Looking through the glass half full, the 2020 baseball preview

Looking through the glass half full, the 2020 baseball preview

(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.

a abrtlett

™Topps 1990 #396 [from David Kramer’s collection]

[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.

A. Bartlett Giamatti, Take Time For Paradise: Americans And Their Games

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.

From 2020 BASEBALL: A Street & Smith’s Yearbooks Publication, p.35 [David Kramer’s collection]

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.

Street & Smith’s (cover)

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.

Street & Smith’s (cover)

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.

SEE On Yogi Berra and Dale Berra and the 1973 World Series and Willie Mays and my father

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.

™Topps 1981. From David Kramer’s collection. From Why I don’t care that much about the Houston Ast – erisks*

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.

Atlanta Braves. 1970 ™Topps [David Kramer’s collection]

Future Hall of Famers, Aaron, Wilhelm and Niekro:  ™Topps (1970, 1974) and and ™Milton Bradley Board Game (1970)

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.

(left to right), Hunter ©1974 Exograph®; Fingers ©1977 Visual Panographics, Inc; Jackson ©1987 Sportflics

Rollie Fingers. ™Topps 1972 – 74

™Topps, 1966 (rookie card), 1969, ’71 – ’74

™Topps, 1970 – ’76

(left to right) 1970 ™Milton Bradley Board Game; ©1987 Fleer; 1987©Leaf; ©1982 Kmart (Topps); ©1993 Upper Deck

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.

Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, St. Louis 4 -3 over Boston. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, October 16th, 1946. From “The Pennant Races in Rhyming Couplets”

(left) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, front page, October 13th, 1967. The ebullient Cards and the dejected Sox; (middle) ™Topps 1968 World Series card; (right) Democrat and Chronicle. After the Cards won, fans in St. Louis held an impromptu celebration. From “Pennant Race ’19 in Eight Sestets and a Couplet”

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.

Ticker stub, seating chart, program, lineups and scorecard for the May 19th, 2010 game attended by David Kramer, Eugene Kramer, Ed Maruggi and Dean Tucker [David Kramer’s collection] From The Hat Gate game is reason enough to root for the Nationals

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.

(l-r, circular) Topps® and Milton Bradley Board Game® cards, Houston Astros 1969 – 1973. 1969: Denis Menke, Tommy Helms (MB) ,Doug Rader (MB); 1970: Fred Gladding,Rookie Stars, John Mayberry, Bob Watkins, Harry Walker; 1971: Astros team card, Ron Cook, Rich Chiles; 1972: Fred Gladding, Norm Miller, Doug Rader, Tommy Helms, George Culver,, Jimmy Wynn, Jim Ray, Dave Roberts, Jim York, Tom Griffin; 1973: Tommy Helms, Roger Metzger, Cecil Upshaw; Doug Rader, Bob Watson, Astros team card [From David Kramer’s collection] From  Why I don’t care that much about the Houston Ast – erisks*

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.

Minnesota Twins, ™Topps, 1970 and 1971

Future Hall of Famers, Minnesota Twins, ™Topps, 1970 and 1971: Harmon Killebrew, Bert Blyleven and Rod Carew

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)

Trading Cards from the eight 1981 playoff teams: Topps, Fleer, Score, Kelloggs, Donruss and Pacific. Card of the same players from other years are included. [From David Kramer's collection] (l) Los Angeles Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the World Series, 4-2, beat the Montreal Expos in the NLCS, 3-2; (r) New York Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, 4-2, beat the Oakland Athletics in the ALCS, 3-0, beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the ALDS, 3-2

(left and right) the 1981 Dodgers and Yankees, including Topps, Fleer, Score, Kellogg’s, Donruss, Pacific and Milton Bradley.  From The 1981 baseball strike comes to Rochester. When Dave Winfield made 1.3 million a year!

It will be VERY GOOD when the Yankees win the World Series (as S & S says) because I am a Yankees fan.

Dave Winfield’s 1981 cards Fleer (left, 1 and 2) and Topps (right, 3 and 4) From The 1981 baseball strike comes to Rochester. When Dave Winfield made 1.3 million a year!

(left) cards from ’69 and ’72 (Topps and Milton Bradley); (right) ’76 – ’81 when the Yankees made the playoffs 5 times; won 4 pennants and 2 world series.  From “Pennant Race 18: Curses Laid and Lifted”

(left) Ted Williams and Babe Ruth. THE ONLY PICTURE EVER TAKEN IN UNIFORM FIRST MEETING OF TWO CHAMPIONS July 13, 1943 BOSTON, MASS. FENWAY PARK From Kramer and Kramer’s Official 2016 Yearbook; (right) From Eliminate the Wild Card Game, please

In Yankee caps. (l-r) At the Brighton Farmer’s Market with Judge Melissa Barrett from On the electoral road with Melissa Barrett; At the Memorial Art Gallery with Deborah Gregory from Talker sweet talks Cheetah Girl. Or was it vice versa.; At the Twelve Corners pick up game from Celebrating the Fourth of July at the Game at the Corners. 


Street & Smith’s now defunct. Here is Kramer & Kramer’s Official 2016 Yearbook

Grading Kramer & Kramer’s 2016 baseball predictions

Third time is the charm; Pruitt tells us what will happen: “Pennant Race ’19 in Eight Sestets and a Couplet”

Street and Smith’s is back and so is Bill Pruitt with “Pennant Race 18: Curses Laid and Lifted”

Pruitt breaks new ground with “The Pennant Races in Rhyming Couplets.” Keeps eyes on the Talker baseball prediction prize.

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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