(left to right) STREET and SMITH’S OFFICIAL Yearbook, 1972, 2020 and 1978 [from David Kramer’s collection]
For you pessimistic naysayers, we are making a prediction. There will be a 2020 major league baseball season.
A. Bartlett Giamatti, the 7th MLB Commissioner and former President of Yale University, was right when, in The Green Fields of the Mind, he wrote: “baseball breaks your heart.” But Bart also said; “baseball blossoms in the summer.” As it will this summer.
[Baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
Over the years, Talker has frequently told you exactly what will happen in the upcoming season. When the storied Street and Smith’s was on hiatus, we published Kramer and Kramer’s Official 2016 Yearbook.
As seen in Grading Kramer and Kramer’s 2016 baseball predictions, we were not exactly correct, mis-predicting that the Chicago Cubs would beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. To this day, I am convinced some illegal and subterfugal sign stealing skewed the results.
From 2017 – 2019, Bill Pruitt offered poetic prognostications: “Pennant Race ’19 in Eight Sestets and a Couplet”, “Pennant Race 18: Curses Laid and Lifted” and “The Pennant Races in Rhyming Couplets”.
Recently, Bill wrote; “Whether or not there is a season, there will be a poem.” Often, Bill predicts the St. Louis Cardinals will win the World Series. This year the baseball bard will be correct! And, if there is no season, Bill can claim that technically he was not wrong.
This year I will not make strict predictions. Instead, 2020 Street & Smith’s is our guide to what outcomes will be GOOD or BAD.First, the edition has several good articles. Mike Beradino’s “Whither the Baseball?” speculates whether MLB will stop using the “rabbit ball” that has led to record breaking numbers of home runs.
Preferring small ball tactics like bunting, stealing and hit and runs, I hope home runs are reduced. Either way, 2020 will be a far cry from 1972 when S & S ran a story on sacrifice or suicide squeezes.
In “How Do You Spell Relief,” Tracy Ringolsby argues modern analytics are making it more difficult to close games, noting; “Don’t hold your breath waiting for the next Mariano or Goose Gossage. My favorite reliever is the legendary Rollie Fingers from the same era as Gossage.
A while back, Fingers was at Frontier Field signing autographs. I missed the pre-game session, but an usher offered to take my cards to Fingers who was staying for the game. Fingers signed his 1973 ™Topps card. Also, I brought a card depicting Willie Mays’ last major league at bat. In the 12th inning of game two of the 1973 World Series, Mays singled against Fingers, the card kindly signed by him. I offered the usher a tip, but the man said he was just glad Rollie was generous with his pen. So, Rollie Fingers is my favorite reliever.
S & S says Tampa Bay will lose in the American League Wild Card game. It would be BAD if the Rays advance because they have the worst fans in all baseball.
S & S says Philadelphia will lose the National League Wild Card game. This is NEUTRAL because I am neither for nor against the Phillies. I did watch every pitch when they played in the most thrilling post season series in major league baseball history, the 1980 National League Championship Series.
S & S says Atlanta will win the wild card game but lose in the National League division series. This is NEUTRAL because I am neither for nor against the Braves. Giving the Braves good karma, I do own their 1969 team set, including future Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Phil Niekro and Hoyt Wilhelm. The 1969 Braves won the National League West but were swept in three games by the Mets in the championship series.
S & S says the Oakland A’s will lose the American League division series to the New York Yankees. This is SAD for the Athletics who I have liked ever since collecting cards from their five straight western division titles, 71 – ’75, and three consecutive World Series championships, ’72 – ’74. The teams included Hall of Famers, Fingers, Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Reggie Jackson.
All three are featured on cool 3D cards.
S & S says the Washington Nationals will beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League division series. This is VERY BAD for Bill Pruitt but will not happen.
It’s OK if the Nationals win. The Hat Gate game is reason enough to root for the Nationals explains I rooted for the Nationals after watching Stephen Strasburg pitch at Frontier Field in 2010.Today, Nick Sciarratatta, Dir. of Corporate Develoment for the Rochester Red Wings, asked if he could use the image in the upcoming season program. That’s reason enough to root for Strasburg’s Nats.
S & S says the Houston Astros will beat the Minnesota Twins in the American League division series. This is VERY BAD. As seen in Why I don’t care that much about the Houston Ass – terisks*, not only are the Astros cheaters but since their inception have been a second tier franchise.It would be SAD if the Twins lose because we (the Red Wings) are their farm team. I also own Minnesota’s team sets from 1969 and ’70 when they won the American League West but were swept twice by the Baltimore Orioles in the championship series.
S & S says New York (AL) and Los Angeles (NL) will meet in the World Series. This is GOOD because we haven’t seen a Yankee-Dodgers series since 1981. New York has played Brooklyn/Los Angeles in 11 series with the Yankees winning 8 (’41, ’47, ’49, ’52, ’53, ’56, ’77, ’78) and the Dodgers 3 (’55, ’63, ’81)It will be VERY GOOD when the Yankees win the World Series (as S & S says) because I am a Yankees fan.