FanDuel - WFBC

August 08, 2006

Auker loved to play, talk baseball:
Q: Do you think baseball turned its head on steroid usage?
A: "Sure. Bud Selig is nothing but a puppet for the owners. Bonds has been a real meal ticket for the Giants' owner. As long as Selig is commissioner, Bonds will never get kicked out of baseball. Selig only came up with his silly steroid policy after pressure and the hearings in Washington."

Rest In Peace, Eldin.



posted by wingnut4life to baseball at 10:39 AM - 35 comments

You hate to see guys like Eldin Auker go. He had so many interesting stories to tell. It's amazing how much history he saw and was a part of! At least now he can finally hang out with all of his teammates.

posted by wingnut4life at 10:43 AM on August 08

When I pitched, home plate belonged to me. Today it belongs to the hitters. Word. Hats off to Auker. It's a shame he couldn't hang on a bit longer to see how the Tigers' season plays out, but he's presumably playing with an even better team now.

posted by BullpenPro at 10:57 AM on August 08

if they allow steriods then thay should let pete rose into the hall of fame where he belongs

posted by big don at 10:57 AM on August 08

"Sure. Bud Selig is nothing but a puppet for the owners." No offence to Mr. Auker, but the commissioner position was DESIGNED to be a "puppet for the owners". From the very beginning, the commissioner may claim to have the "best interests in baseball" with the decisions that are made, but it's the owners that originally paid his salary. To call Selig a "puppet" isn't an insult, it's an "alternative job title".

posted by grum@work at 11:03 AM on August 08

"Unlimited powers. Won't work any other way. Otherwise, people will say the commissioner is run by the owners." -- Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Eight Men Out Grum, I'm not sure I agree with the "from the very beginning" part.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:31 AM on August 08

Kenesaw Mountain Landis Good point. I mentally skipped over Landis because his task wasn't originally to run baseball, but to clean it up. Giving him the lifetime contract was a greivous error on MLBs part as he hindered the growth of minor league farm system and kept the game segregated. In the context of ensuring the integrity of the game itself, baseball historians generally regard him as the right man at the right time when appointed, but also as a man who perhaps held office too long. (source) After the passing of the "baseball tyrant", every other commissioner (no longer with a "lifetime" contract) has been a lackey for the owners.

posted by grum@work at 12:20 PM on August 08

Great post, wingnut - thanks! Count "read more about Eldin Auker" as part of my personal to-do list now.

posted by littleLebowski at 01:00 PM on August 08

Great to get a post to remind us how the game was "really" played. To bad we can't have enough of these "Old Timers" telling these guys how they really look in the public eye. They obviously don't or won't listen to us. To much money, I guess>

posted by volfire at 01:02 PM on August 08

If baseball was played today like it was in Auker's time, it would be a vast improvement.Base stealing,defense and pitching would be back; in other words small ball.This would probably also kill the sport in America,where everything must be exciting and in your face. This is a shame as one of the great things about the game is its subtle nature.There is always something to learn.

posted by sickleguy at 01:20 PM on August 08

My god, we're getting nostalgic about a game we've never seen - the dude played in 1935. For my money, those "good ol' days" are a mixture of selective memory, generational bitterness (which I'm starting to get, too - it's like I'm getting old or something), and basically factless posturing. Essentially, aren't the "good ol' days" just a reference to the time when everyone you could remember thought the way you did about stuff and no one challenged the myths?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:27 PM on August 08

The good ole days are like old photographs, they get all soft and fuzzy around the edges as time goes by. I know that from time to time I wax nostalgic about the good ole days when I was a kid watching my childhood heroes play, like Kaline, Cash and Freehan. At the same time though you tend to shove the bad things about those days out of your mind and there were plenty of bad things going on in the early to mid-'60s. Getting nostalgic about a time we never lived through is not surprising either. It happens every Christmas. I can promise you that most people never lived through the Christmas' they think they remember.

posted by commander cody at 01:40 PM on August 08

Trust no future, howe'er pleasant! Let the dead past bury its dead! Act, - act in the living Present! Heart within and God o'erhead. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Psalm of Life RIP

posted by skydivedad at 01:50 PM on August 08

Eldin Auker was right. the old days were different. The plate did belong to the pitchers, the mound was higher, and the ball wasn't wound quite as tight. Gives me even more respect for those that were great hitters in a vastly different game than we see today. The ump has made his call, Eldin, and you are safe at home. RIP, brother.

posted by Scottymac at 01:52 PM on August 08

Nice gesture skydivedad- This guy knew what he was talking about, a real class act. ~R.I.P~

posted by redsoxrgay at 01:54 PM on August 08

the old days were different. One my my favorite sections of Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract is called "Old Ballplayers Never Die", where he finds great quotations from each decade of baseball: old ballplayers complaining that the game isn't played properly anymore, like it was back in THEIR day. 1890's players bitching about the newfangled game of the 1920's (all these confounded home runs!) and so forth...

posted by Venicemenace at 02:45 PM on August 08

Yeah, your'e right Weedy, now we will just argue about the records of the cheaters, who did and who didn't. Of course Babe Ruth was the biggest cheater of them all, he started all this. (Realizing the fact that he was not the only great baseball player, already noted)

posted by volfire at 03:00 PM on August 08

One my my favorite sections of Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract is called "Old Ballplayers Never Die" I've quoted from there before in another discussion, but I have to agree. It's great to read how EVERYONE thinks the game was better when they were playing/younger. If baseball was played today like it was in Auker's time, it would be a vast improvement.Base stealing,defense and pitching would be back; in other words small ball. Life-long servitude by the players to the owners. Quality players never escaping from a franchise and being forever stuck in the minor leagues. None of them uppity coloured folk, neither. /sarcasm

posted by grum@work at 03:04 PM on August 08

Of course Babe Ruth was the biggest cheater of them all, he started all this. What in the world are you talking about? Why, because he drank during prohibition? Lawbreaker doesn't equal cheater in a baseball context, and the notion that Ruth's performance was enhanced by his boozing is ridiculous.

posted by BullpenPro at 03:22 PM on August 08

Where/why did the whining in this post start about the good ol' days? The FPP is about Auker and some interesting perspective/anecdotes from him. The only thing from him that came close to reminiscing about how the game used to be played was: "We had a knockdown pitch then, but they don't let the pitchers do it now. When I pitched, home plate belonged to me. Today it belongs to the hitters." And, if you're arguing that point, then you don't know much about the game - then or now.

posted by littleLebowski at 03:23 PM on August 08

generational bitterness (which I'm starting to get, too - it's like I'm getting old or something) You goddamned kids pull up your pants, fer chrissake! Haven't you ever heard of a belt? And get off my lawn! the notion that Ruth's performance was enhanced by his boozing is ridiculous. Easy BallPeen, some of us consider hookers, hotdogs, beer and stogies performance enhancing drugs. Thanks for the throwback, wingnut.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 03:35 PM on August 08

Easy BallPeen, some of us consider hookers, hotdogs, beer and stogies performance enhancing drugs. You mean there are those who don't!?!

posted by commander cody at 03:51 PM on August 08

And get off my lawn too!

posted by commander cody at 03:51 PM on August 08

I love baseball and pitchers don't rule the plate like old times but should they is it really hurting their psyche when a batter hits a hr and they deliberately hit em the next time I don't think so unless it was their best pitch I think they should leave it alone and even if it was their best pitch leave it be

posted by luther70 at 06:12 PM on August 08

"We had a knockdown pitch then, but they don't let the pitchers do it now. When I pitched, home plate belonged to me. Today it belongs to the hitters." And, if you're arguing that point, then you don't know much about the game - then or now. Yes, back in the old days, they knocked down a lot more batters compared to nowadays. Except, of course, they didn't. Average IP per HBP, by decade: (stats for 2000 decade up to and including 2005) 1900s: 25.4 1910s: 33.0 1920s: 42.3 1930s: 60.0 1940s: 65.9 1950s: 46.2 1960s: 41.1 1970s: 46.1 1980s: 50.3 1990s: 32.2 2000s: 24.2 More batters are getting plunked in the past 15 years (1990-2005) than in any time in baseball. (stats compiled from the Lahman database)

posted by grum@work at 06:31 PM on August 08

And I'm sure the Babe would stand in front of congress( unless their on vaction, or have more important things to do) and swear he NEVER drank,whored, or broke any other law. My point was to draw exception to our "hero's" today, many of which can't even speak the language of the game that they play. Who are our hero's now? Mcguire ,Bonds, Palmiero, Giambi, Sosa, how many more should we or can we question? If it was only beer that they were testing for I think we could consider ourselves lucky. Of course they only drank when it was'nt against the law. And they were not testing for beer in your system then either so that still works too!

posted by volfire at 06:56 PM on August 08

"hero's" today Care to cite where that's quoted from?

posted by yerfatma at 07:16 PM on August 08

And I'm sure the Babe would stand in front of congress( unless their on vaction, or have more important things to do) and swear he NEVER drank,whored, or broke any other law. I don't think I'd take that bet. He always struck me from old reports and news reels as the type who'd be more then happy to brag about his recreation time.

posted by commander cody at 07:31 PM on August 08

Elden, there is an Iowa cornfield that has a ballfield carved out of it where old baseball players can go and play with and against old friends. Put on your Tiger uniform and go knock down a cocky hitter or two.It was built so that guys like you could come and play again. Go the distance!

posted by judgedread at 07:52 PM on August 08

Volfire: maybe it's because it's late and I'm tired, but I've read your last message a half-dozen times and I still don't get your point about Ruth. First, you called Ruth the biggest cheater of all, then you replied by saying, "My point was to draw exception to our "hero's" today." Maybe you were using sarcasm and I didn't pick it up -- are you calling Ruth a cheater or not? Grum: here's another example where you can't tell the story with numbers alone. The HBP count hasn't gone up because pitchers today own the inside part of the plate as much as they used to. They've gone up because (a) pitching quality is thinner and more guys with absolutely no control are making it to the majors; (b) batters, knowing the pitchers can't come inside, are digging in and crowding the plate much more than they used to; and (c) today's players are wearing body armor that reduces their fear of being hit (and umps aren't following the rules about a player having to make a serious attempt to avoid being hit). Sending a batter to the dirt with a high, tight one isn't reflected in HBP. Bob Gibson, who was notorious for owning the inside part of the plate, hit 102 batters in 3884 innings (.026); Greg Maddux, whose fearsomeness wasn't exactly the result of chin-music, hit 125 batter in 4406 innings through last year (.028). HBP is not a good indicator of a pitcher's ability or willingness to pitch inside. (I'll grant you that Maddux had a far worse reputation for his treatment of hitters outside the ballpark, but the fact that he filed the bones in his hands to razor points never really helped his fastball.)

posted by BullpenPro at 12:33 AM on August 09

(c) today's players are wearing body armor that reduces their fear of being hit (and umps aren't following the rules about a player having to make a serious attempt to avoid being hit). Amen. If the umps would at least make a show of following this rule it could change the whole complication of the game. Imho for the better. I'm getting tired of seeing some ballplayers getting cheap on-bases this way. The least they could do is to wipe the stupid grin off their face as they're headed to first, knowing they got away with it.

posted by commander cody at 12:55 AM on August 09

I think that the AL DH rule is partly to blame, too. AL pitchers can, and do, throw high and tight, knowing full well that they don't have to go stand in the box and and get a taste of their own medicine.

posted by mjkredliner at 01:05 AM on August 09

I am glad that others are making the arguments about the fallacy of the HBP ratio. If you look at the figures, the decades of the '30s and 40's (those when Auker was pitching and talking about Ps owning the plate) are when the ratio showed the LOWEST ratio for HBP to IP. I would argue that that means that hitters KNEW they didn't belong on top of the plate, DIDN'T dig in and ALWAYS made an attempt to avoid getting plunked. Was it better baseball? Guess that depends in what you like about the game. I would hypothosize that one of the reasons Ruth has stood for as long as he has a hitter non-pariel is that not only did he hit 60 HR, but did it in an era when NO ONE was hitting HRs. Personally, the HR has lost its luster simply because it has become so commonplace. Does a day go by without at least 4 or 5? Today's SB is the HR of the early 20th century, as far as scarcity. Unfortunately, SB does not always equal a run on the board, so it is not as "glamorous". To me, a 1-0 game, the one run having been manufactured, is a classic game. To others, the best game is a 13-11 HR fest. I am not in a position to judge who is right, but I think we all would agree the the managers in the latter are wrong, either for having left starting Ps in way to long, or not having a corps of relivers who could stop the hemmoraging.

posted by elovrich at 02:46 AM on August 09

Grum: here's another example where you can't tell the story with numbers alone. The HBP count hasn't gone up because pitchers today own the inside part of the plate as much as they used to. They've gone up because (a) pitching quality is thinner and more guys with absolutely no control are making it to the majors; (b) batters, knowing the pitchers can't come inside, are digging in and crowding the plate much more than they used to; and (c) today's players are wearing body armor that reduces their fear of being hit (and umps aren't following the rules about a player having to make a serious attempt to avoid being hit). a) the pitching "quality" may be thinner, but there are far more pitchers that can throw +95mph heat than ever before. Therefore, this "harder and wilder" is far more dangerous than in previous times, and the batters have got to know this. b) if the batters know the pitchers are "harder and wilder", they aren't digging in because they know they won't get hit. They are digging in because they accept they MIGHT get hit, which is still getting on base (see Biggio, Reed Johnson). If batters know that getting hit is part of the game, no amount of "Gibson intimidation" is going to work. If you weren't worried about a Seattle-era Randy Johnson throwing 99mph and only being SOMEWHAT sure that it MIGHT be across the plate on ANY pitch, then I don't see where Gibson's "threat" of knocking a batter down on a deliberate pitch is that fearful. c) You can wear all the elbow pads and wrist guards you want, but until they allow hockey face masks on the batting helmets, a runaway fastball is still going to be a dangerous thing. The reason I posted the stats was that I wanted to kill the idea that the 1940s/50s/60s were some sort of wild-west judgement time where pitchers extracted revenge on batters for leaning across the plate. It may have occassionally happened, but I think nostalgia and "it was different in my time"-ness tends to exaggerate that point. Unfortunately, SB does not always equal a run on the board, so it is not as "glamorous". Well, until they offer style points to teams for "glamourous" plays, there is no reason for baseball teams to waste opportunities to score runs by making low-percentage (and low-payout) plays.

posted by grum@work at 10:33 AM on August 09

grum, I meant in the minds of some fans, since an SB doesn't guarantee a run, and an HR guarantees at least 1, is it not as 'glamorous'. I know there are no style points, and with a large number of HR the SB loses even more value.

posted by elovrich at 12:04 PM on August 09

Grum: Your responses to my points all sound valid. I don't know how to respond to them except to say that I've been involved in conversations with just about every living Hall of Fame pitcher, and none of them have ever said that pitching inside is just as easy today as it was when they were pitching. They all seem to think it's a lost art, and for a wide variety of reasons. I think this is particularly poignant, since players are more inclined to tell you that their job was tougher when they were playing than it is today, not easier. Frank Robinson called pitching inside a lost art in 2000 when he was the "Dean of Discipline" for MLB, attributing it to the fact that hitters were more inclined to charge the mound than they used to be. (Ironically, Robinson's club leads the majors in HBP this season, due largely to high totals from Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas, Jr. -- whatever that means. Livan Hernandez only had two when he was traded.) Mound charging doesn't seem to be that prevalent anymore, but I do still think it is more than nostalgia that is bringing people to comment on how much the hitters own the inside part of the plate now. Umpires are throwing warnings out at the drop of a hat, and hitters definitely crowd the plate a lot. And many batters ask for time from the ump as they approach the plate just so they can deliberately dig in. Gibson and Drysdale had very similar reputations, but Drysdale hit a lot more batters on average than Hoot. A lot more. I just don't think HBP tells enough of the story about how willing pitchers are to come inside or who owns that portion of the plate.

posted by BullpenPro at 04:39 PM on August 09

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