Ralph Branca had played the role of an affable heterosexual man for almost 50 years. He suspected it was clear because everyone in baseball had heard the rumors and rumblings. For years – for decades – it was whispered that the famous comeback of the Giants had been artificially supported after 13 ½ games behind the Dodgers in the legendary summer of 1951.
History turned with the century. Old men started talking. A plan was uncovered: a powerful telescope had been set up in the middle of the old Polo Grounds and lasered onto the opposing team's catcher. As soon as the signals were found, the information – of all by buzzer – was passed on to the Giants bullpen.
And from the bullpen, the pitch would come from body language. The Giants won 16 games in a row. They caught the Dodgers in six weeks. They beat her in a three game playoff.
As this story got more and more popular in the summer of 2001, as the golden anniversary of the most famous home run in baseball history was approaching – Bobby Thomson's "Shot Around the World", which finally won the pennant for the Giants on October 3, 1951 – I called Branca and asked how he was feeling.
"We all suspected that for years," said Branca. “But we never wanted to go into it publicly because it sounds like sour grapes. But yes, I always wondered if Bobby knew what was coming. I mean, watch the video. He almost jumps out of his shoes to swing on the field. "
A few weeks later, at Thomson's house in Watchung, New Jersey, I told him what Branca had said and he laughed and offered to refuse: "I never heard Ralph complain about all the money he had with this House deserves to run. "
Not long after, Joshua Prager, who broke the theft of signs for the Wall Street Journal and later wrote a great book on Summer 51 entitled "The Echoing Green," asked up close whether he knew what was coming Thomson would still opt out of a total rejection.
"I have to say" no "more than" yes "," he said. Pushed further, Thomson added: "I don't like to think of something that takes something away from me [it], It would bother me a little if I had the feeling that I could get help in this place. My answer is "no". I was always proud of this swing. "
Branca, always the gentleman, kept up the end of the deal this anniversary summer and beyond, and both men went to their graves after spending an eternal moment that somehow avoided tarnishing, even when the dirty scandal the astros that has brought over-the-line fraud back to the top of national consciousness.
And no one has ever suggested – at least not seriously – that the Giants should be forced to vacate their 1951 National League championship.
All of this seems particularly relevant as Jose Altuve asks questions every day, which will surely be an endless time of questioning. Altuve has become a walking episode of "CSI: Baseball" because, although it is clear that many Astros have changed the rules in recent years, and if you accept things like home and street splits, many players seem to benefit more from it available as Altuve, he is the one who has become the face of this scandal.
That's because he had his own Bobby Thomson moment last October 19, 48 years and 16 days after Thomson caused delogium on Coogan's bluff. Altuve hit an Aroldis Chapman 2-0 slider over the left field wall at Minute Maid Park at the end of the 9th inning of Game 6 of the ALCS, and the Astros won the pennant.
When the commissioner's office released his report for the first time, it seemed as if the only evidence against Altuve was evidence: although Chapman can reach 102 mph with his fastball, Altuve seemed to be sitting safely on the off-speed course; Chapman's confused smile before leaving the hill helped and supported this theory.
However, this was easily refuted by the fact that Chapman had used the slider frequently in this inning, which actually inspired TV analyst John Smoltz to say, "This slider has become an evil pitch for Chapman." He doesn't have to throw every pitch 101. "
Similar to the video in which Thomson jumped on his 1-0 fastball that had stayed with Branca all those years, it seemed to be a video that Altuve seemed to accuse: his strange dislike of greeting his teammates towards his shirt paws at home plate. No matter how often you watch, it seems … strange.
And the many excuses didn't help. We were told that he wanted to respect his wife and put on his shirt. A few days ago, Carlos Correa said he was embarrassed by a bad tattoo. Do you think so (even on Monday after Altuve unveiled a tattoo called "Melanie" on his collarbone)? Does anyone do
Contrary to Thomson's ambiguity, Altuve insists that he didn't cheat. But the Astros as a team have used up every advantage of every doubt. This is something Altuve has to wear for the rest of his career, the rest of his life – like a bad tattoo. Ultimately, Bobby Thomson too – although he died in 2010. If it weighed on his conscience, it would only take about 10 years.
Altuve's penance will definitely take longer. At least as long as a bad tattoo.