The best game I never watched and why I no longer regret it.

Thursday July 23, 2009 was a typical summer day for the Roller family at that juncture of our lives. Emma was at the library and we had friends from our home school co-op over for a play date. That particular day Fred Prasil had brought his son Danny and daughter Ashleigh over who were close to the ages of my son Charlie and my daughter Lucy.

At the time I was the only full time home schooling Dad I knew but Fred Prasil was the closest thing to that. Fred and I had many things in common. We were both married to wonderful women named Amy who both worked full time in the public schools. We were both avid White Sox fans and could talk for hours and hours about sports.

Fred and I were the only men who taught at the co-op at the time. Fred taught art and gym classes where he was known as coach Fred. His paying job was also teaching gymnastics and other classes. He and his Amy would split the homeschooling duties at their house.

This particular Thursday was no different than the many times I had spent with Fred. The boys played light sabers and legos, the girls played princesses and Fred and I talked sports and held court on a variety of subjects.

I bet we mostly talked about the White Sox as it was the heart of baseball season. We didn’t think of switching on the radio and seeing how our beloved team was faring against Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays. We were enjoying each other’s company too much to think of it.

While we weren’t thinking of it, this was happening on the south side of Chicago…

Yes my favorite White Sox pitcher threw a perfect game and me the die hard White Sox fan that I am missed every single pitch because I was too busy talking White Sox with another die hard fan.

I didn’t realize the perfect game had happened until Fred and his kids had left and Charlie and I drove to pick up Emma from the library. We stopped at the Mcdonalds drive through on the way to the library and I turned the radio on to see if I could catch the end of the game. The post game was already on and people were already calling in to talk about the game. This happens at the end of every game, so it’s not unusual. What was unusual was the type of comments people were making and how excited everybody including the announced clearly was. It took me a few calls to realize what had happened.

At that point I got super excited, started switching channels to find out that Chicago was buzzing with the news. I got my food and drove home. I got out of the car and started telling Amy all about the game, but before I could get too far, she asked, “Where’s Emma?”

I had gotten so excited about the perfect game, that I had forgotten my daughter at the library! This was the reason I had left the house in the first place. Emma was eventually picked up and all was fine.

Or was it? For the next 9 1/2 years Fred Prasil , myself and Mark Buehrle’s perfect fame were inextricably linked together. If I saw Fred, I would think of the perfect game. If I saw Buehrle I would think about that day and how Fred and I could have been listening to the game while we hung out.

A few years after that Fred left the co-op but our families would still get together from time to time. Ashleigh and Lucy were in the same Awana program for a few years and last November I ran into Amy Prasil and Danny at Walmart and found that Fred had some interest in returning to our co-op. I was very excited and talked to Fred a week later and was glad to hear that he would be rejoining the co-op.

A very short time after that Fred died of a heart attack while he was coaching gymnastics. Like any sudden unexpected death it shocked everyone in the Prasil’s orbit. I went from anticipating weekly time with my friend to grieving his loss overnight.

Danny and Ashleigh were able to return to the co-op this year where they have been able to reestablish old friendships and grow new ones. I may not have seen Fred every week in co-op as I had hoped but I was able to see him in them.

And Mark Buehrle and my perfect game regret? I no longer have it. I still think of Fred when I see anything Buehrle related and think of him especially today on the 10th anniversary. But I would not change the day I spent with Fred on July 23, 2009 in any way (I would pick up Emma earlier. ) I always taught my kids that people are more important than things. The perfect game was really a thing, Time spent with friends and the memories they produce now that is as perfect as you can get here on Earth.

But Fred is not here on Earth. Like me, Fred was a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. Fred is in heaven right now enjoying an eternal relationship with his creator and savior. There is nothing more perfect than that!

Last 5 Posts

As much as I enjoy blogging, I sometimes really enjoy what I call meta-blogging which is blogging about blogging, or as I titled it some years ago blah, blah, blogging.

This blog began when I compiled a few of my previous blogger blogs here at WordPress. These blogs were YBD: Your Basic Dave, Crazy Uncle Dave’s Sports Blog, Dave Out Loud and Writers Write, Readers Read, Rollers Roll. The plan was to post everything under one roof.

During the month of April I was A to Z challenge intensive. In the past few weeks I have been spraying to all fields and hope to continue you to do so.. From time to time, like now for instance, I will step back into the recent past and meta-blog about my last 5 posts. So here they are from least to most recent

A to Z Reflection Post.

I had hoped to write the reflection post 3 to 5 days after the A to Z challenge came to an end, This didn’t drop until the 19th of the month due to busyness, procrastination and mostly trying to do too much with it, I like to have a lot of segments to my blogs one of the segments I call ten things, kind of an homage to David Letterman;s top 10 lists. Once I decided to make the reflections post 10 things I boxed myself in the corner a little. Overall, I liked how it turned out, but if I had to do it over, I would have produced it quicker and shorter.

The Battle for Our National Soul

From time to time I hope to share links to other peoples blogs here. That is what the category OPB stands for. I wanted to get my 2nd post out in the middle of May after dragging my heels on the a to z reflection post. So familiarizing folks with the political observations of a former pastor of mine seemed a good way to go..

One thing I would do differently on this one would be to edit it better. In my 2 paragraphs I mistyped professor, missionary, and evangelical and only just now did I catch it and correct it.

Bill Buckner

Bill Buckner is a former major league baseball player best known for a fielding gaffe that cost the 1985 Boston Red Sox the World Series. He passed away last month. I wanted to pay tribute to him without mentioning the World Series incident. I was pretty satisfied with the attempt although reading it over I think I would put less statistics in it if I was writing it again.

A to Z Road Trip May 2019

The approach to these monthly A to Z posts is not be to caught unawares. During the course of the month I stop by the A to Z road trip spread sheet on multiple occasions go to a blog read and react to the post and then put all the information for that post including my comment on the post I am creating. At the beginning of the next month I publish that post and it has the feel of a blog carnival. The stress doesn’t get to me as I do it in segments. As I write this it’s just the third of June but I have already visited two a to z road trip blogs and wrote about them. When I finish today’s post I may go visit a third.

Summer Reading

Each year I plan to read quite a bit during the summer and I generally succeed in doing so. Each year I also plan to write mini reviews of each book I finish during the summer, I don’t far so well in completing that task. This year I felt If I posted about it, it would give me a little accountability on the writing part of the task.

I did struggle, as I often do with the ending to this post. After multiple stabs at the ending, I finally just decided to end with questions. I wasn’t totally satisfied with that ending either, but I did get a comment answering the questions, so I’m feeling a little better about it.

So those are my last 5 posts. 3 posts that I am currently thinking about or working on are : An open letter to Governor Pritzger (The governor of Illinois). 2 Lies and a Truth, and A Summer Fun Video. There will certainly be other posts than that including some book reviews.

Bill Buckner & The Cubs

Bill Buckner 1949 – 2019
Chicago Cubs 1977-1984

Bill Buckner, one of my childhood heroes, passed away on Monday. There are multiple news stories like this one from ESPN that will give you a biographical sketch of the former first baseman and outfielder. I want to focus here on his time with the Cubs.

Bill Buckner was traded from the LA Dodgers to the Cubs in January of 1977 along with Ivan Dejesus and a minor leaguer. The Cubs gave up Rick Monday and Mike Garman to acquire them.

Buckner played 7 full seasons for the Cubs and was traded to the Boston Red Sox in May of 1984 for Mike Brumley and Dennis Eckersly in 1984. Buckner had lost the starting first base position to Leon Durham in the off season and appeared in his last game as A cub on May 24th asa pinch hitter in the first game of a double header against the Atlanta Braves. He batted only .240 in limited action in 1984 but still hit .300 in his time for the Cubs.

Buckner played 974 games for the Cubs more than any of the other 4 teams he played for. His .300 batting average for the Cubs was 11 points better than he had hit hit with his first team the Dodgers (The .289 he hit with L.A. was equal to his lifetime average. In his 7+ years with the Cubs Buckner had hit 235 doubles 35 triples hit 85 homers and had over 500 runs batted in all the most he achieved on any of the teams he played for. The only thing that diminished with Buckner from his time on the Dodgers was a little of his speed. He had stolen 93 bases for the Dodges about 15 a year. That went down to about 7 a year on his time with the Cubs.

In 1977 when Buckner came to the Cubs, I had officially made the leap from the Cubs to the White Sox as my favorite team. But i still liked the Cubs and Bill Buckner became one of my favorite players on either side of town. Both teams were in contention in 1977 as well a great year to be a 12 year old baseball fan in Chicago. , The Southside Hitmen easily come to mind but don’t forget the Cubs who were in 1st place from May 28th to August 6th. before finishing 4th. .This was very disappointing for the Cubs and their fans as they had led at one point by 8 1/2 games near the end of June. Equally disappointing for Buckner was that the Cubs made it to the playoffs in 1984 but by then he had already been traded to the Red Sox.

You may have noticed no reference in this column to Buckner’s time after the Cubs. That is because I choose to remember him for his multiple plays for the Cubs and not for one play for the Sox team I don’t follow. It was great to think of him again and how much I enjoyed watching him play. I wish the best to his family. I’m sure multiple baseball fans over the country wish the same.

2019 Hall of Fame – If I had a ballot

In just a few hours the Hall of Fame will reveal the results of the Baseball Writers of America Association (BBWAA) ballot selections for who will be inducted into Cooperstown this summer, .  This year 35 players are on the ballot and  The BBWAA allows writers to vote for a many as 10 of these candidates.  I am not a member of the BBWAA but I do like to pretend i’m one each year at this time.  Since The Writers association nor the hall of fame control my process I imagine what would happen if I had only 13 votes and then 12 and then down until I get to my OUB (Official Unofficial Ballot this year it will be 5 6 or maybe even 7.  As I write this I have not yet decided what the cutoff will be so I’ll be as surprised as you will.  I then continue until I’m pretending I can only vote for 1 player this year.  In effect you get a ranking of who I think the 13 players most worthy of enshrinement are.

For 2019 ballot, I must say that there are many more players worthy of the Hall of Fame who have more impressive numbers than my 13th pick.  However,  the only number I was concerned about was 2005.  That is the year Jon Garland helped pitch the White Sox on to winning their first world series since 1917.  That gets him a vote in my book.

My 12th vote last year has a lot in common with my 12th vote this year.  Actually, they are the same person.  Gary Sheffield has the pedigree of a hall of famer yet like last year there are too many questions for me to really consider him further.

If I was advised that I could only vote for 11 players this year my 11th vote would be for Lance Berkman.  Berkman is probably the Killer B who will not B inducted into C town.  I thought his career  was worthy of some mention and 11 seems  appropriate.

As I state most years, I am a Chicago guy and I see my role as a Chicago guy to bring Chicago players to the attention of those who may not have seen them play regularly. If I were allowed to vote for exactly 10 players, my 10th vote would go to Freddy Garcia.  But not for the reason I just mentioned.  No for the reason I placed Garland 13th.  Freddy won the most important White Sox game in my life time that’s reason enough for voting for him here.

It seems that Mike Mussina is going to make into Cooperstown.  He will probably make it this year or next in his 6th or 7th year on the ballot.  Last year I placed him 11th on my ballot and this year he is up to 9th.  To me he’s a perennial fence sitter when it comes to enshrinement, it’s a good thing for him that many of the actual voters don’t view his career as I do,

I placed Jeff Kent 10th last year  and bump him up to 8th this year. To quote myself …   ” Kent is a very good player but I see him ultimately missing out of enshrinement to Cooperstown”.

 If I was told I could vote for 7 and only 7 HOF candidates this year my 7th vote would go to Todd Helton. He has the highest career batting average of anyone on this years ballot at .316.  Sure he played his whole career in homer friendly Colorado but he still batted .287 on the road with 142 of his 369 homers when out of town.  I was very close to putting him on my OUB.

Speaking of which, If I was told that I could vote for as many or as few players on this years ballot  that I thought were worthy of enshrinement, I would vote for six players.  The 6th would be Roy Halladay.  As mentioned at the outset, I spent some time equivocating on this selection. equivocation being a euphemism on my part for over thinking. My over thinking went like this , When I first hear Halladay’s name I don’t instantly think hall of famer, and since he died recently am I just giving him a sympathy vote.  No.  The truth his his numbers speak well of him and his 2 Cy Youngs one in each league 7 years apart speak of his dominance.  This makes the late Mr. Halladay,  the first of 7 players on my official unofficial ballot (OUB)

If I could vote for only 5 players this year, my 5th vote would go to Larry Walker. Like Halladay,   Walker has not always been on my HOF radar.  As I mentioned last year when he was the 6th player on my ballot and my oub was 5, He has been going up in my estimation each year he has been HOF elgible.

If I could only vote for one Nickname to be included in the Hall of Fame this year it would have to be the Crime Dog.  This year Fred McGriff in his last year of eligibility get’s a bite on my ballot.  If i could vote for only 5 players He would be 5th (jumping up from 7th last year.  Truth is I still think Walker more worthy than McGriff but have McGriff ahead this year since it is his last time on the ballot.

While votes nine through four are kind of Cooperstown fence sitters, I have no mixed feelings whatsoever about my final 3 votes.  2 of which were on my OUB last year and one is in his first year of eligibility.

If I was told that I could only vite for 3 players this year my third vote would go to Omar Vizquel. Vizquel was my 5th choice last year and is a player who is more than just the sum of his stats.  I saw Vizquel play many times against and for my beloved White Sox and have seen what a game changing shortstop he was. 

If it was decided that only 2 players could adorn my 2018 ballot, The 2nd name on that ballot would be Edgar Martinez.  (Edgar was 4 on my list of players last year.) I am one of the few people I know who thought Harold Baines should be in the Hall of Fame. With Baines now in the Hall of Fame, there is no earthly reason that Edgar should not be there as well.  Consider this he has a .312 lifetime batting average and hit .312 on the road.  He has a..515 career slugging percentage and slugged .514 on the road.  What consistency! He may have been a designated hitter,  but boy did he live up to that designation!
If I could vote for only 1 player on this years ballot.  It would be Juan Pierre because he played for both teams and was well liked by both teams which is a hall of fame achievement in my book.

I’m sorry my mind or my computer were just hacked.  No offense to Juan,  but if I had only one vote and even just 1/10th of my marbles that vote would have to go to Mariano Rivera in his 1st year on the ballot.  The most dominant relief pitcher in both the regular and post season.  Yes I hate the Yankees but only because of their greatness.  Rivera enhanced that greatness and is deserving of being on 100% of the ballots.

This year I think that 3 or 4 players will make the HOF.  Rivera and Martinez are perfect bookends, 2 positions that HOF voters aren’t sure about in their 1st and last years of eligibility. In my mind they are locks.  I think either Mussina or Halladay or possibly both will also make it this year.  I am pretty sure Rivera will not be on every ballot because there are some writers opposed to a 100%ballot and some writers opposed to relief pitchers in the Hall of Fame.  So it’s the perfect storm of stupidity that will keep Rivera away from ballot perfection.   The announcement is just minutes away, (procrastinate much?) So let’s go see if I was right.  

2019 HOF- First year on the ballot.

There are 20 players appearing on the HOF ballot for the first time this year. Last year there were 19 players on the ballot first time.  Two were elected into the hall of fame from that ballot.  3 received enough votes to be back on the ballot this year. 8 received some votes but not enough for future consideration. 6 failed to receive any votes at all.  If those percentages  hold this year 2 of the players on the ballot this year will be inducted. 3 more will remain on the ballot. 9 will receive some votes but not enough to stay on the ballot and again 6 of the players will receive no votes at all.  As you peruse the list, you can decide in your own mind which players will end up where after the announcement is made next week.

Rick Ankiel – Pitcher Outfielder – 1999-2013 Cardinals 7  Nationals 2 Royals, Mets, Braves, Astros,  1. 

One of the 10 youngest players in the national league in 1999 and 2000 with the Cardinals.  2nd in NL Rookie of the year voting in 2000. Transitioned to outfield in 2007

Jason Bay – Outfielder 2003-2013 Pirates 6 Mets 3 Red Sox 2   Padres Mariners 1 Bay was the 2004 rookie of the year with Pirates in 2004 (3 time rookie of the month) with the Pirates he was also 1 time rookie of the month in 2006 and 4 time nl player of the month between 2005 and 2007.  In 2011 he was 1 time nl player of the month with the Mets.  In addition to those accolades he was a 2 time NL all star (2005 2006 Pirates) and 1 time AL all star in 2009 with the Red Sox, The same year he won his only silver slugger award.

Lance Berkman 1999-2013 Outfielder First Baseman Astros 12 Cardinals 2 Rangers Yankees 1 Berkman was a 6 time all star 5 times with the Astros and once  with the Cardinals in 2011 the same year he was voted NL comeback player of the year. 4 times while with the Astros. Berkman finished in the top 5 in MVP voting (3rd in 2002 and 2006 and 5th in 2001 and 2008) Among all players on the 2019 Hall of fame ballot Berkman ranks in the top 5 in slugging pct with a life time .537 putting him in the top 50 of all time and has top 100 career numbers in walks and home runs. Berkman has been in 2 world series in 2005 as a member of the Houston Astros and in 2001 as a member of the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  He has a .410 World Series batting average a slugging percentage of .564 16 hits 4 for extra bases 11 RBI and 9 runs scored.

Freddy Garcia Pitcher 1999-2013 Mariners 6 White Sox 5 Yankees 2 Braves Phillies Orioles Tigers 1 Garcia won the 2001 Al Pitching title came in 3rd in Cy Young voting that year which was also the front part of back to back All star appearance for the mariners.  He was 1 time player of the month for seattle in 2003.  Garcia pitched and won game 4 of the 2005 World Series for the White Sox against the Houston Astros who originally signed him some 12 years earlier as an amateur free agent.

Jon Garland Pitcher  2000 to 2013 White Sox 8 Dodgers 2 Diamondback Padres Rockies Angels 1 When Freddy Garcia’s eventual rotation mate got to the White Sox in 200 youngest player in the American League He was the 4th youngest in 2001.  2005 was the White Sox and Garland’s big year.  He started hot winning April AL pitcher of the month.  Pitched  a scoreless inning in the all star game helping the White Sox win home field advantage as the American League team in the World Series.  He went 18-10 with a 3.43 ERA finishing 6th in the AL Cy Young voting. Garland pitched twice in the post season in 2005 allowing 2 earn runs in a complete game win against the Angels in the ALCs and allowing 2 more earned Runs in 7 innings  game 3 of the World Series which the Sox eventually won 7-5 in 14 innings.

Travis Haffner Designated Hitter First Baseman 2002 to 2013 Indians 10 Rangers Yankees 1 Pronk was 5th in AL MVP voting in 2005 and was a 1 time AL player of the month in 2005 and 2006 for the Indians.

Roy Halladay Pitcher 1998 to 2013 Blue Jays 12 Phillies 4 Roy Halladay is the only deceased player on the BBWWA ballot this year having died at the age 40 in November of 2017. Halladay won the Cy Young award and Sporting News pitcher of the year awards twice,  Once with the Jays in 2003 and again with the Phillies in 2010. Halladay was in the top 5 in Cy young voting 5 other times in his career,  An 8 time all star playing in 4 games with Toronto and 2 with Philadelphia.  He was the starting  all star hurler on 2 occasions once for each team.

Todd Helton First Baseman 1997 to 2013 Rockies 17. Todd Helton played his entire career
 for one team.  While playing for that team he put up career numbers in the top 100 all time in batting average, hits, total bases, home runs, runs batted in and runs scored.  In addition his career numbers for  slugging percentage and walks are in the top 50 for all time and his number for doubles in the top 25. This offensive prowess would probably make him a hall of famer the first time on the ballot except for the fact that the one team plays in homer friendly Coors Field.  Helton won the NL Batting title and the Hank aaron award in 2000.  A 5 time all star with 3 gold gloves and 4 Silver sluggers who batted .333 in his only World Series in 2007.

Ted Lilly Pitcher 1999 to 2013 Dodgers Cubs 4 Yankees Blue Jays 3 Athletics 2 Expos(Nationals) 1 Lilly, a two time all stars (Cubs, Jays) who neither won nor competed for any major accolades or awards as a starting pitcher.

Derek Lowe 1997 to 2013 Pitcher Red Sox 8 Dodgers 4 Braves 3 Rangers Indians Yankees Mariners 1 Lowe a 2 time all star for the Red Sox where he was also a 2002 player of the week and player of the month. In 2004 he won an Alds game an Alcs game and a world Series game helping the Red Sox break the curse of the Bambino. He signed as a frre agent to the Dodgers in earl 2005 where he was a nl player of the month in 2006 and again a nl player of the month in 2010 with the Braves.

Darren Oliver Pitcher 1993 to 2013 Rangers 10 Angels 3 Cardinals Blue Jays 2 Mets Rockies Red Sox Marlins Astros 1 Oliver in his last 4 seasons was one of the 10 oldest players in the American League from 7th oldest in 2010 to 2nd oldest in 2013.

Roy Oswalt Pitcher 2001 to 2013 Astros 10 Phillies 2 Rockies Rangers 1 Oswalt was a 3 time all star with the Astros 1 time rookie of the month in 2001 and 1 time pitcher of the month in 2002 and 2006 and one time player of the week in 2004 and 2008

Andy Petitte Pitcher 1995 to 2013 Yankees 15 Astros 3 3 time all star for the Yankees.  5 times in the top 5 Cy young voting 2nd 1996, 4th 2000 5th 1997 Yankees  5th 2005 Astros.  Petite pitched in 8 World Series the Yankees were 5-2 and the Astros 0-1 2001 Alcs mvp.  career leader for post seasons wins 18
Juan Pierre Outfielder 2000 to 2013 Marlins 4 Rockies Dodgers 3 White Sox 2 Phillie Cubs 1 Pierre’s 614 stolen bases is the 18th best all time.  He hit .333 as the Marlins won the 2003 World Series. 

Placido Polanco Infielder 1998 to 2013  Phillies 7 Cardinals Tigers 5 Marlins 1 2 time all star (Tigers and Phillies) 2006 ALCS MVP with Tigers 3 time Phillies Gold Glover

Mariano Rivera Pitcher 1995 to 2013 Yankees 19 13 time all star 2013 Al All Star MVP  1999 WS MVP 2003 AL ALCS MVP 2013 AL comeback player of the year 5 time AL Rolaids Relief winner 1 time Babe Ruth Award winner 3 time delivery man of the year award Career Leader in Saves 652 and post season saves 42.  .70 post season ERA is career leader. 

Miguel Tejada Infielder 1997 to 2013 AThletics 7 Orioles 5 Astros 2 Royals Giants Padres 1 6 all star appearances 4 AL (3 Orioles 1 Start 2005 All Star Mvp, 1 Athletics) 2 NL Astros 2002 Al MVP with Athletics 2  silver slugger awards as Oriole.

Vernon Wells Center Fielder 1999 to 2013 Blue Jays 12 Angels 2 Yankees 1 3 time All Star 3 time gold glove winner 1 time silver slugger all with Toronto. Started 2006 All Star Game. Wells played 1731 games without a playoff appearance 2nd only to Adam Dunn in the Wild Card era. 

Kevin Youkilis, Infielder 2004 to 2013 Red Sox 9 Yankees White Sox 1 3 time all star 2008 Hank Aaron award winner 2007 Gold Glove winner 1 time al rookie of the month 1 time player of the week with Red Sox 2008 and White Sox 2012

Michael Young Infielder 2000 to 2013 Rangers 13 Dodgers Phillies 1 7 all star games started 2009 won 2006 all star mvp won 2005 al batting title and 1 gold glove award.Tomorrow I will post my final installment of hall of fame commentary including my Official Unofficial Ballot.