Monthly archives: June 2006
WC 2006: A joke that is likely funny to people in my immediate family only
SABR 36 in Seattle report for June 30: Don't underestimate the Fogg
The second day of SABR 36 was given over to the banquet and the big trip to the ballpark.
The keynote speaker was Jim Bouton.
He signed copies of "Ball Four" before the banquet and then gave a general funny and well-received speech. His rendition of "I'm Proud to be an Astro" (lyrics by Larry Dierker and not suitable for reprinting) were quite good. His story about being asked back to Yankee Stadium for an Oldtimers Day soon after his daughter had passed away was quite touching in my opinion.
The banquet is where SABR gives out many of its award and in the photo below you can see Will Carroll not being here to receive his award.
Then it was time to head off to the game between the Rockies and Mariners at Safeco. Mike and I decided to hoof it and found a relatively flat route.
How did we know we were there? Wait, there's a signpost up ahead....
Yes, this must be the place!
The game was a very, very quickly paced game between Colorado and Seattle. Josh Fogg and Jamie Moyer matched changeup for changeup.
But Fogg was better and incredibly pitch efficient as this picture at the top of the 8th shows.
The Rockies got an RBI single from Jamey Carroll and a home run from Brad Hawpe and they won 2-0. Fogg went the distance and threw a 2-hitter, walking just one and striking out just one batter. The Mariners left no runners on base as all three baserunners were erased on double plays. The game ended in 1 hours and 52 minutes, the fastest game in Rockies history and the fastest game ever at Safeco Field. The game ended at 8:58 pm, beating the sunset in Seattle by 13 minutes.
The Griddle World Cup Contest standings
With five matches to go:
Tomorrow, if Portugal beats England, yankee23 would tie Penarol1916 for the lead. If not, the top entries won't change in order.
If there's an X by your entry, you have been mathematically eliminated to the best of my knowledge.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Italy vs. Ukraine, noon PT
I hope someone enjoys this one. I'm going to miss it. I'll live.
The floppin' Italians take on the immovable Ukrainians in a quarterfinal matchup that may not have the allure of Argentina-Germany, but nevertheless one of these teams will live to fight another day.
Italy has won three of its four matches, defeating Ghana, Czech Republic, and Australia. The last one came on a last second penalty kick on a dubious foul. Italy also played to a 1-1 tie with the USA.
Ukraine lost its opener 4-0, then won two straight over Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. In the round of 16, the Ukrainians packed it in against Switzerland and played a scoreless draw after 120 minutes of play. In the penalty kick tiebreaker, Ukraine won 3-0 (the lowest score you can win by in one of those.)
Italy should be able to press the attack a bit more against Ukraine than Switzerland, so Ukraine may have to emerge from its shell.
The two teams played each other in a friendly on June 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland and played a scoreless tie. Italy won two Euro 1996 qualifiers against Ukraine.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Germany vs. Argentina, 8 am PT
The quarterfinals get started in a big way as three-time champion Germany faces two-time champion Argentina in what could be the match of the tournament.
Germany has shown itself to be one of the most interesting teams in the tournament with a quick striking offense led by Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. The Germans have won all four of their matches and outscored their opponents 10-2. Germany beat Sweden 2-1 in the round of 16.
Argentina has won three of its four matches, getting a draw in a match against the Netherlands. Argentina advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win in overtime thanks to a spectacular goal by Maxi Rodriguez.
The two sides have met four times in World Cup play, twice in the final. Argentina won 3-2 in the 1986 final in Mexico City and Germany won 1-0 in the 1990 final in Rome. Germany also beat Argentina in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden and the two teams played a scoreless tie in the 1966 World Cup in England.
As for the referees, FIFA has sent much of the Yellow Card Brigade to the sidelines.
Of the 15 entries that had either Argentina or Germany advancing out of this round, ten people chose Argentina and five chose Germany.
Random Game Callback, June 30, 1918
The seventh place Cincinnati Reds played a doubleheader at Redland Field against the Cubs and scored seven runs in both ends, but managed just one win, taking the opener 7-0 and then playing a 7-7 11-inning tie in the nightcap that was shortened by transportation demands on the Reds.
The Reds were managed by Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson and he started Jimmy Ring in the opener and Pete Schneider in the second game. The first place Cubs, managed by Fred Mitchell, had Claude Hendrix and Lefty Tyler going on the mound for him.
Hendrix was wild early and it cost him. He walked Cincinnati leadoff man and third baseman Heinie Groh. Second baseman Lee Magee sacrificed, but Hendrix walked centerfielder Edd Roush and first baseman Hal Chase to load the bases. Leftfielder Greasy Neale then walked to force in Groh. And Mitchell yanked Hendrix and replaced with Phil Douglas, known as Shufflin' Phil. Rightfielder Tommy Griffith singled in one run and catcher Ivey Wingo singled in two more and the Reds had a 4-0 lead before the Cubs even came to bat.
Heavy rain began to fall in the third and the game was delayed for 45 minutes. The excess water on the field was soaked up with "second-hand dust" according to the Chicago Tribune account. Apparently, Cicninnati did not have a tarp to cover the field.
The Reds got their fifth run in the third on a Neale triple and an RBI single from shortstop Manuel Cueto. Roush doubled in two more runs in the sixth to finish up the scoring for the Reds. Ring gave up just seven hits with one strikeout and no walks in the win.
The Cubs started out better in the nightcap, scoring twice in the first on an RBI double by centerfielder Dode Paskert. The Reds tied it in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of misplays by Cubs second baseman Chuck Wortman, although he was charged with just one error.
After Schneider let the Cubs load the bases with nobody out in the fourth, Mathewson brought in Mike Regan to relieve. A single by catcher Bill Killer, a double by rightfielder Max Flack, and a single by shortstop Charlie Hollocher led to five runs for the Cubs and a 7-2 lead.
But Tyler couldn't hold the lead and in the sixth he gave up four hits, walked two, and made a devastating throwing error to let the Reds tie the game at 7-7. Nevertheless, Tyler would pitch the rest of the game, all the way to the eleventh when the game was halted and declared a tie.
The United States had entered World War II in 1917, but it wasn't until 1918 that the military was taking players away from teams. In the summer, the government told baseball that its athletes were not essential workers and all able-bodied players had to either join the military or work in a defense plant. The owners convinced the government to let them play out the season until Labor Day and then play the World Series and a compromise was struck.
The full 154 games likely weren't needed as the Cubs were 10 1/2 games in front in the NL when the season ended with 25 games to play. The Reds finished in third place at 68-60. Mathewson left the Reds in August to enlist in the Army and Groh managed the last week of the season. The Cubs would lose an unhappy World Series to the Red Sox in six games. The series was marred by a threatened players strike during it.
Roush was the hitting star for the NL in 1918, but he did miss out on winning the batting average crown by .002 (.335 to .333) to Brooklyn's Zack Wheat. Roush led the league in slugging at .455, OPS at .823 and had an OPS+ of 153.
Cubs pitcher Hippo Vaughn led the NL in wins (22), strikeouts (148) and ERA (1.74). The Cubs had a staff ERA of 2.18 in a year when the league ERA was 2.76.
Three participants in this doubleheader: Chase, Douglas, and Magee (Lee, not Sherry Magee who was also on the Reds that year) were later banned for life by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for being involved in game fixing.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
Pirates given a Bart Simpson-like report card
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hands out a midseason report card on the Pittsburgh Pirates and it's clear that he's not grading on a curve.
SABR 36 in Seattle report: June 29
The festivities for the 36th annual SABR convention (or conference if you want to be snooty) got underway Thursday in Seattle.
I arrived after midnight and didn't get to bed until after 1:30, so I didn't go all out on the research presentations, but I did poke my head into a few of them.
Random Game Callback, June 29, 1945
By 1945, manpower shortages in baseball because of wartime demands made teams desperate to take just about anyone. The Washington Senators leftovers were better than the Detroit Tigers leftovers and won 8-3 on a sweltering afternoon at Briggs Stadium before 4,630 fans.
The Senators were managed by Ossie Bluege and he chose 5'7" righthander Mariano Pieretti as his starting pitcher. Detroit manager Steve O'Neill tabbed lefthander Stubby Overmire, who also stood just 5'7".
Overmire didn't last long in the height as the Senators pounded him right away. Rightfielder George Case led off with a single and leftfielder Jose Zardon tried to sacrifice, but Overmire couldn't handle the bunt and everyone was safe. Second baseman Fred Vaughn followed with a sacrifice and first baseman Joe Kuhel singled home Case and Zardon. Third baseman Harlond Clift followed with a walk. Shortstop Gil Torres and centerfielder George Binks came up with RBI singles to knock out Overmire.
Forrest Orrell was now in to relieve, but he walked catcher Al Evans and then Pieretti to force in a run, before he finally got out of the inning with his team down 5-0.
The Tigers strung together three singles for a run in the first, but Pieretti wouldn't allow many other runners to reach base until the ninth. Pieretti gave up just six hits in a complete game win.
Washington was getting hits in nearly every inning, but would only score again in the seventh when they pushed across three runs off of Detroit's third pitcher, Zeb Eaton. Washington collected 15 hits overall in the game, three each by Torres, Binks, and Pieretti.
Although Washington was in sixth place on June 29, they would challenge the Tigers all season for the AL pennant. The defending champion Browns had slacked off and even the Yankees had lost enough players to the war, that they couldn't keep up.
Washington owner Clark Griffith hadn't anticipated his team being in the pennant race however and he arranged to rent out Griffith Stadium the final week of the regular season to the Washington Redskins. So the Senators finished their season on September 23, when they split a doubleheader at Philadelphia. This left them one game out of first behind Detroit at 87-67, but with no games left to play. Meanwhile, the Tigers had four games left on the schedule. Detroit split a doubleheader against Cleveland on September 26 to maintain a one-game lead. Then on September 30, the Tigers beat St. Louis to win their 88th game and clinch the pennant and the final game of the year in St. Louis was called off.
The Tigers went on to play in a very unusual World Series against the Chicago Cubs. First of all, players were starting to return from the war. And Federal law stated that returning veterans from the war had to get their jobs back. This helped the Tigers a lot when Hank Greenberg got back. Baseball decided to have unlimited size rosters for the World Series. The Cubs used a player, Clyde McCullough, who had not played at all in the regular season. Also, to limit travel, the series was played in a 3-3-X format. The first three games were played in Detroit and the next three in Wrigley. Once a seventh game was needed, the Cubs won the toss and got to host the game. And, of course, the Cubs lost, 9-3 to give the Tigers the World Series win. Many baseball historians consider this seven-game series to be the worst World Series ever played.
If you looked at the leaders in the American League, there would be many unfamiliar names among the league leaders. Yankee second basemann Snuffy Stirnweiss led the league in batting at .3085. White Sox third baseman Tony Cuccinello was second at .3084. White Sox outfielder Johnny Dickshot was the only other qualifier over .300 at .302. Dickshot's nickname was "Ugly." He really needed to do some marketing. Cuccinello and Dickshot never played in the majors again after 1945. Vern Stephens of St. Louis led the league in home runs with just 24. Nick Etten of the Yankees led in RBI with 111.
Detroit pitcher Hal Newhouser was the league MVP for the second straight year. He was 25-9 with a 1.81 ERA and 212 strikeouts. No other pitcher in the AL had more than 129 strikeouts.
With the stars returning for the 1946 season, the Tigers still had a good year, finishing second behind Boston, but the Senators went back to fourth at 76-78.
Sources: Washington Post, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Matt Wise out with salad-related injury
Brewers reliever Matt Wise has not been able to pitch since Saturday after cutting the middle finger on his pitching hand with a pair of salad tongs.
Few people know that Lou Gehrig almost sat out a game after getting a corn cob holder stuck in his thigh.
And Cal Ripken nearly missed a start when a lemon zester was accidentally impaled in his shoulder.
A chance to curse Denis Potvin outdoors!
The NHL has asked for permission to stage a game between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders at Yankee Stadium.
The game would take place on January 1, 2007 if logistical hurdles (such as figuring out how to make a viable ice surface) can be overcome.
WC 2006: ESPN says they're great
Random Game Callback, June 28, 1985
The New York Mets got Darryl Strawberry back after missing seven weeks with a thumb injury, but it was not enough for them to overcome the pitching of John Tudor of St. Louis, who ran his record to 6-0 in June, as the Cardinals won 3-2 before 45,929 at Busch Memorial Stadium.
The National League was setting up as a four-way dogfight at this time. The Montreal Expos were leading the division with the Cardinals just a 1/2 game back. The Mets were 2 1/2 back and the defending division champion Cubs were 3 1/2 back. Mets manager Davey Johnson had 6'6" righthander Ed Lynch starting on the mound while Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog countered with the southpaw Tudor, who had been acquired in the offseason from Pittsburgh along with Brian Harper in exchange for George Hendrick and a minor leaguer.
St. Louis used three hits in the second from the bottom of the order to get on the board first. Rightfielder Andy Van Slyke singled and third baseman Ivan DeJesus followed with another to put two on and one out. Shortstop Ozzie Smith grounded out to Lynch, but the runners moved up. Lynch tried to get out of the inning by retiring #8 hitter, catcher Tom Nieto, but he singled to center to score Van Slyke and DeJesus.
Second baseman Tommy Herr hit his third home run in the third inning to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. But Lynch and the Mets relievers: Tom Gorman, Terry Leach, and Jesse Orosco, shut out the Cardinals the rest of the way.
The Mets didn't score against Tudor until the seventh when leftfielder George Forster hit his 11th homer of the season. Centerfielder Mookie Wilson homered in the eighth to cut the deficit to 3-2. After first baseman Keith Hernandez had a one-out single, Herzog brought in Jeff Lahti to relieve. Lathi got catcher Gary Carter to ground into a force play. With Strawberry due up, Herzog went to a lefty, Ken Dayley. Strawberry whiffed to end the inning.
Third baseman Ray Knight got a one-out single, but nothing else and Dayley got his sixth save.
In the end, it would be the Cardinals and Mets who would duel for the pennant as Montreal and Chicago fell by the wayside. The Cardinals ended up on top with a 101-61, beating out the Mets by three games.
Tudor started out the season 1-7, but he rebounded to have the best season of his career, going 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA. He led the NL with 10 shutouts. This might have been Cy Young Award material, but 20-year old Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden had one of the best seasons ever, going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts and winning the "Triple Crown of Pitching." Gooden got every first place vote. Gooden's ERA+ was 226.
The Cardinals fared better in the MVP voting as centerfielder Willie McGee won it with a league-leading .353 batting average and 56 stolen bases. Teammate and leftfielder Vince Coleman won the Rookie of the Year award with 110 stolen bases. (The AL Rookie of the Year was Ozzie Guillen.)
St. Louis used the stolen base like few teams have since. They stole 314 bases, 132 more than the next best team in the NL, Chicago. They defeated the Dodgers in the NLCS in six games, but lost Coleman to a broken leg when he was trapped by an automatic tarp roller in St. Louis. The Cardinals would lose to the Kansas City Royals in seven games in the World Series.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, New York Times
It's the liberal baseball media conspiracy
Did you know there was one? So sayeth Lisa Fabrizio in The American Spectator.
And I need to pay more attention to the commercials now!
What sport is this woman watching? Who are the "gangsta rap" players?
What about all the PEDs? The amphetamines? The singing "God Bless America" all the time?
WC 2006: And there were eight
Gammons hospitalized after emergency brain surgery
Boston Globe columnist and ESPN analyst Peter Gammons underwent emergency brain surgery today to repair an aneurysm in his brain. According to the report, Gammons will remain in intensive care for the next 10 to 12 days.
Thanks to bigcpa.
Myers goes on 'leave of absence'
Philadelphia pitcher Brett Myers, who was arrested for domestic assault and battery against his wife in Boston on a road trip, has agreed to leave the time until after the All-Star break.
The Phillies have had to get out some high quality spin control people. The team statement includes this:
If we have been guilty of delay in expressing these sentiments, we are sorry. We have been engaged in a difficult balancing of concerns for the rights of our employee, the presumption of innocence, the rights of his spouse, and the legitimate public concern about allegations of spousal abuse by a Phillies ballplayer. We believe that the present status, including a public apology by Brett Myers, time off from baseball, professional assistance for Brett and Kim Myers, and this statement achieves the appropriate balance for now.
There was no announcement if Myers was still on the active roster, suspended, or had been put on the disabled list that I could discern.
WC 2006: Griddle contest standings
After the first eight matches of the round of 16, none of the 16 entrants in the Griddle contest to win the Team Togo T-shirt got all eight correct.
Here are the current standings. Total possible points are listed in parentheses.
1T. Yankee23 7 (31)
4T. Abreck 6 (30)
8T. Mr. Customer 5 (15)
12T. Jen 4 (12)
WC 2006 Match Chat: Spain vs. France, noon PT
The final match of the Round of 16 matches up 1998 champion France against the World Cup's most notable underachiever in Spain.
However, the Spanish are showing signs that they want to make a run in this year's Cup. The Spanish won all three of their group matches, whalloping quarterfinalist Ukraine 4-0, spotting Tunisia a goal and then winning 3-1, and then waltzing past Saudi Arabia 1-0.
France did not control its own destiny in order to make it on to the next round. France played a scoreless draw with the Swiss and a 1-1 tie with Korea. France needed to beat Togo by two goals and hope that the Korea-Switzerland match had a winner. And that's what happened as France beat Togo 2-0 and the Swiss beat Korea 2-0.
These two European powers have met each other 27 times. Spain has won 11 times and France has won 10 times with 6 draws.
As for the history of these two countries in matters outside the pitch, pick up a book on European history. You'll find them mentioned soon enough. Check the parts about Napoleon for the good parts.
In recent times, Spanish coach Luis Aragones and French player Thierry Henry have had a history. Aragones's statement about Henry makes him extremely unlikely to ever coach on these shores.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Brazil vs. Ghana, 9 am PT
The presumptive favorites take on the biggest underdogs left in the tournament. One online sportsbook I checked (for entertainment purposes only of course) had Brazil as 2/7 favorites to win and Ghana at 13/1.
Brazil has not lost a match in the World Cup since the 1998 Final. Since that loss to France, Brazil has had 10 wins and not even one draw. Ghana will be the first African team Brazil has faced since their streak began.
Ghana's task will be even tougher as one of its best players, midfielder Michael Essien, will miss the match because of a yellow card suspension. However, two other stars, Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari, are back.
Brazil isn't missing anyone of consequence. Ronaldo has a chance to break the alltime record for goals in a World Cup, which he currently shares with Gerd Müller of Germany at 14.
The Brazilians did not come out firing on all cylinders with a 1-0 win over Croatia and a 2-0 win over Australia, but they seemed to put it all together in a 4-1 win over Japan. Ghana lost its opener to Italy 2-0, but came back to beat the Czech Republic 2-0 and then the USA 2-1.
A win by Ghana in this match might rank as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history especially at this stage of the tournament.
15 of the 16 entrants in the Griddle's contest picked Brazil to win this match.
Random Game Callback, June 27, 1894
In the highest scoring year in major league history, the highest scoring team in the National League, Boston, routed the lowest scoring team, Louisville, 13-3 before a crowd of 1228 at Eclipse Park in Lousville.
1894 was the second season after the pitching distance had been lengthened to 60'6" and the hitters were starting to enjoy teeing off. Boston would score a record 1220 runs, an average of 9.17 runs per game. Louisville would score just 692 runs. Interestingly, 692 runs would have been enough to lead the NL in scoring in 1968, beating out the Reds by two.
Frank Selee's Boston squad had won the last three NL pennants and were in a tight race with Boston at this time. Selee started Jack Stivetts. Louisville was managed by Billy Barnie, but team captain Tom Brown called most of the shots and Brown had Jock Menefee pitching.
Boston had a lineup filled with some of the 19th Century's greatest stars: second baseman Bobby Lowe, who was the first major leaguer to hit four home runs in a game; outfielder Hugh Duffy, who batted .440 in 1894; and outfielder Tommy McCarthy, who was nearing the end of a 13-year career that somehow earned him a plaque in Cooperstown.
Menefee was pounded early and often. He gave up 14 hits, including two triples and two doubles. Boston also received five walks and had four batters reach on errors. Boston scored three times in the first and five times in the sixth en route to an easy win.
Louisville got 11 hits, but just three runs and one of them came on a home run from Brown, who started at shortstop. Brown won a prize for being the first Louisville player to hit a home run at home, although the newspaper account didn't say what it was. Louisville hit just 42 home runs all season. Boston led the league with 103, 48 more than the second best team, Chicago.
Despite all of Boston's scoring, they finished in third place at 83-49, eight games behind Baltimore. Louisville finished twelfth in the 12-team NL at 36-94, 54 games out.
Duffy's .440 average led the NL, which isn't surprising since Duffy's mark is the major league record. He won the Triple Crown too (except RBIs weren't an official statistic then). Duffy hit 18 home runs and drove in 145 runs. He slugged .694. Boston's top pitcher was Hall of Famer Kid Nichols, who went 32-13 with a 4.75 ERA. Stivetts went 26-14 with a 4.90 ERA.
The Louisville franchise had its ups and downs in its existence from 1882 to 1899. Playing in the American Association in 1889, Louisville finished in last at 27-111. The next year, Louisville won the AA at 88-44. In 1891, Louisville went back to last at 54-83. In 1892, Louisville joined the NL and never finished better than ninth, although they were 75-77 in their final year. The Pittsburgh Pirates ended up buying up their best players, such as Honus Wagner, Fred Clarke, and Rube Waddell, before the franchise was put out of its misery. Clarke would make his debut for Louisville just three days later.
Sources: Boston Globe, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
CWS Finale! OSU 3, UNC 2
The final game of the college baseball season takes place starting at 4 pm, PT.
Jonah Nickerson pitches for Oregon State. Daniel Bard pitches for North Carolina. Neither school has won a CWS before.
The Beavers win the championship on a throwing error by North Carolina in the eighth inning. It is the Beavers first NCAA championship in any sport since a men's cross country championship back in 1961.
Listen to the Oregon State Fight Song which is titled The Oregon State Fight Song
WC 2006 Match Chat: Switzerland vs. Ukraine, noon PT
Quite possibly the MOST anticipated match in the round of 16 finishes up Monday's action. When the Swiss and Ukrainians get together, you expect a bloodbath. Tensions between these two nations are at a flash point over a border dispute. Or maybe it's over Crimea. People like to fight about Crimea. Makes for famous poetry.
Switzerland won its group with wins over Togo and Korea and a draw with France. Ukraine responded to a 4-0 beatdown by Spain in its opener with a 4-0 beatdown of Saudi Arabia, followed by a 1-0 snoozefest over Tunisia.
The Swiss have not allowed a goal in the tournament, but they will be missing defender Philippe Senderos, who scored the team's first goal against Korea. Senderos is out with a dislocated shoulder. When Senderos scored against Korea, I thought he had painted his face with a Red Cross symbol, but it turned out that he was just bleeding profusely.
Ukraine runs its attack through Andriy Shevchenko. That worked well against the Saudis, but in the other two matches, it was nothing but a series of misfires.
This is the first meeting between these two national teams outside of junior level play.
I think this match may end up being decided by penalties or possibly by having one team surrender after suffering through too much ennui.
12 of the 16 entries in the Griddle contest have Switzerland as the winner.
SABR Convention Weekend
From Thursday through Saturday, I will be at the SABR Convention in Seattle. (I think we prefer SABR 36, thank God there are no Roman numerals used.)
I will be bringing my laptop with me and I will be attempting to file reports from the road.
I hope to give everyone a report on Mike Carminati's research presentation on relief pitching, as well reports by lesser luminaries such as Dave Smith, Sean Forman, Jeff Angus, Peter Morris, Phil Birnbaum, and Jonah Keri. (If you're unfamiliar with the names, I'm going for a joke.)
There will be an outing to a game between the Mariners and Rockies, which is always a surprise for the East Coast members of SABR as they realize that there are baseball teams in Seattle and Denver. No doubt with the way the Rockies season is going, the Colorado hitters will be happy to get into a hitter friendly park like Safeco.
WC 2006: Who should coach the U.S. now?
WC 2006: It's all the fault of the referees!
WC 2006 Match Chat: Italy vs. Australia, 8 am PT
The Azzurri will be wearing white for this one while the Socceroos get to wear their yellow shirts.
Italy came out on top of its very tough group with wins over Ghana and the Czech Republic and a tie against the USA. Midfielder Daniele De Rossi is out with a suspension for his elbow to Brian McBride's head. Italy was knocked out of the 2002 World Cup in a loss to Korea.
Australia moved on to the second round for the first time in its history. Australia beat Japan in its opener, lost to Brazil, and then got a tie against Croatia in a contentious matchup that saw the English referee actually lose count of how many yellow cards he handed out. The man in the middle today will be from Spain, Luis Medina Cantalejo.
The two sides have met only once before and that was in the Olympics in 2000 and Italy won 1-0.
Australia may be without striker Harry Kewell who has been fighting injuries. Mark Schwarzer should get the start as keeper. Schwarzer started the first two matches and then Australia went to Zeljko Kalac for the match against Croatia. Kalac was very shaky and Schwarzer is back in goal.
Italy will have Gianluigi Buffon starting in goal and I'm thinking of put him on one of two lists I have. I'll wait and see.
Random Game Callback, June 26, 1880
Cap Anson's Chicago team continued its torrid start with a 4-0 win over Worcester before a crowd estimated at 4,000 at Lake Front Park in Chicago. The win improved Chicago's record to 28-3.
According to the newspaper account of the game in the Chicago Tribune, Corcoran, leftfielder Abner Dalrymple, and centerfielder George Gore (nicknamed "Piano Legs"), normally left handed hitters, all batted from the right side in this game. According to Peter Morris's A Game of Inches, this is one of the first instances of a team making a concerted effort to gain a platoon advantage. It does not seem that it was repeated often as all three men are listed in the history books as righthanded hitters. All three men got a hit in the game.
Chicago scored single runs in the first four innings. Anson opted to have his team bat first. Third baseman Ned Williamson bounced a double over the fence and scored on a wild pitch and passed ball.
In the second, Corcoran doubled and came around to score after a ground out and a deep fly ball from catcher Silver Flint.
Williamson drew a two-out walk in the third, which was no mean feat since it took eight balls to get a walk in 1880. Goldsmith tripled to score Williamson with the third run.
Flint reached base in the fourth on an error and went to second on a walk to second baseman Joe Quest. Gore singled home Flint with the fourth run and final run of the game.
Worscester had several chances to score, but some good fielding by Chicago snuffed out the rallies. In the eighth, Worcester's third baseman Art Whitney doubled, but had to leave the game because of twisted ankle. Worcester's lone substitute was Doc Bushong and he was sitting in the stands in uniform and he came on to the field to run for Whitney. Substitutions were a strange sight in 1880 and Bushong's name doesn't appear in the boxscore. Bushong advanced to third on a passed ball. But Goldsmith bore down. He got first baseman Chub Sullivan to ground out to short and Bushong couldn't score. Second baseman George Creamer popped out to short and left fielder George Wood struck out.
Worscester got a runner to third with one out in the ninth, but Goldsmith got the last two batters to pop out to the mound to end the game.
The newspaper account said that Worscester was such a tough opponent that Chicago had no hope of sweeping the three-game series. But they did. And Chicago wouldn't lose many games, winning the pennant with a 67-17 record, 15 games ahead of second place Providence. Worcester finished in fifth at 40-43.
Although Gore batted ninth in this game for Chicago, he was the best player in the NL. He led the league with a .360 batting average and a .399 OBP. Corcoran won 43 games, although that was only second in the league as Cleveland's Jim McCormick won 45. Goldsmith was 21-3 as a pitcher.
Making his debut in 1880 with Chicago after two years in Cincinnati was King Kelly. He batted just .291 in 1880, but he would go on to become one of the greatest stars of the 19th Century.
Worcseter featured one of the 19th Century's first power hitters in Harry Stovey. He led the NL with 6 home runs and 14 triples. He would hit 122 home runs in 14 seasons. Stovey led his league in home runs six times and in slugging percentage three times.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
Winner take all game in Omaha Monday night
Oregon State forced a decisive third game in the College World Series championship round with an 11-7 win over North Carolina.
The Tar Heels led 5-0 in the fourth before the Beavers put a 7-spot on the scoreboard.
The final game is scheduled to start at 4 pm PT in Omaha.
Oregon State is trying to win the Pac-10's first championship since 1998. North Carolina is trying to win the first one for the ACC since 1955. Oregon State would be the northernmost team to win the College World Series since Minnesota won in 1964.
By my calculations, Corvallis is at 44 degrees 38 minutes N and Minneapolis is at 44 degrees 58 minutes N.
God is not an Orioles fan
Russ Ortiz is an Oriole! There's even a photo of him in uniform.
I will take this time to congratulate the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on their fourth place finish in the AL East.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Portugal vs. Netherlands, noon PT
It's the battle of two little European countries (by size) that used to have vast colonial empires. But who remembers Vasco da Gama or Prince Henry the Navigator? Who remembers William of Orange? The Dutch and Portuguese duked it out for a while on the high seas as part of the Eighty Years War. The Eighty Years War ended around the same time as the Thirty Years War. Presumably today's match will just go 90 minutes. Maybe 120. The Thirty Years War was ended with the taking of penalties by ambassadors in Osnabruck to decide the winner. The Catholics were easily beaten to their left.
These two teams last met in the semifinals of the 2004 Euro Championships and the Portuguese prevailed at home, 2-1. After the tournament was over, the Dutch replaced coach Dick Advocaat with Marco Van Basten, and Van Basten changed the roster drastically. The Dutch responded by going unbeaten in qualifying and they were 2-0-1 in the first round.
The Portuguese lost the final of the 2004 Euro championships to Greece, but rebounded to qualify for the World Cup and coasted through their group with three wins, although they had a very easy draw, facing Mexico, Iran, and Angola.
Both teams have had success in the World Cup in the past, but not recently. Portugal reached the semis in 1966, but hadn't gotten out of the first round since. The Dutch reached the finals in 1974 and 1978. The Dutch lost in the semis in 1998 to Brazil on penalties and then didn't qualify in 2002.
There will be quite a contrast in names in this match. The Portuguese like to use single names for their players, such as Pauleta, Maniche, and Petit. As for the Dutch, there's a reason nearly everyone in the country is fluent in English, it's because the language is hard to pronounce. Witness Ruud Van Nistelrooij and Andre Ooijer.
And yet, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink has not come off the bench.
10 people have chosen the Dutch, 6 have the Portuguese. 11 of the 16 entries got the first three matches correct.
The winner of this match faces England in a quaterfinal match in Hamburg on Friday.
WC 2006 Match Chat: England vs. Ecuador, 8 am PT
Expect a very loud and raucous crowd at Gottlier-Daimler-Stadion as the tournament's most discussed (although probably not the most talented) team takes on the upstarts from South America.
Of course, I consider England the most discussed team because I'm reading mainly English language sources. The Guardian ran eleven stories in its Saturday edition on this match. I don't think they're all online however. And now it's Sunday, so who knows.
It should be hot in Stuttgart for a match that starts at 5 pm local time. Temps should be in the high 80s with high humidity and a chance of thunderstorms. The 52,000 seat stadium does not have a roof so the pitch could get soggy.
As for Ecuador, nobody expected them to do much of anything in the World Cup. The rap on the Ecuadoreans was that they couldn't play well at sea level. But in Germany, they scored impressive wins over Poland and Costa Rica, before sitting down some of their starters in the third match to avoid yellow cards, a loss to Germany.
The big matchup to watch will be Ecuador's Edwin Hurtado against England's Wayne Rooney. If Hurtado keeps Rooney from creating trouble in the penalty area, then England will have to hope that they can get some good set pieces from David Beckham or exploit Peter Crouch's height.
For Ecuador, if they go home after this match, they will be still be hailed as heroes at home. If the English lose, expect the finger pointing and recriminations to reach epic proportions.
Of the 16 entrants in the contest (there were a couple of late ones for different reasons which the Organzining Committee allowed), 14 people have England winning this match.
Random Game Callback, June 25, 1907
The last place Washington Senators, heading for one of many dismal finishes, were swept in a doubleheader by the Philadelphia Athletics by the scores of 3-1 and 3-2 at Philadelphia's Columbia Park.
Connie Mack's A's were the most popular team in the American League in terms of attendance and had already won two pennants in the American League's first six seasons. The Senators, managed by Joe Cantillon, had never posted a winning record. Mack started lefty Rube Waddell in the first game and righty Chief Bender in the second game. Cantillon started Tom Hughes and Charlie Smith, a pair of righthanders.
Waddell and Hughes matched goose eggs until the sixth. Centerfielder Charlie Jones got a second chance at bat when Philadelphia first baseman Harry Davis dropped a foul fly. With new life, Jones hit a grounder to shortstop Monte Cross, who booted it and Jones was aboard. Third baseman Jim Delahanty followed with a booming triple to score Jones to put Washington ahead 1-0.
In the seventh, Philadelphia second baseman Simon Nicholls hit a two-out triple. Right fielder Socks Seybold grounded to Delahanty at third, who threw the ball away, which let Nicholls score and Seybold went to second. Davis doubled in Seybold. Jack Coombs relieved Waddell, who had been pulled for a pinch hitter (Bender), and finished up.
Philadelphia didn't waste time in the second game. In the first inning, left fielder Topsy Hartsel got to second on an error by Washington shortstop Dave Altizer. Nicholls sacrificed and Seybold delivered an RBI single. Seybold was caught stealing for the second out, but Davis followed with another single and he successfully stole second. Third baseman Jimmy Collins singled home Davis and the A's led 2-0.
In the second inning, Bender hit a slow roller up the third base line. Shortstop Tony Smith cut across in front of Delahanty to field it and threw it away and Bender went all the way to third. Hartsel doubled in Bender to make it 3-0.
Washington was able to push across two runs in the eighth thanks to a run-scoring triple from Jones and an RBI groundout from first baseman John Anderson. But Bender retired Washington in the ninth for the complete game win.
The Senators finished the season in last place at 49-102, 43 1/2 games out of first. The only good thing that happened for Washington that year was the arrival of a young hard throwing right hander from the minor leagues in Idaho. His name was Walter Johnson. The 19-year old would make his debut on August 2 and would go 5-9 with a 1.88 ERA. He would go on to win 417 games for Washington in a 21-year career with an ERA of 2.17.
Philadelphia finished in second place with an 88-57 record, 1 1/2 games behind Detroit. On September 30, Detroit travelled to Philadelphia for a crucial doubleheader, with Detroit leading by 1 1/2 games. Detroit and Philadelphia played a controversial 9-9 17-inning tie in the first game and it was too dark to get in the second game. Under American League policies at the time, neither game of the doubleheader was made up and the Tigers were able to hold on to that 1 1/2 game lead until the season ended the following weekend. The A's played 145 games to a decision and had five ties and missed out on nine games, including three with the Tigers. In 1908, the Tigers would benefit from a cancelled game and beat out Cleveland for the pennant by 1/2 game. Detroit was 90-63 and Cleveland was 90-64. Third place Chicago was 88-64. After 1908, the American League decided to make up all games that would affect the pennant race (this did not apply to games cancelled in later years by labor disputes.)
1907 was Ty Cobb's first full year and he was the AL's big star leading the league in batting average at .350. Hartsel led the league in OBP at .405 and drew 106 walks. Davis led the league in home runs with eight. Waddell led the AL in strikeouts for his sixth and final time with 232. Waddell was sold to St. Louis in the offseason.
Nicholls had a sensational rookie year for Philadelphia (he had brief appearances in 1905 and 1906). He batted .302 and stole 34 bases and played good defense at second and shortstop. However, Nicholls slumped badly in 1908, batting just .216. In 1909, Eddie Collins took over second base and Jack Barry occupied shortstop and Nicholls was sold to Cleveland. He passed away at age 29 on March 12, 1911 of complications of typhoid fever.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, Washington Post, SABR BioProject info about Nicholls
WC 2006: Game theory and PKs
LCS may go to TBS
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that the ALCS and NLCS may end up on TBS exclusively in the 2007 season.
MLB's contract with Fox expires at the end of this year's World Series and the home network off all the postseason games is still up in the air.
College World Series final games
The final games of the College World Series started Saturday in Omaha between Oregon State and North Carolina.
Dallas Buck of OSU faces Andrew Miller of UNC in the opener.
Game 1 - Oregon State had taken a 3-2 lead on a Cole Gillespie homer in the sixth when a rain delay hit. After the break, the Tar Heels tied the game in the sixth and then scored the go-ahead run in the 8th on a passed ball to win Game 1, 4-3. Jonathan Hovis got the win and Joe Paterson took the loss.
The long night and day of Brett Myers
Phillies pitcher Brett Myers was arrested early Friday morning in Boston and charged with domestic assault and battery.
Myers started Saturday in Boston at Fenway Park in a game the Phillies lost 5-3 in 10 innings.
From the AP story.
Fans booed Myers each time he left the dugout to take the mound and several times as he returned to the dugout at the end of innings.
Reader Gary Garland wrote in to tell me that he had opinions on the matter and he posted them on his own site. Gary has a very strong opinion on the matter.
Regardless, it's a bad situation and the amount of domestic abuse that goes on among pro athletes does seem to be something that fans tend to forget about very quickly.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Argentina vs. Mexico, noon PT
The high-flying Argentines (mostly because they beat Serbia et al. 6-0) and the somewhat lackluster Mexicans (1-1-1 with a tie against Angola and a loss to Portugal).
The teams last met at the Confederations Cup in August 2005 and Argentina won on penalties after a 1-1 tie. They've met in the World Cup once before, on July 19, 1930 in the first World Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay. Argentina won 6-3. It's unknown if the Mexicans are still looking for revenge after that one. There were 5,000 people at that match.
There will likely be a few bit more at Zentralstadion, which seats 43,000. Mexico has a lot of fan support in Germany, but that may not be enough to overcome the deficit in talent.
The winner of this one faces Germany in Berlin on June 30.
How the teams that didn't move on will be ranked:
The Baltimore Death Wish
The Baltimore Orioles have emerged as the frontrunners to sign released pitcher Russ Ortiz. The Cubs are interested too.
"The Orioles are the frontrunners, for all the obvious reasons," agent John Boggs told ESPN.com. "The main one is Russ' relationship with Leo Mazzone. Right now we're just trying to narrow in on some clubs. Nothing is in concrete yet, but we're going to decide pretty quickly."
The tradition lives on!
WC 2006 Match Chat: Germany vs. Sweden, 8 am PT
The Round of 16 gets underway. And now there is no tomorrow. The winner moves on, the loser catches the next flight back home.
Unless it's the Germans. They'll take a train probably. Except maybe coach Jurgen Klinsmann since he lives in California.
And the Swedes could take a train, but that takes a while.
Sweden and Germany have faced each other 32 times and the Swedes have 13 wins, the Germans have 12 wins and there have been seven draws. Their only previous meeting in the World Cup was back in 1958 when Sweden beat Germany 3-1 in the semifinals in Gothenburg.
Germany won all three of its group matches, while Sweden had a win and two draws.
You have until kickoff to enter the contest!
Random Game Callback, June 24, 1977
The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins combined to hit six home runs at Metropolitan Stadium, but it was a home run that didn't count hit by Ralph Garr that was decisive as the Twins beat the White Sox, 7-6 before a crowd of 21,457 in Bloomington.
The teams were in a virtual tie for first in the AL West with the White Sox holding .002 lead. White Sox manager Bob Lemon started veteran knuckleball specialist Wilbur Wood. Twins manager Gene Mauch had Paul Thormodsgard on the hill.
Thormodsgard got out of the first thanks in part to leadoff hitter and left fielder Garr, who singled, but was thrown out at second by Twins leftfielder Larry Hisle. In the bottom of the first, Minnesota centerfielder Lyman Bostock led off with a single. Third baseman Jerry Terrell sacrificed and was safe at first when Chicago second baseman Jorge Orta dropped the throw at first base. First baseman Rod Carew walked to load the bases. Hisle doubled in two runs. Wood was able to work out of further trouble and it was 2-0 Twins at the end of one inning.
In the third, Terrell reached when Wood hit him with a pitch. Carew singled and Hisle homered and the Twins had taken a 5-0 lead after three innings.
The game's big play came in the third. Third baseman Eric Soderholm led off with a single and catcher Jim Essian reached on an error by shortstop Roy Smalley. Garr then hit a deep fly to right that Ford made a leap for against the wire fence in Bloomington. Ford crashed to the ground and first base umpire Nestor Chylak ran out to make the call and seemed to take a while. While this was happening, Soderholm and Essian went back to their bases, thinking that Ford had caught the ball. But Ford hadn't, the ball had gone over the fence. However, as Essian went back to first, Garr passed him on the bases. So Garr was credited with a single, but was then called out for passing Essian. Soderholm and Essian did score to cut the lead to 5-2.
Essian took matters into his own hands with a solo home run in the fifth, but Minnesota designated hitter Craig Kusick hit one of his own and the Twins led 6-3 after five innings.
But the tie did not last long as Bostock led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run against Chicago reliever Lerrin LaGrow. Johnson retired the White Sox in order in the ninth to pick up the win.
After the game, Garr wouldn't talk to the media about his gaffe on his "home run." However, manager Lemon and Essian both excused Garr since they thought Chylak took too long to make the home run call.
The White Sox finished the year with a 90-72 record in third place, 12 games behind the Royals. The Twins finished in fourth at 84-77, 17 1/2 games out. The White Sox were still leading the AL West in August before fading. The Twins early success was already starting to peter out and they were buried by a 7-18 record in September.
Both the Twins and White Sox were able to put runs on the board. Minnesota led the league with 867 and Chicago was third with 844. Neither team had a particularly good ERA as the White Sox were tenth with a 4.32 ERA and the Twins were 12th at 4.36.
Carew won the AL MVP in 1977, batting .388 and was batting over .400 as late as July 10. Carew also led the league in OBP at .449 and slugged .570, hitting 38 doubles, 16 triples, and 14 home runs. But the Twins' penurious owner, Calvin Griffith, wouldn't be able to keep his team together. Bostock and Hisle left at the end of the year as free agents (to California and Milwaukee) and Carew would force a trade to the Angels after the 1978 season.
The 1977 White Sox were something of a one-year wonder also as they lost key players, such as DH Richie Zisk and Gamble to free agency and then made an ill-fated trade sending pitchers Dave Frost and Chris Knapp, along with catcher Brian Downing to the Angels in exchange for Bobby Bonds and Richard Dotson. Downing would go on to become one of the Angels most consistent hitters for over a decade, while Bonds played in just 26 games for the White Sox before being traded to Texas for Claudell Washington. Manager Lemon would be fired midway through the 1978 season, but he was quickly hired by the Yankees and he would lead them to a World Series win that season.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
Live and die with your team ... FOREVER
Eternal Image also has licensing agreements with The Vatican Library, Prescious Moments, and the American Kennel Club.
I would like a casket with a picture of a Bichon Frise, the logo of Toronto Blue Jays, and an image of St. Teresa of Avila.
WC 2006 Contest: Pick the winners, win something
Your quest: Pick the winners of all the knockout games remaining in the World Cup (except the third place game because I don't think the teams involved really care who wins.)
The scoring system will be:
To enter, send an email to this address firstname.lastname@example.org
The shirt is actually on backorder and I reserve the right to find something else.
Also tell me your "nom de Toaster" so I can update the scores as we go along.
If I don't get five entries before the first match of the second round kicks off at 8 am PT Saturday, the contest is called off. The quota has been reached! Game on!
The final arbiter of who wins is me.
Everybody is eligible to compete for the prize except me.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group G finale, noon PT
The final two teams in the round of 16 will be decided and this group is up for grabs with three teams still in contention and the only team knowing where it's going after the game is Togo, which has been eliminated.
The leader in the group is Switzerland with 4 points and +2 in goal difference. Korea also has 4 points and is +1. France has 2 points and is at zero.
Neither the Swiss nor the Koreans can tie and be assured of moving on, although one of them would.
There are a lot of scenarios. I won't detail any that involve Togo winning or drawing because I just don't see that dispirited bunch beating a desperate French squad, even if Zidane is out. If that did happen, the Swiss and Koreans advance.
A. Korea wins, France wins - Korea is #1, France is #2
I'm really excited over the potential for drawing lots. Basically, it will happen in any situation where France and Korea end up the same number of goals for and goals against and records of 1-0-2.
Unless I'm reading the tiebreaker rules wrong. In which case, never mind. But I think I am. The Times discusses the history of luck in soccer.
The man in the middle for the France-Togo match: Jorge Larrionda.
The winner of the group will play Ukraine in the next round. The second place team will face Spain.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group H finale, 7 am PT
Spain, which came into the World Cup saddled with a tradition of choking, has shown that it wants to go far and has already qualified with the second round with convincing wins over Ukraine (4-0) and Tunisia (3-1). Even with reserves going, Spain should be able to take apart Saudi Arabia.
Ukraine recovered from its shellacking against Spain to apply its own shellacking to Saudi Arabia (4-0), which in turn announced that it will no longer export shellac. Ukraine will grab the second spot with a win or tie. Tunisia must win to advance and then hope that Saudi Arabia doesn't beat Spain by a ridiculous margin (which is likely.)
Saudi Arabia is still alive if it can beat Spain and the goal difference can be made up on both Tunisia and Ukraine.
Random Game Callback, June 23, 1950
The ball was flying all over Briggs Stadium on a Saturday night in June as the hometown Tigers increased their lead in the AL to two full games with a 10-9 win over the Yankees in a game that featured a then major league record 11 home runs combined by both teams. All 19 runs in the game scored on home runs. 51,400 fans were in attendance.
The defending World Series champion Yankees, managed by Casey Stengel, started Tommy Byrne. The Tigers, managed by former Yankee third baseman Red Rolfe, had Ted Gray on the mound. Neither pitcher would make it anywhere near the ninth inning.
The Yankees got to Gray early. left fielder Hank Bauer homered twice in the first three innings, driving in three runs. Catcher Yogi Berra added a two-run homer in the third and second baseman Jerry Coleman hit a solo home run in the fourth that drove Gray out of the game. Dizzy Trout relieved.
The Tigers started their rally in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, center fielder Johnny Groth singled and first baseman Don Kolloway did the same. Catcher Bob Swift drew a walk to load the bases. Byrne hoped to use the pitcher's spot to get out of the inning, but Trout spoiled that strategy the best way possible, by hitting a grand slam home run to make it 6-4 New York. Shortstop Jonny Lipon lined out to left, but second baseman Jerry Priddy homered and Stengel took Byrne out of the game and brought in Fred Sanford. (This one was white.)
Detroit was not done. Third baseman George Kell singled and right fielder Vic Wertz homered off the roof in rightfield. Left fielder Hoot Evers followed with another home run and the Tigers had an 8-run fourth and an 8-6 lead. The five home runs in the inning is still a record that has not been broken, although it has been tied several times. The Tigers four home runs in the inning was an American League record at the time, although the Minnesota Twins would break the mark with five in 1966.
Tom Ferrick came in to relieve Sanford and he was able to pitch shutout ball until the eighth for the Yankees, pitching through a sore ankle injured when he got hit by a line drive off the bat of Lipon.
The Yankees got to within a run in the seventh when center fielder Joe DiMaggio hit his 14th home run of the season. Then in the eighth, pinch hitter Tommy Henrich powered a 2-run homer off of Trout to give the Yankees a 9-8 lead. Paul Calvert came into pitch, but couldn't retire anyone and Rolfe turned to Fred Hutchinson to get out of the inning.
Stengel called on his relief ace, Joe Page, to pitch the last two innings. Page allowed a hit in the eighth, but in the ninth, after getting leadoff man Kell, Wertz lined a double to left-center. Evers then drilled a Page pitch deep to center that hit the wall about 415 feet away. Wertz scored easily and when second baseman Billy Martin couldn't handle the relay from DiMaggio cleanly, Evers came around to score on what was scored an inside-the-park home run.
The 11 total home runs in the game remain a record for the most home runs in an American League night game. The record for all games is 12 and it's been done twice and both times the Tigers were involved. And the White Sox wer the opponents each time. Those games were on May 28, 1995 and the other on July 2, 2002.
The Yankees would win the AL pennant by three games over the Tigers and go on to sweep Philadelphia in the World Series. Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto would win the MVP award. Boston utility man Billy Goodman was second in the voting and Berra was third, although all he did was catch 148 games and hit 28 home runs, bat .322 and slug .533.
Detroit's star pitcher was 22-year old Art Houtteman who went 19-12 with a 3.54 ERA. But he missed the 1951 season because of military commitments and when he came back in 1952, a family tragedy and bad luck led to a 9-20 season. You can read about Houtteman's career in this online biography by Warren Corbett from the SABR Bioproject. The Tigers dropped into fifth place in 1951 and all the way to last in 1952 and in the middle of the season, Rolfe was let go and Hutchinson took over as manager.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, New York Times, SABR BioProject
College World Series update
My old thread suffered some unfortunate HTML problems. So I will start anew with the Final Four as it were.
Game 11 - North Carolina scored four runs in the third and twice in the fifth and held on to eliminate Cal State Fullerton, 6-5. Detroit's first round pick, Andrew Miller, picked up a save. The Tar Heels will play either Rice or Oregon State in the best of three championship series that starts Saturday.
Game 12 - Daniel Turpen and Joe Paterson combined on a 5-hit shutout as Oregon State forced a showdown game with Rice Thursday for the right to face North Carolina in the championship series with a 5-0 win.
Game 13 - Oregon State's Jonah Nickerson and Kevin Gunderson combined on a 2-hit shutout to send the Beavers to the championship series with a 2-0 win over Rice. Oregon State and North Carolina start the best of three series Saturday. Neither team has ever won a CWS.
WC 2006: USA postmortem
My brother reviews the past and future of the US national team at CBS Sportsline.
Burnett comes back, Braves continue to slide
A.J. Burnett came off the 60-day disabled list and started in Atlanta tonight.
Burnett went six innings and struck out seven while giving up two runs. He threw 91 pitches.
The Braves lost their 10th straight game 3-2.
Almost, but not good enough in Chicago
After being pounded 33-11 in two games in Chicago, the Cardinals turned to Anthony Reyes to turn things around.
Reyes gave up just one hit in eight innings. But it was a home run to Jim Thome. And Freddy Garcia and Bobby Jenks combined on a 4-hit shutout as the White Sox won 1-0.
Pujols back, Mulder out
Albert Pujols has returned from the DL and pitcher Mark Mulder has gone on it with a sore shoulder.
The Cardinals have lost their last two games to the White Sox by the score of 33-11.
Selig puts the hammer down on Ozzie
Commissioner Bud Selig has meted out the strictest punishment ever given to a manager for off-field remarks.
Yep, Ozzie Guillen is going to mandatory sensitivity training.
I love it when the jokes write themselves.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group F finale, noon PT
Tournament favorite Brazil has already clinched a spot in the second round and most likely first place in Group F, barring some miracles. The other three teams all have a chance at the #2 spot. In decreasing order of likelihood, they are Australia, Croatia, and Japan.
Australia beat Japan, 3-1 in its first match with three late goals. And the Socceroos didn't look too bad against Brazil in a 2-0 loss.
Croatia, aka Team Tablecloth, hasn't scored yet, but at least got a point from a draw with Japan.
Japan, after its collapse against Australia, managed a tie thanks to a PK save by keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.
Australia advances with a win or tie against Croatia. Japan would have to beat Brazil and hope that Australia doesn't win and that they overcome the goal difference. (Australia is at 0, Croatia at -1, and Japan is at -2).
Three playes on the Croatian team were born in Australia. And seven members of the Australian team are Croatian to some extent. So for a 1/4 Croatian guy like me, I can't lose! (Just to cover all my bases, I have a sister-in-law who is Japanese!)
Game of the Day
Tonight in Houston (5:05 pm PT), it's a collision between the old and the new.
Francisco Liriano makes the start for the Twins while Roger Clemens tries to match the Rolling Stones record for comeback tours for the Astros.
I can't seem to find any news about this Clemens fellow. I've heard he was good at one time.
The original version of this talked about Rafael Soriano of Seattle as I completely confused my phenoms.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group E finale, 7 am PT
Group E is the only one of the eight groups that has seen none of its four teams clinch spots in the second round. Italy, Czech Republic, and Ghana all have possiblities of advancing with a tie (Italy definitely would, the other two would need help) and the USA must win (and get help).
For USA fans, the simplest scenario is: beat Ghana and have the Czechs lose to Italy. The USA could advance with a win if the Czechs and Italians play to a draw, but they would have to beat Ghana by at least four goals to advance. Number of goals the USA has scored of its own volition in the World Cup so far: zero.
The Czechs are a battered and bruised bunch. Striker Jan Koller is likely out with a hamstring injury. Striker Milan Baros will probably miss the match too with a foot injury, but there is hope in the Czech camp that he can play. Vratislav Lokvenc is out with two yellow cards. Defender Thomas Ujfalusi is also out after getting a red card against Ghana.
Italy will be missing Daniele De Rossi who got a red card against the USA.
The USA will be missing Eddie Pope and Pablo Mastroeni due to yellow cards.
Ghana will be without its two goal scorers from its win over the Czechs: Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan.
So here are the possible permuations:
Random Game Callback, June 22, 1996
The slumping San Diego Padres, losers of 15 of their last 18 games, dropped a long and wild 16-inning marathon to the Chicago Cubs, 9-6, before a crowd of 51,917 at Jack Murphy Stadium. An error and a 2-run homer by Brant Brown scored the winning runs for the Cubs.
Cubs manager Jim Riggleman started 32-year old journeyman righthander Mike Campbell. Padres manager Bruce Bochy chose righthander Andy Ashby, making his first start since coming off the disabled list.
Both teams scored in both halves of the first three innings. In the top of the first, center fielder Brian McRae led off with a single and then stole second when Ashby tried to pick him off and then compounded the mistake with a throwing error sending McRae to third. Right fielder Sammy Sosa hit a sacrifice fly to score McRae. In the bottom of the first, right fielder Tony Gwynn had a one-out single, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Cubs catcher Scott Servais. McRae then dropped third baseman Ken Caminiti's fly ball for an error to make it 1-1.
Cubs third baseman Leo Gomez led off the second with a walk and Servais followed with a single to move Gomez to second. Second baseman Bret Barberie hit into a force play, putting runners at first and third. Shortstop Jose Hernandez singled to score Gomez and one batter later, McRae singled to score Barberie to make it 3-1 Cubs. The Padres scored in the bottom of the second on a solo home run by catcher Brian Johnson.
In the third, Sosa homered to lead off the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, left fielder Rickey Henderson led off with a single. Gwynn doubled to put Henderson at third. Center fielder Steve Finley followed with a double of his own to score two runs, but Finley was out trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
For the next four innings, the relievers kept the game scoreless. Kent Bottenfield and Jim Bullinger each threw a pair of shutout innings for the Cubs. Bryce Florie, Scott Sanders, and Ron Villone combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings for the Padres.
The Cubs threatened in the tenth against reliever Doug Bochtler. Gomez led off with a single and Terry Shumpert ran for him. Servais walked and Barberie sacrificed to move the runners up. Hernandez was given an intentional walk. Doug Glanville pinch hit for Bullinger and struck out and McRae flied out to left to end the threat.
In the 12th, the Cubs broke through. Servais led off with a single off of Padres reliever Shawn Bergman and moved to second on a Barberie sacrifice (his third of the night). Hernandez struck out. Ryne Sandberg came up to pinch hit for reliever Terry Adams and singled to center to score Servais. Turk Wendell, the Cubs closer, came in to pinch run for Sandberg, but stayed at first as McRae flied out to end the inning. Wendell got the first two outs in the bottom of the 12th, but catcher John Flaherty, who entered the game in a double switch in the 10th and had just joined the Padres along with Chris Gomez from Detroit on June 18 (in exchange for Brad Ausmus and Andujar Cedeno), hit his first home run with the Padres to tie the game.
The teams soldiered on. In the 15th, McRae walked and Brown and Sosa singled to load the bases. Bochy brought in his seventh pitcher, Willie Blair. Left fielder Luis Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to left to score McRae and send Brown to third. With Shumpert up, Riggelman called for a squeeze, but Shumpert missed the pitch and Brown was out at the plate. Shumpert managed to get a walk and Servais was hit by a pitch, but Barberie flied out.
But the Padres weren't done. Right fielder Archi Cianfrocco (who had replaced Gwynn on a double switch earlier) led off with a double against Chicago reliever Rodney Myers. Flaherty grounded out and Cianfrocco moved up to third. Myers threw a wild pitch and Cianfrocco scored to tie the game.
And on to the 16th! Hernandez led off with a double. Myers tried to bunt him over, but struck out. McRae then hit a grounder to Padres rookie first baseman Jason Thompson that he couldn't handle and on the error, Hernandez scored and McRae went to second. Brown followed with a homer to make it 9-6. In the bottom of the 16th, Finley got a leadoff walk, but the Padres couldn't score him and, with no position players left on the bench, Bochy had to have pitcher Fernando Valenzuela pinch hit for Blair, and Valenzuela struck out to end the game.
The Padres would be able to right their ship thanks in part to Flaherty, who had a 27-game hitting streak after arriving in San Diego. After a 9-19 June, the Padres went 48-32 in the final three months and overtook the Dodgers for the NL West title with three wins in Los Angeles in the final three games of the season. The Padres lost to the Cardinals in three straight in the Division Series. Ken Caminiti would win the NL MVP with a 40 home run, 130 RBI season (whether or not you think that was fairly earned is another matter). Gwynn led the NL in batting average at .353. The Padres were 91-71 overall.
The Cubs finished in fourth place in the NL Central at 76-86. Sosa hit 40 home runs and drove in 100. Sandberg hit 25 home runs in his first season back after a one-year retirement. While the Cubs had a decent bullpen and one pretty good starter in Steve Trachsel, the rest of the rotation was iffy with guys like Jaime Navarro, Frank Castillo, Bullinger, Amaury Telemaco, and Kevin Foster all taking turns.
Sources: San Diego Union-Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Cycles - UPDATED
The last player on each team to hit for the cycle, according to Retrosheet.
Arizona - Stephen Drew, 9/1/2008
Gone? For good? Probably not
Arizona formally gave Russ Ortiz and Terry Mulholland unconditional releases today.
Is the end?
Or maybe it's just the beginning....
I am the Lord, Thy Boras, thou shalt not have false Borases before me
This correction ran in today's L.A. Times.
Baseball: An article in Sports on June 7 quoted pitcher Luke Hochevar, drafted by the Kansas City Royals, as referring to "Scott" Scott Boras, his agent when in fact he used the word "God." Here is the correct quote: "God had a plan in this, and his master plan definitely worked. It was tough through it you go through it and you fight it but when it all comes down to it, God has a plan for you, and he definitely worked a miracle in my case."
Tips from L.A. Observed and reader Spaceman Spiff.
Action in the Futures market
Rosters for the Futures Game to be played in Pittsburgh on the Sunday before the All Star Game (July 9) were announced today. It will again have a US versus the Rest of the World set up.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group C finale, noon PT
and for academic purposes
The Dutch and Argentines are both headed to the second round. Today's match is for first place. Argentina will win the group with a win or tie. This will be the fourth time the two teams have met in the World Cup. The Dutch won in 1974 (4-0) and 1998 (2-1), but Argentina won in 1978 (3-1 in overtime) and that one was in the championship game.
Argentina demolished Serbia et al. 6-0 while the Dutch held off a game Ivory Coast squad 2-1.
As for the undercard, the coaches of Serbia et al. and Ivory Coast are both coaching their last matches with those teams. Ivory Coast could be the best team in the World Cup that won't make the second round. But such are the vagaries of seeding
The winner of the group will play Mexico Saturday in Leipzig. The second place team will take on Portugal Sunday in Nuremberg.
The Serbs currently occupy last place among all 32 teams with 0 pointsts and a -7 in goals. A loss should give them that dubious honor. If not, Costa Rica, 0 points and -6 in goals should bring the title back home to CONCACAF. Saudi Arabia finished last in 2002 with 0 poitts and -12 in goals. In 1998, the USA was last with 0 points and -4 in goals. The last European side to finish last was Greece in 1994 when the tournament had just 24 teams.
Togo has a chance at the last spot as well with 0 points and -3 in goals, but they would need to get clobbered by France.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group D Finale, 7 am PT
The top two teams in Group D face off in the big match of the morning. Portugal has clinched a second round spot, but Mexico needs at least a tie to move on after they played a scoreless tie against Angola. If Mexico loses, expect to hear a lot of complaining from the Mexican press and fans who are sort of like Red Sox fans pre-2004.
Angola has yet to score a goal in the World Cup, but the Black Antelopes have given up just one. Iran scored a goal against Mexico, but otherwise haven't shown any propensity to do much of anything. And the Iranian Parliament is starting to ask for an investigation into the team.
If Mexico were to lose, Angola would need to make up the goal difference on Mexico. Mexico is +2 right now and Angola is -1. If Mexico lost and Angola won, they would have to change to at least +1 and 0. And since the total goals are also in Mexico's favor (3 to 0 now), Angola is going to need something like a 3-0 win over Iran to move on. Probably won't happen.
Random Game Callback, June 21, 1976
It was a day of near no-hitters in baseball. In Oakland, Bert Blyleven of Texas gave up just a fifth inning single to Ken McMullen as the Rangers beat the A's 1-0 in 10 innings. And earlier in the evening, Baltimore's Wayne Garland went eight innings before giving up a hit in a 2-hit, 2-0 win over the Red Sox at Memorial Stadium. Blyleven would throw a no-hitter in 1977, but this game was the best game of Garland's career.
Garland was a 25-year old righthander who hadn't done much in his first four years with the Orioles under Earl Weaver. In the spring, Orioles management decided to cut Garland's salary by 20% as he had declined to sign a contract and was hoping to cash in on the new free agency rules that were going to be put in place in the offseason. Garland had toyed with a no-hitter in 1974 in Oakland holding the A's hitless until the ninth, but ultimately losing that game 6-4.
Shortstop Mark Belanger supplied all the offense that Garland would need with a solo home run in the third off of Boston starter Luis Tiant. It was the only home run Belanger would hit in 1976. Despite his reputation as a banjo hitter, Weaver had Belanger batting seventh in this game ahead of third baseman Brooks Robinson, in his 23rd and final season in Baltimore, and catcher Dave Duncan. Robinson would bat .149 in his final season and Duncan hit .204.
Garland was on his game, striking out ten and walking just one batter. Boston third baseman Rico Petrocelli reached second on an error by center fielder Paul Blair that did not seem to spur any controversy over the scoring. Petrocelli would get a clean single in the eighth to break up the no-hitter. Rick Miller had an infield hit in the ninth.
The Orioles second run in this game scored in a very atypical way of an Earl Weaver team. In the seventh, right fielder Reggie Jackson led off with a single. That brought up first baseman Lee May. Weaver had May sacrifice Jackson over. May had only nine sacrifices in his career and the Orioles had a major league low of 35 sacrifices in 1976. Designated hitter Ken Singleton doubled home Jackson.
After the game, Garland told the Washington Post's Orioles beat writer, Thomas Boswell, that he had become a more effective pitcher by getting rid of an ineffective knuckleball and curve ball and working with just a fast ball, change, and slider.
Garland was now 7-0 on the season and had an ERA of 1.94. This earned him a spot in Baltimore's four-man rotation along with Jim Palmer, Rudy May, and Mike Cuellar. Ross Grimsley would also get some starts for the Orioles. Also, a few days before this game, the Orioles restored Garland's 20% pay cut.
Baltimore and Boston would finish second and third in the AL East in 1976. Baltimore won 88 games and Boston, the defending AL champs, won just 83. The Yankees won the division with 97 wins.
Garland finished the 1976 with a 20-7 record and a 2.67 ERA. He picked up just one Cy Young Award vote. Teammate Jim Palmer won and Detroit rookie sensation Mark Fidrych was second. Nevertheless, when the season was over, Garland cashed in under the new free agency rules, signing a 10-year $2.3 million deal with Cleveland. Garland would lose an AL high 19 games for Cleveland in 1977 (going 13-19) and then suffer through a torn rotator cuff in 1978 that curtailed his career. He had one last hurrah on July 3, 1980 when he threw a 2-hitter against the Yankees. But Garland would be released by Cleveland after the 1981 season and would go down as one of the worst free agent signings in the history of the Cleveland Indians.
One of Garland's teammates, Jackson, would fare a bit better on the free agent market, both in terms of money and success on the field.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, Washington Post
College World Series report
The College World Series started June 16 in Omaha.
The eight teams there are:
For a preview read Bryan Smith at Baseball Analysts.
Selig says he won't freeze anyone's urine
Really that's what he was getting at.
Commissioner Bud Selig announced today that he did not envisioning freezing urine samples from Major League players for future testing for some possible HGH test.
I was really hoping that in about 10 years, I could go get a jar filled with my favorite player's urine. But no such luck.
I guess I will have to go back to baseball cards and autographs for memories.
Guillen, Garner make a big promise
This managers for this year's All Star Game, Chicago's Ozzie Guillen and Houston's Phil Garner, have promised, no they have vowed (possibly before God in a religious ceremony) that they try their best to win the game for their league.
Do players agree?
So what exactly has been the impact of the change? Are the players consciously playing to give their league brethren a better shot in October? Many former All-Stars say no, indicating there is no shift in their approaches.
I'll miss the game as I work late on Tuesdays.
Deal of the Century struck
Tampa Bay has traded Joey Gathright to Kansas City in exchange for pitcher J.P. Howell. Kansas City also acquired minor league second baseman Fernando Cortez.
Just one more piece of the puzzle for Dayton Moore as he restores the Royals to their greatness of 2003.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group B finale, noon PT
England is in the second round and Sweden can join them with a win or tie. The Swedes have had good luck against England. England has not beaten Sweden since May 22, 1968 and in 11 matches, the Swedes have not lost to England. The two teams met for the first time in the World Cup in 2002 in Japan and played a 1-1 draw. Wayne Rooney is supposed to be back in the lineup for England. Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be out for Sweden.
Paraguay has been eliminated and T&T will need a big win (three goals or more should do) combined with a Sweden loss to move on.
Little known historical fact: England (the UK) was at war with Sweden from 1810-1812 although the two nations never fought against each other. It was a side effect of the war between Sweden and Russia over Finland in 1808-1809. It was the era of the Napoleonic Wars. Nations changed sides frequently in that time.
The winner of Group B plays Ecuador on June 25 in Stuttgart. The runner up faces Germany in Munich on June 24.
Poached from the BBC website:
It's getting dark, too dark to see
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports follows up on his column about MLB.tv's blackout policies.
He has a link to Dan Werr's excellent map showing which parts of the country are blacked out for which teams.
The Youngs are restless
Delmon Young Tampa Bay prospect and currently a member of the Durham Bulls, has returned from a 50-game suspension for throwing a bat an umpire in a game in Pawtucket in April.
Delmon may still have some issues to work on as the AP story indicates:
Few seem to doubt Young's abilities, but there are questions about his attitude.
Delomn's older brother, Dmitri, continues to have legal troubles.
Dmitri Young's attorney stil will not say exactly where his missing client is, although a Detroit radio station reported back on June 9, that the Tigers DH had entered the Betty Ford Clinic.
Perhaps Dmitri is receiving help from Delmon's support group.
Keith Law has an ESPN Insider story on Delmon Young and the other troubled prospects in the Tampa Bay organization.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Group A finale 7 am, PT
or, for our compulsive gamblers Costa Rica vs. Poland in Hanover
The winner of the match in Munich wins Group A. The winner of the match in Hanover gets the number of rocks thrown at the team plane cut by 50%!
Little known historical fact: Ecuador declared war on Germany on February 2, 1945. It was the thought that counted.
Random Game Callback, June 20, 1938
The two-time defending World Series champions finished up a rain-plagued four game series against the St. Louis Browns with a win of a makeup game on a Monday afternoon before 2,337 lonely souls at Sportsman's Park, 8-4. The Yankees had dropped the first two games of the series and had played to a tie in the second game of a doubleheader.
The Yankees, managed by Joe McCarthy, had Spud Chandler starting. The 30-year old was in just his second year in the majors. Chandler is the only Yankee pitcher ever to win an MVP award (1943). St. Louis manager Gabby Street, who had managed the Cardinals to a World Series title in 1931, was trying right hander Les Tietje.
The Browns were giving the Yankees some trouble early in this game and led 2-1 after five innings. In the top of the sixth, center fielder Joe DiMaggio tripled and scored on a home run by first baseman Lou Gehrig. With two outs and Tommy Henrich aboard, rookie second baseman Joe Gordon homered to make it 5-2 Yankees. Then Chandler followed with another homer to make it 6-2 Yankees.
The Browns scored twice more in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-4, but the Yankees scored twice more off of Tietje in the seventh for the 8-4 final score. Chandler pitched a complete game, giving up eight hits and three walks with just one strikeout, but it was enough to beat the Browns.
The Yankees moved into second place ahead of Boston and were just a game and a half behind first place Cleveland, where the Yankees were headed for a big three game series including a doubleheader at Municipal Stadium that was expected to draw 80,000. It actually drew "just" 67,549, perhaps losing some spectators who wanted to get ready for the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight (fought at Yankee Stadium and it drew 80,000). The Indians swept that three-game series, but the Yankees pulled away in July and August going 48-13. The Yankees won 99 games and beat out the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games for first place. Cleveland finished in third, 13 games out. The Browns were a distant seventh at 55-97. The Yankees would win the World Series in a four game sweep over the Cubs.
There were five future Hall of Fame players (not counting manager Joe McCarthy) on the Yankees: DiMaggio, Gehrig, catcher Bill Dickey, and pitchers Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing. DiMaggio led the team with 32 home runs and 140 RBI while batting .324. Dickey hit 27 home runs and batted .313 and finished second in the MVP voting to Boston's Jimmie Foxx.
With the Great Depression still hurting baseball's attendance, the Yankees led the AL in attendance, but with just 970,916 fans for the season. The Browns drew just 130,417 fans.
The Browns had only two players of any quality: first baseman George McQuinn, who batted .324 with 12 home runs and third baseman Harlond Clift, who batted .290 with 34 home runs and an OBP of .423. Street would not last the year as manager and was let go late in the season and Ski Melillo finished up for the last 10 games.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, New York Times
Need a veteran presence? These guys are available
The Red Sox, in need of an emergency starter, designated J.T. Snow for assignment. Boston GM Theo Epstein thinks he can make a deal for Snow.
The Twins had designated Tony Batista for assignment, but ended up releasing him.
WC 2006: Round of 16 to be decided
WC 2006 Match Chat: Spain vs. Tunisia, noon PT
The second set of matches in group play concludes with this Group H matchup.
Spain got off to a fast start in the tournament with a 4-0 win over Ukraine. Tunisia got a last-minute goal from Rahdi Jairi to get a tie against Saudi Arabia.
The Spanish are hoping to shed their tradition of choking in the World Cup and they can sew up a spot in the second round with a win. Tunisia is hoping to join Ghana in the win column for Africa. Spain, with a win, clinches a spot in the second round.
After this match, the next four days will see four matches per day, with each group playing its final two matches simultaneously.
Spain, La Marcha Real. Don't try to sing along as there are no words.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Saudi Arabia vs. Ukraine, 9 am PT
Ukraine's first-ever appearance in the World Cup was a disaster as they were dismantled 4-0 by Spain. And the game was not as close as the score indicated, although the Spaniards did get a PK goal on a brutally bad call.
Saudi Arabia looked to have three points in the bag against Tunisia, but they gave up a tying goal in the final seconds.
Someone is going to have to take the second spot from Group H and if this match produces a winner, then it very well may be that team.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Togo vs. Switzerland, 6 am PT
Or so we hope...
On Sunday, Togo's players were threatening to boycott this match over a pay dispute. But it appears that FIFA has averted that. Mainly by telling the Togolese players that if they don't play, they're in a world of hurt. And hell hath no fury than a ticked off Sepp Blatter.
Togo lost its opener to Korea 2-1 while the Swiss played a scoreless draw with France. Korea sits atop Group G with four points and if the Swiss need a win badly. Preferably by at least two goals. If that were the case, the Swiss would be able to clinch a spot in the second round with a draw against Korea, if my math is right.
Group G is definitely not the Group of Death.
Random Game Callback, June 19, 1943
Brooklyn left fielder Dixie Walker connected for two homers to delight a crowd of 8,618 fans at Ebbets Field as the Dodgers beat the Phillies, 7-5. Walker's two home runs, obligated his sponsor, the Brooklyn Club (a social group) to pony up $27,500 in war bonds as the Dodgers were part of a season long war bond sales drive.
The Dodgers were still two games behind the first place Cardinals. In 1942 the Dodgers won 104 games and lost the pennant to the Cardinals by two games. But after the season ended, team president Larry MacPhail joined the Army and Branch Rickey came over from the Cardinals to run the Dodgers. The Phillies were under new ownership as well as William Cox had bought the team in February. The 33-year old had made his fortune in lumber. But when the season was over Commissioner Kenesaw Landis expelled him from baseball forever after he found out that Cox had bet on his own team.
On this day, Phillies manager Bucky Harris (whom Cox disliked and tried to fire in May, but relented after the players threatened to strike) started Charlie Fuchs, a 29-year old who got a chance in the majors because of the war. Dodgers manager Leo Durocher started by 41-year old veteran Freddie Fitzsimmons, who had been brought out of retirement by the Dodgers who were desperate for arms.
Walker hit a three run homer in the first with a pair of future Hall of Famers aboard, third baseman Arky Vaughan and right fielder Paul Waner. The Dodgers added two more in the third on consecutive singles by first baseman Dolph Camilli, Walker, second baseman Billy Herman (another future Hall of Famer), center fielder Augie Galan, and a double play by catcher Mickey Owen.
The Dodgers added a run in the fifth off of 18-year old Phillies reliever George Eyrich on an RBI single from Galan. Walker hit his second home run in the seventh when he homered off of Boom-Boom Beck. Meanwhile, Fitzsimmons had given up just two runs through the first seven innings.
But the Phillies broke out the bats in the eighth. Second baseman Danny Murtaugh, right fielder Ron Northey, and center fielder Buster Adams all singled to load the bases. First baseman Jimmy Wasdell then lined a shot into the gap in to center that Galan overran and Wasdell had a three RBI triple to make it 7-5. Durocher brought in Les Webber to pitch. Third baseman Babe Dahlgren was up and he bounced to Vaughan, who threw him out with Wasdell holding. Left fielder Coaker Triplett then hit a sharp grounder to third and Vaughan came up with it and threw out Wasdell at the plate trying to score. After a walk, catcher Mickey Livingston grounded to Vaughan who stepped on third for the force to end the inning. Webber pitched the ninth to close it out.
The game would be the last win of Fitzsimmons career. He finished his 19-year career in the majors with a 217-146 record pitching for the Giants and Dodgers. In July, the Dodgers released Fitzsimmons so he could take over as manager for the Phillies as Cox finally succeeded in ridding himself of Harris.
Not that anything was going to help the Phillies much in 1943. They finished in seventh place with a 64-90 record. They were 39-53 under Harris and 25-37 under Fitzsimmons. They would finish in last in 1944 and were in last early in the 1945 season when Fitzsimmons was let go and replaced by Ben Chapman, who kept them in last.
The Dodgers finished third in 1943 with an 81-72 record, 18 games behind the Cardinals, whose roster didn't suffer as much under the personnel strains of World War II thanks to its well-developed farm system by Rickey. The Cardinals won 106 games in 1942 and 105 in 1943 and 1944 and won two World Series.
The Dodgers offense scored an average of 4.68 runs per game, but also allowed 4.41 runs per game and had a team ERA of 3.88, half a run higher than the league average. Philadelphia's problem was that its best offensive player was a pitcher, Schoolboy Rowe, who batted .300 and had an OPS+ of 147. And Rowe left for military service at the end of the year.
Sources: New York Times, Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet, Baseball Digest article by Jerome Holtzman for information on Cox
It's coming this Tuesday...
Starting Tuesday, the baseball event of the year gets underway.
It will be three days of the finest baseball action around.
At the K.
Tuesday - Kip Wells takes on Mark Redman. It's Jeremy Affeldt T-shirt Night!
Wednesday - Ian Snell versus Mike Wood. Most concessions are just a buck!
Thursday - Paul Maholm faces Scott Elarton in a day game. You are allowed to give your Jeremy Affeldt T-shirt back if you come to this game.
Completely walking off
On Sunday, Washington's Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out, two-run homer off of the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang to give the Nats a 3-2 win. What was even more unusual about this was that Wang was working on a complete game. I don't know how often in this era that a starter loses a complete game on a walkoff homer.
According to the story on MLB.com, the last time a National/Expo player to hit a walkoff homer was Orlando Cabrera on June 20, 2004 in Montreal. Cabrera's homer gave the Expos a 4-2 win over the White Sox. The losing pitcher that day was the White Sox starter, Jon Garland, who had gone the distance and allowed just three hits in the game.
I feel very Jayson Stark-like right now.
WC 2006 Match Chat: France vs. Korea, noon PT
Since France won the World Cup in 1998, they have played four matches in the World Cup and have scored nary a goal. The French played an uninspiring scoreless draw against the Swiss in their opener. Korea beat a Togo team that can't decide who should coach it, 2-1.
France was expected to play better in this World Cup than it did in the last one. And Korea was supposed to be much worse than it was in 2002, which resulted in a semifinal appearance. But after one match, Korea sits atop Group G and can pretty much book a spot in the second round with a win. France would like to score a goal
France, La Marseillaise. Makes you want to get up in a bar in Casablanca and drown out some Nazis singing doesn't it?
Korea, Aegukga or 애국가. Interestingly, North and South Korea have the same titles for their national anthems, but they have different lyrics. The melody of the South Korean anthem was subject to a copyright dispute until last year. North Korea doesn't worry about such matters.
And if you get bored, here's a replay of a goal from Cambiasso of Argentina. The animation takes a while to load.
Segui claims he's is in the Grimsely affadavit
In an interview with ESPN, David Segui claimed that he is one of the players whose names were redacted from the affidavit that was used to get a search warrant for Jason Grimsley's home.
Segui said he had a prescription for HGH.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Brazil vs. Australia, 9 am PT
There will be a lot of yellow in Munich as both teams feature this as their national color. Brazil gets to wear the yellow shirts and the Aussies will be in blue. Because you know, it would be hard to tell these two sides apart.
Brazil beat Croatia 1-0 in its opener and Australia rallied to beat Japan, 3-1 with three late goals. The last time these two sides met was in 2001 in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Korea and the Aussies won 1-0. But it was a third place game and it was unlikely that Brazil was sending out its first string.
Brazil has won
WC 2006 Match Chat: Japan vs. Croatia, 6 am PT
Both of these teams lost their opening matches in Group F, but in much different ways.
Japan led Australia 1-0, until Tim Cahill burned Japan for two goals after the 84th minute. John Aloisi added a third in stoppage time. And the Japanese press and public declared it open season on national coach Zico. Some people in Japan just wanted the team to come home NOW. However, the Japanese are still in Germany.
Meanwhile, Croatia, with their natty red checkerboard uniforms, picked no doubt because of the coincidence of a large Croatian community in St. Louis and the presence of the Ralston Purina Company there, lost 1-0 to tournament favorite Brazil.
Of all the teams that lost their opening match, Croatia may have been in the best shape as they got their toughest match out of the way. Croatia should be able to beat Japan and Australia. But the Czechs should have beaten Ghana too.
Japan, Kimigayo. In my book, one of the best melodies for any national anthem. And it's short too!
Croatia, Lijepa naa domovino, which translates to "Dig those checkerboards!"
Please take notice that my grandmother was born with the name Jelena Zuzenak. I think there were supposed to be some diacriticals on her surname.
Random Game Callback, June 18, 1960
A pair of pitchers who had nondescript careers, Dick Stigman and Ted Bowsfield, combined on a one hitter for Cleveland as they defeated the Red Sox, 2-1 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium before 5,268 spectators.
Stigman was a rookie lefthander that Cleveland manager Joe Gordon was trying out. Boston manager Pinky Higgins (who preferred Mike at this point in his life) started righthander Ike Delock. Higgins had recently taken over for Billy Jurges, who had been let go on June 7. Del Baker filled in until Higgins took over on June 14. Cleveland entered the day in third place, 2 1/2 games behind the first place Orioles and the Red Sox were in last at 19-34.
The night before Ted Williams had become the fourth player to reach the 500 home run mark with a blast off of Wynn Hawkins. The 41-year old Williams was being given the day off by Higgins.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Italy vs. USA, noon PT
It could be "Last Roundup" time for the American side if they can't upset the Italians. The teams have met twice in the World Cup. The first time was in 1934 and the Italians won 7-1. They met again in 1990 and Italy won 1-0.
Italian soccer has had its internal problems, but it doesn't seem to affect the players much.
Group E is a bit of a mess now after Ghana shocked the Czechs 3-0 earlier in the day. Italy, Ghana, and the Czech Republic all have 3 points and the USA has none. If the Americans pull off the upset, everybody would tied going to the last match.
But most likely, at the end of the day, Italy will have 6 points and a goal difference of at least +3. The Czechs are at 3 points and +1 and Ghana is at 3 points and 0. Ghana would be able to advance if they could pull off a tie and the Czechs lose by 2 or more to Italy.
If the USA wins, they would still need to beat Ghana in their last match to have a good shot of advancing.
USA, Star Spangled Banner Hey, you might not know it.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Czech Republic vs. Ghana, 9 am PT
The Czech Republic flattened the USA 3-0 in its opener while Ghana lost its first ever World Cup match 2-0 to Italy.
The Czechs would be almost guaranteed a spot in the second round with a win. A tie would be almost as good since the Czechs have the best goal difference in Group E.
The big story for the Czechs is the health of strikers Jan Koller and Milan Baros. Baros did not play against the USA and Koller left in the first half with a hamstring injury. Like an NHL coach, Czech manager Karel Bruckner isn't say how badly they are injured and who will play.
Ghana is likely happy to be in Germany and the Black Stars probably have their eyes on their third match against the USA.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Portugal vs. Iran, 6 am PT
Portugal can wrap up a spot in the second round with a win over Iran. Portugal beat Angola in its opener, 1-0, while Iran lost to Mexico, 3-1. Mexico's tie with Angola yesterday put Portugal in a good spot and breathed some life into Iran's chances in Group D.
However, Portugal should have enough talent to get past Iran. But the Portuguese have been to know play to the level of their competition or below it as they did in 2002, when they lost to both the USA and Korea. If Iran pulls off the upset, all four teams will still be alive for the last match, which hasn't happened yet in Groups A through C.
Random Game Callback, June 17, 1875
In one of its lower-scoring games of the season, Boston didn't need much offense with a 4-0 shutout win over Hartford before a crowd estimated at 3000 at Boston's South End Grounds. In fact, Boston would not lose any games all season at the South End Grounds, going 35-0 en route to a 71-8 season.
Two of the best pitchers of the era matched. Boston started Al Spalding, a 24-year old righthander en route to a 55-5 season. Hartford started 19-year old Tommy Bond, considered one of the hardest throwers of his time. Bond would go on to win 234 games in a 10-year career.
Starting in center for Hartford was another famous pitcher, Candy Cummings, who would earn a spot in Cooperstown, because he is generally considered to be the inventor of the curve ball. (The claim is disputed, but Cummings does have a lot of evidence supporting him as at least one of the first players to throw a curve.) Cummings pitched only six years at the major league level and stopped pitching at age 28. His playing weight was listed as 120 lbs.
Spalding gave up two hits in the first to Hartford and then Spalding did not allow a single Hartford batter to reach base for the next seven innings. The Boston Daily Globe report of the game said that a very dead ball was used during the game and it got softer as the game went along.
Boston wasn't doing much against Bond either until the sixth. With two outs, Boston third baseman Harry Schafer singled, stole second and then scored on a single by shortstop George Wright. In the eighth, Boston used three hits and a wild pitch by Bond to score three runs. Hartford got two runners on in the ninth, but could not score. Boston made just two errors.
As expected, 71-8 was more than enough to win the NA pennant. Boston averaged over 10 runs a game and batted .320 as a team. Hartford finished in second place, although they hard the third best winning percentage. Philadelphia went 53-20 (.726) and Hartford was 54-28 (.659). But under the practice of the time, teams were ranked by the number of wins, not winning percentage.
1875 would be the last year for baseball's first pro league, the NA. The scheduling was erratic and teams came and went. While the big cities of the day were represented, such as New York, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, and St. Louis, there were also teams in Keokuk, New Haven, and Hartford. In 1876, the National Association would be replaced by the 8-team National League. Today's Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves (through Boston) are the two franchises can that can still trace their roots back to the NA.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet
NL West rules
Note no exclamation point. These are rules, like laws.
Arizona managing general partner wants to institute a stricter code of conduct for players on the DBacks. Kendrick told Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini that the team had "quietly" gotten rid of players they suspected of using steroids and other PEDs. Kendrick wanted to institute stricter rules for his team. The players don't think that Kendrick will get his way.
Other rules for teams in the NL West
Giants: You must be over 40.
Whoops, wrong setting there on the comments
You want the truth about the Royals?
You can't handle the truth about the Royals! So the Royals have started their own team blog.
It's just to "separate fact from fiction."
It says so in the first paragraph.
And again in the second in case you weren't paying attention.
Thanks to an anonymous tipster.
Sic transit gloria baseball in Detroit
Detroit mayor Kwame Kirkpatrick announced today in the Detroit Free Press his plans to demolish Tiger Stadium, while preserving the field.
Kirkpatrick wishes to put a ring of housing and retail around the field, which would be preserved as a community baseball field.
The plan still has to clear a lot of hurdles before it goes through. Tiger Stadium has not been in use since the 1999 season.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Mexico vs. Angola, noon PT
This matchup will bring Southern California to a halt. Don't even think of trying to buy lunch in Little Luanda!
Mexico beat Iran, 3-1 in its opener in Group D and still seemed to disappoint its fans. Angola lost 1-0 to Portugal. If Mexico wins today and Portugal beats Iran tomorrow, both move on to the second round and the Angola-Iran match would be for academic purposes.
The John McNamara legacy lives on
Mike McNamara, that is Major Mike McNamara of the USMC, has bee elected to a City Council seat in Grand Forks, N.D.
What makes it unusual, according to the Los Angeles Times story linked above is that McNamara, son of former big league manager John McNamara, is stationed in Fallouja, Iraq, right now.
There is no truth to the stories that Major McNamara's father has advised him to put Dave Stapleton into combat for defensive purposes.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Netherlands vs. Ivory Coast, 9 am PT
There will be plenty of orange out at this one. The Dutch scored a 1-0 win over Serbia, et al., while Ivory Coast lost its first-ever World Cup match to Argentina, 2-1.
Both teams have strikers to watch in Arjen Robben of the Netherlands and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast. If the Ivoirians can get a win, they have a good shot at the second round as their third match will be against woeful Serbia et. al, which played the worst match of the tournament, losing 6-0, and looked to have given up about 15 minutes in.
I'm really hoping that Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink gets in to the game. I don't know why a Dutch guy has "of" in his name. But it shows up that way in all the languages on the FIFA website.
Netherlands, Wilhelmus van Nassouwe. Not be confused with Bill from Suffolk County.
If you prefer you call the Netherlands "Holland", but you would be wrong. You can also call Ivory Coast, "Côte d'Ivoire", in which case you would be right.
WC 2006: USA vs Italy preview stories
Coaches on the firing line
John Wetteland was fired as the Nationals bullpen coach. Most likely because of excessive firecracker use.
Dave Magadan was let go as the Padres hitting coach. The Padres think that Merv Rettenmund has what it takes to make the Padres a potent offense.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Argentina vs. Serbia, et al., 6 am PT
The second games of Group C get underway with favorite Argentina sitting in good shape with a win over Ivory Coast. Serbia, et al., lost to the Netherlands 1-0.
A win by the Argentines would pretty much assure them of a spot in the semis. But if the Serbs can pull of an upset, then the group gets very dicey.
Argentina, Himno Nacional Argentina. They weren't overly imaginative with that name.
Serbia, Hej Sloveni. That title translates into "Hey, Slavs!"
Random Game Callback, June 16, 2000
The first place Oakland Athletics survived the loss of their starting pitcher, Omar Olivares, just 10 pitches into the game and rallied to score seven runs late in the game to beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-3 in front of a crowd of 19,569 at Kauffman Stadium.
Oakland had given Olivares a 1-0 lead in the first after center fielder Terrence Long, second baseman Randy Velarde, and first baseman Jason Giambi drew walks off of Kansas City starter Mac Suzuki. Long would score when left fielder Ben Grieve hit into a double play.
But in the bottom of the first, Olivares walked Kansas City leadoff man left fielder Johnny Damon. Damon stole second and went to third on an error on a throwing error by catcher Sal Fasano. And Olivares called out the training staff and told them that his shoulder was sore and he could not continue. Scott Service came in to replace Olivares and got out of the first with no runs scoring.
The Royals took the lead in the fourth. With one out, third baseman Joe Randa got to second base after an error by shortstop Miguel Tejada. Center fielder Carlos Beltran followed with a walk. Veteran reliever Doug Jones, who was a week shy of his 43rd birthday, took over for Service. Designated hitter Todd Dunwoody (who would go 4 for 4) singled to load the bases. Catcher Greg Zaun then hit into a force play and Randa scored. Shortstop Rey Sanchez singled to right to score Beltran and give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Oakland's offense got started in the seventh. Tejada had a leadoff single against reliever Dan Reichert. Jeremy Giambi pinch hit for Fasano and singled to left and Tejada was at second. Long singled and Tejada scored the tying run with Giambi going to second. Velarde grounded into a double play and then Kansas City manager Tony Muser manager opted to intentionally walk Giambi, so Jeremy would be at third and Jason at first. Grieve then deposited one of Reichert's offerings into the seats to give Oakland a 5-2 lead. Damon homered for the Royals in the bottom of the seventh to make it 5-3.
Dan Murray came in to pitch for the Royals in the eighth and he was treated rudely by the Oakland hitters as he gave up consecutive home runs to third baseman Eric Chavez, Tejada, and catcher Ramon Hernandez. Jones picked up the win and Jeff Tam got a save with three innings of relief work.
After the game, the media descended upon Oakland assistant GM Paul DePodesta to see who Oakland would call up. Would it be top prospect Barry Zito? Chad Harville? Tim Kubinski? Luis Vizcaino? Rich DeLucia? As it was, Oakland gave Olivares next start to Ariel Prieto. Prieto wasn't a smashing success and on July 22, Zito would make his major league debut. Olivares would return to the rotation in August.
Oakland would win the AL West by a half game over Seattle at 91-70. Oakland ended up not having to play a makeup game with Tampa Bay because they would have won a tiebreaker with the Mariners for the AL West title as they had defeated Seattle 9 of 13 times.
Jason Giambi would have an MVP season for Oakland. He batted .333 with 43 home runs and 137 RBI. He also drew 137 walks. He had an OBP of .476 and slugged .647. Pitcher Tim Hudson was 20-6 with a 4.14 ERA. Gil Heredia and Kevin Appier both won 15 games. Zito would go 7-4 with a 2.72 ERA. Jason Isringhausen saved 33 games. Oakland would lose in the Division Series to the Yankees in five games.
Kansas City finished in fourth place in the AL Central at 77-85, 18 games behind Chicago. Damon led the AL in stolen bases with 46 and first baseman Mike Sweeney hit 29 home runs and drove in 144. Dye hit 33 home runs.
The Kansas City papers were reporting that Royals owner David Glass was about to name a new general manager, Allard Baird. Baird and Oakland GM Billy Beane worked out a big 3-way deal on January 8, 2001 along with Tampa Bay. Oakland ended up with Damon, infielder Mark Ellis, and pitcher Cory Lidle. The Royals ended up with Angel Berroa, A.J. Hinch, and Roberto Hernandez. Tampa Bay ended up with Grieve. In July of 2001, Baird and Beane worked with Colorado on another 3-way deal that saw Oakland pick up Dye and the Royals get Neifi Perez.
Of all the participants in this game, only Chavez and Sweeney remain with the same team.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Kansas City Star, Retroshet, Baseball-Reference.com
Bobby Valentine's solution for improving Japanese baseball
It's quite elegant.
``The owners of these teams must meet the demands and meet the wants of the players to keep them here,'' Valentine, manager of last year's Japan champion Chiba Lotte Marines, said in a June 12 interview in Tokyo with Bloomberg News. Players leaving ``is bad for Japanese baseball.''
Yeah, but what about Kazuo Matsui?
As of June 15th, Valentine's team, defending champion Chiba, leads the Pacific League by 2 games over the Softbank Hawks.
The Chunichi Dragons lead the Central League..
Bud Selig writes ME a letter
See, it's right here.
I'm a baseball fan. It must be directed to me. I'm deeply touched.
I only take issue with one sentence of his letter to ME, i.e., "Seven-hundred-fifty great athletes play Major League Baseball."
Wait a minute, does this include Joe Mays?
WC 2006 Match Chat: Sweden vs. Paraguay, noon PT
Both teams had miserable opening matches. Paraguay gave up an own goal and lost to England, 1-0. Sweden couldn't beat Trinidad & Tobago, even though they had a man advantage for most of the second half. Not to mention that they were playing Trinidad & Tobago, the smallest country to ever qualify for the World Cup.
If Sweden gets a win, they will be sitting pretty. If Paraguay gets a win, it will be a scramble for the second spot in the group. The Swedes finish up against England on Tuesday in Cologne, while Paraguay would play Trinidad & Tobago at the same time in Kaiserslautern. England is already through to the second round and will face either Germany or Ecuador.
Paraguay, Paraguayos, República o Muerte. Just when you think this one is over, there's another 3-5 minutes more.
According to wikipedia, the same guy wrote the lyrics to the national anthems of Paraguay and Uruguay, Francisco Acuña de Figueroa. Apparently he specialized in countries that ended in "-guay".
When Ozzie wants vengeance, he demands vengeance!
White Sox rookie reliever Sean Tracey was berated by manager Ozzie Guillen after Chicago's 8-0 loss to the Rangers last night for not hitting Hank Blalock with a pitch and instead getting him out.
Guillen was upset that Texas pitcher Vicente Padilla had hit A.J. Pierzynski twice.
Tracey was sent to the minors after the game after Chicago acquired David Riske from Boston.
"We came for blood!"
WC 2006 Match Chat: England vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 9 am PT
The English lead Group B after a 1-0 win over Paraguay. Trinidad & Tobago shocked Sweden with a scoreless draw with last minute fill in keeper, Shaka Hislop.
England would clinch a spot in the second round with a win. Are the Soca Warriors still just happy to be in Germany or do they smell blood in the water? The Trinidadians are playing for an intoxicating bonus. "Tobago" is properly pronounced with a long "a" in the penultimate vowel according to various reference sources I checked.
That's the way we play it up in the GH
WC 2006 Match Chat: Ecuador vs. Costa Rica, 6 am PT
Ecuador can book a spot in the second round with a win. With a tie, the Ecuadoreans are still in good shape, but only Germany would clinch a spot in the second round.
Costa Rica lost its opener 4-2 to Germany and would like to win by at least two to have a decent chance of moving on.
National Anthems (both are fairly long):
Random Game Callback, June 15, 1940
The Detroit Tigers came up to bat in 16 half innings in a home doubleheader against the Washington Senators and scored in 12 of them as they moved to within two games of first place Boston with a doubleheader sweep, 11-1 and 8-0 before 26,402 spectators at Briggs Stadium.
Detroit pitchers Bobo Newsom and Johnny Gorsica held the Senators to three hits and four hits in each end of the twinbill. Washington's four pitchers, Sid Hudson, Rene Monteagudo, Joe Haynes, and Charlie Gelbert gave up 28 hits in the two games.
Washington scored its only run of the day in the second inning of the first game on a home run by catcher Jake Early. No other Senator would get an extra base hit.
Detroit hit two home runs in the first game, one by third baseman Pinky Higgins, who was called Mike when he was a manager and was called Frank in the game story by the Washington Post's Shirley Povich, and another by left fielder Hank Greenberg. Greenberg had shifted from first base to left so manager Del Baker could find a position for Rudy York, who had a good bat, but was never good anywhere in the field. York would go 5 for 9 in the doubleheader.
In the second game, Higgins hit another home run and right fielder Bruce Campbell had a double and a triple. The Tigers had six extra base hits in the game and 14 in the doubleheader.
The 1940 Tigers would end up in a tight pennant race with Cleveland and the Yankees as Boston slid down to fourth place at 82-72.
With three games left in the season, the Tigers led Cleveland by two games and the Yankees by two and a half. Detroit had a three-game series with Cleveland to finish the season, while the Yankees were playing one game in Phiadelphia and then three at Washington.
In the first game of the series, Baker started 30-year old rookie Floyd Giebell against Cleveland's Bob Feller. In one of the bigger surprises in baseball history, Giebell threw a 6-hit shutout and the Tigers won 2-0. Meanwhile the Yankees lost to Philadelphia, 6-2 and the Tigers clinched the pennant. They would lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in seven games, the first loss by an AL team in the World Series since the Tigers lost to St. Louis in 1934.
Moving Greenberg to the outfield worked out well for the Tigers. Greenberg hit 41 home runs and drove in 150 and batted .340 and won the MVP award. York hit 33 home runs and drove in 134 and batted .316. The Tigers scored a league high 888 runs. Newsom was the team's best pitcher, going 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA. Newsom, who was well-traveled during his career, changing teams 16 times, playing for the Dodgers (2 stints), Cubs, Browns (3 times), Senators (5 times), Red Sox, Tigers, Athletics (2 times), Yankees, and Giants.
The Senators avoided the cellar in 1940 with a 64-90 record, 10 games better than Philadelphia. There wasn't much to shout about on offense. Outfielder George Case did lead the AL in stolen bases with 35. The Senators filled out their rosters with players from other countries. They had Cuban pitchers like Monteagudo and Gil Torres and a Venezuelan in Alex Carrasquel. They also had a Canadian pitcher named Joe Krakauskas.
The Tigers would not be able to keep pace with the Yankees after 1940. Greenberg was drafted into the Army in 1941 and Detroit fell to fifth place. When Greenberg, along with other servicemen, the Tigers would win the pennant again in 1945.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, Washington Post
NHL team tries Red Sox beat writer in front office
Parc Jarry lives again for a day
Some of us oldtimers here remember the days when it seemed really cool to watch a baseball game being played in Canada. The Montreal Expos' old park (1969-1976), Parc Jarry was used again recently by former Expos to play a charity softball game.
I always thought that the pool beyond the outfield fence was much cooler than the one in Phoenix. Mainly because it was just a regular swimming pool that happened to be there instead of a money-making add-on to the park.
The wreck of the S.S. Russ Ortiz
Keith Law of ESPN.com discusses how Arizona's release of Russ Ortiz is an example of a team making more of a baseball decision than a bottom line decision. Law argues that Ortiz's contract is a sunk cost for Arizona.
Ortiz's contract was a bad idea from its conception. Original errors often are compounded when teams are unwilling to acknowledge their initial mistakes by releasing the players in question. Roughly one-third of all major-league teams have players for the sole reason that they make "too much" money to be released. And that is just plain stupid; there is no greater fool's errand in baseball than waiting for a player who was never that good in the first place to suddenly earn his pay. Unless you can foist the bad contract onto someone else in a trade, which happens very rarely, you're better off releasing the player as soon as a better alternative arrives.
Honest, one day I will post something that is either not about World Cup soccer or a former pitcher for Arizona.
Just give me time.
WC 2006: The key to Ecuador's success: dead cows
WC 2006 Match Chat: Germany vs Poland, noon PT
In the first matchup of teams that have already played, Germany tries to keep its lead in Group A with a match against Poland. Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in its opener and Poland lost to Ecuador 2-0. If Poland loses, they're pretty much done. If Poland ties, they're just mostly done.
Poland tends not to fare well against Germany in soccer, to say the least. In 14 matches against their neighbors to the east, Germany has 10 wins and four draws.
Germany's Miroslav Klose was born in Poland as was Lukas Podolski.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Tunisia vs. Saudi Arabia, 9 am PT
The Carthage Eagles (in my mind the best nickname in the tournament) take on Al Akhdar.
Tunisia is playing in its fourth World Cup and has never made it past the first round, although they were the first African team to win a World Cup match, when they beat Mexico 3-1 in Argentina.
Saudi Arabia is making its fourth appearance in the World Cup and fourth straight to boot. Saudi Arabia reached the second round in 1994, but were blown out in 1998 and 2002. Germany posted an 8-0 win over Saudi Arabia in 2002. Mohammed Al Anbar, "the Ronaldinho of the Desert", is questionable for the match.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Spain vs. Ukraine, 6 am PT
La Furia Roja take on Zbirna! (If anyone can write that for me in Ukrainian go right ahead)
Spain is the World Cup's chronic underachiever. This is their 12th appearance and they've never done better than a fourth place finish backn in 1950. In 2002 Spain lost a penalty kick tiebreaker to Korea in the quarterfinals.
It's the first trip to the World Cup for Ukraine (no "the" please!) Ukraine's hopes rest on the health of Andriy Shevchenko, who is a big star for AC Milan.
Random Game Callback, June 14, 1941
Atley Donald threw a complete game three-hitter as the New York Yankees pulled to within three games of the first place Cleveland Indians with a 4-1 win over the Indians before a crowd of 44,161 at Yankee Stadium.
And in other events during the game, Yankees center Joe DiMaggio got a hit to stretch his hitting streak to 27 games, two short of the Yankees team record held by Earle Combs and Roger Peckinpaugh, who was the Cleveland manager this day. And the losing pitcher for Cleveland was 22-year old Bob Feller, who came into the game with an eight-game winning streak. And Babe Ruth looked on from the stands. It was quite a day in the Bronx.
Yankees right fielder Tommy Henrich got the Yankees going in the first with a home run off of Feller. It was the second straight time Henrich had homered off of Feller and third in four at bats. Henrich homered twice against Feller in Cleveland on June 2.
DiMaggio extended his hitting streak with an RBI double off of Feller in the third. Left fielder Charlie Keller drove home the other two runs with a single in the fifth inning.
Donald was a spot starter for Yankees manager Joe McCarthy. He made just 20 starts in 1941 and pitched in a career high 159 innings. His only blemish on this day was a home run he gave up to Cleveland catcher Rollie Hemsley in the fifth. Left fielder Gee Walker and right fielder Jeff Heath both had singles. Donald had three walks, four strikeouts, and hit a batter.
1941 was one of baseball's most momentous seasons. As you should know, DiMaggio's hitting streak would stretch to 56 games. He won the MVP award as he batted .357 with 30 homers and 125 RBI. The Yankees would win the pennant with a 101-53 record, 17 games better than the Red Sox.
The Red Sox had a left fielder who had a pretty good year too. Ted Williams batted .406, had an OBP of .553, slugged .735 for an OPS of 1.287. DiMaggio beat out Williams in the MVP voting by a healthy margin (291-254) and picked up 15 first place votes to 8 for Williams. One voter chose Chicago pitcher Thornton Lee for MVP. Feller finished third in the voting as he went 25-13 with a 3.15 ERA and 260 strikeouts.
The Yankees went on to win the World Series in five games over the resurgent Brooklyn Dodgers, who had won their first NL pennant since 1920. This would be the first of eleven World Series matchups between the two teams. The Yankees have won eight of them.
Cleveland, which had lost the pennant in 1940 in the last week of the season to Detroit, finished in fifth with a 75-79 record. Peckinpaugh had replaced manager Ossie Vitt, whom the Indians had a well-publicized team revolt against in 1940. In 1942, Cleveland would turn to 24-year old shortstop Lou Boudreau as manager. Boudreau would manage the Indians for nine seasons and would lead the Indians to what has turned out to be their last World Series win in 1948.
While players like DiMaggio and Williams deservedly drew most of the attention, Heath also had a very good year that flew under the radar. He was the first player every to have at least 20 doubles, triples, and home runs in a single season. Willie Mays in 1957 and George Brett in 1979 are the only other players to match that feat. Heath had a chance to play against Cleveland in the 1948 World Series when he was on the Boston Braves, but he broke his ankle in the last week of the season and missed the World Series.
Sources: New York Times, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet
Arizona decides to eat a big contract
I hear they're not bad with mustard on them and maybe a few baby greens on the side.
Arizona declared the Russ Ortiz experiment a disater and designated him for assignment. The D-Backs still owe Ortiz around $20 million and his contract runs through 2008.
Randy Choate is his replacement.
WC 2006: Togo loses game and coach ... again
WC 2006 Match Chat: Brazil vs. Croatia
Seleçao Canarinho takes on Vatreni.
Brazil, as you might have heard, plays soccer well. The Brazilians have played in all 18 World Cups and have won five times (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002). They are the only team from the Americas to win a World Cup that was held in Europe (1958 in Sweden). They've finished in second twice, losing at home in Rio de Janeiro in 1950 to Uruguay before a crowd of 200,000 and also losing to France in Paris in 1998.
Croatia is making just its third World Cup appearance. The Croatians finished in third place in 1998.
The Brazilians are extraordinarily popular. The Croatians are, well, Croatian. But hey, I'm part Croatian, so I'll be pulling for the guys with the funny names that seem to be missing vowels (like Dado Prso or Darijo Srna).
My ancestry comes from four countries. Three of them are represented in the World Cup (Germany, Croatia, England). One isn't. Guess that nationality!
WC 2006 Match Chat: France vs. Switzerland, 9 am PT
Les Bleus versus Die Eidgenossen (aka The Nati).
France plays in the World Cup for the 12th time and won it all at home in 1998. In 2002, though, France went 0-3 and didn't score a goal. 1998 here Zinedine Zidane is back for another try, but Djibril Cisse, broke his leg in France's last warmup game before the tournament, and is out.
The Swiss are making their eighth appearance in the World Cup and their first since 1994 in the USA. They've reached the quarterfinals three times, but not since 1954 when they were playing at home. In that year, Switzerland blew a 3-0 lead against Austria and lost 7-5. Switzerland surprised 2002 semifinalist Turkey in a 2-game series to win its spot.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Korea vs. Togo, 6 am PT
The Reds face the Sparrowhawks, or if you prefer, Les Eperviers.
Korea (South version) has been Asia's most popular representative in the World Cup. This is their seventh trip to the World Cup. But it wasn't until they co-hosted the tournament in 2002 that the Koreans ever won a match, making it all the way to the semifinals last year before losing to Germany.
Togo is appearing in the World Cup for the first time and has had a turbulent week.
Random Game Callback, June 13, 1963
Offense was at a premium at Candlestick Park this day and the San Francisco Giants were able to use solo home runs by Felipe Alou and Willie Mays to edge the Chicago Cubs, 2-1 in 10 innings before a crowd of 12,217.
The Giants, managed by Alvin Dark, were the defending National League champions and were in a tight battle for first with the Dodgers and Cardinals. The Cubs were managed by "head coach" Bob Kennedy. The team had abandoned its plan to have a rotating set of coaches leading the team, but Kennedy was still using the "coach" title even though he would be in the job for the entire season. Both teams started lefties, Billy O'Dell for the Giants and Dick Ellsworth for the Cubs.
There wasn't much offense. The Cubs scored their only run in the fifth. Shortstop Andre Rodgers (who in 1960 had been traded from the Giants in exchange for Dark) led off with a double and center fielder Nelson Mathews walked. Catcher Dick Bertell struck out and the ball got past catcher Tom Haller. Rodgers tried to go to third, but Haller recovered to throw him out. Mathews moved up to second. Ellsworth singled to center to score Mathews, one of only 22 RBIs he had during his career. Ellsworth batted .088 in 13 seasons.
Ellsworth had given up just two hits through the first six innings, but leadoff man Alou reached him for a home run to tie the game. Neither team would get a hit again until there was one out in the tenth when Mays homered to give the Giants the win.
Mays would hit 38 home runs in 1963, but he would not lead the NL. Teammate Willie McCovey (along with Henry Aaron) would have that honor with 44 homers. McCovey played in left field in 1963. First baseman Orlando Cepeda hit 37 for the Giants. Despite the presence of these sluggers, the Giants finished in third place in the NL, 11 games behind the Dodgers. The pitching staff had an ERA of 3.35, which may sound good by today's standards, but in 1968 that was the 8th highest ERA in the league. The Dodgers led the league at 2.85.
Ellsworth had a career year in 1963 with a 22-10 record and a 2.11 ERA. He could have won the Cy Young Award if Sandy Koufax hadn't been in the league. He actually had a better ERA+ than Koufax (167 to 163), but it was hard for BBWAA voters to look past Koufax's 306 strikeouts, 11 shutouts, and 1.88 ERA. Ellsworth would pitch three more seasons with the Cubs, but would never have a winning record. In 1966, Ellsworth went 8-22, one of two 20-loss seasons he had (In 1961, he was 9-20.) Ellsworth was 16-7 for the Red Sox in 1968. He pitched his final season with the Brewers in 1971 and was out of baseball at age 31.
The Cubs had a winning record at 82-80 but finished in seventh in the bottom heavy NL. Ninth place Houston was 66-96 and the last place Mets were 51-111.
1963 would be the final season for Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs, who had won the Rookie of the Year award in 1962. On February 13, 1964, Hubbs died in the crash of a small plane he was flying at the age of 23.
Source: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
NCAA Super Regionals, Final Day
Five teams have already qualified for Omaha:
The final three spots are being decided today:
In Houston: #2 Rice beat Oklahoma, 9-5
In Athens: #7 Georgia routed South Carolina, 11-6 thanks to a 7-run 7th inning.
In Oxford: Miami, despite not hosting a regional or super regional, still made it to Omaha with a 14-9 win over Ole Miss.
Clemson will play Georgia Tech in its first game and Fullerton will play North Carolina. Oregon State will play Miami. Rice will play Georgia.
The two four-team divisions will play a double-elimination tournament. The winners of each division then will meet in a best of three championship series. The College World Series starts on June 16.
Another pitcher in Arizona in danger of losing his job
And Russ Ortiz isn't suspected of using HGH or steroids, he just plain stinks.
And the Arizona Republic's Bob McNanaman reports that Ortiz may be cut loose by the Diamondbacks despite being owed another $20 million over the course of his contract. Ortiz is 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA and was 5-11 with a 6.89 ERA in 2005.
When the Angels released Kevin Appier in 2003, they still owed him $15.67 million and that total is the current leader in the clubhouse.
WC 2006: Hey, you want to coach a World Cup team? - UPDATED
Selig closes barn door on retired Grimsley
Jason Grimsley was suspended for 50 games by Commissioner Bud Selig today.
However, Grimsley has retired and the suspension would only come into play if he signs with another team. Because I know a lot of teams want a a washed-up 38-year old long reliever who is under investigation by the Federal government. I think the Yankees have a scout who specializes in these cases. The Red Sox do too since they don't want to fall behind.
The suspension does not affect the dispute between Grimsley and the Arizona ownership over the payment of the rest of his salary for this year, which amounts to $527,490.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Italy vs Ghana, noon PT
The Azzurri take on the Black Stars.
Italy is in its 16th World Cup, missing only the first one in 1930. They have won three times: 1934, 1938, and 1982. They are always among the favorites to win in any World Cup. Italian soccer was hit hard by evidence of widespread corruption by Series A powerhouse Juventus, but it doesn't appear right now that any players of note are involved.
Ghana is making its first appearance in the World Cup. They have won the African championship, the Cup of Nations, four times.
WC 2006 Match Chat: USA vs. Czech Republic, 9 am PT
The teams with no really good nicknames face off against each other.
The USA is making its eighth appearance in the World Cup. The best finish for the Americans was a semifinal appearance way back in 1930. The USA reached the quarterfinals in 2002.
The Czech Republic is making its first appearance since Slovakia became an independent country. The nation of Czechoslavakia was quite successful in the past, making eight trips to the World Cup and losing in the finals twice, once in 1934 to Italy and again in 1962 to Brazil.
The Americans really need to get a result here to have a chance to advance.
(Does that sound sufficiently soccer-like?)
WC 2006 Match Chat: Australia vs. Japan, 6 am PT
The Socceroos take on The Blues.
(Betcha thought the Japanese would have a more interesting nickname.)
Australia is making just its second appearance in a World Cup. They made it in 1974 when the World Cup was also held in Germany. They lost two and played a scoreless tie then and did not score a goal. Australia beat Uruguay in a home and home playoff to earn its spot.
Japan is appearing in its third straight World Cup, the same number of overall appearances. After going 0-3 in France in 1998, the Japanese used the home field advantage to get to the second round with wins over Russia and Tunisia before losing to Turkey.
Random Game Callback, June 12, 1931
Rookie lefthander Carl Fischer won his seventh game of the season as the second place Washington Senators kept pace with first place Philadelphia with a 7-1 win over Cleveland before a Ladies Day crowd of about 11,000 at Griffith Stadium.
Cleveland, managed by Roger Peckinpaugh, started his ace, Wes Ferrell, who had thrown a no-hitter on April 29 against St. Louis. Ferrell, besides being a great pitcher, was also known as a great hitter. He batted .319 in 1931 and hit 9 home runs, a single season record for home runs by a pitcher in a season. Babe Ruth hit more home runs in a season with Boston, but he was playing games in the outfield as well. Ferrell hit 38 home runs in his career.
Ferrell was 9-2 coming into this game, but he was not effective this day and Washington got to him quickly. (The Washington Post story of the day called the team by its "official" name of the time, the Nationals.). Washington scored a run on the first on a single by shortstop Buddy Myer, a walk to left fielder Heinie Manush, and an RBI single by shortstop Joe Cronin. In the third, Manush led off with a triple and scored on a Cronin single. Center fielder Sam West followed with a walk. First baseman Joe Kuhel doubled home Cronin and third baseman Ossie Bluege drove home West with a ground out to make it 4-0 Washington.
in the fourth, Myer singled and Cronin and West drew walks to load the bases with two outs. Kuhel came up with his second double to score Myer and Cronin and it was 6-0 Washington. Jake Miller came into relieve in the fifth for Cleveland.
Miller gave up just one unearned run. In the seventh, West singled and moved up on a sacrifice by Kuhel. Bluege drew a walk. Catcher Roy Spencer looked to have hit into a 6-4-3 DP, but second baseman Johnny Hodapp's throw skipped past first baseman Ed Morgan to allow West to score.
Cleveland scored its only run in the top of the seventh on a double by right fielder Dick Porter and a single by Hodapp. When Cleveland threatened in the eighth, Washington manager Walter Johnson sent Firpo Marberry, one of baseball's first relief specialists, down to the bullpen to warmup. Not that Marberry particularly liked pitching in relief, but that seemed to be his niche. He pitched in 551 games in his career and started just 187. Marberry wasn't needed as Fischer was able to work his way out of the jam and picked up a complete game win.
Washington finished in third place in the AL in 1931 at 92-62, but they were 16 games behind champion Philadelphia, who won 107 games. The second place Yankees won 94 games and scored 1067 runs, but they were 13 1/2 games out. Cleveland finished a distant fourth place at 78-76, 30 games out.
The Senators played in spacious Griffith Stadium, so home runs were rare. Cronin led the team with 12 and the team hit 49 overall. The 24-year old from San Francisco would bat .306 and drive in 126 runs. Myer and Manush did a good job of getting on base and both men scored over 110 runs. Johnson used Marberry more in a starting role in 1931 (25 starts, 20 relief appearances) and he went 16-4 with a 3.45 ERA.
Cleveland outfielder Earl Averill hit 32 home runs, the most in the AL by someone not named Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, who tied for the lead with 46. Morgan, who had an otherwise mediocre career, had his best season in 1931, batting .351, third best in the AL. Morgan also had a .451 OBP and a .511 slugging percentage. (Morgan's 1930 season, when he hit 26 home runs, wasn't bad either). However, Morgan was out of the majors after the 1934 season at the age of 30. Cleveland had sent him to the minors in 1933 and he played one more season in 1934 after the Red Sox claimed in the Rule 5 draft.
Ferrell finished 1931 with a 22-12 record and a 3.75 ERA. It was his third straight 20-win season and he would have six in his career. He finished his career with 193 wins and a 4.04 ERA. He also batted .280 with 38 home runs and in 1933, Cleveland used him in the outfield for 13 games. Ferrell's brother, Rick Ferrell, would make the Hall of Fame as a catcher. He hit 10 fewer home runs than his brother and batted just a tick higher at .281.
Johnson would lead his old team to another third place finish in 1932, but he would be dismissed at the end of the season and Cronin would take over as player-manager and lead Washington to an AL pennant. Peckinpaugh would lead Cleveland to another fourth place finish in 1932 and in August of 1933, he was fired and Johnson took his place as manager of Cleveland.
Sources: Washington Post, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
NCAA Super Regionals Day 3
Four teams have clinched spots in Omaha: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Cal State Fullerton, and North Carolina
Follow them here or you can watch the Oxford and Corvallis games on ESPN2.
Four super regionals have reached their second game:
Houston: Oklahoma scored the last 10 runs of the game to beat Rice 11-5 and set up a decisive game Monday.
Athens: Georgia forces a decisive game tomorrow with an 11-5 win of its own over South Carolina.
Oxford: Danny Gil of Miami threw a 7-0 shutout against the Rebels to force the series to Monday.
Corvallis: The Fighting Weismans (the name will now be retired) were unable to force a third game against Oregon State, losing 15-0. The Beavers are headed to Omaha for the second straight year.
The old 8-1-6-5 to get out of the inning
Lost amidst the excitement that any Tampa Bay-Kansas City game was the experience of watching the Royals turn an 8-1-6-5 triple play in the second inning.
David DeJesus caught a fly ball off the bat of Russell Branyan and threw home to try to get Aubrey Huff. The throw went over catcher Paul Bako and was backed up pitcher Scott Elarton, who threw to second, where shortstop Angel Berroa tagged out Rocco Baldelli trying to advance. Berroa then threw to third baseman Mark Teahen to appeal that Huff left early and umpire Bob Davidson, the man who loves to call people out on appeal plays (see Japan vs. USA in the World Baseball Classic), called out Huff for the triple play.
The Devil Rays won the game anyway, 8-2, hitting six home runs.
Moe Drabowsky: 1935-2006
Moe Drabowsky, who pitched in the majors for 17 seasons, for the Cubs, Braves, Reds, Athletics, Orioles, Royals, Cardinals, and White Sox, passed away at age 70 in Little Rock of cancer.
Drabowsky is most famous for striking out 11 Dodgers in 6 2/3 innings of relief in Game 1 of the 1966 World Series.
Drabowsky's career record. He is one of three major league baseball players to have been born in Poland.
AZ owner's remarks about Grimsley
The Arizona Republic's DBacks beat writer, Bob McManaman, ran Arizona managing general partner, Ken Kendrick's remarks about why they wish to withhold Jason Grimsley's remaining salary on Diamondblog on the paper's website.
The notes appear to be dumped in raw form as there are some misspellings and other typos.
The end of the interview was interesting.
Kendrick said Grimsley probably should pay the Diamondbacks back some of his salary, given the circumstances, although the team isn't likely to try to ask for that to happen.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Angola vs. Portugal
Las Palancas Negras take on Seleçao das Quinas in all Portuguese-speaking matchup.
Angola will be making its debut in the World Cup.
Portugal is playing for the fourth time. The Portuguese finished in third in 1966, but failed to advance out of the first round the other two times, including losing to both the USA and South Korea in 2002.
There will be lots of guys with one name in this match.
ROE, ROE, ROE your boat
Alan Schwarz of the New York Times in the "Keeping Score" column examines the reaching on error (ROE) figures in baseball today.
While speedsters like Juan Pierre and Jose Reyes reach on errors a fare bit, some of the alltime leaders in this category include Bob Horner and Mickey Stanley.
Further research revealed an explanation: Other skills besides running fast play a large role in reaching on errors. Those who are good at it typically put the ball in play frequently by not walking or striking out. They are usually ground-ball hitters from the right side who put the ball more often in the hands of third basemen and shortstops, who make more infield errors because of their longer throws.
WC 2006 Match Chat: Iran vs. Mexico
Team Melli takes on El Tri that will be of great interest to people in my neck of the woods as Los Angeles has a large Iranian population and an even bigger Mexican population. (Just in case you weren't paying attention to population trends in California.)
Mexico is making its 13th trip to the World Cup and has reached the quarterfinals twice, both times when the tournament was in Mexico (1970, 1986).
Iran is making its third appearance in the World Cup and has never gotten out of the first round and has won only one match, a 2-1 win over the USA in 1998. Iran played one of its qualifying matches in Pyongyang, North Korea and won 2-0. North Korean fans rioted over some bad calls, showing that they want to keep up with the rest of the world.
Random Game Callback, June 11, 1902
The matchup on this Wednesday afternoon at Chicago's South Side Park, featured two pitchers who would make it to the Hall of Fame. One was Cy Young of Boston, the other was Clark Griffith, the player/manager of Chicago. (He would be inducted as an executive.) About 3000 people saw Chicago hold on to its first place lead with a 3-2 win over Boston.
The American League had started play in 1900, but didn't declare itself to be a major league until 1901. Chicago had won the first AL pennant with an 83-53 record and Boston was second. The two leagues were at war with one another with players jumping contracts and switching leagues and court decisions flying all over the U.S. trying to keep players in place. Nevertheless, the fans enjoyed the action and attendance was comparable between the two leagues. The 1902 AL did have a team in Baltimore, but it would move the following season to New York and from 1903 until 1953 (when the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee), the two leagues each had eight teams and no team was farther west than St. Louis.
The two leagues had one major rule difference at this time. In the AL, foul balls were not counted as strikes. In the NL, foul balls were counted as strikes as they are today (i.e., the first two are strikes, the rest are not). The lack of strikes on foul balls led the AL to put up some gaudy offensive numbers for the day. The league batted . 275, compared to .259 in the NL. Nap Lajoie led the AL in batting at .378 despite playing in just 87 games as a court injunction kept him from playing any games in the state of Pennsylvania after he jumped his contract with the NL Phillies.
Griffith and Young had last faced each other in Boston back on May 23 and Boston won 6-3. But on this day, Chicago got an early lead and held on.
Third baseman Sammy Strang led off the bottom of the first with a hard grounder that Boston first baseman Candy LaChance couldn't flag down and the play was ruled a hit. Center fielder Fielder Jones sacrificed and Strang went to second base. Right fielder Danny Green bounced back to Young who had Strang in a rundown, but it lasted long enough for Green to make it to second. Shortstop George Davis singled home Green.
Strang started things again in the third with a leadoff triple and when the relay throw from Boston second baseman Hobe Ferriss got past third baseman and manager Jimmy Collins, Strang scored the second run of the game. Singles by Green, Davis, and left fielder Sam Mertes brought home another run.
Boston loaded the bases in the fifth with one out and catcher Lou Criger was up. He hit a grounder back to Griffith who threw home to catcher Billy Sullivan, who relayed it back to first baseman Frank Isbell for a 1-2-3 DP. It would be the only DP Griffith would participate in his 28 games on the mound in 1902. Griffith went 15-9 in 1902. He would win 237 games in his playing career, which lasted until 1914.
In the seventh, Boston scored on singles by shorststop Freddy Parent, Ferriss, and Criger to get a run. Parent doubled in the ninth and scored on a pair of infield outs, but that was all and Chicago won 3-2.
Young didn't lose too often in 1902. The 35-year old righthander went 32-11 in 384 2/3 innings of work with a 2.15 ERA. But Young probably wouldn't have won an award named after him in 1902.
Philadelphia's Rube Waddell went 24-7 and led the AL in strikeouts with 210 and had an ERA of 2.05. However, ERA was not an official statistic at the time. In 1903, once the AL adopted the foul strike rule, Waddell's strikeouts went up to 302. Waddell's Philadelphia squad won the AL with an 83-53 record. Boston would finish third at 77-60 and Chicago fourth at 74-60. St. Louis, which had played its initial season in Milwaukee, finished second at 78-58.
In 1903, the AL and NL reached a peace agreement and agreed to honor each other's contracts. They also agreed to have a postseason series between the champions of each league. The first AL vs NL World Series was played in 1903 between Boston and Pittsburgh and has been played every season since then except for 1904 (when the NY Giants refused to play because John McGraw didn't like the AL much, among many other reasons) and in 1994 (when a labor dispute ended the season early).
Sources: Boston Globe, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
WC 2006 Match Chat: Serbia, et al. vs. Netherlands
The Plavi take on The Oranje in Group C.
Argentina beat Ivory Coast 2-1 Saturday to take the lead in this group.
Serbia & Montenegro (which really doesn't contain Montenegro now) is making its eighth appearance in the World Cup as the Serbs get credit for all of Yugoslavia's appearances. Yugoslavia reached the semifinals in 1930, but has never done better.
The Netherlands is also making its eighth trip to the World Cup. The Dutch finished in second in 1974 and 1978 and lost in the semifinals to Brazil in 1998 in a penalty shootout.
To keep this straight, the Serbian flag has a blue stripe at the top and red at the bottom with white in the middle. The Dutch flag has the colors reversed. But the Dutch fans usually are all dressed in orange anyway.
Dutch goalie Henk Timmer is married to Olympic speed skating gold medalist Marianne Timmer, but the latter didn't have to change her name. There are lots of Timmers in the Netherlands.
NCAA Super Regionals Day 2
All eight super regionals are in action today and it's possible some spots in Omaha could be sewn up.
Follow them here.
Athens: South Carolina pounds out
Atlanta: Georgia Tech books a spot in Omaha with a 12-3 win over the College of Charleston.
Clemson: Clemson scored three runs in eighth to rally for a 6-5 win over Oral Roberts and a berth in Omaha.
Houston: Rice hit four home runs to pound Oklahoma 10-4 and won the first game.
Tuscaloosa: North Carolina won a spot in Omaha in dramatic fashion. Chad Flack hit a three run homer to put North Carolina up in the 8th. Then Alabama's Alex Avila answered with a 3-run homer of his own to put the Crimson Tide back up in the 9th. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Flack hit a 2-out, 2-run homer to give the Tar Heels an 8-7 win.
Oxford: Mississippi rallied from a 9-3 deficit in the fifth to beat Miami in the first game.
Fullerton: Lauren Gagnier of Cal State Fullerton had a no-hitter until the eighth and the Titans earned a trip to Omaha with a 9-1 win over Missouri.
Corvallis: The Fighting Weismans of Stanford gave up an unearned run to Oregon State in the seventh to lose 4-3 and put them on the brink of elimination Sunday.
Leyritz admits to using a lot of stuff
The New York Post reports (via CBS Sportsline) that former player Jim Leyritz has admitted to using HGH in the past.
Earlier in the week, Leyritz had admitted to using amphetamines.
If we just keep waiting, Leyritz may admit to using just about everything and doing just about anything.
He was 11 when Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.
You never know.
DBacks withhold the rest of Grimsley's pay
Arizona managing partner Ken Kendrick said the D-Backs won't pay the remainder of Jason Grimsley's contract.
"It's the moral thing to do," Kendrick said Friday. "It isn't right to compensate him into the future when he's not playing for the team any longer and he left under the circumstances as negatively as he did."
Good glove, bad arm, tough strike zone
WC 2006: Match Chat, Argentina vs. Ivory Coast, noon PT
Los Albicelestes take on Les Eléphants.
I'd call the latter by their proper name in the headline, but it has too many diacriticals in it, Côte d'Ivoire. It's the first World Cup for the Ivoirians.
It's Argentina's 14th appearance and they've won twice and finished second twice.
WC 2006: Match Chat, Trinidad & Tobago vs. Sweden, 9 am PT
The Soca Warriors bring their steel drums and ampersands to take on the Blågult.
Trinidad & Tobago qualified as the fourth team out of CONCACAF and had to beat Bahrain on the road to make it. It's their first trip to the finals.
Sweden is making its eleventh trip to the finals. The Swedes finished second in 1958 when the World Cup was held in ... Sweden!
WC 2006: Match Chat, England vs. Paraguay, 6 am PT
England takes on (or should I say "take on") La Albirroja.
This is England's 12th time in the Finals. It's Paraguay's sixth.
Random Game Callback, June 10, 1961
June 10, 1961 was one busy Saturday for the Chicago White Sox. On this day they:
Veeck had just purchased the team in February of 1959 and the White Sox went to the World Series that year. However, because of health problems, Veeck decided he needed to get out of business, so he sold his majority interest in the team to Allyn, who previously owned 25% of the team. Veeck's partner, Hank Greenberg, stayed on as general manager. Greenberg and Veeck had been interested in getting one of the AL's two expansion teams, in particular the Los Angeles franchise, but the AL decided to award the franchise that would become the Angels to Gene Autry.
Day 1 of the NCAA Super regionals
Four games in the super regionals today:
Game 1: Georgia Tech shut out College of Charleston, 5-0 in Atlanta.
Game 2: Clemson got a walkoff grand slam home run by Ty Colvin to beat Oral Roberts 11-8 at Clemson.
Game 3: North Carolina's Andrew Miller struck out 11 in seven innings as the Tar Heels beat Alabama 11-5 in Tuscaloosa.
Game 4: Cal State Fullerton's Wes Roemer struck out 11 in eight innings as the Titans bats finally woke up in the sixth to defeat Missouri 7-1 in Fullerton.
The other four super regionals: Oklahoma at Rice, Georgia at South Carolina, Miami at Mississippi, and the Fighting Weismans of Stanford at Oregon State, will start tomorrow. In fact, all eight super regionals will be in action Saturday.
The super regionals are all best of three. The four teams that advance from today's games will make up one division in Omaha and the four teams that start tomorrow will make up the other division.
Bryan Smith breaks down the super regionals at Baseball Analysts.
And there was great cheering in Flushing
The New York Mets traded Kazuo Matsui to Colorado in exchange for Eli Marrero.
The Rockies sent Matsui to AAA Colorado Springs. After all, he's no Jamey Carroll!
Thanks to Robert Daeley for the tip.
WC 2006: Match chat, Poland vs. Ecuador, noon PT
First of all, without checking a map, just where is Gelsenkirchen?
A battle between Bialo-Czerwoni and La Tri.
Poland will be playing in its seventh World Cup. Its best finish was a pair of third place finishes in 1974 (in Germany) and 1982 (in Spain). Ecuador is in its second World Cup and went 1-2 before going home.
Wrapup - So Germany prevails over Costa Rica 4-2 and Ecuador surprises Poland, 2-0.
The Poles have pretty much a must win match on Wednesday against Germany in Dortmund. That will be the final match in ESPN2's traditional Flag Day tripleheader of World Cup matches. Ecuador faces Costa Rica on Thursday in Hamburg.
Back on the baseball greensward, time for literature class!
The University of Hawai'i - Manoa's quarterly online literary journal Vice-Versa has an issue dedicated to baseball.
Thanks to deadteddy8 for the pointer.
WC 2006: Match chat, Germany vs. Costa Rica, 9 am PT
Die Mannschaft takes on Los Ticos. Germany has won the World Cup three times (1954, 1974, 1990). Costa Rica has been twice (1990 and 2002), making it to the Round of Sixteen in 1990.
Michael Ballack will be out for this match for Germany with a leg injury.
Young enters rehab clinic
Detroit area news sources are reporting that Detroit Tigers designated hitter Dmitri Young has entered the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, CA.
Link via BTF
Random Game Callback, June 9, 1952
The Brooklyn Dodgers seemed determined to have the 1952 season end in a much happier fashion than 1951. They were off to a 34-11 start and they were able to put some distance between themselves and the second place Giants with a 6-2 win at Sportsman's Park over the St. Louis Cardinals before a crowd of 17,443 fans.
Brooklyn manager Chuck Dressen had his best pitcher, Carl Erskine, starting. St. Louis player/manager, Eddie Stanky, in his first year on the job, chose Cloyd Boyer to start. Cloyd was the older brother of Ken Boyer and Clete Boyer.
The Cardinals scored single runs in the first and second. Center fielder Stan Musial hit his seventh homer of the year in the first and first baseman Dick Sisler, acquired from the Reds on May 13, hit his second homer of the year in the second inning. Erskine allowed just one more hit, a single by second baseman Red Schoendienst in the fifth.
Boyer was cruising until the seventh. He walked first baseman Gil Hodges to lead off the inning. Right fielder Carl Furillo singled to left and Hodges moved to second. Pinch hitter George Shuba, batting for Erskine, fouled out. Third baseman Bobby Morgan walked to load the bases. Shortstop Pee Wee Reese then shot a single to left field past shortstop Solly Hemus to score Hodges and Furillo to tie the game. Out came Boyer and Al Brazle came on to pitch. Center fielder Duke Snider fouled out down the right field line and Schoendienst made the catch and then gunned out Morgan at third, who tried to tag up, for a double play.
Joe Black, who would win Rookie of the Year in the NL, came in to relieve and he shut down the Cardinals in the bottom of the seventh.
Second baseman Jackie Robinson drew a walk from Brazle to lead off the eighth. This wouldn't be infrequent for Robinson as he walked 106 times and led the NL in OBP at .440. Catcher Roy Campanella followed with a shot over the left field wall to put the Dodgers ahead 4-2. After a walk to left fielder Andy Pafko, Jack Crimian came in to pitch for the Cardinals. Hodges popped out against Crimian, but Furillo was able to send one of Crimian's offerings over the left field fence and the Dodgers lead grew to 6-2. Black threw three shutout innings for the win.
The 1952 regular season did not have a traumatic ending for the Dodgers. They went 96-57 and the Giants finished 4 1/2 games back. The Cardinals finished in third at 88-66, 8 1/2 games back. The Dodgers would lose their sixth World Series in six appearances, and their fourth to the Yankees, falling in seven games.
The Dodgers had a well-balanced team in 1952. They lead the NL in runs scored (775) , home runs (153) and stolen bases (90). They had the second best ERA at 3.53 and had the most strikeouts with 773. Hodges led the team with 32 home runs. Reese led the NL in stolen bases with 30 and Robinson had 24.
Stanky's Cardinals improved by 7 wins over 1951. Musial had one of his best seasons, leading the NL in batting average (.336), slugging (.538), OPS (.970), runs (105 tied with Hemus), hits (194), total bases (311), and doubles (42). However, Musial lost out on the MVP to Chicago's Hank Sauer, who hit 37 home runs and drove in 121. Musial actually finished fifth in the voting behind Sauer, Robin Roberts, Black, and Hoyt Wilhelm. Then again, the AL MVP in 1952 was Philadephia A's pitcher Bobby Shantz, so 1952 wasn't the best year for the BBWAA voters.
Stanky would lead the Cardinals to another third place finish in 1953, but the Cardinals dropped to sixth in 1954 and Stanky was fired early in the 1955 season. He later would manage the Chicago White Sox from 1966-68 and would manage the Texas Rangers for one game in 1977.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
WC 2006: Israel and Palestine agree on something
WC 2006: Paraguay's secret weapon
The last guy picked
MLB.com profiles Charles Matthews, the last pick of the draft, the 1,502nd player chosen overall. The St. Louis Cardinals made the pick.
Reasons why Matthews was picked last:
WC 2006: Swedish keeper out with concussion
Meanwhile back in Arizona
The Arizona Republic spoke with Jason Grimsley's attorney and said that Grimsley was targeted because he would not cooperate with Federal investigations about Barry Bonds.
"It was a specific effort to target Bonds," said Edward F. Novak, one of the pre-eminent criminal attorneys in Arizona. "We were told that Jason's cooperation was necessary to their case."
Interestingly (to me at least), Barry Bonds was 0 for 7 in his career against Jason Grimsley, although he did draw two walks.
The only pitchers that Bonds fared worse against (in the sense of having more at bats) were Charlie Puleo and Tim Wakefield, both of whom had 0 for 8 records against Bonds.
The Grimsley story also gives pretty much everybody the chance to use "the local angle". This is Grimsley's transactions history from Baseball Reference.com
June 3, 1985: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th round of the 1985 amateur draft.
April 2, 1992: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Houston Astros for Curt Schilling.
March 30, 1993: Released by the Houston Astros.
April 7, 1993: Signed as a Free Agent with the Cleveland Indians.
February 15, 1996: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with Pep Harris to the California Angels for Brian Anderson.
October 8, 1996: Granted Free Agency.
January 17, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the Detroit Tigers.
March 20, 1997: Released by the Detroit Tigers.
April 3, 1997: Signed as a Free Agent with the Milwaukee Brewers.
July 29, 1997: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the Kansas City Royals for Jamie Brewington.
October 15, 1997: Granted Free Agency.
January 8, 1998: Signed as a Free Agent with the Cleveland Indians.
October 15, 1998: Granted Free Agency.
January 26, 1999: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees.
November 20, 2000: Released by the New York Yankees.
January 19, 2001: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.
October 29, 2003: Granted Free Agency.
December 7, 2003: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.
June 21, 2004: Traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Baltimore Orioles for Denny Bautista.
January 13, 2005: Signed free agent RHP Jason Grimsley to a one-year contract. (This one was from MLB.com, I don't have the date the Orioles made Grimsley a free agent, but presumably it was after the World Series ended.)
Some folks call it a Sling Box
Sling enables TV viewers to access their set-top or TiVo boxes from anywhere in the world via any device that connects to the Web. MLB says that's fine, but if viewers want to watch on multiple devices, they have to pay multiple times.
Thanks to DXMachina for the tip
Random Game Callback, June 8, 1974
After getting back-to-back shutouts from Larry Dierker and Don Wilson, the Houston Astros used six pitchers in a 14-inning marathon against the New York Mets, and lost 6-5 on a run-scoring RBI by Wayne Garrett.
Houston's manager, Preston Gomez, who took over for Leo Durocher in the offseason, started lefthander Dave Roberts (one of three Dave Roberts who would play for the Padres in his career and two of them would play for Houston). Mets manager Yogi Berra countered with a lefty of his own in Jon Matlack.
Looking at the Mets' lineup, it was hard to believe that this team had won the NLCS the previous year. They had won the NL East with an 83-79 record and then upset the Reds in the NLCS and pushed Oakland to seven games in the World Series. On this night, Berra started his weak-hitting shortstop, Bud Harrelson, in the leadoff spot. Harrelson actually drew 71 walks and his .227 batting average was accompanied by a .366 OBP. Felix Millan was in the #2 slot and he rarely walked (31) or struck out (14) in 136 games. George Theodore was in the #3 slot, who played in just 105 games in a brief two-year big league career.
The Mets tied the game in the second. First baseman John Milner walked and went to second on a single by center fielder Don Hahn. Catcher Duffy Dyer walked to load the bases. Garrett hit into a force play to score Milner and Matlack hit a sacrifice fly to score Hahn to tie the game.
Roberts helped his own cause in the third with a triple to right. Gross singled home to make it 3-2 Houston. That scored would up for three more innings.
In the seventh, Garrett led off with a double. Matlack singled him to third. Harrelson grounded into a 4-6-3 DP and Garrett scored to tie the game at 3-3.
Fred Scherman came into relieve Roberts in the eighth. Right fielder Rusty Staub drew a walk and one batter later, Hahn doubled and Staub scored to put the Mets ahead for the first time, 4-3. But in the bottom of the eighth, Houston catcher Cliff Johnson homered to tie the game at 4-4. Houston got two runners on base in the ninth against Mets reliever Bob Miller, but left fielder Bob Watson grounded out to end the threat and the game went to extra innings.
The Mets threatened in the tenth, getting runners on first and third with one out against Ken Forsch. However, Jerry Grote hit into a double play. In the bottom of the tenth, Johnson walked with one out. After third baseman Doug Rader struck out, Tommy Helms hit a single that Garrett was able to slow down as it headed into right. Johnson tried to make it to third and was thrown out to end the inning.
In the 12th, the Mets took the lead. With one out, Milner singled and Hahn singled him to third. Ed Kranepool pinch hit for reliever Bob Apodaca and hit a grounder to Metzger, who couldn't come up with the grounder and Milner scored to make it 5-4. But the Astros answered back in the bottom of the 12th after two were out. May doubled to center against Ray Sadecki. Larry Milbourne came in to run for him. Johnson hit a slow grounder to first that he beat out and Milbourne came around to score the tying run when Sadecki, trying to cover first, dropped the throw from Milner.
The game moved on and in the 14th, Milner doubled to right, his third hit of the game. Hahn drew an intentional walk from the Astros' sixth pitcher, Jim York. Sadecki, allowed to bat for himself, singled to load the bases. Garrett followed with a grounder to Metzger who was able to get a force at second, but nothing else and Milner scored to make it 6-5.
The Astros threatened once again in the bottom of the 14th when Watson drew a two-out walk. Gomez called on his 20th player of the game, rookie Mike Easler, to pinch hit for Milbourne. But Easler grounded out to Milner who ran the ball to first to end the game.
All of these machinations wouldn't mean much in the long run for either team. The Astros finished in fourth place in the NL West with an 81-81 record, 21 games behind the Dodgers. The Mets, dropped all the way to 71-91 and fifth place in the East, 17 games behind Pittsburgh. On September 11, 1974, the Mets would lose a 25-inning game to the Cardinals, 4-3, one inning shy of the major league record. Garrett would go 0 for 10 in that game.
While the Mets had three excellent starters in Matlack, Tom Seaver, and Jerry Koosman, they didn't receive much offensive support as the Mets scored just 572 runs, next to last in the NL. Houston's pitchers benefited from the spacious Astrodome and had a home ERA half a runner lower than on the road, but the offense was nearly identical both home and road and the team earned its .500 record.
Sources: New York Times, Baseball-Reference.Com, Retrosheet
The Sacrifice Fly Brigade
The Colorado Rockies tied a Major League record and broke the old National League record with five sacrifice flies in their 16-9 win over the Pirates.
The heroes of this game who will forever go down in baseball lore are: Yorvit Torrealba, Todd Helton, Garret Atkins, Clint Barmes, and Ryan Spilborghs.
The only other team to hit five sacrifice flies in a game was Seattle against Oakland on August 7, 1988. The men that day who willingly hit fly balls deep enough so their brethren could score a run were: Darnell Coles, Alvin Davis, Jim Presley, Jay Buhner, and Rey Quiñones
These 10 men paid the ultimate price. They will live on forever. Both in the record books. And in our hearts and minds.
The pundits weigh in on Grimsley
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated says that the Jason Grimsley case will have major ramifications. Primarily because, Commissioner Bud Selig will use the case as an opportunity to give Grimsley an 80 to 100-game suspension, although Grimsley's career is most likely over.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports discusses the problems that HGH (human growth hormone) poses for baseball.
Ken Rosenthal is expectedly peeved.
Jeff Pearlman was preemptively peeved.
The Central Powers
With the Yankees and Red Sox rained out, perhaps tonight is the time to check in on the battles between the top two teams in the Central Divisions.
The Reds can tie the Pujols-less Cardinals for first place in the NL Central (and possibly the top spot in the league if the Mets lose tonight.)
The Tigers still have the best record in baseball despite dropping 4 of 5 to the White Sox, 3 of 4 to the Yankees, and 2 of 3 to the Red Sox. White Sox starter Jose Contreras has won his last 13 decisions and has not lost a game since last August 15.
In other news of the Central Powers, the Austro-Hungarian Empire has announced that it will not be sending a team to the Olympics in Beijing in 2008.
In other news in Arizona
On a less controversial note, Arizona placed Juan Cruz on the disabled with a sore right shoulder and called up Dustin Nippert, who is starting today against Philadelphia.
WC 2006: And there was great rejoicing in the land
Federal agents search Grimsley's home - UPDATE
The Federal government apparently is on the tail of the man who must be the center of all steroid activity in baseball: Jason Grimsley.
Update - The Arizona Republic has a copy of the request for the search warrant which states that Grimsley is suspected of possessing and using HGH.
In seeking a judge's permission for the search, investigators who cracked the BALCO steroid scandal here said Grimsley initially cooperated in the probe. He withdrew his assistance in April, but not before he allegedly made "extensive statements" about illegal drug use, "for the purpose of performance enhancement," according to the court documents.
Judging by his career totals, Grimsley must need a lot of help.
I believe the statute of limitations has run out on Grimsley's other caper.
Link via BTF
Random Game Callback, June 7, 1897
At Sockalexis' Pelt
Dangles a Scalp with Nine Ciphers Inked on It
Senators Easy Game for Indians
The Visitors tried the Hit and Run Scheme with Fine Success and in the Field Put Up a Stonewall Game that Blocked the Efforts of Their Opponents to Escape the Ignominy of a Shut-out on Their Home Diamond
So read the headline in the Washington Post after the Cleveland Spiders wiped out the Washington Senators, 7-0 before a crowd of 2,000 at the Senators' home field, Boundary Field.
Sockalexis was the surname of Cleveland's new outfielder, Chief Sockalexis, or Louis Sockalexis. He was a 25-year old, who had attended Notre Dame and Holy Cross and was born on a Penobscot Indian reservation. He would go 2 for 4 this game with a walk and a stolen base against Washington starting pitcher Doc McJames. The Post also pointed out that Sockalexis looked good in the field. He did make 16 errors in the outfield in his 66 games in 1897.
Cleveland pounded out 14 hits on the game, including a double and three triples. Cleveland's starting pitcher, Zeke Wilson, held Washington to just six singles. Cleveland manager Patsy Tebeau, also the starting first baseman, had a Cy Young Award candidate on his staff in the name of Cy Young, but it was Wilson's turn to pitch. In 1897, Young wouldn't have been considered for his eponymous award as he went 21-19 but with a 3.80 ERA.
The headliner in this game, Sockalexis, had a brief major league career, just 94 games over three seasons. A good capsule of his life can be found at Sockalexis's entry at The Baseball Reliquary. The Cleveland Indians no longer purport the myth that their team was named in honor of Sockalexis.
Washington's manager, Gus Schmelz, stepped down after this game with a 9-25 record. Schmelz had managed for 11 seasons in the majors, never finishing higher than second, which he did twice in 1884 and 1890 with Columbus in the American Association.
Schmelz, according to Peter Morris in his book A Game of Inches was the first manager to have a strategy of playing for one run. Morris cites two articles from 1891 in the Sporting Life where Schmelz's system of sacrifices, stolen bases, and hitting behind the runner in order to gain an advantage is described as being new to the game and credited with making Columbus, not one of the AA's stronger franchises, into a competitor. However in 1891, Columbus went 61-76 and finished in sixth place.
Schmelz's successor, center fielder Tom Brown, was able to pump some life into the team and they went 52-46 under his direction. Washington finished 61-71 and tied with Brooklyn for sixth place, 32 games out. Cleveland finished in fifth place at 69-62. First place Boston was 93-39, a .705 mark. 12th place St. Louis was 29-102 (.221).
One rookie who broke in for Washington in 1897 was an 18-year old pitcher named Roger Bresnahan. He would come back to the majors in 1900 and eventually make it in to the Hall of Fame on the basis of his career as a catcher. Bresnahan also popularized the use of shin guards for catchers.
In addition to Young, Cleveland had another Hall of Famer in Bobby Wallace, a shortstop who may be one of the least known players in Cooperstown. But he did play for 25 seasons. Wallace had broken in as a pitcher in 1894 and 1897 marked his first season as a fulltime player in the field. He played third base on this day. Another Hall of Famer on Cleveland in 1897 was Jesse Burkett, "The Crab." He played for 16 seasons and batted .338. He batted .383 in 1897, third best in the NL.
Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, Washington Post, Baseball Reliquary
WC 2006: Meet the eight newcomers
Astros pitching staff gets thinner
Roy Oswalt is headed to the 15-day disabled list with back trouble. Phillip Barzilla was recalled from Round Rock.
Meanwhile, Roger Clemens is set to make a start tonight at Lexington.
The Astros have won just 11 of 34 games since May 1.
WC 2006: Borrowed trivia question time
The 'official' candy bar of MLB
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reports on the apparent peace treaty between the current makers of the Baby Ruth Candy Bar (now made by Nestle) and the Bambino himself.
Does Grover Cleveland's daughter figure into this story? She does, but probably doesn't deserve to.
It's feeling drafty here
For those wanting a place to talk about draft picks of a general nature, you can use this thread.
First round order:
Thanks to Voxter for putting the names of the picks in the comments and actually making me a somewhat productive worker today!
Random Game Callback, June 6, 1975
In 1975, Nolan Ryan was pitching so well that in every start he made, fans expected that he would throw a no-hitter. In his last 2 1/2 seasons, he had matched Sandy Koufax's mark by throwing four no-hitters. He had two in 1973, one in 1974, and his fourth had been in his previous start to this one, on June 1 against Baltimore. But on this night at Anaheim Stadium, Ryan had to "settle" for a two-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers, but not until making to the sixth when Henry Aaron singled off of him. The Angels 2-0 before a crowd of 29,513.
Dick Williams managed the Angels in 1975 and aside from Ryan, he didn't have a lot to work with. The team had no power, hitting a total of 55 home runs all season. Williams batted Mickey Rivers in the third spot. His leading home run hitter, Leroy Stanton (he hit 14), batted seventh. The cleanup man this night was Bruce Bochte, who hit three home runs all season. Bochte, in his rookie season, would have a unique career, in 12 big league season he never once played on a team that finished over .500. Rookie second baseman Jerry Remy was the #2 hitter behind left fielder Morris Nettles, who put an OBP of .295 and never played in the majors again.
The Brewers started a pair of future Hall of Famers in Aaron and leadoff hitter and shortstop Robin Yount, who was 19 years old and in his second season in the majors. Brewers manager Del Crandall, a teammate of Aaron's back with the Milwaukee Braves, started Jim Slaton on the mound.
The Angels got to Slaton very quickly. Nettles and Remy both singled and when Brewers right fielder Sixto Lezcano threw to third to try to get Nettles, Remy moved up to second. Rivers grounded out and the runners held. Then Crandall ordered Bochte intentionally walked in order to set up a double play. It was obvious that Crandall wasn't expecting to score much off of Ryan. However, Slaton walked third baseman Dave Chalk to force in a run. Angels designated hitter Joe Lahoud popped out to second. But Stanton tripled to clear the bases to make it 4-0.
The Angels scored again in the fourth on an RBI single by Nettles. By the sixth, the crowd was starting to get the feel that no-hitter #5 was near. Center fielder Bill Sharp squibbed a grounder in front of the plate and catcher Ellie Rodriguez threw him out. First baseman George Scott flied out to center. This brought up Aaron.
After breaking Babe Ruth's home run record with the Braves in 1974, the Braves traded him to Milwaukee in exchange for Dave May. This would give Aaron the opportunity to play a few more years as a DH. But he was still 41 years old and the added rest of not playing the field, didn't help him that much as he was batting .203 coming into the game with five home runs.
Ryan said after the game that he threw nothing but fastballs to Aaron, but he left one out over the plate and he slapped up the middle into center field for a clean single.
After the game Aaron said in the Los Angeles Times, "I'm up there to swing the bat. I'm certainly not going to bunt. I'm looking for the fastball because that's all he's been throwing me. I could have just as easily popped it up, especially the way I've been hitting."
Brewers first baseman George Scott would single in the eighth, but that would be all that the Brewers would get this night. Ryan threw 136 pitches in a complete game, striking out six and walking six.
Ryan had one of his few seasons interrupted by injuries in 1975 (at least in the early part of his career.) He would pitch in just 28 games and throw only 198 innings with 186 strikeouts. Frank Tanana led the Angels pitchers and the league that season in strikeouts with 269. The offense was a mess and many positions were unsettled. The Angels used seven catchers, nine first basemen, and nine third basemen. They finished in last place in the AL West at 72-89, 25 1/2 games behind Oakland.
The Brewers were even worse finishing 68-94 and in fifth place, 28 games behind Boston. Aaron batted .234 with just 12 home runs. Scott was the only consistent performer on offense, hitting 36 home runs and slugging .515. The pitching staff had the worst ERA in the AL at 4.34. With one game left in the year, Crandall was let go as the manager and Harvey Kuenn managed the team. Alex Grammas would manage the Brewers in 1976 and the team wouldn't get any better. Williams would last as Angels manager until July 22, 1976 when Norm Sherry replaced him.
Ryan would eventually get his fifth no-hitter on September 26, 1981 while pitching for Houston against the Dodgers. And then while pitching for Texas, Ryan would get two more no-hitters, one in 1990 and one in 1991. And with a gaudy career total of 5714 strikeouts and 324 career wins, Ryan won a spot in Cooperstown.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Retosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
He's homered everywhere
Ken Griffey, Jr. homered in new Busch Stadium Monday night. Twice in fact, the last one being a 3-run game-winning shot off of Jason Isringhausen to put the Reds up 8-7. It was the 43rd different park, Griffey had homered in, tying him with Fred McGriff for the Major League record
He's homered in the (using present names for parks, except for Candlestick Park):
I know some place he hasn't homered:
Those two stadiums are the only ones Griffey played a game in and didn't hit a homer. He played only one game at Exhibition Stadium.
To break McGriff's record, Griffey will need one of two things:
NCAA Sweet Sixteen set
The NCAA baseball tournament is close to being pared down to sixteen teams.
The super-regional pairings (sites to be announced later). These will be best of three series.
WC 2006: USA wins last warmup, we think
WC 2006: Is it ever right to take a red card?
The "Keeping Score" feature of the New York Times is about whether a player should ever make a deliberate foul in order to get red carded.
Apparently, a study of high level matches by a USC professor, Geert Ridder, the answer is "Yes, do it if the match has gone past the 16th minute."
Several other academics have studied this issue too. The consensus seems to be: go take one for the team!
A new country with WBC ambitions
Apparently flush with the excitement that these guys couldn't be any worse than Australia, an American businessman named Larry Baras is trying to organize a pro league in Israel with the hopes of getting the country into the 2009 WBC.
Baras has a tough job ahead of him. The article mentions that there is just one good quality baseball diamond in all of Israel. And Baras estimates that there are six to eight players in Israel now who would "not to embarrass themselves" in a pro league.
Dan Duquette has been signed on as an adviser. So has Andrew Zimbalist.
Random Game Callback, June 5, 1935
The newspapers didn't record how many people showed up at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis to watch the last place Browns snap the eight-game winning streak of rookie pitcher John Whitehead, 2-0. It was a year when the Browns drew a total of 80,922 fans. The few who made it did get to enjoy a well-pitched game.
With the Great Depression hurting attendance and the Browns being a disaster on the field and sharing a stadium with the far more successful Cardinals, a year of crowds averaging a little over 1,000 were to be expected. Chicago manager Jimmie Dykes hoped that Whitehead, a 26-year old righthander out of the Texas League, could keep up his good pitching. Browns manager Rogers Hornsby settled on 28-year old righthander, Ed Knott, who like Whitehead, hailed from Texas.
Whitehead's first nine pitches were balls, but Browns leadoff man, second baseman Ollie Bejma, was caught stealing. Moose Solters singled and when Chicago left fielder Rip Radcliff misplayed the ball, Sam West of St. Louis moved to third. A ground out by Ed Coleman drove in West.
In the fourth inning, right fielder Coleman homered to right field to give the Browns a 2-0 lead and all the margin Knott would need.
Knott was not overpowering as he struck out two and gave up numerous hard hit balls that the Browns caught up to. However, the White Sox finished with just two hits, a single by third baseman Marty Hopkins and a double by shortstop Luke Appling. The White Sox got a man on in the ninth on a walk, but he was not able to advance.
Whitehead's 8-0 start turned out to be a 13-13 season overall in 1935. Whitehead posted a 3.72 ERA, the best of his career. He pitched in seven major league seasons, finishing up with the Browns in 1942. His lifetime record was 49-54.
Knott went 11-8 in 1935 with a 4.60 ERA and, if saves had been an official statstic in 1935, he would have led the AL with seven. Knott would pitch 11 seasons in the majors and would stop off with the White Sox, and Athletics. He would go 82-103 in his career with a 4.97 ERA.
The Detroit Tigers would win the AL in 1935 with a 93-58 record and win their first World Series with a 6-game win over the Cubs. The White Sox finished in fifth place at 74-78, 19 1/2 games out. The Browns would finish in seventh at 65-87, 28 1/2 games out.
For a mediocre team, the White Sox in 1935 had four future Hall of Famers. In addition to Appling, the White Sox also had Al Simmons and Ted Lyons. The other Hall of Famer was outfielder Jocko Conlon, who would make it to Cooperstown as an umpire. The Browns only future Hall of Famer was Hornsby, who still put himself into 10 games. He would keep making cameo appearances through the 1937 season when the Browns fired him as manager.
The Browns would win their only AL pennant in 1944 when many of the game's stars were away for military service. Their manager that year would be the White Sox catcher this day, Luke Sewell. Luke's brother, Joe Sewell, would have a Hall of Fame career as an infielder for Cleveland and the Yankees and managed to strike out just 114 times in a 14 year career in which he amassed 7132 at bats.
St. Louis, apparently anticipating a poor box office, had itself scheduled to be on the road for the entire month of September. And the Browns went 16-12 during that stretch and finished the last two months 35-26 to get out of the cellar.
Sources: Retrosheet, Chicago Tribune, Baseball-Reference.Com
A curiously bad column about Clemens
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle had a bizarre, hit piece column on Roger Clemens on Sunday.
Shea, like a few other writers, does not like Clemens re-signing with the Astros at this point in the season.
So Roger Clemens, who claimed a team's chances of advancing to the postseason weighed in the decision-making of where he'd sign, picked the Astros.
A team's postseason chances were one factor, but they weren't the only factor. Clemens was a free agent. Note the use of the word "free".
In the end, it was more about perks than parks. Why dedicate yourself to pitching at Yankee Stadium if the Yankees refuse to let you skip out of town to watch your kid play T-ball? Or whatever level his four boys are at these days. The Yankees said they wouldn't accommodate Clemens by giving him all the benefits he wanted, but the Red Sox and Rangers were willing to roll out the red carpet and let Clemens call the shots.
For starters, Bonds is expected to play every day or close to it. Clemens isn't. He's a starting pitcher. Are the Astros going to pout if he's not sitting on the bench when he's not pitching, spitting sunflower seeds and chatting with Andy Pettitte? "Gosh, we could have won that game, but Roger wasn't here to cheer up Chad Qualls after he came off the field in the eighth inning."
People never forget Bonds' past. With Clemens, it's as if the goofy stuff got deleted from his bio. Rubbing eye black under his eyes, then getting ejected in the second inning in the 1990 ALCS finale in Oakland, as if he wanted no part of another Dave Stewart beating. Beaning Mike Piazza, then throwing a broken bat at him, ridiculously suggesting at the time that he thought the bat was the ball. Promising to drill Bonds, then doing it. Getting summoned for a steroid test after Team USA's final game in the World Baseball Classic, then ducking the media altogether except to release a statement, saying, "For me, right now, it's goodbye," and not explaining what he meant.
Clemens was ejected by Terry Cooney because he was afraid to pitch against Dave Stewart? Was Shea serious? As for the incidents with Piazza, people bring those up quite often. And was Clemens expected to invite the media to watch him urinate for a steroids test.
Clemens led the league in ERA last year and might have won 20 games (instead of 13) if not for an offense that repeatedly shut down when he took the mound. The Astros were 15-17 in Clemens' starts -- and why again wasn't the offense more inspired on his watch?
Ahh, the Steve Phillips theory of run support for pitchers. The good pitchers don't get any because offenses take it easy when a good pitcher is on the mound. Apparently this didn't apply to Clemens when he was on the Yankees. In 1987, Nolan Ryan led the NL in ERA at 2.76 and was 8-16. I detect a trend among Astros hitters and their tendency not to score when a good pitcher is on the mound.
And Clemens did pitch the final three innings of Game 4 of the NLDS against the Braves when the Astros were out of pitchers. And he won his only start in the NLCS. Then he had the nerve to strain a hamstring in the World Series. He's obviously a faulty human being. He should have kept pitching and made his team's deficit greater.
In the WBC, there were pitch limits, so Clemens had to leave at that point in the game. And I suppose he didn't inspire the American hitters to put up more offense against the Mexican pitchers, whom they didn't hit well either time they faced them.
Roger Clemens is not an easy guy to like. But he's been on the job for 22 seasons and is heading for a 23rd. He's accomplished a lot in his career. And if he wants to call the shots on where he should pitch and under what terms and some teams wants to agree to it, then I don't see what the big deal is. Was there some preestablished guideline that Clemens was supposed to follow or does he have to retire in a way that follow the established plan set out by the American sportswriting community?
Sopranos season finale thread - if you have already watched
NCAA tournament roundup
I'm using this thread and updating it as the tournament goes on.
Each regional had four teams and they played double elimination. They are listed in order of seeding. The team left that is undefeated is in bold. The teams eliminated are
Also, the winner of the two adjoining brackets will meet June 9-12 in a super-regional. For example, Clemson winner plays Fayetteville winner, etc.
Chapel Hill Regional:
Heard during the Giants-Mets game
1. In one of those familiar canned commerical that Fox regional networks use to advertise the teams they show, there was an ad with this voiceover: "The Giants are aiming at a division title. But will need to beat the National League's elite to reach the postseason. Standing in the way is Miguel Cabrera and the Florida Marlins ..."
In the case of #1, I'm pretty sure that the people at Fox just record all those at the beginning of the year. I've heard the Fox network that handles the Pirates speak of a Pirates-Marlins series in similar tones.
WC 2006: Racist fans and one nation that will never play again in the World Cup
The Cardinals patchwork lineup
Borrowing from the Yankees lineup of dates and inspired by the injury to Albert Pujols yesterday, Tony La Russa has this lineup for today's game against the Cubs
Of course, the Cubs have Juan Pierre and Tony Womack batting 1-2, so there may not be much offense. Greg Maddux pitches for the Cubs today.
Edmonds has been reported to be headed to the disabled list also with a sports hernia, but apparently he's feeling well enough to play first. It's not like he has to stretch there. Edmonds has played first base before in his career.
Chris Duncan was recalled from Memphis to replace Pujols on the roster. I believe this is a downgrade.
Random Game Callback, June 4, 1970
One of the most maligned New York Yankees ever, second baseman Horace Clarke, broke up a potential no-hitter by Kansas City's Jim Rooker in the ninth inning and would go on to drive in the winning run in the 12th as the Yankees defeated the Royals 2-1 before a sparse crowd of 6,510 at Yankee Stadium.
Clarke, played 10 seasons for the Yankees, and batted leadoff most of the time, producing an OBP of .304 as a leadoff hitter. He managed to steal 151, although never more than 33 in any one season. He played in the field much of his career while wearing a helmet, drawing ridicule from the fans. The Yankees never finished in first place during his career and for some, he personified the bad times the Yankees were going through at the time. In 2004, sportswrite Phil Pepe felt so bad for Clarke that he wrote an impassioned plea on the YES Network website in defense of Clarke. How did Clarke keep his job? Well, the Yankees never really had anyone better to replace him. Sandy Alomar eventually did in 1974.
On this night at Yankee Stadium, manager Ralph Houk gave Stan Bahnsen the start. Kansas City manager Charlie Metro started his 27-year old lefty Rooker, who was briefly Yankee property before being taken by the Royals in the expansion draft after the 1968 season.
So where's your Messiah now, huh? Pujols headed to the DL
Albert Pujols left the Cardinals game against St. Louis with what was diagnosed as a strained right oblique muscle.
He could be out from 2-6 weeks. Jim Edmonds is likely headed to the DL with a sports hernia.
Possible replacements are Skip Schumaker, John Gall, Chris Duncan, or Brian Daubach.
Well, at least one treasured home run record is safe this year. And Ryan Howard, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Lee can compete for the home run crown.
Just another day in the NCAA baseball tournament
The Black Bears head back to Orono.
Meanwhile before the tournament, Notre Dame coach Paul Manieri complained that the NCAA was biased against Northern teams. Apparently there is a Sun Belt bias, which is the opposite of football.
Notre Dame was eliminated after two games.
Very quick trivia contest, with free tickets as the prize - CONTEST OVER
Reader Barry Cohen has sent me (or emailed me to be precise), two tickets and a parking pass to today (Saturday's) Dodgers-Phillies game starting at 1:10 pm.
The seats are in Section 6 of the Reserved in Row A and there is a parking pass attached.
The first person to answer this question (sent to email@example.com) will win the tickets! (I have to work and I can't go.)
In what year did the Los Angeles Dodgers issue the fewest intentional walks in team history?
The tickets are electronic, so you need access to a printer.
Also, they're are giving out free t-shirts today.
Contest closes at noon.
And we have a winner! bhsportsguy came up with the correct answer of 1974! The NL pennant winning Dodgers issued just NINE intentional walks all season. And no more than two by any one pitcher. It's a major league low since the statistic has been kept.
Random Game Callback, June 3, 1937
The New York Yankees of 1937 were one of baseball's greatest teams. They were part of a stretch of four straight World Series winners (1936-39). They had players like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Tony Lazzeri, Lefty Gomez, and Red Ruffing, all of whom would end up in the Hall of Fame. Despite all of these future Hall of Famers appearing in the game, the Yankees slipped up this day at League Park in Cleveland, 6-2, before a crowd of about 7,000.
Yankees manager Joe McCarthy had Gomez as his starting pitcher while Cleveland manager Steve O'Neill tabbed Mel Harder as his starter. 18-year old phenom Bob Feller was off in Milwaukee getting a possibile arm injury checked out.
Harder helped himself in the third with a single. Shortstop Lyn Lary and first baseman Hal Trosky would later double to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead. Cleveland scored again in the sixth on a double by third baseman Roy Hughes.
The Yankees finally scored in the seventh when Gehrig tripled to center and Dickey drove him in with a ground out. The Yankees got another run in the eighth when Ruffing, batting for Gomez, led off with a single. (Ruffing was a good hitter for a pitcher, batting .269 in his career.) Shortstop Frankie Crosetti and third baseman Red Rolfe followed with force plays. DiMaggio and Gehrig followed with singles to drive home Rolfe to make the score 3-2 Cleveland.
Pat Malone came in to relieve in the eighth and the Indians knocked him around to widen the score. Malone walked two and gave up a single to load the bases for pinch hitter Billy Sullivan, who singled home runs. Harder followed with a squeeze play for the final run of the game for Cleveland.
Harder would pitch a complete game despite giving up 11 hits. However, all but one of them, Gehrig's triple, were singles. The Yankees also lost right fielder George Selkirk to an injury early in the game and used Myril Hoag in his place. Selkirk would be in and out of the lineup all season and would play in just 78 games, but he did hit 18 home runs.
The Yankees would win the AL pennant in 1937 with a 102-52 record, 13 games better than Detroit. They scored the most runs (979) and gave up the fewest (671). Gehrig would led the AL in OBP (.473) and OPS (1.116), but it was DiMaggio who led in slugging (.673), runs scored (151), total bases (418), and home runs (46). DiMaggio drove in 167 runs, but still finished 16 behind league leader Hank Greenberg, who missed Gehrig's AL record in that category by one. Gomez would win the Triple Crown of pitching, leading the AL in wins (21), strikeouts (194), and ERA (2.33).
Cleveland finished 19 games behind the Yankees in fourth place at 83-71. Trosky led the team with 32 home runs. He had the potential to join Gehrig and Greenberg and Jimmie Foxx as one of the preeminent slugging first basemen in the AL, but his career would be sidetracked by severe migraine headachces and he played sparingly from 1940 on. Cleveland's pitching staff was an odd collection of names and statistics. Harder was the workhorse, pitching 233 2/3 innings and going 15-12, but he had an ERA of 4.28. Feller pitched in 26 games and was 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA and struck out 150 batters in 148 2/3 innings, although he also walked 106. Johnny Allen went 15-1 in just 24 games with a 2.55 ERA. Allen's only loss came on the last day of the season, when the Indians lost 1-0 to Detroit. The short-tempered Allen started his career with the Yankees and would also end up with the Browns, Dodgers, and Giants.
The Yankees would win the World Series for the second straight year and would again beat their neighbors, the Giants. The series took just five games and they outscored the Giants 28-12.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com, baseballlibrary.com, New York Times
'Bonds on Bonds' hiatus permament
So I guess it's not really a hiatus.
Bonds on Bonds will air no more. No season finale. No cliffhanger. No resolution.
I haven't been this frustrated since NBC pulled Heist off the air.
OK, bad example.
Matheny on DL with concussion
In an injury that I thought would happen more frequently, Mike Matheny of San Francisco has gone on the disabled list with a concussion. On Wednesday, Matheny took a foul ball off the mask estimated at 100 mph.
Eliezer Alfonzo was recalled from AA Connecticut. Todd Greene will take over the regular catching role. The Giants and Mets are playing a doubleheader Sunday so Alfonzo should see some action right away.
WC 2006: Three point shot!
A widely viewed YouTube video of the longest goal I've ever seen.
Phils reshuffle rotation again
Gavin Floyd was sent down to AAA's most puncuated team, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Eude Brito was recalled to replace him. Brito will start Saturday in L.A. in place of the injured Jon Lieber. Cole Hamels is expected back to start on Tuesday.
Kreuter to become USC baseball coach
Mike Gillespie, who has coached the University of Southern California baseball team since taking over Rod Dedeaux in 1987, is retiring and Chad Kreuter is taking over for him. Gillespie led USC to a College World Series championship in 1998.
A tip of the cap to Chad and Mike.
Thanks to Gold Star for Robot Boy for the tip.
WC 2006: Nepotism edition
Note the WC 2006 in the headline, which will signify that this is a World Cup-related post, so you can skip past it.
Thou shalt taketh me out of the ball game
The New York Times' Warren St. John writes about the popularity of Faith Nights at minor league and now major league stadiums. Teams work with local churches to bring in large groups anad entertain them with Christian bands and Biblical character bobblheads. My John the Baptist bobblehead was a bit disappointing as when I got it home, it fell apart.
The main reason for the increase in this kind of promotion is simple: they draw crowds.
So far the promotions seem to be working where they count the most, at the box office. Attendance at Faith Nights organized by the Nashville Sounds, a Class AAA baseball team, are 59 percent higher than the team's average attendance.
This is not a Southern phenomenon either. The San Francisco Giants have "Fellowship Day" scheduled for July 15. Then again the Giants are having a "night" or "day" for just about every demographic possible. The Irish get two of them!
Random Game Callback, June 2, 1882
1882 marked the first year in professional baseball's brief history, there were two "major" leagues. The National League finally got some competition with the formation of the American Association. Nevertheless, the cities represented in 1882 would not all seem "major league" to people in 2006, but nevertheless people in Troy, Buffalo, Worcester, Providence, and Louisville all had "major league" teams. And on this day in 1882, the Buffalo squad of the NL dropped a see-saw 6-5 affair to Boston before a crowd of around 700 at the South End Grounds of Boston.
Both teams were led by player-managers. Buffalo was led by Jim O'Rourke, who doubled as the team's center fielder, although he would play all nine positions during his career. Boston's manager was first baseman John Morrill. Each team used two pitchers most of the time. Buffalo started Pud Galvin, who would end up in the Hall of Fame. Their other pitcher was Hugh Daily, better known as "One Arm," although his handicap was similar to Jim Abbott's in that he really just had one hand. Like Abbott, he would throw a no-hitter in the majors (in 1883 for Cleveland.) Boston started Jim Whitney at pitcher, who also batted third as he was also the team's best hitter, batting .323 and slugging .510.
Buffalo scored in the first when Dan Brouthers, a future Hall of Famer, doubled and scored when left fielder Joe Hornung dropped a fly ball off the bat of second baseman Hardy Richardson. The Boston Daily Globe described the error as "excusable."
Hornung reached base in the second on an error by O'Rourke and singles by catcher Ed Rowen and right fielder Pat Deasley (the two men traded roles often during the season) led to two Boston runs. Buffalo scored a run in the fourth to tie the game at 2-2, but Boston shortstop Sam Wise (note, not a hobbit) homered to put his team up 3-2.
More errors and a passed ball led to single runs for Buffalo in the sixth and seventh to put them ahead 4-3. Boston made nine errors in all in the game.
Boston tied the game in the bottom of the eighth on a single by Wise (he also tripled and missed a cycle with no double) and then a double by center fielder Pete Hotaling.
But Buffalo took the lead again in the top of the ninth. Galvin singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then to third on a passed ball and he finally scored on an error by Morrill at first base. Buffalo was up 5-4 with three outs to go.
Morrill fouled out to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Whitney reached when right fielder Curry Foley dropped his fly ball. Hornung followed with a single. Rowen popped out to Richardson. One out left for a Buffalo win and Deasley was at the plate. He hit a fly ball to Foley in right, who again dropped the ball. With two outs, Whitney and Hornung both scored. Buffalo almost threw out Deasley at second for the third before Hornung scored, but it was too late and Boston was the winner.
The box score revealed some of the big differences between the baseball of 1882 and that of today. The starting pitchers, Whitney and Galvin, were credited with 14 and 16 "called strikes." At the time, batters still had the right to ask pitchers to throw them a low or high pitch. So there were few pitches that a batter would let go past him that were in an area where he wanted it. Whitney was credited with 78 balls and Galvin with 79. But since you needed seven balls for a walk in 1882, there was only one base on balls in the game.
Boston and Buffalo would end up tied for third in the National League with identical 45-39 records, 10 games behind champion Chicago.
Brouthers had a stellar year for Buffalo leading the NL in batting average (.368), on base percentage (.403), slugging (.547), hits (129), and total bases (192). Galvin went 28-23, but in 1883 and 1884, he would win 46 games and would win 364 games in his career.
Shortstop Jack Burdock would take over the managerial reins from Morrill in 1883, but on July 21, 1883, the team changed its mind and put Morrill in charge again. Morrill skippered the team to a 33-11 finish to win the NL flag in 1883.
Sources: Boston Daily Globe, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Followups to the Rockies Great Awakening
Yesterday, I posted this about a USA Today story about the Colorado Rockies and their reported embrace of using openly Christian players and looking for players of "good character" (i.e., not Denny Neagle.)
Reactions to Nightengale's piece haven't been positive.
In Vaughn Ververs' Public Eye Blog on the CBS News website there are links to the two big Denver papers, the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post where players deny that there is any pressure on any of them to worship in any way or to not receive magazines like Maxim in the clubhouse.
Tracy Ringolby's story in the Rocky Mountain News
Competent, just competent
During my daily check of the news, of the Fashion2Fibre.com website for the latest industry news. I saw this story about adidas signing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants to wear their stuff.
This part grabbed me:
adidas is a name that stands for competence in all sectors of sport around the globe.
That's all? Competence? That has to be the most understated press release ever.
Perhaps we could have other descriptions of companies:
"Microsoft: We make computer software all over the world that works pretty well most of the time"
Random Game Callback, June 1, 1992
Meeting for the first time since the 1991 ALCS, the Toronto Blue Jays extracted some revenge over the hometown Minnesota Twins with a 5-3 victory in 10 innings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome before a crowd of 20,134. Devon White homered from both sides of the plate, including an inside-the-park home run, to lead the Jays to the win.
The Twins had defeated the Blue Jays in five games in the 1991 ALCS and then went on to a dramatic seven game World Series win over Atlanta. Both teams were in first place this day. Toronto manager Cito Gaston chose veteran Dave Stieb, who had missed most of the 1991 season with injuries. Minnesota's skipper Tom Kelly picked lefty John Smiley, who had come over from Pittsburgh in the offseason in exchange for Midre Cummings and Denny Neagle.
White led off the game with a home run. But Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek answered with a homer of his own in the second. Then Stieb gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases. Then Toronto right fielder Joe Carter made a nice play on a drive off the bat of Shane Mack to keep it from going past him and holding Mack to a single instead of an inside-the-park grand slam. Two runs scored though and Minnesota led 3-1.
Toronto tied things up in the sixth. With one out, second baseman Roberto Alomar singled and right fielder Joe Carter homered to make it 3-3. Toronto reliever Duane Ward and Minnesota relievers Gary Wayne and Carl Willis kept it tied through nine and sent the game to extra innings.
With one out in the tenth, White hit a ball into the gap in left center. Left fielder Mack tried to make a diving catch, but the ball went by him. Center fielder Kirby Puckett tried to catch up to the ball, but it bounced over his head and on to the wall. White, who claimed he could circle the bases in 13 seconds, was able to score easily and give Toronto a 4-3 lead. White's second homer was hit left-handed and he became the 56th AL player to homer from both sides of the plate in one game. One batter later, Carter reached on an infield single and scored on a double by designated hitter Dave Winfield.
Tom Henke came in to close in the bottom of the tenth. He struck out pinch hitter Randy Bush to start the inning, but Mack reached first on an error by third baseman Kelly Gruber. Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch singled to left to move Mack up to second. Puckett followed with a screaming liner to left, but Candy Maldonado was able to snatch it and then throw it back to second for a double play, which somehow ended up being scored 7-4-7-8. Newspaper accounts of the game don't seem to mention anything too unusual about the play.
Toronto would win the AL East in 1992 with a 96-66 record and defeat Oakland in six games in the ALCS. The Twins finished in second, six games behind Oakland. Jack Morris, who had starred for the Twins in 1991, signed as a free agent with Toronto for 1992 and went 21-6 for the Jays, although with a 4.04 ERA. Juan Guzman went 16-5 with a 2.64 ERA. Smiley, expected to pick up the slack for Morris, was 16-9 with a 3.21 ERA.
The Blue Jays moved on to play Atlanta in the World Series. Toronto brought home Canada's first ever World Series championship with a six game win. Catcher Pat Borders won the World Series MVP, although Winfield, long derided by New York fans for his poor postseason play, drove in the winning run in Game 6. Morris went 0-2 in this World Series with an 8.44 ERA. Lefty Jimmy Key won 2 games and Ward won the other two. The Blue Jays would repeat as World Series champions in 1993 while the Twins dropped to sixth place and would not make the postseason again until 2002. And since 1993, the Blue Jays have never been back to the postseason.
Sources: Toronto Star, Star Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
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Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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