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Extra Value is What You Get
2008-05-29 18:09
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

YES is broadcasting Game 6 of the 1978 World Serious tonight. I tuned in just in time to catch Reggie's bomb of Bob Welch, a first pitch shot that served as revenge for Welch's dramatic K of Jackson earlier in the series. Jackson admired the blast, though his posturing is tame by today's standards, and then tipped his hat to the Dodger faithful after he crossed home plate. In a short, 1994 New Yorker tribute to Jackson called "Swingtime," Roger Angell noted this home run as one of Jackson's career highlights. Here's more from the piece:

Coming up out of the dugout before his next at-bat in a big game, Reggie Jackson was always accompanied by an invisible entourage: he was the heavyweight champion headed down the aisle for another title defense. The batter's box was his prize ring, and once he'd dug in there--with those gauntleted arms, the squashed-down helmet, the shades and the shoulders--all hearts beat faster. It really didn't matter what came next--a pop-up or a ground ball, a single or a dinger, or one of those tunneling-to-Peru strikeouts that ended with his helmet askew, his massive legs twisted into taffy ropes, and the man lurching and staggering as he fought for balance down there in the center of our shouting--because what he gave us, game after game, throughout a twenty-one-year career, was full value.

...From first to last, he was excessive; he excelled at excess...His ego, like his swing, took your breath away, but the dazzled, infuriated beat writers and columnists had to concede that it probably arose from the same deeply hidden, unforgiving self-doubt that whipped him to such baseball hieghts, mostly in the hard late going.

I think Angell gets to the heart of Jackson's gift--no matter what he did when he was at-bat, he always gave us full value. There aren't many athletes you can say that about.

Comments
2008-05-29 19:01:21
1.   Bob Timmermann
No need for me to watch, as I don't get YES, but I was at the game. I sat in the right field pavilion for the game. I had to wait around for my oldest brother, who was a Dodger Stadium usher, to punch out and drive me home. Since it was the last game of the year, it took a long time.

My other brother and I got to see the leisure-suited Roy White and Ed Figueroa getting ready to go out on the town. I think they were both in beige.

2008-05-29 19:08:29
2.   Cliff Corcoran
That's why I loved Sheffield. He had that same quality at the plate. Every at-bat was riveting. He never gave one away. I'd put my man Dave Winfield in that same category. Full value hitters. Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs had it too, but in a different way; it wasn't that even their fly outs and strikeouts were spectacular, but that they were locked in on every pitch they ever saw.

Though I think Yankee fans have finally stopped taking Alex Rodriguez for granted, I think it's the lack of that quality, in either variation, that the fans responded negatively to in the first place. Unlike Reggie and the rest, Alex can make some mundane looking outs.

2008-05-29 19:43:38
3.   Shaun P
2 At the same time, A-Rod has crushed some mundane looking home runs too. How many times he has hit what looks like a routine fly out that just keeps going and going? With Sheff (and Reggie too, I imagine, not really remembering his playing days), you knew when it was gone.

A-Rod is sometimes more subtle than those guys, but when he's locked in, I'd say he's a full value hitter too. Maybe this is why he seemed to be more loved in '05 and '07?

2008-05-29 20:52:56
4.   nick
Alex is so smooth...Reggie, Sheff, Winfield were all about visible effort, no? the thing with Alex is he doesn't look like he's going all out: somehow he just doesn't project hussle.
2008-05-29 21:04:19
5.   Jeb
I remember when Welch struck Reggie out in Game 2 --- NBC seemed to make a much bigger deal out of that K than the Homer Reggie hit in game 6. Granted, Reggie's K ended the game so it was a bit higher leverage.

Also, of course, since the K happened in game 2, NBC's announcers talked about it in Games 3, 4, 5 and 6. Reggie's homer came in game 6 (the last game) so there wasn't much to talk about at that point and without an ESPN the replay didn't get played ad infinitum.

I really wish I had the YES network so I could watch that game though...that one and the game on 8/4/79 which I watched as a kid.

2008-05-29 21:31:37
6.   Bob Timmermann
The mostly unknown rookie (even in L.A. we barely knew who Welch was or if we could trust him much) striking out the most famous player in the game on the biggest stage was a big deal.

The home run in Game 6 made a 5-2 game a 7-2 game. I know that at Dodger Stadium that after Jackson's homer in Game 6, the crowd pretty much just gave up all hope.

2008-05-29 22:51:07
7.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
"Sometimes I underestimate the magnitude of me." man, Reggie was the coolest. I wonder if players today could get away with takling like that? Actually think it'd be cool if A-Rod went Reggie on the press.."Yes, I`m a prima-donna, I Got 500 home runs at age 32. I deserve better treatment"...
2008-05-30 03:12:34
8.   JL25and3
Reggie's greatest moment in that World Series wasn't with his bat - it was with his hip. That was one of the finest heads-up plays I've ever seen, right up there with Jeter's flip toss.

2 I also thought of Sheffield immediately - except, of course, that I loathed Sheffield. In awe of his hitting, yes; loved him, never.

I guess the big difference between Reggie and Sheffield was the anger. Reggie actually had fun out there, and he seemed to genuinely enjoy those big moments. Sheffield held the bat like a grudge. Anyone remember ever seeing him smile, even once? Me either. Reggie's ego said "Look at me," but Sheffield's said "Fuck you," towards everyone, all the time.

I also think the Milwaukee fans might dispute that "full value" thing.

7 Sheffield: "I know what you're all going to do, and you all think you know what I'm going to do, and you all don't. Nobody knows. That's the mystique of me."

2008-05-30 06:21:22
9.   Bama Yankee
8 "Sheffield held the bat like a grudge."
Good line and so true.

7 "Actually think it'd be cool if A-Rod went Reggie on the press"
Chyll Will and I have been saying something like that for a couple of years now. I think Arod struggled to act more like Jeter at the beginning and he never looked comfortable. I even suggested that he go with more of a Muhammad Ali approach (I was wrong, but I wanted him to try something different to see if it worked). But, now it looks like he has settled in to acting like Arod...which I guess should have been his plan all along.

2008-05-30 09:00:18
10.   Raf
9 The problem with that is that Rodriguez isn't as loquacious or as flip as Reggie or Ali. Had he stuck to his "ARod Inc" personality, I think his "transition" (for lack of a better word) to NY would've been a lot easier.

The situation was unique from the beginning, I will admit, what with the two top dogs @ SS playing on the same team. Not to mention that the superior player was deferring to the lesser one. I could see why, in 2004, Rodriguez would try to shrink into the background.

I am curious to see how the Rodriguez - Jeter dynamic will play out the next few years.

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