The 1970’s—The Greatest Decade (For Names) Ever
I loved the 1970’s. Obviously, not for anything economical or political. And certainly not for anything personal–my parents got divorced in 1978. I just liked the whole vibe of the 70’s. I was quite young so I didn’t really start appreciating it till I got older. I liked the music, I liked the way everyone dressed. I liked not feeling guilty for eating at McDonald’s. I liked how no one was allergic to anything…..
In fact, this pic from my past symbolizes everything good about the 70’s…
…..I loved the 70’s vernacular and still use it regularly today. I still like referring to another person as a *cat*…. Saying *Dig?* at the end of a sentence is the best way I’ve ever found to find out if the person you’re talking to is either in compliance and/or understands what you’re talking about. And I don’t just say “old school” because it sounds cool. If I label something as such it’s because I honor and respect it…….
But without question, my favorite thing about the 1970’s were the names of professional athletes. And I’m talking across ALL sports. In boxing you had guys like Ali, Frazier and Haggler. Is boxing still even a sport anymore? Football had guys named *Mean Joe Green* and *Otis Sistrunk*. In basketball you had *Jabbar*, *Dantley*, *Wilkes*—guys that just sounded like they were about to hand you your ass. How about *Purvis Short*? I mean really, Purvis? That sounds made up. I’ve never heard of anyone named Purvis before or after that cat. But he had the sweetest arching jump shot I’ve ever seen in my life. Sometimes I thought it was never gonna come down……Was there a better name in the history of the game than “World B. Free?” Lloyd must have just shook his head laughing quieting to himself when he saw Artest change his name to “Metta World Peace”—dude just doesn’t get it.
One of the many things that San Dawg and I have eerily in common is a bizarre attraction to the Orioles in the 70’s. I was too young to even know what an *Oriole* was, I just thought it was a cool-ass name for a team. All the Oriole’s from the 70’s had cool names: Boog Powell, Al Bumbry, Bobby Grich, Brooks Robinson, Doug DeCinces….
The A’s had some great baseball names in the 1970’s–Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, Joe Rudi, Catfish Hunter, Sal Bando….
And everyone on the Pirates had a name (and a body) that just exuded “I am going to kick your ass”– Bill Madlock, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Jim Bibby, John Candelaria….
For me, baseball players in the 70’s just had bad ass names. And by owning all their baseball cards, I was a bad-ass-by-association.
If you want to know how cool the baseball names were in the ’70’s take this quiz: Ask yourself to name 5 of the coolest baseball names from the 1990’s. You have 10 seconds. Go…..
See what I mean? Hell, take the same quiz over the last 5 years in baseball….
Didn’t think of too many did you?
I’m bringing all of this up today because we are in the midst of something very cool that is happening in baseball right now. Just like it was in the 1970’s, the Orioles, the A’s and the Pirates are are suddenly relevant again. Not because of the great names of their players but because, for the first time in 30+ years, all 3 have a shot at the post season. Baltimore and Oakland are tied for the WC lead and actually have an outside shot to win their divisions (2 games and 3 games out, respectively). Pittsburgh’s hill is a little tougher to climb—they have no shot at catching the Reds but they’re only 1.5 games out of the WC spot.
I never cared too much about the economics of baseball, the skewed playing field, etc. At least until this year. Teams are making moves that make no financial sense and, what’s even more important, no practical sense for the short term or long term direction of the franchise. Two years ago the Angels TRADED for the ridiculous Vernon Wells and 80 million still left on his deal. They gave up Napoli who was making 2.6 million and who went on to lead the Rangers to the World Series last year. Last off season, the Angels spent needlessly by signing, among others, Albert Pujols to an absurd deal. Why? They already had Trumbo and a returning Morales at 1st base. And while it can’t be argued that either is better than Pujols it was an disgusting luxury to just go out and give a declining player 240 million dollars when you already had TWO outstanding hitters in place at first base. The Tigers did the same thing with Fielder. In 2011 they had signed Victor Martinez to a 4 year/50 million dollar deal. He was going to play 1st base this year before he blew out his knee. Problem? Nope, just go sign Fielder to a 10 year deal. V-Mart will be back ready to rock next year but they don’t need him. They’ll pay him 36 mil to ride the pine instead. The Boston Red Sox have been doling out the dumbest deals in recent memory: 142 mil for Carl Crawford? 157 for A-Gone who’s never been on a team that’s won anything? They paid 50 million just for the right to negotiate with Dice K. They gave 80 million dollars to John Freaking Lackey. I mean, come on……
Now, some would argue that the teams handing out mega-stupid 10 year 200 million+ deals will regret them later. I don’t think so. They KNOW these deals are going to go bad at some point. They don’t care as long as they win now. But they aren’t winning now, are they?
The final straw for me was the Dodgers giving the clueless Red Sox a *get out of jail free* card by taking on all of their idiotic deals (and players) AND were stupid enough to give them prospects, too!
So finally in 2012 I started to appreciate the pure lunacy that influence baseball decisions on the teams with the highest payrolls. And it just isn’t right. It’s bad for the game if 80-90% of the teams start the season with no chance to win. Sound judgement and keen financial decisions SHOULD factor into how your team performs…..
But wait–this year isn’t JUST about stupid financial decisions by teams running without a budget. There are low-payroll teams performing well. And watching what the O’s, A’s and Pirates have done this year has been phenomenal. It’s made me a lurking-fan of all three teams. With it being Labor Day I felt like it was a good time to honor teams that actually WORK to EARN results on the field. Teams that are just burning money and expecting to buy results are an embarrassment to the game.
Of course, you could also just root for Baltimore because of their cool-ass name. “Baltimore Orioles”– it just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?
Flap Author Note: I am writing for Dirt today, the order stays the same, no switches……