winning only 22 games that inaugural year and losing 140 - but the Pilots won a pitiful 13 times. Were it not for the fact that Seattle had fans willing to pack tiny Sick's Stadium despite their team's status as "loveable losers", and to continue to pack said stadium for years to come, it is likely that it would have been the Pilots and not the Expos who were destined to be the last team to move in the major leagues. Perhaps it would even have been the Expos who were the first of the four 1969 expansion teams to win a World Series, instead of Seattle.

    It is also not that the Expos could not catch a break. It's more that they were never close enough to a win to make a break even possible. The team had one winning season, in their seventh year of existence. Thirty years later, they still had one winning season. And the fans of Montreal were tired of it. By 2005, team owner Randall Miller was forced by Major League Baseball to sell them the team, on condition that he never come back again. Rather than declare bankruptcy, he readily agreed. The team floundered in Montreal for that 2005 season, and were then sold and moved to Washington - where their record of unmitigated failure has continued to this day. Baseball in Montreal was dead.

    But baseball as a game was thriving. At the 2006 Winter Meetings, the owners voted to expand by 2010. It was one small voice, from the Cincinnati Reds, that suggested that the 2006 Congressional elections and some other economic factors might indicate caution. By October 2007, the world's economy was in shambles, expansion was off the table. An exciting 2007 World Series, and Griffey's pursuit and capture of the all time home run record in 2008, were enough to keep baseball alive, but certainly not enough to cause talks of expansion. Annual votes at the winter meetings postponed discussions for the next year, and the next, and so on through the remainder of the decade, and beyond. The desire, as always, was there. The money was not.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

  11. #1811
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    Re: The Orange and Black(Sox)

    Brooklyn Blues

    By Jan Tyler

    * * *

    CHAPTER FOUR: FROM BROKE TO EXPANSION


    At the 2012 Winter Meetings, for the sixth consecutive year, the lords of baseball decided to postpone talk of expansion. Their teams were doing well. Well enough, anyway. Griffey's capture of the home run record, which saw him hit 751 and retire after the 2009 season, had helped immeasurably to bring the game back to public favor. Football was still popular, but appeared to be losing some steam as players grew more and more angry over their contracts, and how much more remunerative it was to play baseball. As the players complained, the public stayed away, and as the public stayed away, the money went with them, and contracts grew smaller still. This cycle would eventually combine with public concern over players' health to cause a drop in popularity, a drop which baseball was only too eager to exploit. Commissioner Frank Robinson commanded enough respect from his years as a player that even the more colorful owners were hesitant to work against him, and so some of his outreach programs to youth were implemented with full support. The game seemed perpetually on the cusp of exploding again, and many thought that all that would be needed to push it over was expansion. But enough thought that expansion would tip it back the other way, that it was never brought up seriously beyond talking about not talking about it.

    In 2012, Houston Astros owner Mike Veeck carried enough votes with him to get a restructuring of the leagues accomplished. This sweeping change would do away with the separate offices of the American and National Leagues, making one Major League Baseball organization. It would also move Veeck's Astros from the National League to the American, change the number of teams in each division to five each, and introduce a second Wild Card. For baseball, moving from one Wild Card team in 1994 to a second fewer than 20 years later was blinding speed in making changes. It also necessitated at least limited interleague play, which had been under discussion for a hundred years, and so was much more in keeping with baseball's usual pace of change.

    Now no longer tainted by steroids, all the previously-mentioned factors in baseball's home run barrage continued in effect. So it was that when on August 29, 2013, Atlanta Raptors left fielder Richard Hidalgo hit his 700th home run, it meant that the entire top ten on the all time home run list was now at or over 700. Gehrig's 616 was no longer in the top twenty. But because there was no taint of chemical enhancement (or appeared to be - the rumors of Griffey being given a pass on steroids so that he could stay in the game long enough to break Slade's record, with undocumented approval by baseball, would persist), the public was coming to the games as never before. By December 2016, though the owners were not scheduled to address the possibility of expansion, they tentatively did so anyway. There was great political turmoil at that meeting, with what has been described as a near riot breaking out when two owners, California's Pietro Hecaro and the Cubs Harold Silvers, came to blows over an argument about the Presidential election. But the owners, and the league, agreed that it wasn't quite time yet, though it was closer than it had been in ten years.

    Then came 2017. And another third baseman for the Los Angeles Stars turned everything upside down. By June, Matt Seals was on pace to shatter not only Banks' unofficial record of 78 home runs in a season, but also Slade's official 80. He was on a pace, in fact, to hit 106. "It's amazing how often my name came up in the 'random' selection for drug testing that summer," he would say later, but the leagues actually made no bones about it and publicly announced that Seals would be tested every three days for the remainder of the season. And somehow, it didn't matter, and he finished the year with 92. And the crowd, as they say, assured by the tests that the assault on the record was legitimate, went wild. Attendance soared at every Stars game, so much so that the team announced plans to spend the money on a new stadium to replace by-now dilapidated Stars Stadium. The Giants made enough to consider shuttering old Shea Stadium and building a new one, to be named the Polo Grounds on its opening in 2022. The Pilots were finally able to move out of the repeatedly-upgraded and very old Sick's Stadium, with a new Pilots Field scheduled for a 2021 opening. Even the White Sox, who had kept to McLaughlin Field (and which had originally, as White Sox Park, opened in 1910), announced a new park for 2020.

    Seals was the perfect man to bring baseball back to the top. Humble, pleasant, good-looking (he acted in the off-season), well-spoken, with a beautiful wife, a beautiful house, and three beautiful kids, he brought to mind images of baseball's other Gentlemen, including Steve Garvey (whose 3,813 lifetime base hits were second only to Ty Cobb, though he did play until he was 47), and Gentleman Will Weston. Seals also had a teammate, shortstop Zack Kosek, who pushed him in 2018, and the two finished with a combined 177 home runs and over 400 RBI. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Stars won the World Series that year. And attendance throughout the game continued to skyrocket. It was time.

    In January 2018, a limited expansion of two teams was announced. Bids came in from Newark NJ, Mexico City, Montreal, New Orleans, Portland, Nashville, San Antonio, and surprise entrant Havana, and each received much publicity. Also submitting entries, but to much less fanfare, were the cities of Boston, Los Angeles, and the borough Brooklyn. After a year of consideration, the December 2018 winter meetings saw the announcement of a move that would help to make the World Series live up to its name at last - Mexico City and Montreal were set to join (or re-join).

    And then they didn't. Over the course of 2019 more and more began to leak from the league offices in Manhattan about flaws in the two winning bids. And while nobody could quite nail down what was going on, the former sites of Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn, and Joe Moakley Park in Boston, had some sort of construction going on. Reporter Dennis Kush of Sports Illustrated made the first public suggestion that another team in New York and one in Boston would help to produce competitive balance for the successful Yankees, Giants, and Red Sox (though the Red Sox were generally not competitive or successful, at this particular time they were on an upswing). ESPN, always accused of favoring the New York/New England areas, made no attempt to discount their support for the idea of a return to the National League for one of the two cities.

    On October 1, 2019, Commissioner Robert Manfred announced that the Mexico City and Montreal bids were officially dead. And that he was stepping down as of December 31, to spend more time with his family. On December 9 former United States Senator Alvin K. Thompson was announced as the next Commissioner of baseball. The next day Thompson stated that tech billionaire Peter Nomen in Brooklyn would have an American League team starting in 2021, and old money J. Wellington Northcutt would have a National League team in Boston, the same year. Future expansion would be under consideration. Nomen in 2020 hired baseball legacy Jack Weston, great-grandson of Willie, as his general manager.


    Here would have begun our story.
    The Orange and Black(Sox) - The Complete Saga

    Part One - The First Ten Long Years: The Orange and Black(Sox)
    Part Two - Ten More Years! (Orange and) Black Times
    The Spin-off Mini-Series: An Orange and Black Shroud

    Part Three - How Long Can This Go On? Charlie's War

    The Spin-Off: Braves New World

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