Bob Klapisch has been covering baseball in New York for almost 30 years. Writing for the New York Post, New York Daily News and most recently the The Record. He is also a regular contributor for ESPN.com and FoxSports.com. He has been a voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America since 1983.
The year was 1954, when anyone paying close attention might’ve realized the Dodgers had their eye on the door, ready to leave Brooklyn. Not that team president Peter O’Malley came out and said so, but in retrospect the hints were everywhere.
If you want to know what baseball was like in its low-tech, pre-PC days, run a Google search on Earl Weaver going nuclear on a hapless umpire. You can get the same result if you look up Billy Martin or Tommy Lasorda, but Weaver was the king of in-your-face diplomacy. Feigned or not, you just don’t see theater like that anymore.
Any self-respecting Mets fan will fix a gaze that’ll cut you in two at the mere mention of 1988. That’s how much it (still) hurts to think of the NL Championship Series loss to the Dodgers, the team the Mets had beaten 11 times in the regular season and represented nothing more than calisthenics on the way to the World Series.
Several years ago, I was spending time with Yogi Berra at his Museum and Learning Center in Montclair, N.J. Yogi was still vibrant and in good health, and on this day, he was eager to walk me through his own time tunnel.
It wasn’t long ago that I saw an ad for the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, which boasted a near-impossible 707 horsepower. My first and only thought about this car was—impossible. But I did my research and realized Dodge’s engineers had indeed made a breakthrough. They’d created the fastest production muscle car in American history, a four-wheel rocket ship.
There’s probably no way to count the number of times baseball has been pronounced dead—or at least dying—in the last 50 years. Too slow, too boring, too out of touch with younger fans who need more simulation. Think any of this is new? Try again.
In 1957, the Dodgers’ last year in Brooklyn, attendance fell by 20 percent. This, despite the fact they’d won the pennant the previous season and were only two years removed from beating the hated Yankees in the World Series.
How would Babe Ruth handle Clayton Kershaw’s curveball? That thought occurred to me during the NL Division Series, when I found myself gawking at the ferocity of that oversized hook. Could Ruth and his 42-ounce bat really hold his own against Kershaw or Matt Harvey’s slider or Aroldis Chapman’s fastball?
Ever since the World Series ended, I’ve been sifting through the data trying to understand how, exactly, the Royals walked all over the Mets. There’s no question Kansas City was the better team; you win a Fall Classic in five games and you’ve left no room for debate.
It was a slow July afternoon at Citi Field, about an hour before batting practice, when I wandered into the visiting manager’s office. I was there to see an old friend, Clint Hurdle, who once played for the Mets—it feels like a million years ago—but is currently known as the genius who saved baseball in Pittsburgh.