The other night, two of my friends who live on the Southside - one right across from U.S. Comiskular - had to pick up some Blackhawks tickets in Wrigleyville that they bought on EBAY, so I met up with them for a drink. One of the guys, Chris, was on crutches so we went to the closest bar to where he parked. Unfortunately, this turned out to be Sluggers on Clark St. And so the story begins...
It's a Wednesday night so there are maybe 20 people in the bar and one of them is the eternally annoying Ronnie Woo-Woo. I only mention this because the whole night had a weird feel, and running into Mr. Woo-Woo only contributed to that feeling. After a beer or ten I notice this wrinkly old man come stumbling in and walk over to the closed down kitchen and make himself a sandwich. After we mention that we are all Sox fans the bartender informs us that the old guy is former White Sox Hall-of-Famer Minnie Minoso.
After finishing his sandwich, he came up to the bar and started talking to my two friends and I in his crazy broken English about God knows what and I couldn't help but ask myself "Why is Minnie Minoso at Sluggers in Wrigleyville...on a Wednesday night...making a sandwich for himself...and talking to me at the bar?"
Turns out Minnie lives down the street and knows the owner, which explains the sandwich thing, I guess. But the best part about the evening is that Minnie Minoso won't stop talking. He's got opinions on everything involving baseball. A few highlights from roughly two hours of conversation:
- Minnie Minoso feels none of the current records (HRs mostly) should count because they play more games in a season now a days. He says even Maris' record of 61 in a season shouldn't count. Which he kept referring to Maris as Mantle, but I knew what he meant.
- He then completely contradicted this stance by saying he was a better player than Jackie Robinson and Luis Apricio because he had better stats in every category except HRs and AVG. Of course, Minnie played like 45 seasons so that would probably explain why.
- He was still upset about Ozzie Smith making the all star game one year when he had a .190 avg at the break. I have no idea how this came up.
- He is really upset that Major League teams don't "call-up" their Triple-A managers when there is a vacancy at the Major League level for manager instead of hiring some other teams bench coach. I think he may have managed in the minors because he went on and on about this. Basically, he's saying that there's no motivation for the managers in the minors because they make less than the players and have no way to move up to the bigs. He made some good points but I just don't know if I'm ready for Razor Shines to take over when Ozzie leaves. He kept bringing up how the Dodgers only had 3 managers over a 60 year period (which ended with Lasorda). Not sure how that point was relevant but Minnie was kinda hard to follow. I mean, the guy is like 80 years old.
- He mentioned something I didn't realize and have never heard brought up before. He was talking about how he had a few seasons where he stole over 100 bases and then he explained that back when he played the rules for a pick-off move/balk were different and it was almost impossible to pick guys off. He also gets really pissed when he sees a guy steal third with less than two outs. I can't say I've seen it happen that often because it is pretty stupid but he accused Rickey Henderson of doing it a lot. I'll have to take his word on that but it wouldn't surprise me. Rickey is Rickey.
- He told a story about how he was at a Memorabilia show years ago and Barry Bonds was a few booths over and I guess Bonds sent over one of his people to tell Minnie that if he wanted to come meet Bonds he may have an opening in an hour. Minnie said Bonds ought to asking to meet Minnie not the other way around. Ever since then "Minnie no like Bonds". I know that a story of Bonds being a dick comes as a bit of a shock to some of you, but Minnie wouldn't lie.
- On the topic of Breaking Aaron's record Minnie once again explained that Aaron's record shouldn't count because he played in more games than The Babe. He didn't seem to care about Bonds being on steroids, only that he played in too many games for the record to count. Either way, we agreed Bonds is a worthless piece of shit (I may be paraphrasing there).
So there you go. The first athlete interview for FTG done by your correspondent in Chicago. One other note that really capped off the wacky Wednesday festivities was that at the end of the night my friend Tom went and got the car and pulled it around in front of Sluggers so Chris didn't have to go as far on his crutches. A nice gesture indeed...until he hit the "autolock" instead of "unlock" and locked the keys in the running car parked in the middle of Clark Street. We eventually found a hanger and opened the car but there is nothing more demeaning than having to explain to everyone honking that the reason you can't move the car is that the keys are locked inside.