Don't Get Me Started

Art Wander

DON’T GET ME STARTED can’t wait until the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays no longer play this season. I watch the games and listen to the “announcers.” You know – the guys that tell you “facts” so you can follow and appreciate baseball.

But they should also make an effort to impart some baseball history to fans.

Every series with Tampa Bay……the announcers get a shot of the Rays manager in the dugout…..and credit Joe Maddon with being responsible for the player shifts going on in baseball. You know – shortstop moves to 2nd; third baseball alone on the left side 2nd baseman in short right field.

Every time I hear them proclaim that Maddon developed the shift, I sez to myself, “I gotta set the record straight. “ So with a lull in sports following the James, Anthony basketball signings and World Cup over, here are the facts of the “shifting players.”

The first time it became prominent was in July 1946 = that’s a couple of years shy of 70 years ago.

The Cleveland Indians were playing a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. Remember, you saw two games for the price of one at that time. The manager of the Indians was young Lou Boudreau . In the first game he had 4 doubles and a home run for the Tribe but power hitting Ted Williams blasted 3 home runs among his 4 hits, driving in 8 runs.

In the 2nd game, Boudreau was ready for the notorious powerful pull hitter. When Williams came to bat, Bouedreau made his move. After all, his team was in 6th place and had nothing to lose.

Fans scratched their heads, “What in the world is he doing?” Boudreau had first baseman Jimmy Wasdell behind the bag; 2nd baseman Jack Conway went to short right field; third baseman Ken Keltmer positioned behind second base and Boudreau went from shortstop to the normal second base position, leaving only one player between 2nd and 3rd base.

Almost 70 years later, teams are using basically the same alignment that Boudreau introduced so many decades ago.

So I hope that these announcers who proclaim that Joe Maddon of the Rays developed the shift……they better do some history checking. Oh by the way.- in his first at bat against the shift, Williams walked on 4 pitches on Don’t Get Me Started.

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