A look back at the career of one of the game's great executives.
The baseball world lost one of its titans last week, when Buzzie Bavasi died at the age of 93. A colorful veteran of nearly 50 years in the game, he was the architect of four World Championship teams, and played a pivotal role in some of baseball's biggest changes amid a career that embodied the highest highs and lowest lows of working as a front office executive.
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The legacy of the Dodgers move west, and setting the record straight on Brooklyn's support of the Bums.
Another problem with evaluating O'Malley's legacy is that many revisionists, consciously or unconsciously, make a big deal out of the Dodgers' Brooklyn attendance, then and now. Disparage the Dodgers' support in the 1950s as a way of rationalizing O'Malley's gambit, they write phrases like "the Dodgers barely drew a million fans" in Brooklyn in the 1950s, as if that were some kind of crime. The fact is that both major leagues in the 1950s were in deep trouble, with overall attendance declining for a multitude of reasons. It is neither fair nor instructive to compare today's attendance, when the US population is double what it was in 1950, with five decades ago unless one also puts those numbers in context. Furthermore, the Los Angeles market of the twenty-first century is more than four times the size of Brooklyn's market in 1950.
The myth of weak attendance in Brooklyn undergirds the popular understanding of O'Malley's inspiration to go west. Despite the misconceptions that have obscured the facts since the move, the Dodgers had drawn better than the NL average (excluding Brooklyn) in every season from 1938 through 1956. Only in 1957, the Dodgers' last year in Brooklyn-and a season throughout which rumors swirled that the team was headed west-did O'Malley's team fall a few thousand fans short of the league mean in attendance.
With Walter O'Malley's induction into the Hall of Fame later coinciding with the anniversary, a review of the Dodgers' move west.
If a recent immigrant listened casually to accounts of the Dodgers' move west in the 1950s, they might think that Walter O'Malley was an old-fashioned pioneer-a man who literally blazed a trail across prairie, plains, mountains, and desert. In their imagination, "The O'Malley Trail" might be a latter-day entrepreneurial version of the nineteenth-century Oregon Trail, enabling enterprising baseball executives to seek a better life on the baseball frontier.
This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the first big league games on the Left Coast. A half-century ago, the two sets of refugees from Gotham opened the 1957 season with home-and-home series in LA and San Francisco. The first three-game set was played at Seals Stadium; the three-game return match was played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Neither was a first-rate venue for major league baseball.
Two wounded rotations, two bullpens likely to work early to often and up to the challenge... will the difference be the Mets' eight-deep attack, or the Cardinals' power of one at the plate?
The beginning of the postseason marked a chance for Willie Randolph's Mets to consummate something the baseball world had anticipated for at least four months, the chance to show that their regular-season dominance was no fluke. Yet the run-up to the Division Series against the Dodgers brought disturbing news. Not only was ace Pedro Martinez, the symbol of the team's resurgence under Randolph and GM Omar Minaya, likely to miss a start due to his calf strain, but he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff that would knock him out into the middle of next year. The team's next pick to open the series, Orlando Hernandez, tore a calf muscle running in the outfield, knocking him out of consideration as well. Undeterred, the Mets retooled their postseason roster to play to their strength, a deep bullpen, and Randolph ably improvised his way through the series while the lineup punished nearly every mistake the Dodgers made. The result was a victory in straight sets, confirming that at the very least, the road to the NL pennant runs through the Big Apple.
The Cardinals punched their ticket in July. The Dodgers, 72 hours ago. Don't let that fool you: this is a great matchup.
The Cardinals can't claim any such drama. That's because they long ago obliterated the rest of the National League. The Cards' 105-57 record was the best in baseball, and underscored the standout performances of several star players. With a loaded offense and surprising starting pitching, St. Louis will be a stern test to any challenger, starting with the Dodgers.
Is Mike Sweeney the answer to the Dodgers' offensive woes? Has Johan Santana been getting a raw deal from his bullpen this season? And do the Giants have any bargaining chips left to deal at this year's trading deadline? All this and many more fascinating, rhetorical questions from Los Angeles, Minnesota, and San Francisco in your Monday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.
Even Better Than The Real Thing?: At this writing, the Dodgers are in first place in the NL West, one game ahead of the surging Giants and three games ahead of the Padres. This is due more to their pitching (3rd in ERA, narrowly) than to their hitting (13th in runs scored), and in this way they superficially resemble the Padres more than the Giants...
Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' predictions for 1998. We'll go division by
division and each of our staff members will tell you what they think about the
races. Remember, there's a reason we don't print this stuff in the book; there
is no good way we know of to predict what a team will do before the season
begins. Consider these teamwide WFGs, take them with a grain of salt, and