|Meryl, here's a role where you won't have to|
suppress your boarding-school accent...
This is yet another odd corner of the baby boom, featuring a catcher who didn't like to catch, a first baseman who didn't like to throw, a third baseman who waddled, and an outfield that is somehow shifty and shiftless all at once.
In its own baksheeshy, careening way, it's a fascinating roster, filled with fakers, phonies, and the occasional taciturn "take it for the team" type, a cross-section of what increasingly collided on the baseball field if not (quite yet) in America as a whole.
They haven't got a chance in the Showdown, but they will make Big Hair and Plastic Grass author Dan Epstein skip a heartbeat or two as he contemplates their louche-like lapse into seventies-dom:
C: Earl Williams, Steve Yeager, John Ellis, Buck Martinez
1B: Steve Garvey, Chris Chambliss, Willie Montanez
2B: Toby Harrah, Lee Lacy, Dave Cash
SS: Dave Concepcion, Bill Russell
3B: Ron Cey
OF: George Foster, Mickey Rivers, Dave Kingman, Ron LeFlore, Ron Blomberg, Mike Jorgensen
|Mickey Rivers: the "Anti-Yogi"...|
|Toby Harrah, given those powder-blue pants by the|
randomly capricious "Day-Gloizer."
In fact, Mick's presence provides the inspiration to go Day-Glo again, bringing some visual panache to a set of players who pale in comparison to their 60s brethren. Not that Toby Harrah wasn't a fine player--in fact, from several vantage points it can be convincingly argued that he is the most accomplished member of this squad. But he's just not, er, colorful enough...so we decided to fix that for you.
It's the old "bat your real leadoff man second" trick--and hey, it worked for the Big Red Machine, so what the heck??
|The short answer to the question: yes.|
Following Foster is the squad's resident phony, Steve Garvey. A model of bruisingly boring consistency during his peak years (1974-80) with the Dodgers, Steve eventually degenerated into a just-a-bit-too-sleazy version of Ronald Reagan, who despite his many other faults never wound up as the subject of bumper stickers that extolled his prowess at parallel impregnation. One has to give Garvey props for being a terrific post-season hitter (.338, .910 OPS), but the problem is that there ain't gonna be no post-season for this team.
|Ron Cey--a master of looking the other way...|
Past Cey, we move into "tools players"--no, not those track-star nightmares that some scouts "project" into greatness despite the fact that many of these guys often don't seem to know which end of the bat is which, but ballplayers who happen to be tools.
He can be seen as a kind of pioneer of the world we now inhabit, where entire cottage industries can be built around jerkdom. Indeed, his impassive expression in our photo (snapped by the great New York photographer Sylvia Plachy), almost makes one long for a Kong autobio entitled "The Zen of Jerk."
|Don't call him Pearl:|
That's what happened to Earl, who found no takers when he pulled a Bette Davis and advertised that his services were available after burning every bridge that he'd driven across in the preceding six years. Day-Glo isn't quite enough to capture the rosy world that was punctured for Williams when no one picked up the telephone.
|Dave "Immaculate" Concepcion|
He doubled his OPS+ in '73 (is that some kind of record?) and spent another fifteen years with the Reds, remaining useful even after the entirety of the Machine fell apart.
While there are some other talented players floating around on the 48s roster, it really looks as though this team is going to be one that doesn't platoon.
That batting order, in black and white:
|"Hough as in rough," the 48s' analogue to "Veeck as in wreck"|
1. Rivers, cf
2. Harrah, 2b
3. Foster, rf
4. Garvey, 1b
5. Cey, 3b
6. Kingman, lf
7. Williams, c
8. Concepcion, ss
You've got a good defensive catcher in Steve Yeager, oodles of mediocre versatility in Bill Russell and Lee Lacy, and a whole lotta left-handed hitting on the bench with Chris Chambliss, Ron Blomberg and Willie Montanez. You just don't quite enough firepower to overcome another weak-kneed pitching staff...
|Doc Medich rendered in Rudy May pale|
Day-Glo: practicing his already
questionable bedside manner...
going to get broken.
Gary Nolan? Some flashes of real brilliance there, but far more fragility and inconsistency. Ed Figueroa had a blip of a peak. Doug Rau had one of the most graceful deliveries one could hope to see, but he was the #4 guy on the Dodgers' 70s teams and has no "step-up" potential.
The bullpen, like so many of these teams, will have a lot of potential for fun, what with big-innings guy Bill Campbell, Aurelio "Senor Smoke" Lopez, "la lob" lefty Dave LaRoche, Randy Moffitt (aka Billie Jean's little brother), and swing man Jim Barr. But the same caveat that we've mentioned at least twice previously needs to be put out there: these guys might not be able to get into the game until it's already too late.