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Friday Rewind: Deep in the Heart of Texas
DALLAS — I suppose this is the place and time for a World Series preview … but these playoffs have had me so utterly baffled, from beginning to end, that I am sort of at a loss. The Rangers are playing the Diamondbacks in the World Series. There has never been a stranger matchup, and I say that on multiple levels.
Level 1: As James Smyth writes, the two teams have the lowest combined winning percentage in World Series history:
Arizona-Texas, 2023: .537
Oakland-New York Mets, 1973: .545
San Francisco-Kansas City, 2014: .546
Detroit-St. Louis, 2006 and Cleveland-Florida, 1997: 551
Minnesota-St. Louis, 1987: .556
Level 2: While those were all somewhat unexpected matchups, it was usually only one side of the series that provided the surprise. In 1973, Oakland was defending World Series champs. In 2014, San Francisco had won two of the previous four World Series. The 2006 Cardinals were a great team — they’d won 100-plus the previous two seasons — that dealt with season-long injuries and did not really put it together until late. Cleveland in 1997 was a great team, won the pennant in 1995. And the Cardinals in 1987 had won pennants in 1982 and 1985.
These Rangers and Diamondbacks had been dreadful since the COVID season — the Rangers had been dreadful for even longer than that — so I think it’s definitely fair to say that we’ve never had two teams quite like these meeting up in the World Series.
Level 3: The Rangers and Diamondbacks are, you would have to say, lacking in memorable baseball history. The Rangers have never won a World Series, of course, and the Diamondbacks have only existed since 1998. I was looking at the Diamondbacks’ Hall of Famers — there are three of them. One is pretty obvious: Randy Johnson. Can you name the other two?
Level 4: They have no history against each other, either. The Rangers and Diamondbacks have played each other just 53 times, with Texas leading the series 28-25, but Arizona has outscored the Rangers 282-259, and you don’t care about any of that because for all these years you probably couldn’t come up with a more trivial matchup than Rangers-Diamondbacks.
None of this is to say that this won’t be a great series. It absolutely might be great. Both teams are playing great. What I’m saying is that I have no FEEL for what will happen. So rather than give you a preview or a prediction, I think it’s best for us to just watch together and see what happens together.
Happy Friday! The Rewind is free so everyone can enjoy it. Just a reminder that Joe Blogs is a reader-supported newsletter, and I’d love and appreciate your support.
What a Crazy Event in Dallas!
Well, that was wild. We did a WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL event on Thursday night at the Aaron JCC in Dallas, and it turned out to be quite a bit more emotional than I expected. I was told by the moderator, longtime television producer Robert Steinfeld, that there would be surprises. He was not lying.
First, before the event even began, I was approached by Dan Anderson-Little and one of his sons. This was not a surprise set up by Steinfeld — Dan and Linda happen to live in the Dallas area, where they are both pastors, and Dan just decided to come. I had not seen Dan in … let’s see here, I guess it has been 9,275 days.
How can I be so sure it has been exactly that long?
Dan officiated our wedding.
It’s a long story how that happened and not especially interesting to anyone except Margo and me, but suffice it to say that he was a pretty late replacement and he was amazing and we still talk about him often. He walked up and said, “I don’t know if you remember but the last time I saw you, I was officiating your wedding.” I have had a lot of people over the years come up to me and say, “You might not remember me but …”
This was the first time the person who came up had actually married Margo and me.
So, right away, I got the sense that this night would be different. Then we sat down, Robert and me, and, as mentioned, he’s an ultra-successful sports television producer who has done many incredible things, and he had laid out an entire run of show for this night. And he wanted to surprise me. So early on, he had me tell one of my favorite stories, my Jim Kern story, which I will share again with you here.
Jim Kern was a power reliever for Cleveland in the 1970s, when I was a kid. At one of my first games at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, I saw a few Cleveland players were signing autographs for some other kid, so I rushed over with a few scraps of paper and a pencil and tried to get in on the action. I’m going to guess this was 1975 or 1976, I was probably 8 or 9, and I had never gotten an autograph before.
I was effectively boxed out by the other kids — I was really small — and slowly it began to occur to me that the players were leaving. Jim Kern was the last one signing, and I was desperate to get his autograph, and he said: “Sorry guys, I gotta go,” and I began bawling. It’s not my proudest moment, but there you go. Jim saw me crying and rushed back, quickly scrawled his name on one of my pieces of scrap paper and raced off. And with that, I was the single happiest kid on planet earth, and I rushed back to the seat to show my Dad the autograph and … well, what do you think? I couldn’t even find it. You don’t have people sign autographs in PENCIL, and he had rushed through, and the autograph was so light that you couldn’t even see it.
OK. Maybe 30 years later, I wrote about this story. And not long after, a friend handed me a baseball autographed by Jim Kern. And the ball read:
As you might imagine that became one of my absolute prize possessions.
But, as many of you might know, the story doesn’t end there … because a few years ago, our dog, Westley, got hold of that baseball. And, well …
Yeah. So, anyway, I told that story again. And suddenly Robert — like he was Ralph Edwards from “This is Your Life” — says something like: “Well, Joe, we have a surprise for you.”
And Jim Kern stands up and walks over and hands me an autographed baseball.
And on it, he writes:
You will notice the ellipses. Well, on the other side he wrote:
I mean … what is even happening?
And then we began talking about the book, the funny moments, the ball bouncing high off of José Canseco’s head, the four consecutive fouls balls that David Hulse hit into the Angels dugout that one day, and then there was a question from the audience.
“Joe,” the question went, “do you think that David Hulse hit those four foul balls into the dugout on purpose?”
And the question came from: David Hulse. Yeah.*
*My answer was: “I mean, David Hulse was famous for his bat control, so OF COURSE he hit the foul balls on purpose.”
There was a lot of other cool stuff like that: Thank you, Robert. This book tour has been so incredible, so filled with wonderful surprises, and it goes on! You’ve got to be there. I mean, you just don’t know what’s going to happen.
— I’ll be in Nashville this Wednesday, that’s Nov. 1, and we KNOW that I’ll be joined by Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart (who is going to play some music to talk baseball by) and Life Hall of Famer Bob Kendrick, and I’m sure we’ll tell some Buck stories. It’s going to be amazing and there really might be a special guest star or two, I’m hearing rumors. The event is being put on by the Nashville Stars, who are trying to bring major league baseball to town. If you’re anywhere close to Nashville, this will be incredible. Tickets here.
— On Sunday, Nov. 5 — the morning after Daylight Savings Time ends, so you have an extra hour to sleep — I’ll be at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington, that’s in Rockville, Md., for a little event they’re calling “Baseball and Bagels.” I’ll be doing that event with Andy Pollin, and tickets are $18 and include bagels.
— The next evening, Monday, Nov. 6, I'm in Cherry Hill, N.J. We can lament the Phillies together, and I might even talk a little bit about my next book, Why We Love Football, since we’ll be so close to NFL Films. Tickets are $15.
— And then on Wednesday, Nov. 8, I’m in Atlanta. We can lament the Braves together. That will really be fun because Adam Lazarus, who wrote the excellent new book The Wingmen about the friendship between Ted Williams and John Glenn, will be there, too. Tickets are $18.
One other book item … WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL is being featured by Barnes & Noble … and that includes a little post I wrote to answer the question: How did I narrow it down to just 50 moments? The short answer is: I cheated. But the post is not too long if you’d like to read it.
Along those lines, I’m narrowing down some football moments now and … being honest, it’s at least as hard as it was for baseball.
Hey, if you feel like it, I’d love if you’d share this post with your friends!
JoeBlogs Week in Review
Saturday: A magical baseball day.
Tuesday: Winner take all.
Wednesday: The ecstasy and the agony.