Both of our baseball teams have experienced periods of turmoil and annoyance so far this season, as the first three months have often gotten away from them. It’s good to have a handy reference point that things can always get a little weird, a little crazy, a little crazy. It’s good to remember 1973.
It started early on both sides: The Yankees had their own Mike Kekich-Fritz Peterson family-swap story to welcome everyone to their spring-training home in Fort Lauderdale. In St. Pete, poor Yogi Berra was put in a terrible position late in the spring when another Mets veteran, Willie Mays, just passed out one day and returned as a nice and hard rebuke to Yogi.
Then the season started, and things went pretty well for the Yankees for a while, and they went pretty bad for the Mets, and up until this week in ’73 the Yankees were up a few games over the Orioles, the Red Sox, and the Orioles. and the Tigers in the AL East while the Mets were bottom in the NL East, 12 games behind the first-place Cubs and four and a half games behind the fifth-place Pirates.
Then things got really… well, weird, which was interesting because at the same time the Watergate hearings were dominating the newspapers and the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes” tennis free-for-all was hitting the newspapers. The announcement was made keeping in mind the headlines behind the.
But baseball was still king in New York, and that’s where things really started to get fun. In the pages of this paper one afternoon, readers were greeted with an old-fashioned poll: Who should be fired for the Mets’ futility? The candidates were listed with a box next to the name:
1. Yogi Berra
2. GM Bob Schaefer
3. Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant
4. All of the above
5. none of the above
Now, this was 1973. In 2023, people vote on Twitter every few hours, and there are more responses and more voters than in a presidential election. In ’73 you had to move enough to pick up scissors, cut the ballot out of paper, take a pen and check one of the boxes, put it in an envelope, trace it, Stamp it on, then put it in a mailbox.
Nevertheless, according to Post baseball writer Morrie Allen, approximately 4,113 people did just that, “flooding the Post mail room daily”. And after a week the results were as follows:
1. Chefing: 1,448 votes
2. Grants: 1,267
3. Berra: 611
4. All: 486
5. None: 201
6. One hundred people actually wrote in alternative polls, blaming everyone from Martha Mitchell to Richard Nixon to Joe Namath. One simply said, “I diet.”
Grant, who seemed annoyed at actually getting such a big score, actually said, “As long as the fans come out to the ballpark to support it, I’m satisfied. Public opinion will carry the day.” And it wasn’t just the polling numbers that supported it: Despite the teams’ uneven seasons, and old Yankee Stadium being the swan-song season, the Mets were outscoring the Yankees nearly 2–1 at the time.
At the same time, something very extraordinary that had been brewing behind the scenes quietly died. It was revealed that Grant had been eager for several weeks to remove Berra, who remained popular with fans despite the team’s struggles. And he had a plan.
George Steinbrenner was in his early hours as Yankees manager, but he had already driven team president Michael Burke mad, and Burke resigned in April. GM Lee MacPhail was next in line to fire, and despite the Yankees being in first place, he was looking for a graceful exit (and, indeed, a few months later he had been elected AL president and was out the door). Grant laid out a three-stage plan:
1. Agni Barra.
2. Make Schaafing the Mets manager.
3. Hire McPhail as Mets GM.
There was some momentum behind it as well. Then came the referendum and Grant undoubtedly quickly realized it wouldn’t work. For MacPhail, who had seen what had happened when Leo Durocher switched sides from the Dodgers to the Giants in the New York baseball summer of 1948, this became a non-issue, especially as he saw an alternative emerge. Had been.
To review, let’s move that key idea to 2023:
1. Fire Buck Showalter.
2. Make Billy Epler the Mets’ manager.
3. Hire Brian Cashman as Mets GM.
Twitter will break. By the way? Public opinion actually carried the day, and carried Yogi and the Mets all the way to Game 7 of the World Series that year. Who says fans can’t vote?
Wack’s Strange Acts
No matter how tense the weather has been at times on both sides of Triboro, it’s a good baseball thing to watch the kids, Anthony Volpe and Francisco Alvarez smashing the ball like they’ve been doing lately.
The Nets have been conducting a good summer very quietly so far.
I wished “You Hurt My Feelings” was a little better than that, truth be told, but let’s face it: Any movie with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in it is 90 or so minutes well spent.
The “Fish” episode of “The Bear” – Season 2, Episode 6 – has been as good as any other hour on television, but I can’t think of many hours that have been better. I’ve looked three times, and I’m not done yet.
blow back on vac
Kevin Bryant: The Knicks will never be exclusive if Julius Randle is your number. 1 or 2 options. His poor ball handling in tough times gets him dropped from the team. If you’re right about moving the core, I’m keeping RJ Barrett and moving Randle.
empty: The Knicks will move Randle, but not for 60 cents on the dollar, nor should they. Although fans are indifferent to him, you don’t just give up on a guy who’s been All-NBA two of the last three years.
William Joosten: Luis Severino isn’t just having an off year for me, I think there’s something wrong with him. He’s out there throwing a basketball. Sad to see
blank: There are few things more frustrating in sports than having an overconfident athlete stripped of his swagger. That’s Severino now. I hope he finds it again. I really do.
@whrlwndsprtlvng: How does that make more of the fact that no one has managed a Yankees team as long as Aaron Boone has won a World Series?
@MikeVack: You should see my inbox early in the morning like this Friday morning after Orioles 14, Yankees 1. Then you have to wonder if there is anyone who isn’t obsessed about it.
@BostonHeraldHS: TNT has to capture the Van Gundy brothers. It is very clear.
@MikeVack: I’m pretty sure I’ll be signing up for the Van Gundy Brothers channel.