Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Tippy Martinez Story

So this is the Tippy Martinez story.

Back in the early 1980s, the Baltimore Orioles had a really good lefthanded reliever named Tippy Martinez. He was part of a 1-2 combo in the bullpen that featured a righthander named Sammie Stewart.

Apparently, post-baseball life hasn't gone well for Stewart, by the way. When TigerBlog did a search to make sure he had the right guy, he found out Stewart spent about 10 years in and out of prison, including from 2006-13, before trying to turn his life around.

Anyway, about 20 years before that, Stewart was having a relatively unhittable relief outing against the Yankees on a late June night.

It was June 23, 1984, to be precise. TigerBlog was there. It was the only time he ever went to a game at Baltimore's old Memorial Stadium, which was the longtime home of the Orioles and the Baltimore Colts, before they moved to Indianapolis.

TigerBlog made the trip with his junior year roommate Eric Weiss, who these days is a lawyer. Eric grew up in the Long Island town of Merrick, so you can figure out for yourself that his first name and hometown rhyme.

TB is pretty sure he and Weiss sat in the upper level down the first base line as the Orioles took the lead and looked in control. It was 4-2 into the ninth, and Stewart stayed in to get an out before Martinez, with one on, came in to face a lefty, Steve Kemp.

The idea of a seventh-inning pitcher, an eighth-inning pitcher and a closer hadn't evolved yet. Back then, it was mostly righty vs. righty, lefty vs. lefty that managers tried to get for their pitchers. And so that was the logic.

It didn't quite work, as Kemp hit a ball that now, 31 years later, is probably still going up, tying the game at 4-4. The Yankees then won it with a run in the 11th.

As TB and Eric left, they heard behind them someone who said that the O's should never have taken Stewart out. In that moment, TigerBlog had crystallized for him the concept that the outcome does not determine whether or not the decision was a good one. It's the logic behind it is the decider.

And the fact that the Orioles lost? Immaterial.

So that's the Tippy Martinez story.

TigerBlog has referred back to that hundreds of times since, mostly about coaching decisions. Like the one Tom Coughlin made Sunday not to kick a field goal. Get a first down (with two yards) or a touchdown (with four yards), and that's a win for the Giants.

TB was fine with the logic, so it was the right decision.

As TB said the other day, he watched the end of the Giants game just before the start of the Princeton-Michigan women's basketball game, where he was one of nearly 2,000 in the building.

The crowd was a bit smaller Tuesday night for the game against Monmouth, but TigerBlog was there. So was men's lacrosse consigliere Bryce Chase.

As TB and Bryce talked at halftime, Hal Feiveson, an Academic Athletic-Fellow who had a long career in the Woodrow Wilson School before retiring a few years ago, walked by. TigerBlog assumed Bryce and Hal knew each other for a long time, but as it turned out, they had only met casually at some point, they both thought.

TigerBlog then guessed that, perhaps somewhat conservatively, Bryce and Hal had attended the same Princeton sporting event at least 1,000 times.

If they want to push that number up, they're running out of chances in 2015.

Princeton has 11 home events remaining in the calendar year, of which eight are this coming weekend. And the ninth is Monday.

There is the New Year's Invitational track and field meet for men and women tomorrow in Jadwin. There's women's hockey tomorrow night (7) and Saturday afternoon (3) against Penn State. There's wrestling at Dillon at 7 tomorrow against Navy.

The women's basketball team hosts Pitt - an NCAA tournament team a year ago - Saturday at 3 and then Fordham Monday at 7.

And there's the men's hockey game against the U.S. U-18 team Saturday at 7.

After those nine? Men's basketball Thursday against Liberty and then Dec. 22 against Bucknell.

There are a bunch of road events too. There are 10, in fact, meaning there are only 21 events left in 2015.

Of course, the schedule picks up right in 2016, actually on Jan. 1.

Still, the next few weeks will be fairly quiet around here.

Well, other than that whole Christmas/New Year's thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TigerBlog, I can't believe you didn't mention the Tippy Martinez lacrosse connection.
His daughter Courtney grew up in Baltimore, played for Maryland, coached at Mount St. Mary's and UMBC and is now the first coach for the Arizona State women's varsity team. Also married a former Maryland lacrosse player. Also a few years ago he was in the group ahead of me on the golf course.