November Notes: Bob Filner & Baseball

| October 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

When the news hit that former mayor Bob Filner had pleaded guilty to a series of false imprisonment and battery charges involving three women, it was a stunner.

Of course the plea led the U-T San Diego, but also the Los Angeles Times, and earned a double byline story in The New York Times.

When many of us thought we were mercifully free of Filner, delivered from his executive screw-ups and micro managing and charges of sexual harassment; when he was gone from front pages and five o’clock news, that maybe witness protection had claimed him, wham, he’s back!

In his lead story in the LA Times, Tony Perry quoted me as saying the Filner story would have challenged the most creative and clever of fiction writers (William Kennedy, the Pulitzer winner for his novel “Ironweed,” came to mind). No hyperbole there, because you can’t make this stuff up.

On Facebook I posted this statement, in part:

“When Bob Filner became mayor I told him I would no longer call him ‘Bob,’ but ‘Mr. Mayor.’ It is the respect I pay elected officials, no matter how long we have known one another or how close our friendship (Jerry Sanders was Mr. Mayor to me; he still is.).

“In late January I told Filner he would no longer be ‘Mr. Mayor’ but ‘Bob.’

“I did so with due cause because of a personal betrayal, but I had no clue as to what would unfold during his time as mayor…” That posting drew several comments, one from Dayle Tedrow, who worked as a special assistant to several presidents of the San Diego Padres, who said she thought Filner must be a “good guy,” because I liked him. And that’s true, I did like him.

I responded to Ms. Tedrow’s comment by quoting Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish philosopher and Christian apologist, who wrote, “There’s comes a midnight hour when every man must unmask.”

Whether Filner’s “unmasking” was his final act in the political theater of our town, I can’t say, but let’s hope so.

MOVING FROM FILNER’S DECLINE to something less significant but a subject that matters to me, specifically baseball. When the Filner story broke I was busy posting on Facebook and emailing friends around the country, my Baseball Playoff Notes.

So let me explain:

During the regular major league baseball season I write about America’s Game five days a week, Monday-Friday. My notes are Red Sox and Padres centric, but there’s more to Notes than those two teams.

You will understand no one causes me to do this, to sit in front of my computer at the first light of day and spend anywhere from one to two hours composing Notes; but for whatever intrinsic value it has for others – and know I suffer no illusions about that – it has meaning for me.

But when Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, Padres chairman Ron Fowler, prominent attorney Pat O’Connor, and accomplished writers like Tom Clavin, email complimentary words about Notes, it has meaning – and I’m moved to continue.

Sometimes they respond in frustration, as did Governor Hickenlooper, who emailed one morning wondering why there was no mention of the game the night before in Cincinnati between his beloved Rockies and the rival Reds, of how did I missed Colorado’s two stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, having a banner game with eight hits in 10 at bats, five home runs and 10 runs driven in? But no, the governor said, nothing. Didn’t their amazing game deserve a line or two in Notes? Good point, governor.

I corrected it the next day.

When the 2013 season ended, Sunday, September 29, I had written more than 92,000 words, the equivalent of a 369-page book, but I’m not writing a 369-page book.

Since the playoffs began (and by the time you read this the World Series will have ended), I will have written another 13,000 plus words, even after having made at season’s end a unilateral declaration I was done with Notes.

Apparently not.

So, when this column is in print, my near total count for Baseball Notes during 2013 regular and post season will exceed 105,000 words. Or, using the industry standard of 250 words per page, I will have written the equivalent of a 423-page book.

Since we live in this amazing Age of Technology and with millions of people reading books on their I-Pads and Kindles, I intend to publish my first book as an eBook.

Being the creative person I am I intend to entitle it, “Mitrovich’s Baseball Notes for 2013.” That should drive a lot of web traffic – or not.

I will price it below the eBook market average, whatever that is; but as Digital Book World (DBW) reports:

“Since gaining control of the power to discount titles from some of the largest publishers, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others have been dropping the prices of best-selling titles from $14.99 and $12.99 to points much lower — sometimes to below $5.” And DBW is talking here about best-sellers and famous authors, of which I am neither, so maybe my eBook goes for, what, $1.99? Ninety-nine cents, maybe?

That said, here’s an example from one day of my Baseball Notes, Wednesday, October 16:

“THE RED SOX & TIGERS have played three extraordinary baseball games, and while Boston is up two games to one, their “lead” in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) is by the narrowest of margins – three-runs having decided three games.

“But one-run victories are the most common margin by winning teams in the major leagues – and have been through most of the game’s history, reports

“In the last 100-plus years, the web site says that four-run victories comprise 11 percent of all games played, three-run games, 15 percent, and two-runs, consistent at 18 percent. Games won by five runs have varied between eight or nine percent, and six-runs at six percent.

“Which means, according to, 42 percent of all big league games played in the past 100-years have been decided by one run – or 60 percent decided by two-runs or less. A statistic that might well move Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg might to say, ‘Oh my!’

“But those statistics are just that, and they do not tell you how those one and two-run victories were achieved.

“If you read the Tigers won Saturday, 1-0, and the Sox won Sunday, 6-5, and yesterday, 1-0, that fails to explain how truly magnificent those three games were – and they were magnificent! Baseball at its very best – when the stakes couldn’t be higher.

“WEST OF LAKE MICHIGAN and across the Great Plains, beyond the Rockies and the Grand Canyon, in a distant and different land, another baseball game was played and the margin of victory was two runs, as St. Louis won 4-2 over the Dodgers; and if the Cardinals win today to win the National League Championship Series the most expensive roster of baseball players in history, that of the Dodgers, will retire for the winter.

“But I write that without emotion. I have consistently said that fretting about people who play a game where the minimum wage is $490,000, is unworthy of my sentiment.

“Regard for their skill, yes. Gratitude for the excitement and joy their play often provides, yes – and there was no greater moment than Sunday night at Fenway in Boston when David Ortiz, The Dominican Decider, hit his grand slam to tie a game the Sox would win one inning later. Yes that kind of excitement and sheer joy, because he is David Ortiz and they are the Boston Red Sox and they are special in my life, but neither he nor his teammates need my sentiment.

“I will save my emotions, sentiments and concerns for those who campaign to raise the minimum wage above the federally mandated $7.25 an hour to $10; better yet, $15.

“To feel mawkish or maudlin about millionaires who play a game is to otherwise reveal a hole in the center of one’s moral soul.”

Whatever the value of such musings five days a week, 143 times during the season, the market will decide (words I never thought I would write); or, in this case, the eBook market.

The one staple of Baseball Notes is ending each posting with “Quote of the Day.” Which Talmage Boston, a big time Texas attorney and author of two terrific books on baseball, calls, “Fantastic!”

So let me conclude my November column with this Quote of the Day from Monday, October 13:

“I once stood outside Fenway Park in Boston, a place where the ghosts never go away, and watched a vigorous man of middle years, helping with infinite care, a frail and elderly man through the milling crowds to the entry gate. Through the tears that came unexpectedly to my eyes, I saw the old man strong and important forty-years before, holding the hand of a confused and excited five-year old, showing him the way. Baseball’s best memories don’t always happen on the field.” Allison Gordon, “Foul Ball!” (1984)

George Mitrovich is a San Diego civic leader. His email address,

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