Monthly Archives: November 2011

I can see the finish line

I’m almost done reading the Joe DiMaggio biography. Takes me a long time to finish a book these days, even though this one is really interesting and well-written.

The chapters about his marriage to Marilyn Monroe are chock-full of great storytelling.

My next book will be the true story of Moonlight Graham (from “Field of Dreams” fame). Thanks to good friend Mork for loaning me that book.

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Posted by on November 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


Odds and ends

I have enough stuff.

Most of the people I know have enough stuff.

My daughter certainly has enough stuff. She must have 500 toys and books.

So I really like the concept of buying Christmas gifts for people who really need them — and skipping the process of buying for people who already have everything they need.

Toys for Tots is a great cause. There are other similar organizations. I think I’m going to contribute to one of them this year. I encourage you to do the same.


Forgot to mention on Thanksgiving how thankful I am for my brother Wayne.

Wayne and Gayle and their kids take such good care of Mom. Almost every time I call home, Wayne or someone from his family is helping Mom with something. Or just visiting or hanging out.

Wayne and crew: All the Kramers really appreciate the things you do.


While I’m on the subject of gratitude, I want to once again give a shout-out to brother-in-law Mike, and brother Steve, and Grampa and Gramma B. for helping us with our house “project” last summer.

I’ll never forget how quickly you guys (and your families) responded during our time of need. Please let us know how we can return the favor. 🙂


I’m also very thankful to have a happy, healthy daughter who has an amazing desire to read books and learn about the world.

Most of all, I’m thankful for Jill, who takes me for what I am.

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


NFL Sunday? How ’bout a baseball video?

A tip of the cap to the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time …

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


Bird and Magic … and John and me

I’m watching a program about the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird rivalry of the 1980s.

Gotta tell ya, it’s great TV. Was then, is now.

When I was a kid, I was the biggest Lakers/Magic fan in Dubuque County. My best buddy John McD was a huge Celtics/Bird fan. We had a lot of fun with that rivalry.

John has evolved into a Lakers fan, which is ironic yet understandable. 😉 I can’t imagine John’s dad Ter-Bear (he of the green shoes and green coat) is happy about this development, though.

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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Uncategorized


Happy Thanksgiving to the folks in Mendocino County

I’m thankful for all of those great Willie Nelson songs. Like this one…

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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


Braun is a fine MVP pick, just not the correct one

I like Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun a lot. Likable guy, great all-around player, Los Angeles native.

He had an MVP-caliber season for Milwaukee, and most seasons that would merit the award.

Trouble is, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers was a little better in 2011.

Braun took home the National League’s top prize yesterday, and I’m a little bummed about it. Kemp finished second. The only reason the voters voted the way they did was the fact that Milwaukee made the playoffs and the Dodgers did not.

That’s the way it goes, but it’s unfortunate. Nowhere in the rules for MVP voting does it state that the award must go to a player from a postseason team. That’s a myth that voters have created over the years, and it stinks.


Why aren’t pitchers held to that standard when it comes to Cy Young Award voting? Shoot, Phillies ace pitcher Steve Carlton was a unanimous choice in 1972 despite his team finishing with a 59-97 record. (Moreover, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the NL award this year after the Bums finished 82-79.)


Kemp and Braun had very similar numbers in 2011. Braun’s batting average and slugging percentage were slightly better, Kemp had more stolen bases, home runs and RBIs. Kemp also came extremely close to winning the Triple Crown, which hasn’t been done since 1967. Kemp also is a premier center fielder (two Gold Gloves), while Braun is slightly below average defensively in left field.

There were two decisive factors at play, however, and the MVP voters obviously forgot about them.

First, Braun had Prince Fielder batting behind him every game.
That resulted in Braun seeing many more fat pitches than Kemp, who had lightweights such as James Loney providing minimal protection.

Second, Braun played all of his home games in hitter-friendly Miller Park. The ball flies out of that place. Kemp, meanwhile, was forced to hit his towering blasts through the cool, moist air that rolls off the San Gabriel Mountains into Chavez Ravine. Barring some MAJOR climate changes, Dodger Stadium will always be a pitcher-friendly park. It is extremely difficult to hit home runs at the Ravine after sunset.


So I’ll always believe that Kemp got robbed in the 2011 MVP voting. There’s no shame in finishing second, of course, but Dodger fans were really hoping for a Cy Young-MVP sweep.

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Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


History 101

I have a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia that usually collects dust on my book shelf.

For whatever reason, I’ve flipped through its pages twice in the last couple of days. It’s a delightful, relaxing activity for me — and of course I always learn things I never knew before.

Tonight I staked out the Babe Ruth, Ron Cey and Rick Sutcliffe entries. God only knows why I chose to analyze that threesome’s year-by-year statistics. Did you know The Penguin had 24 career stolen bases? That’s about 23 more than I expected, considering his ridiculously awkward running technique.

Then I turned to the postseason section, where I relived the 1995 NLDS, the 1984 and 1985  NLCS, and the 1988 NLCS and World Series.

What stats/facts jumped out at me? Kirk Gibson was 4-for-26 in the 1988 NLCS. Two of those four hits were home runs — a go-ahead blast in the 12th inning of Game 4, and a huge, three-run shot in Game 5. The Dodgers won both games.

Then, of course, Gibson hit his game-winning homer in Game 1 of the World Series. His only at-bat of the series.

So Gibson was 5-for-27 in the 1988 postseason, with three game-clinching home runs. He sure knew how to pick his spots.

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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized