By Calvin J. Butterworth
Detroit Free Enterprise
April 8, 1924
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA—The National League War for 1924 (Hark! I am a poet, and scarcely I know it.) will undoubtedly be every bit as nerve-stretching as the 1923 skirmish, when the Giants of Gotham prevailed over the Redlegs of the Queen City by a mere four notches. My fear-be-damned prophecy for the senior circuit follows here:
1. NEW YORK. John McGraw's Giants plated 854 runs last season, nearly 70 more than the Pittsburghers, and few base ball scribes have reason to count against them. The hydra-headed offensive attack featured three batters with over 100 runs knocked in, topped by Irish Meusel's 125. Second sacker Frankie Frisch also averaged .348. Their monstrous order was so dangerous and deep they were allowed to send former hit-stacker Casey Stengel to the Boston Braves after the season. If New York has a weakness, it is in their pitching stamina, as they were last in their league with only 62 complete games. Quite often, Little Napoleon McGraw chose to extract his hurler from the action late in contests, even if his club had a winning margin, and entrust the outcome to another chucker, stale from sitting on an outfield bench! Due to his team's pennant-winning performance, though, such foolish managing behavior will likely continue.
2. CINCINNATI. The scarlet-socked outfit only scored 708 runs in 1923, a mark only underbottomed by the pitiful Braves, but their leading 3.21 average of earned runs portends well for them again. Edd Roush was the swatting star again, with 18 triples and .351 batting, and it would be no surprise if the Reds' huge ballyard and stingy arms snuff opposing lineups again like mayflies at a picnic.
3. BROOKLYN. The Robins are eager to reclaim their stake in the pennant hunt, having been the last National contingent before New York to drink from the league cup back in 1920. This writer has no proof or evidence to think they will, but Wilbert Robinson enjoyed a steak and potatoes with me the weekend last, and his amiable demeanor bespoke of confidence and relaxation, qualities his players will no doubt inherit during these spring practice days and use to galvanize themselves into contention! And they do possess the incomparable Zack Wheat, who stroked .375 in limited duty.
4. PITTSBURGH. The fearsome Buccaneers of the Steel City should be in the maw of the pennant struggle once again. It has become nearly impossible to remember the last time they were not! With their 111 triples in the last campaign, they were second to the Giants in the scoring of runs. Pie Traynor and his .338 batting mans a fine stick attack, Johnny Morrison and his 25 wins leads a grit-soaked pitching crew, and manager Bill McKechnie wields a firm cutlass on the Forbes poop deck.
5. CHICAGO. The Bear Cubs won 83 times in 1923, but I suspect this was due to Pete Alexander's decision to avoid the fires of alcohol and contribute 22 wins to the cause. They do have a fine young stick-man in Jigger Statz, who I will hereby predict a long, wondrous career for because I happen to like his name, as well as a promising young powerful catcher named Gabby Hartnett, so I will be generous and mark them for the fifth position.
6. ST. LOUIS. Any club with the royal one Rogers Hornsby should be deemed worthy of pennant-sniffing. The Rajah led the league with .384 batting and a 1.084 OPS, a new statistic recently mailed to me by a bookwormish midwestern base ball crank which I have yet to comprehend. Manager Branch Rickey appears to be a decent, God-fearing individual, but his mild ways could prove costly when attempting to juice up his high-paid players. Once again, Jesse Haines and his 20 wins should anchor the average pitching staff.
7. BOSTON. With the arrival of Casey Stengel, the Bostonian Braves are sure to improve on their mere 54 wins. Manager Dave Bancroft, fresh from his good fortune with the McGraw Giants, will surely have his minions running, fielding and swinging with newfound abandon.
8. PHILADELPHIA. And then we have the Quakers, a sorry collection of what-nots, if-onlys, wish-they-coulds and why-bothers, who should emit foul athletic odors to every region of the latrine-like Baker Bowl. Do you doubt my words? Said Phillie "hurlers" allowed 1008 runs in 1923, which by my calculations is approximately two hundred more than any other club in base ball. My pity for the followers of this reeking outfit is bottomless; they should be allowed into their grandstands free of charge, much as witnesses would to an execution.
My next missive will be from Navin Field in Detroit on Opening Day, April 15, against the Speakermen of Cleveland. It will be upon us rapidly!
|1923 NATIONAL LEAGUE FINAL|
|New York Giants||95||58||.621||—|
|St. Louis Cardinals||79||74||.516||16|