Monthly archives: May 2006
Toaster Preseason Predictions Progress Report
At the beginning of the year, the Toaster staff foolishly tried to predict the standings in all six divisions as well as the postseason winners.
With two months to go in to the season, I thought I would give a progress report to show how everybody was doing.
To rank everyone's predictions what I did was compare the prediction to the actual standings and then score a point for each rank that the person was off by. Then I squared that because somebody with more math skills than me said the sum of the squares was a better predictor of success. Something about multiple regression theory. So if I were a really fancy guy, I would have popped this into a spreadsheet and spit out the answers. But I'm not so I used a pen and paper.
There are a couple of ties. Most noticeably, the Yankees and Red Sox are tied for first in the AL East. So for that division, I gave everybody a zero (i.e., getting it right) if they put either team in first or second. In fact, everybody but Ken put the Yankees and Boston in the 1 and 2 slots in some order. But I made Ken's guess of Boston finishing third as being off by 2, instead of 1.
Also, the Giants and Rockies are tied for fourth in the NL West. All but two of us, Scott and Mark, picked, the Rockies fifth and all those people got charged 1 point. Again, I'm keeping score, if you don't like it, you will have to keep score yourself.
Only one person has correctly tabbed all the teams in a division correctly. And it's Mark Donohue. And he did it two times: in the AL East and the NL East. Mark has the Yankees as his #1 team and Boston as the wildcard.
There are two teams that have really messed up everybody's scores: Detroit, whom most people picked for fifth (except Ken who picked them first and Cliff in third) and Cincinnati, who was chosen to finish sixth or fifth.
But on to the scores, remember no wagering! And like golf, low score wins.
1. Carminati, 49
The Rockies Great Awakening?
Bob Nightengale profiles a different side of the Colorado Rockies in USA Today. It's not about humidors, altitude, relief pitching, or what Choo Freeman's real first name is.
Nightengale writes about the Rockies attempt to fill the team with "character" guys. Which apparently means that the Rockies are looking for players who are openly Christian.
This one passage in the article was very interesting to me.
Is it possible that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians just to stay in the team's good graces? Yes, former Rockies say.
I would urge you to read the whole article before making a comment. The article has surprising depth for McPaper.
DC Mayor Williams wants 'Office of Baseball'
In one of the Washington Post blogs, comes news that Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams has asked the City Council for $750,000 to set up a Office of Baseball that would help coordinate the construction of the Nationals new stadium.
Moore to replace Baird as KC GM
Dayton Moore, formerly assistant GM for the Atlanta Braves, was named the new general manager for the Kansas City Royals. Moore will stay with the Braves until after next week's draft.
Baird has been replaced already and VP of baseball operations Muzzy Jackson will run the draft for the Royals, who have the first pick.
Muzzy Jackson's bio on the Royals website does not list a first name for him other than Muzzy and he is the first person I've ever heard of named Muzzy except in a "Rockford Files" episode.
Have courage Nats fans, Joey is gone
Joey Eischen is out for the rest of the year with a muscle tear in his left rotator cuff. He will have surgery Thursday. Bill Bray is expected to get the call from New Orleans to take Eischen's spot on the roster.
Clemens signs with the Astros - FOR REAL EDITION
The Minnesota Twins on June 22 are scheduled to be Roger Clemens first major league opponent of the 2006 season.
This is news is from the Astros' website.
Industriales win Cuban crown
Industriales won its third Cuban championship in the last five years with a 4-1 win over Santiago. The series lasted six games.
You're going to need a bigger bracket
Slightly off topic of baseball, but you can find baseball in basketball.
There is a proposal to expand the NCAA men's basketball tournament from 65 to 80 teams.
It might not be as much fun to see who wins the Atlantic Sun and Big South tournaments now.
Random Game Callback, May 31, 1944
With World War II taking a sizeable chunk out of the personnel for nearly every major league baseball team, teams had to scramble around to fill their lineups. As a result, teams were playing rookies who were too young to be drafted, veteran players who were told old to be drafted or players with medical conditions that kept them out of the service. A pair of patchwork lineups from the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants met at the Polo Grounds on a hot Wednesday afternoon and the Giants, on the strength of a pair of home run by Nap Reyes, beat the Cubs 8-5 before a crowd of 3,210.
Cubs manager Charlie Grimm, in his second of three tours of duty as manager with the team, started Claude Passeau, a 35-year old righthander, who has the distinction of being the last Cubs pitcher to win a World Series game. Giants player-manager, Mel Ott, picked 23-year old Frank Seward as his starter.
Eddie Stanky batted leadoff for the Cubs at shortstop, but the Cubs would soon send him off to Brooklyn (and later the Giants) where he would go on to have a great career. Future Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, a very tired 36-year old who had been fighting injuries and alcohol, was starting his first game of the year at catcher. Foxx had broken in as catcher with the Philadelphia A's back as a 17-year old in 1925 and had done some emergency duty throughout his career behind the plate. And Grimm decided to give him a start this day.
Ott put himself in the lineup in right field. Regular left fielder Joe Medwick was given the day off and a 24-year old named Danny Gardella started. Gardella, would go on to greater fame (relatively speaking) for his off field activities, as he was one of the first players to challenge the Reserve Clause in court. Gardella might have won his suit, but he decided to take a settlement. (It's a much longer story and it's easy to find on the internet.)
The Cubs scored four times in the first off of Seward. Center fielder Andy Pafko singled home first baseman Phil Cavaretta for the first run of the game. Left fielder Dom Dallessandro hit a three run homer to make it 4-0 Cubs after just half an inning.
The Giants narrowed the gap in the fourth. Gardella led off the inning with a home run to right. First baseman Phil Weintraub singled and Reyes homered into the upper deck in left to pull the Giants to within 4-3. Reyes's homer chased Passeau from the game, and Bill Fleming came in to pitch. Fleming got the last two outs in the fourth, but in the fifth, he started off the inning with two walks and two wild pitches and Grimm brought in Dale Alderson as well as catcher Billy Holm to replace Foxx, who apparently had wilted in the heat. Foxx played in just 15 games in 1944 and went 1 for 20.
Alderson would walk the bases loaded and Reyes would score two runners on the lone hit of the inning. The Giants now were up 5-4.
In the seventh, Reyes would strike again with his second two run homer of the game, again driving in Weintraub. Catcher Gus Mancuso doubled and went to third on a single by Buddy Kerr. Seward would score Mancuso on a suicide squeeze to put the Giants up 8-4. Bill Nicholson would homer for the Cubs in the eighth to make the final score 8-5. Seward went the distance for the win with Fleming getting the loss.
The St. Louis Cardinals ran away with the NL pennant, going 105-49 and wining by 14 1/2 games. The Cubs finished in fourth place at 75-79, 30 games out. The Giants finished fifth at 67-87, 38 games out.
Nicholson would lead the NL in both home runs and RBI in 1944 at 33 and 122. Nicholson also led in runs scored with 116. In a game on July 23, 1944, Nicholson received one of baseball's highest compliments, a bases-loaded intentional walk. Ott was the manager who ordered it. Passeau had an excellent season for the Cubs, going 15-9 with a 2.89 ERA.
The Giants got big years on offense from Ott (OPS+ of 171) and Weintraub (162 OPS+), but otherwise had a lot of duds. Catcher Ernie Lombardi, who had been one of the NL's best hitters in his younger days, slid down to .255 and had an OBP of just .317. Medwick batted .337 in 128 games. The Giants pitchers, outside of Bill Voiselle (21-16, 3.02 ERA) were a collection of has beens and never weres brought together because of the war.
In 1945, with even more players missing because of the war, the Giants remained in fifth place, but improved to 78-74. The Cubs improved all the way to first place and a 98-56 record and a trip to the World Series, where they would lose in seven games to Detroit.
Sources: New York Times, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet
The Gray Lady declares: 'Kazmir trade was really, really, really bad'
The New York Times has an examination of the ill-fated trade between the New York Mets and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano.
At least you know that the deal has been certified as bad now by the Paper of Record.
Boston puts Wells on the DL for third time
David Wells started the season for Boston on the DL. Then he pitched on April 12 and sprained his right knee. Then he came back off the DL to pitch this past Friday. And he took a line drive off his right knee. So he's back on the DL again.
David Pauley has been recalled from AA Portland to start Wednesday in Toronto.
Gladwell reviews 'The Wages of Wins'
Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker reviews The Wages of Wins. It's an attempt to take a sabermetric look at the NBA and was co-authored by economists David J. Berri, Martin B. Schmidt, and Stacey L. Brook.
These men will not be invited to Allen Iverson's next dinner party.
Introducing your 2007 Tampa Bay ....
The team has decided not to change its nickname until 2008 at the earliest.
Clemens to the Astros?
Newsday is reporting that Roger Clemens is going to announce as early as today that he has signed a contract with the Houston Astros.
The Astros are presently 7 1/2 games behind first place St. Louis in the NL Central and in fourth place. They are four games behind the Dodgers in the wildcard race.
Clemens is expected to be paid $3.5 million per month for the rest of the season.
The Astros and Clemens' agent are denying the report.
Sauerbeck arrested for RAUI
That's running away under the infuence.
Cleveland pitcher Scott Sauerbeck was arrested by police in Sheffield Village, Ohio, after he and the driver of his car, tried to flee from police, apparently to avoid arrest for DUI.
Although it was Sauerbeck's vehicle, he wasn't driving. The driver, Lily Miller, was tested and registered a blood alcohol limit of .253.
Officially, Sauerbeck was charged with obstructing official business and allowing an intoxicated person to operate his own vehicle.
X Man shelved, Milledge called up
In a craven marketing ploy to exploit a popular movie, the New York Mets have put Xavier Nady on the disabled list after an appendectomy.
Lastings Milledge was called up from Norfolk.
Thanks to Sam DC for the heads up.
This will teach Nady to stop hanging out with Hayden Penn.
I'm not a doctor, but I do have cable TV and I am under the impression that most appendenctomies are done in a less invasive manner now, so the recovery times should be faster.
Why did they need antitrust approval?
Now I'm confused, but this AP story says that the sale of the Washington Nationals to the Theodore Lerner group got approval from U.S. antitrust authorities.
Of course, I thought baseball was exempt from antitrust laws. So what was the Federal Trade Commission investigating anyway? I thought that baseball enjoyed legal protections that made it possible for Bud Selig to order us all in to indentured servitude or force us to pledge allegiance to the MLB logo every morning.
Random Game Callback, May 30, 2005
Memorial Day at the Network Associates Coliseum featured a pair of last place teams in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Oakland Athletics. For Tampa Bay, this wasn't unusual, but Oakland, but the A's had made the playoffs four straight seasons from 2000-2003 and just missed out in 2004. But injuries and ineffectiveness by the pitching staff had gotten Oakland off to a 17-32 start and they were already 12 1/2 games out of first. But the return of shortstop Bobby Crosby from injury gave Oakland a ray of hope and Oakland was able to rally late and win in 11 innings 5-4 before a crowd of 25,921.
Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella started second-year pitcher Scott Kazmir, whom the Devil Rays had hijacked from the Mets the previous season in exchange for Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato. Oakland manager Ken Macha picked rookie Joe Blanton, who was 0-5 with a 6.55 ERA coming into the game. (Blanton had pitched in three games in 2004.)
Oakland got out front in the first on a solo homer by left fielder Bobby Kielty. But the Devil Rays came back with three in the top of the second. Center fielder Damon Hollins hit a 2-run homer and Julio Lugo added an RBI single.
Tampa Bay got three straight hits, including an RBI double by Aubrey Huff, but only one run as Lugo made an out on the bases. Keiichi Yabu came in to relieve and struck out designated hitter Josh Phelps to end the inning.
Kazmir had a fairly easy seven innings, surrendering just three hits, although he did walk four. Former A's prospect Jesus Colome came into relieve in the eighth. Catcher Jason Kendall reached on an error by Lugo and center fielder Mark Kotsay followed with a double to send Kendall to third. Kielty grounded out to first to score Kendall and it was 4-2 Tampa Bay. Lefty Trever Miller came into face Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez, who singled in Kotsay to make it 4-3. Lance Carter came in to relieve Miller and got pinch hitter Scott Hatteberg to ground into a double play.
Danys Baez came in to try to close it out for Tampa Bay in the ninth. Baez struck out first baseman Dan Johnson and then Crosby to start the ninth. But right fielder Nick Swisher singled to center to keep the game going. Charles Thomas ran for Swisher. Adam Melhuse came up to pinch hit for second baseman Mark Ellis and he singled to center to send Thomas to third. But Baez still just needed one out and had Kendall at the plate. Acquired from the Pirates in the offseason, Kendall was not tearing up the AL, batting in the .240 range with no power. But he came through with a single to let to score Thomas with the tying run. Baez walked Kotsay to load the bases, but Kielty missed a chance to win the game in the ninth when he flied out to center.
Neither team scored in the tenth. With one out in the 11th, Thomas singled to left (he would go 5 for 46 in 2005) and Marco Scutaro, who had replaced Ellis at second, singled Thomas to third. Kendall hit a grounder to Huff at third, who threw to the plate and retired Thomas in a rundown. But Kotsay ended the game with a single to center to score Scutaro and end the 3:53 game.
Oakland would go 7-20 in May, but would go 39-14 in June and July to get back into the race. The A's gave the Angels a run for the money, but slumped down the stretch and finished 88-74, 7 games behind the first place Angels. Blanton, after his bad start, finished the year 12-12 with a 3.53 ERA. Huston Street, the winning pitcher on this day, would take over the closer job in the bullpen and win the Rookie of the Year Award. Street saved 23 games with a 1.72 ERA. Justin Duchscherer, the A's lone All Star representative, had a 7-4 record and a 2.21 ERA out of the bullpen. Oakland's offense had the problem that it had to carry around the millstone of Kendall. He had 676 plate appearances and had just 29 extra base hits, none of them home runs. Crosby, the 2004 Rookie of the year, played in just 84 games.
Tampa Bay, which had avoided the cellar for the first time in franchise history in 2004, finished in last place in 2005 at 67-95. The pitching staff had an ERA of 5.39 and with the exception of Kazmir, who finished with an ERA of 3.77, and Baez, who saved 41 games with a 2.86 ERA, it was not a memorable staff. And that is sort of damning with faint praise. The game that exemplified the D-Rays season came on June 21 in New York when Tampa Bay's bullpen blew an 11-7 lead in the eighth and saw the Yankees score 13 runs in the inning. Surprisingly, the Devil Rays had a winning record (11-8) against the AL East champion Yankees in 2005. Carl Crawford led the AL in triples with 15 ad Jorge Cantu had a big year with 28 home runs. Jonny Gomes hit 21 home runs in just 101 games. Nevertheless, Piniella had seen enough and he and the Devil Rays parted company at the end of the season.
Sources: San Francisco Chronicle, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Minor league umpires strike likely over - Take 2
An earlier settlement was rejected by the union.
There is still no word if the new contract includes Delmon Young bat-ducking bonuses.
Carpenter will go on Disabled List
The Cardinals will put Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter on the disabled list Tuesday with bursitis in his back. Anthony Reyes will likely get recalled to take his spot.
Carpenter's condition is described as "scapulothoracic bursitis." It hurts, but it's still scrappy. David Eckstein likely approves.
Get your brackets ready!
The 64 teams in the NCAA Division I baseball tournament were announced today.
The top eight seeds are Clemson (47-14), Rice (50-10), Texas (40-19), Alabama (41-19), Cal St. Fullerton (43-13), Nebraska (42-15), Georgia (41-19) and Georgia Tech (45-16).
The teams are grouped into 16 4-team groups. Each group plays a double-elimination tournament to pick a winner. Those 16 winners are then paired up in "super-regionals" where eight sets of two teams play another double elimination tournament. The winners of those eight tournaments move on to Omaha for the College World Series, which will start June 16, around the time the NBA Finals will be at Game 2 I think.
There are five first-time participants in Lehigh, UNC Asheville, Prairie View, USF, and Sacred Heart. The latter is in Fairfield, Connecticut if you were wondering. Princeton made the tournament with a 19-24-1 record.
The best place to check for previews of this tournament will be at Baseball Analysts where Rich and Bryan probably can fill out a bracket sheet for this tournament. Their preview hasn't been written yet mainly because there is a limit as to how fast someone can write. But check there for the best info.
I'll post periodic updates during the tournament, which starts June 2.
Random Game Callback, May 29, 1993
Big league baseball finally moved into the Mountain Time Zone in 1993 when the Colorado Rockies began play. The Rockies played their first season (as well as 1994) in Mile High Stadium, where they drew huge crowds. One of the features of play in Denver was lots and lots of offense. But lefthander Terry Mulholland of Philadelphia was able to tame the high altitude for one day, shutting out the Rockies 6-0 before a crowd of 56,263.
Surprisingly, the game had no extra base hits. There were 14 hits in the game, all singles. The Phillies outfielders had no putouts in the game.
Philadelphia scored in the first inning when catcher Darren Daulton hit a sacrifice fly to score center fielder Lenny Dykstra. The Phillies added three more in the fourth on RBI singles by third baseman Dave Hollins, Daulton, and a sacrifice fly from right fielder Wes Chamberlain. John Kruk singled home two more runs in the fourth to wrap up the scoring. The Phillies did all of their damage against starting pitcher Willie Blair.
Mulholland needed just 99 pitches for the shutout, 66 of them for strikes. He walked just one batter and struck out two. He also hit a batter.
After the game, Baylor was impressed. "If you told me that we'd get shut out in this ballpark, with all the right-handed hitters that we have, I just wouldn't have believed it," Baylor said.
The Rockies would not be a success in the Won-Loss column, finishing 67-95 and in sixth place, 37 games behind first place Atlanta. But the Rockies were a hit at the box office. They drew 4,483,350 fans to Mile High Stadium, an alltime record in Major League baseball. The Rockies managed to draw 70,069 people for their final home game. The Rockies were 39-42 at home and 28-53 on the road.
First baseman Andres Galarrraga was the team's leading hitter as well as the league's with a .370 average. Third baseman Charlie Hayes led the team with 25 home runs. The pitching staff had an ERA of 5.41 which was .64 worse than the next worst team, Pittsburgh. Armando Reynoso had an ERA of 4.00 and a 12-11 record. Darren Holmes managed to pick up 25 saves.
As for the Phillies, it was a much different story. They won the NL East with a 97-65 record, three games better than Montreal. The Phillies surprised the Braves in the LCS in six games, but would lose to Toronto in the World Series in six games.
Dykstra was the team's offensive leader, batting .305 with 19 home runs. He had an OPS+ of 143. Kruk batted .316 and had an OPS+ of 144.
The four main starting pitchers, Mulholland, Curt Schilling, Tommy Greene, and Danny Jackson all had ERA+ of 100 or more. Mitch Williams managed to pick up 43 saves while driving Philadelphia fans crazy with 44 walks in 62 innings of work. Williams gave up three home runs during the regular season. And one very big one in the post season.
Sources: Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Mr. Kim meet Mr. Downing, Al meet Byung-Hyun - UPDATED
Bonds' 715th homer came in the fourth inning at AT&T Park to center field with Steve Finley aboard to make it Colorado 6, San Francisco 2.
The radio call that nobody heard.
If you could image Jim Bowden's brain
I came across this from Chris Needham's Capitol Punishment blog about the Washington Nationals.
The link is to a post he made discussing how Bowden and the Nationals "brain trust" would be handling the upcoming amateur draft.
In particular, Chris notes that Bowden is going to be use a man named Jared Niednagel to advise on "brain imaging."
Here is Niednagel's website.
If you keep reading it, you will begin to think that the guy works for The Hanso Foundation.
"I do not know what is more disquieting. That Royce Clayton bats second for Washington or that Marlon Anderson bats fith."
All or nothing pays off for the Braves at Wrigley
In a 13-12 win over the Cubs at Wrigley today, the Atlanta Braves:
And they gave him a save!
After 8 innings, Boston led Tampa Bay, 5-0, then:
4 runs, 1 hits, 0 errors
Tavarez was given a save after getting one out (Gathright at home) and giving up two walks and a single. To be fair to Tavarez, he should have gotten out of the inning except Mirabelli let a third strike get past him.
Coco is a go go, Wily Mo is a no go
Boston reactivated Coco Crisp from the DL. Wily Mo Peña changes place with Crisp on the DL with a wrist injury.
Mike Timlin went on the DL also and Manny Delcarmen was brought up to replace him.
Random Game Callback, May 28, 1956
A crowd of 32,221 poured into Forbes Field on a Monday night to watch the defending World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers take on the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. The big draw was the Pirates journeyman first baseman Dale Long, who had set a major league two days earlier by homering in his seventh straight game, breaking a record held by six others, including Willie Mays the year before. Long was given a $2500 bonus by Pirates GM Joe L. Brown as a reward.
Long had bounced around between the majors and minors for Cincinnati, the Red Sox, Detroit, the Yankees, the Browns, and two tours with the Pirates. Long finally got a starting job with the Pirates in 1955, a team that went 60-94. The 1956 team wouldn't be much better, but they were off to an 18-14 start and were in third place.
The Dodgers were on the board before most of the crowd was in its seats. Jim Gilliam led off with a walk and one batter later, Duke Snider homered to center over the 436' sign to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. But Friend would only give up one more hit during the game.
In the fourth inning, Long came to bat against Erskine. And Long ended the suspense by homering into the right-field stands to tie the game 2-2. It was Long's eighth homer in eight games and his 14th overall.
Long finished the 1956 season with 27 home runs, a career high. In 1957, the Pirates traded Long and Walls to Chicago in exchange for Dee Fondy and Gene Baker. Long would put up three 20-homer seasons in Chicago, but was sold to San Francisco before the 1960 season. The Giants sold Long to the Yankees for the stretch drive in 1960. The Yankees lost Long to Washington in the 1961 expansion draft and he had two mediocre seasons in Washington, but in the middle of the 1962 season, the Yankees reacquired Long in exchange for Don Lock. On August 2, 1963, the Yankees released Long. Long played in both the 1960 and 1962 World Series for the Yankees.
The Dodgers would bounce back from this early season loss to win their last NL pennant in Brooklyn by one game over Milwaukee at 93-61. The Pirates, still a young team, would finish in seventh at 66-88.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
Seventh Heaven for the heroes of Woodley Avenue
In a matter of interest to very, very, very few people, except me, John F. Kennedy High School of Granada Hills, California won its seventh L.A. City baseball championship Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, upsetting the #6 team in the country (according to Baseball America), Chatsworth High, 4-2. (So sayeth the L.A. Times website.)
A profile of Kennedy and its longtime coach, Manny Alvarado from the Daily News.
Alvarado, in his 18th year at Kennedy, says he has made an effort not to "be a dinosaur." But his way of keeping up with the younger generation is a little different than you might expect.
L.A. Times story.
Why Las Vegas is in Oakland
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tries to make sense of MLB's TV blackout policies.
Passan tries, but his attempt is futile as he discovers that searching for reason in an inherently illogical system only serves to give you a headache.
Moore to possibly replace Baird in Kansas City
The Kansas City Star is reporting that Atlanta assistant GM Dayton Moore is in negotiations with Royals owner David Glass to replace current GM Allard Baird.
If Moore and the Royals can't agree, the team is expected to set its sights on either Ed Wade or Randy Smith.
Thunder at the bottom of the lineup
The #8 and #9 hitters for Atlanta are both batting 1.000 this season.
Catcher Brayan Peña is 1 for 1. Pitcher Horacio Ramirez is 2 for 2.
First at bats today for each hitter: Peña walked and Ramirez got a hit. They remain perfect.
Second at bats today for each hitter: Peña doubles and Ramirez sacrifices. They are still perfect.
The dream dies. Both Peña and Ramirez make outs in their third at bats.
This could get confusing
If the Reds win their next two games against Arizona and the Dodgers win their next two games against Washington and the Mets lose their next two games to Florida, then there would be four teams tied for the second best record in the NL.
Which would make my "If the playoffs started today..." scenarios even more confusing than it is now. I believe I have all the possible scenarios listed. But I could be wrong.
I think counting on Florida to beat the Mets twice more is a longshot fortunately. And the Mets won to prevent this catastrophe!
Random Game Callback, May 27, 1968
1968 was the year of the pitcher in baseball. The American League ERA was 2.98 overall. The overall batting average was .230. Carl Yastrzemski led the league in batting average with an alltime low of .301 and was the only qualifier to top .300. But on this one night in Anaheim, the Detroit Tigers and California Angels combined for 13 runs and 29 hits, including 3 home runs as the Angels defeated the Tigers 7-6 in 12 innings. The Tigers were still a half game ahead of Baltimore and the Angels were 4 1/2 games out in sixth place. 8,712 showed up for the game.
All three homers were hit by the Tigers, two of them by Eddie Mathews. Those homers were the 511th and 512nd of his career and it moved him past Mel Ott into sixth place on the alltime list of home run hitters at the time. They would also be the last home runs hit by Mathews in his career as he would play in just 13 more games. Presently, Mathews total is tied for 17th most in major league history. Ernie Banks also hit 512 home runs.
Mathews had started his career in 1952 with the Boston Braves and would be only person to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. Mathews led the NL in home runs twice, once in 1953 and again in 1959. Both of those years he would be the runnerup for the MVP award. In 1953, Roy Campanella beat him out and in 1959, it was Banks.
Detroit manager Mayo Smith picked lefty Mickey Lolich to start. California manager Bill Rigney opted for righthander Sammy Ellis. Mathews was getting a start in first as Norm Cash was supposed to get the day off because he was slumping.
Lolich gave up single runs to the Angels in each of the first three innings to put his team in a hole. Chuck Hinton had an RBI grounder in the first. Bobby Knoop singled in Bubba Morton in the second. And in the third, Rick Reichardt singled home Hinton.
Mathews put the Tigers on the board in the fifth with a two-run homer off of Ellis with Willie Horton aboard. But the Angels got the two runs back on an RBI double from Reichardt and an RBI single by Morton off of reliever Pat Dobson.
Mathews chased Ellis in the seventh after he led off the inning with a home run. Minnie Rojas relieved and promptly gave up a double to third baseman Don Wert. Norm Cash was called off the bench to bat for shortstop Ray Oyler, who was batting .182 at the time and would finish the year at .135. Cash broke out of his slump with a home run to put the Tigers ahead 6-5.
The Angels bounced back in the seventh. Shortstop Jim Fregosi led off with a single. Hinton sacrificed him over and Reichardt grounded out, sending Fregosi to third. Morton singled home Fregosi to tie the game. Bobby Trevino followed with a double to send Morton to third and Dobson was pulled in favor of Fred Lasher, who got Buck Rodgers to ground out to end the inning.
In the twelfth inning, Reichardt led off with a single. Patterson balked Reichardt to second. Patterson then hit Morton with a pitch. Bobby Trevino popped out, but Tom Satriano doubled to left to score Reichardt and give the Angels the win. It was the second straight night that the Tigers had lost 7-6 in extra innings. They had lost to Oakland by the same score on May 26.
But the Tigers wouldn't lose a lot of games in 1968. They won the AL by 12 games with a 103-59 record. Denny McLain would win the Cy Young Award and the MVP with a 31-6 record and a 1.96 ERA. But in the World Series against the Cardinals, Lolich would be the hero, winning three games in the Tigers seven game victory. Mathews would finish his major league career when he started at third base in Game 4. His final plate appearance was a walk against Bob Gibson.
The Angels had an awful 1968, finishing tied for eighth with a 67-95 record, 36 games behind the Tigers. The Angels scored just 498 runs and batted just .227. Reichardt led the regulars with a .255 average and 21 home runs. Rigney, the Angels first manager, would only get to stay on the job until May 25 of the next season.
Sources: Los Angeles Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Cody Ross on the move again
First he was a Dodger (7 for 14).
Then he was a Red (1 for 5).
Now, outfielder Cody Ross is Marlin.
Yan can't pitch, so Jered goes to the Big Leagues
Well, it's not like Esteban Yan is injured. He just isn't good anymore (6.85 ERA).
And the Angels brought up Jeff Weaver's little brother, Jered.
And you thought the 1919 White Sox were bad
Starting today, (for no real good reason except I found the article interesting), there will start being posts here about the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Germany, which starts on June 9.
I will try to put "World Cup" in the headline, so those who aren't interested, can just skip by it. But since at least three of us here on the Toaster care about the World Cup, including Ken, who uses the political principle of "one guy sitting by the server, lots and lots of votes." So the vote in favor of soccer posts was as one-sided as a North Korean election. Fortunately, Ken is not a developing nuclear power, but I have heard rumors.
But today, for those who haven't read about it yet, check out the worsening crisis in Italian soccer which centers around national powerhouse Juventus.
The Italian national team is in the same group (E) as the USA, along with Ghana and the Czech Republic.
Mesa and Vizquel - The Blood Feud returns
John Shea writes in ESPN.com about the enmity between Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel.
The book elevated the tension. In "Omar! My Life On and Off the Field," Vizquel writes about Mesa blowing Game 7: "The eyes of the world were focused on every move we made. Unfortunately, Jose's own eyes were vacant. Completely empty. Nobody home. You could almost see right through him. Not long after I looked into his vacant eyes, he blew the save and the Marlins tied the game."
I'm guessing that Vizquel's co-writer, Bob Dyer, penned the paragraph about the vacant eyes.
At least somebody can throw a no-hitter
Rick Guttormson of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, became the sixth foreign pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Japan. Guttormson's Swallows downed the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, 6-0. Guttormson gave up one walk and one batter reached on an error.
It is the 72nd no-hitter overall in Japan since the two league system was initiated in 1950.
Also in the linked story, you can note that the Eagles have signed former MLB outfielder Eric Valent.
Windy City Suspensions
The fallout from last Saturday's set-to between Michael Barrett, et al. has been settled by the Commissioner's Office.
Michael Barrett - 10 games
I believe that since Cora is a coach, he can't appeal his suspension, but I could be wrong.
Random Game Callback, May 26, 1965
If you grew up in Southern California, the year 1965 is often associated with Sandy Koufax. It was the season where Koufax threw a perfect game against the Cubs. Koufax would strike out 382 batters. He won 26 games. His ERA was 2.04. Koufax would win two games in the World Series over the Twins. But Koufax didn't win them all in 1965. And on this day, the St. Louis Cardinals were just a little bit better, beating the Dodgers and Koufax, 2-1 before 30,794 at Dodger Stadium.
The Cardinals had won the World Series in 1964, but their manager Johnny Keane, had left the team to go manage the Yankees. Local hero Red Schoendienst took over the job and would hold on to it for 12 years as well having two stints as an interim manager after that. Schoendienst picked veteran lefty Curt Simmons to start. Simmons had broken in with the Phillies as an 18-year old in 1947 and pitched with them until 1960 when his career appeared to be over with an arm injury. But the Cardinals signed him and he slowly got back into shape and was a key part of the Cardinals championship in 1964. Simmons was the prototypical "crafty lefty."
The Cardinals started three players who would be key to their success in 1967 and 1968: left fielder Lou Brock (who was batting second), center fielder Curt Flood (the third place hitter), and second baseman Julian Javier (who was the leadoff hitter). Three players who were key to the team's success in 1964: third baseman Ken Boyer, first baseman Bill White, and shortstop Dick Groat also were starting. And they would all be traded at the end of the year.
The Dodgers under Walter Alston were trying to retool their offense to make up for the loss of Tommy Davis, who suffered a broken ankle earlier in the month. Lou Johnson had been recalled from the minors and was starting to put in a claim for the left field position. Johnson was 4-for-7 in the first two games of the series against the Cardinals and was batting .340. Alston had tried him as the leadoff hitter with Maury Wills out for a couple of games, but Johnson was back down to the fifth spot this night.
St. Louis grabbed an early read. After Javier struck out to start the game, Brock reached on a bunt single and stole second. Flood reached on an infield hit and Brock stayed at second. But not for long as Brock and Flood executed a double steal against Dodgers backup catcher Jeff Torborg. Boyer hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Brock and make it 1-1.
The Dodgers, who had to struggle to score runs all year, scratched out one in the second. The Dodgers got started with singles by Ron Fairly and Johnson. Jim Lefebvre walked to load the bases. Torborg then put the brakes on the rally by grounding into a DP, but Fairly scored to tie the game.
Simmons and Koufax then matched zeroes until the seventh. Then the Cardinals had the most unlikely of rallies. With two outs, backup catcher Bob Uecker singled. That brought up Simmons and Schoendienst opted to let him bat as he was pitching fairly well. Simmons was 0 for 18 on the season, but he managed hit a grounder that made it into left field and Uecker went to second. (It was the only hit Simmons ever had against Koufax in 13 plate appearances. Uecker was 7 for 38 in his career against Koufax with a home run.) Javier followed with a single to right. Fairly's throw to the plate was not in time to catch Uecker and the Cardinals led 2-1.
The Dodgers mounted a rally of a sort in the ninth. With two outs, Johnson walked and then tried to steal second. Uecker throw's had Johnson out, but Javier dropped it for an error to keep the game going. Simmons then walked Lefebvre. But Torborg fouled out to Uecker to end the game. Simmons had a complete game 5-hitter, but had no strikeouts. Koufax struck out six in eight innings of work. Bob Miller pitched the ninth for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers would go on to win the NL by 2 games over the Giants with a 97-65 record. The Dodgers won 15 of their last 16 games and had seven shutouts in that stretch. The Cardinals finished in seventh place at 80-81. Simmons finished a disappointing 9-15 with a 4.08 ERA. Ray Sadecki, who had won 20 games in 1964, went 6-15 in 1965 and would be traded to the Giants early in the 1966 season in exchange for Orlando Cepeda, a trade that still haunts many Giants fans.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, Los Angeles Times
One writer who sticks up for Bonds
Brian Murphy writes on ESPN.com's Page 2 about San Francisco Giants fans and why they still like Barry Bonds.
It's an interesting look at a complicated issue.
Jeff Kent won the MVP award in 2000, but Kent didn't get it the way Barry got it. While Barry kept saying he wanted to win a World Series for Giants fans in San Francisco -- "my hometown," as Barry always pointed out -- Kent was the one who ripped the Giants' new home uniforms on Opening Night at Pac Bell, oozing disdain when he uttered his infamous "french vanilla" description of the Giants' cream-colored home gamers. Worse, he dared describe Pac Bell Park as a place with flaws. He pointed out its shortcomings, how it wasn't a hitter's park, how it was still cold when all any San Franciscan and any Giants fan wanted to hear was how pretty it was and how lucky we were to have it.
As Murphy says repeatedly, it's complicated.
What he doesn't answer is, could Bonds get a sympathetic reaction now in any other city if he played for a different team?
Personally, I don't think so.
Baird vows to draft best pitcher available
Kansas City GM Allard Baird is quoted as saying on MLB.com,
"I want the best available guy," general manager Allard Baird said. "In this case, it's going to be the best available pitcher."
Which ever young man gets drafted by the Royals, I am certain that in a matter of weeks, he will meet some misfortune. I'm betting on a dirigble accident. My second favorite is someone contracting one of those diseases that only turn up on "House."
Another possibility is that the pitcher drafted will look at his assembled teammates and just lose the will to live.
Bonds show goes on hiatus
America's most scintillating reality TV show "Bonds on Bonds" will go on hiatus after the next two shows are aired.
The show may return when anyone wants to watch it.
Don't blame me. I watched it once!
25 for 34 at Enron Field
Federal prosecutors were a sizzling 25 out of 34 in guilty verdicts in the trials of Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling this morning in Houston.
Lay was found guilty 9 out of 9 times to win Guilty White Collar Criminal of the Week honors.
Hamels on DL
Clay Condrey will replace him on the roster.
Remember when the Phillies were hot and making a run at the Mets?
I remember the early part of May. I was younger then.
Random Game Callback, May 25, 1981
A Memorial Day crowd of 40,689 at the Oakland Coliseum saw what was normal for the Oakland A's at the time, a complete game win by an Oakland pitcher. In this case, it was Steve McCatty who did the honors beating the Chicago White Sox 5-2.
Oakland manager Billy Martin and his pitching coach Art Fowler seemed to believe that the best recipe for success for his young pitching staff was to have them go the distance. In a season shortened and bisected by a strike to just 109 games, Oakland still had 60 complete games and Oakland pitchers finished 1-2-5 in the AL in complete games. Chicago manager Tony La Russa started Richard Dotson.
Both teams scored in the first inning. The White Sox strung together singles by Mike Squires, Carlton Fisk and Greg Luzinski for a run. In the bottom of the first, Rickey Henderson tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wayne Gross to shallow left, surprising Ron LeFlore who didn't think Henderson would try to score on the play.
The tie held until the fifth inning. Designated hitter Mitchell Page led off with a single and second baseman Keith Drumright singled Page to second. After shortstop Rob Picciolo popped out, Henderson singled to left and Drumright went on to third when LeFlore misplayed the single. Center fielder Dwayne Murphy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Right fielder Tony Armas then cleared the bases with a double to give Oakland a 5-1 lead. Kevin Hickey came into relieve and finished out the game for the White Sox.
The White Sox got one more run in the seventh when third baseman Jim Morrison homered. McCatty retired the last seven White Sox hitters to end the game.
After the game, the White Sox were not happy. La Russa and his players accused McCatty of throwing a spitball. During the game, White Sox second baseman Tony Bernazard twice asked home plate umpire Ted Hendry to inspect the ball, drawing Martin's ire. McCatty and Martin denied any shenanigans after the game in the local papers. Many fingers were pointed at White Sox backup catcher Jim Essian, who had earlier in the year, that he knew that the Oakland pitchers were throwing spitters when he was the A's catcher in 1980.
Dotson and La Russa also admitted after the game that they hadn't gone over the scouting report for Drumright, anticipating that Shooty Babitt would start at second base, but Babitt's lack of production was earning him a spot in Martin's doghouse, a place where many went in and few ever came out.
When the strike hit on June 10, the A's were ahead in the AL West by 1 1/2 games over Texas. The White Sox were in third, 2 1/2 games out. When play resumed, the A's had a playoff berth in hand, but almost won both halves, finishing just a game behind Kansas City, who had the fourth best overall record in the division. Oakland would sweep Kansas City in the Division Series and then get swept in the LCS by the Yankees.
Martin had made a dramatic turnaround in Oakland. In 1979, the A's finished 54-108. in 1980, Martin took over and led the team to an 83-79 record, which featured 94 complete games by the starters and a 21-year old Henderson who stole 100 bases. In 1981, Henderson stole 56 bases and batted .319 and had a .408 OBP. Armas tied for the AL lead in home runs with 22. With starters like McCatty, Mike Norris, Rick Langford, and Matt Keough throwing complete games nearly all the time, the bullpen didn't get a lot of work. Jeff Jones and Dave Beard tied for the team lead in saves with three. By 1982, the pitchers started breaking down and Oakland finished 68-94 and Martin was out of a job again.
La Russa, in his second full season as manager of the White Sox, got the team over the .500 mark at 54-52. Luzinski hit 21 home runs in 104 games. 22-year old right fielder Harold Baines, batted .286. La Russa was not afraid to use his bullpen as the White Sox had just 20 complete games. (For comparison purposes, La Russa's 2005 Cardinals team led the majors in complete games with 15.) Ed Farmer and La Marr Hoyt each had 10 saves. Britt Burns was the top starter with a 10-6 record and a 2.64 ERA. Fisk hit just seven home runs in his first season in Chicago after leaving Boston as a free agent, but he would hit over 10 home runs in his next 10 season with the White Sox, including 18 in 1991 when he was 43.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, Chicago Tribune
'Lost' thread - IF YOU'VE ALREADY WATCHED
Mets acquire El Duque from Arizona
The Mets tried to fill their vacancies in their rotation by acquiring Orlando Hernandez from Arizona in exchange for Jorge Julio.
Thanks to bhsportsguy for the link.
If you ever think MLB is disorganized ...
You should read about the lack of unity among baseball leagues in Japan.
Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri writes of the problems that Japan's two leagues are having in trying to reconcile their methods of choosing a champion.
Japan, like the U.S., has two leagues: the Central and the Pacific. Unlike MLB, the two leagues operate somewhat autonomously. Presently, they have different methods of choosing their champions. The PL has its top three teams face off in a playoff tournament. The second and third place teams face off in a best of three and the winner faces the champion in a best of five. The winner moves on to the Japan Series.
The CL has no playoffs unless there is a tie for first. And there has never been a tie for first as Japanese teams usually pick up enough ties (which are not replayed) to make that mathematically unlikely.
According to Allen, the CL proposal for the 2007 postseason was to have the top two teams in each leagues meet in the postseason, but in a crossover fashion: CL #1 vs PL #2 and CL #2 vs PL #1. Then the winners of those series would meet in the Japan Series. As Allen points, out that would set up the possibility of a Japan Series matching Japan's two most popular teams (both in the CL) of the Yomiuri Giants and the Hanshin Tigers. It be would like a Yankees-Red Sox World Series.
While that may be interesting, that's not all that likely as the Giants and Tigers have not been in many pennant races against each other in recent years, although they are 1-2 now.
Not surprisingly, the Pacific League doesn't like this proposal. A PL team has won the last three Japan Series and it's been a different team each time. The PL has long been the poor stepchild of Japanese baseball as it's teams don't have the same level of fan support and the weight of history behind them. The PL started its playoff system to heighten interest in late season games. And its playoff series keep its teams sharp while the CL champ sits around for three weeks waiting for the Japan Series to start.
The Central League needs to work on helping out its less popular teams (Yakult, Yokohama, and Hiroshima) and making the league more competitive.
Allen has some other good points about the problems of the Central League, such as why in the world it refuses to let teams announce who will be the starting pitcher ahead of time.
All of this makes MLB's setup of 16 teams in one league and 14 in another along with unbalanced schedules seem quite equitable.
Cole Hamels fact #502 - not pitching
502 - Cole Hamels will miss his start tonight against the Mets with a sore shoulder.
Random Game Callback, May 24, 1958
The defending World Series champion Milwaukee Braves rallied to score four times in the eighth inning to beat the San Francisco Giants 6-3 before a crowd of 26,948 at County Stadium.
The Giants, in their first year on the West Coast after their move from New York (along with a Brooklyn based team called the Dodgers), had a bad 1957, but manager Bill Rigney had his team in first place early in the year. Rigney tabbed 19-year old Mike McCormick to start. Milwaukee manager Fred Haney chose 6'8" Gene Conley, who also played in the NBA, to start.
Henry Aaron drove in the first run of the game when he hit into a force play and Johnny Logan scored in the first inning. In the second, San Francisco rookie first baseman Orlando Cepeda tripled and scored on a double by Willie Kirkland. The Braves went back ahead in the bottom of the second on a home run by Del Crandall.
The Giants took the lead in the third. McCormick led off with a single and Davenport bunted him over. Whitey Lockman singled home McCormick to tie the game. Willie Mays grounded out and Lockman moved over to second. Cepeda singled to score Lockman.
Aaron singled to lead off the sixth, but was erased on a double play ball off the bat of Joe Adcock. Andy Pakfo followed with a single as did Wes Covington and Rigney pulled McCormick in favor of Al Worthington, who retired Crandall to end the inning.
In the eighth inning, Eddie Mathews led off with a ground out. Aaron then hit a grounder to shortstop Daryl Spencer, who booted it, and Aaron was safe at first. Adcock walked and then Pafko singled to score Aaron to tie the game at 3-3. Rigney brought in Marv Grissom. Covington singled to right to score Adcock and send Pafko to third. Crandall then hit a bouncer to the pitcher and Grissom threw out Pafko at the plate. Red Schoendienst singled to score Covington and it was 5-3 Milwaukee. A wild pitch by Grissom let Crandall score with the Braves sixth run.
Don McMahon, who relieved Conley in the eighth, worked out of jams the last two innings to pick up the win.
The Braves would win their second straight NL pennant with a 92-62 record, eight games ahead of the Pirates. The Giants finished in third, 12 games back at 80-74. The Braves would lose the World Series to the Yankees in seven games.
Warren Spahn, who went 22-11 with a 3.07 ERA, and Lew Burdette, who went 20-10 with a 2.91 ERA, led a strong Braves pitching staff that led the NL with a 3.21 ERA. However, despite the bats of Aaron and Mathews and the strong pitching, the Braves would not win an NL pennant again in Milwaukee.
Cepeda would win the Rookie of the Year award in 1958, batting .312 with 25 home runs. Mays batted .347 with 29 home runs in his first year in San Francisco. However, the rest of the offense was pretty spotty with guys like Bob Schmidt and Danny O'Connell getting a lot of at bats. And the pitching staff, aside from reliever Stu Miller, wasn't all that stellar. The Giants had another prospect at AAA Phoenix in 1958 by the name of Willie McCovey. He would prove to be quite helpful in the future.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Since he has time on his hooves ...
You can email get well messages to Barbaro at this link.
Barbaro has promised to read every message I've been told and I believe he will respond to as many as he can.
How did one of the world's pre-eminent large animal veterinary hospitals end up in suburban Philadelphia?
Reds add to their Rosses
Cincinnati has activated former Dodger outfielder Cody Ross from the DL. He joins former Dodger catcher David Ross.
The copy editor at Yahoo sports lost track of his Rosses and has this headline:
Reds activate OF Cody Ross, option RHP Mike Ross
Actually, the pitcher is named Mike Burns.
You know I thought that PVK was the initial for a terrorist group. But apparently it's nothting more than the airport code for Preveza Airport in Greece.
Last night, Padres pitcher Jake Peavy struck out 16 Atlanta batters in seven innings of work. Peavy was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh as his team was down 2-0 as John Smoltz was pitching just as well.
Peavy's 16 strikeouts were a Padres record for one pitcher in a game. The previous highs were 15 by Fred Norman on September 15, 1972 at Cincinnati and Sterling Hitchcock against Montreal on August 29, 1998.
Like Peavy, Hitchcock also lost the game.
Relievers Scott Cassidy and Jim Brower also had a strikeout apiece to give the Padres a team record of 18 Ks in a 9-inning game, breaking the record of 17 set in Hitchcock's start back in 1998.
Kevin Brown also had 16 Ks in Game 1 of the NLDS against Houston on September 29, 1998.
Random Game Callback, May 23, 1973
Although 1973 was a time when the Baltimore Orioles dominated the AL East, on this day, the New York Yankees moved into a tie for first place with a 6-5 win over Detroit at Tiger Stadium before a crowd of 12, 038.
The Yankees were only 20-20 (the same as Detroit), but this day marked the first time the Yankees had been in first place outside of the month of April since they had won their last pennant in 1964.
Yankees manager Ralph Houk in his second tour of duty as Yankees manager chose Fritz Peterson as his starter. Peterson and teammate Mike Kekich caused a stir during spring training when the two mean agreed to trade their spouses. Ahh, the 1970s, I miss them so. Detroit manager Billy Martin started Joe Coleman.
The Yankees order was not formidable. Horace Clarke led off. He would finish 1973 with an OPS+ of 80 and had just 23 extra base hits all season. In the picture accompanying the New York Times account of the game, it appears that Clarke also played the infield this game in a batting helmet. Roy White batted second and would play in all 162 games and would hit .246, but he did hit 18 home runs. Matty Alou batted third. He hit .296, but his 25 extra base hits brought his slugging percentage all the way up to .356. Bobby Murcer batted cleanup and was a solid hitter with 22 home runs. Ron Blomberg was starting at first, although he played DH (which was introduced in 1973) frequently and hit .329 in platoon duty. Third baseman Graig Nettles had arrived from Cleveland and would hit 22 home runs, but would bat .234. Jim Ray Hart was the DH this day and he had been purchased from the Giants in April. Thurman Munson, the best hitter on the team, was batting eighth this game and catching. Shortstop Gene Michael, who never hit well, batted ninth.
The Tigers had won the AL East in 1972, but they had to tweak their lineup a bit in 1973. Frank Howard had joined the team for the 1972 stretch run and was starting this game at DH. Catcher Bill Freehan was put at first base this game instead of regular starter Norm Cash. Tony Taylor was filling in for Dick McAuliffe at second base. Third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez who had an OPS+ of 63 was batting second. He would play in 160 games. Shortstop Eddie Brinkman played in 162 games and had an OPS+ of 67.
In this game, the Yankees got off to a fast start, scoring three times off of Coleman in the first. Murcer and Blomberg had RBI singles and Nettles had a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, the Yankees went back ahead. Blomberg led off with a single and Nettles reached on an error by Taylor. Munson singled home Blomberg and Nettles would come in to score when Michael hit into a force play. Mickey Stanley homered in the sixth to make it 5-4 New York.
Lindy McDaniel came in to relieve Peterson in the seventh and Brinkman greeted him with a double. Taylor grounded out, but Rodriguez doubled home Brinkman to tie the game. McDaniel had thrown just four pitches and Houk pulled him in favor of his relief ace, Sparky Lyle, who got out of the inning.
The game stayed tied in to the ninth. Michael led off with a single and Clarke sacrificed him over to second. White flied out to right and Alou doubled him home. (Matty's brother, Felipe Alou was also on the Yankees this year.) After 8 2/3 innings and 11 hits allowed, Martin finally pulled Coleman and brought in John Hiller, who finally got the Yankees out of the inning. The Tigers got two runners on against Lyle in the ninth, but Rodriguez popped out and Freehan struck out to end the game.
Martin would be let go by the Tigers on August 30 and Joe Schultz replaced him for the rest of the year. The Tigers finished in third place at 85-77. The Rangers would hire Martin on September 8 to replace Whitey Herzog. Houk's Yankees would finish 80-82, 17 games behind Baltimore in fourth place. Houk would step down as Yankees manager and take over the Tigers job in 1974.
1973 was also the last season, in a sense, for Yankee Stadium. The stadium would close for extensive renovations at the end of the year and the Yankees would share Shea Stadium for two seasons with the Mets. Yankee Stadium version 1.2, would have fewer seats and would no longer have monuments on the field that were in play. By the time Yankee Stadium reopened in 1976, Billy Martin would be calling the shots for the team.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, New York Times
Angels try another minor league prospect in hopes of turnaround
The Jeff Mathis experiment wasn't a success as he batted .103. The Howie Kendrick trial was not a big hit either as he batted .115. Now the Angels are bringing up another prospect, Kendry Morales from Salt Lake City. Pitcher Jason Bulger is going back down.
The Los Angeles Times article hints that Tony Clark may be a trade acquisiton possibility.
Meetings, more meetings
Before Monday's game against Detroit, the Kansas City Royals held a players only meeting.
"For some of the players, it was probably a long time coming," second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said. "Things needed to be said, obviously, or they wouldn't have came out yesterday."
The Royals went on to lose their tenth straight game of the year, 8-0 as Justin Verlander threw a five-hitter.
The Royals are now 10-32 on the season. They have the highest ERA in the majors at 5.97. They are also last in the majors in runs scored with 154.
The ten wins by the Royals have come against Cleveland (5 times!), Chicago (3), and Minnesota (twice, once by 1-0). They are 10-18 within their division and 0-14 against the AL East, AL West, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ozzie and Tony: Not a love story
In Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith didn't have many nice thing to say about Cardinals manager Tony La Russa or GM Walt Jocketty.
Smith said he hadn't felt he belonged with the Cardinals since his last year with them coincided with manager Tony La Russa's first year as manager.
At first, La Russa was trying to downplay any friction. But in Monday's paper, he changed his tone.
"Speaking personally, I don't think he would be good for our ballclub," said La Russa, who sought out the Post-Dispatch before Sunday's game. "For him to repeat those comments is really unreasonable. That invitation is no longer there.
Random Game Callback, May 22, 1987
The American League's two newest teams, Toronto and Seattle, faced off at the Kingdome on a Friday night before 10,012 curious spectators. The Blue Jays pounded out five home runs as they won 7-5. The Blue Jays were in third place 2 games behind first place New York. The Mariners were tied for second with California, 3 1/2 games behind first place Kansas City.
Toronto manager Jimy Williams picked lefty John Cerutti to start. Seattle manager Dick Williams chose righthander Scott Bankhead as his starter. The Mariners were coming off a 67-95 last place finish in 1986 and hoping that Dick Williams would be able to turn around the franchise. Jimy Williams was in his second year in charge of the Blue Jays, taking over for Bobby Cox who left after the Blue Jays AL East title in 1985 to become general manager of Atlanta.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cerutti gave up leadoff singles to Jim Presley and Ken Phelps and Mark Eichhorn came into relieve Cerutti. Eichhorn had put up one of the best relief pitching seasons ever in 1986 with a 1.72 ERA in 157 innings. He wouldn't be quite as sharp in 1987. And he wasn't sharp in the fourth inning.
The first batter Eichhorn faced was Dave Valle and Eichhorn hit him with a pitch to load the bases. Alvin Davis singled in two runs to make it 3-2 Toronto. Mike Kingery pinch hit for John Christensen and hit a sacrifice fly to score Phelps to tie the game. Rey Quiñones grounded into a force play and Valle scored and Seattle led 4-3.
The Blue Jays lost Bell after he was ejected in the fifth inning after striking out and Rick Leach replaced him in left field. In the seventh, Kelly Gruber homered to tie the game at 4-4. After Mike Sharperson struck out, Tony Fernandez walked. Ernie Whitt hit a grounder to Davis at first and he tried to get a force at second, but threw the ball into left field and Fernandez went to third. Willie Upshaw singled home Fernandez and Leach singled home Whitt and it was 6-4 Toronto. Finally, Dick Williams decided to pull Bankhead in favor of Jerry Reed. Bankhead had given up 11 hits, including four home runs in 6 1/3 innings. After the game, Seattle's Williams would admit that he should have pulled Bankhead earlier.
In the eighth, Gruber hit his second home run of the game (and the season too) to put Toronto up 7-5. In the bottom of the eighth, with one out, Kingery doubled and Toronto's relief ace Tom Henke came in. Scott Bradley pinch hit for Quiñones and lofted a long fly ball to center, but Moseby tracked it down at the fence and Seattle's threat died. Henke retired the Mariners in order in the ninth to close it out.
1987 was not a happy year in either Toronto or Seattle. The Blue Jays led Detroit by 3 1/2 games with seven left to play. The Blue Jays would not win another game, including a three-game sweep in Detroit as the Tigers won the AL East.
Seattle would finish fourth in the AL West at 78-84, seven games behind first place Minnesota. Although the 78 wins were a franchise high, it was the 11th straight losing season for the Mariners. The Mariners would not finish over .500 until 1991.
Bell would win the AL MVP, batting .308 with 47 home runs and 134 RBI. It was a power-filled year through out baseball as home run totals spiked. The highlight for the Blue Jays came on September 14 when they hit a major league record 10 home runs in an 18-3 win over Baltimore at Exhibition Stadium. Eight Blue Jay hitters were in double figures in home runs.
The Mariners weren't as powerful, but they had a good pitcher in Mark Langston, who led the AL in strikeouts with 262. Mike Moore suffered through a 9-19 year. There wasn't much of a bullpen with Ed Nuñez leading the staff in saves with 12.
Sources: Seattle Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Sopranos thread - If you have already watched
Minnesota legislature approves new stadium for Twins
Early in the morning Sunday, the Minnesota State Senate approved a $522 million deal to build an outdoor stadium in downtown Minneapolis. The financing for the stadium will come from a sales tax increase for residents of Hennepin County (which contains Minneapolis, but not St. Paul.)
The University of Minnesota will also get a new outdoor stadium in Minneapolis, while the Vikings appear headed to suburban Blaine, in Anoka County, but the Minnesota legislature is not going to act on that proposal until next year.
The Legislature was meeting late because it is required by law to adjoun on Monday and cannot pass legislation on the last day.
Part-time state legislatures! This Californian finds the idea of them so quaint. Where I come from, the state legislators meet all year round and pass all sorts of crazy stuff. And we like it! Well, actually if we don't like it, we make up for it by putting incredibly complicated pieces of legislation on the ballot for the voters to throw a dart at to decide.
Moral dilemma or cash bonanza?
So does Tyler Snyder, the 19-year old Pleasanton man who caught Barry Bonds's 714th home run ball, sell it or keep it?
It looks like he's going to sell it.
What's he going to do? ``Sell it.''
Random Game Callback, May 21, 1881
Sometimes, I can't do justice to describing a game from the past as the people who were there did.
So, enjoy the Chicago Daily Tribune's two different game stories describing Chicago's 4-2 win over Boston 125 years ago.
Chicago would win its third NL pennant in 1881. Chicago would win six NL flags in the league's first 11 years.
Then came that pesky 20th century.
David Eckstein: Gourmand
From the New York Times "Thirty seconds with ..." feature. This one features David Eckstein.
PICK THREE HISTORICAL FIGURES TO TAKE TO DINNER I hate going out to dinner with people. That's one of my biggest fears. I'm a very picky eater, and I'm not a big fan of that.
Also in the Times, 36 hours in Syracuse!
That's about 35 hours and 45 minutes more than you need.
Bush to Billingham to Halsey
Meet Guy Bush, aka the Mississippi Mudcat.
Meet Jack Billingham. In 25 1/3 innings of World Series pitching, he had an ERA of 0.36.
Meet Brad Halsey. He's famous enough to be traded for Randy Johnson once. And now gets to join the exclusive 714 pitcher club.
The Griddle's first and last film review
Perhaps not a true review, but my thoughts after seeing The Da Vinci Code
Mets looking anywhere for a pitcher
Jose Lima was designated for assignment by the New York Mets and Jeremi Gonzalez may soon be following.
According to Lee Jenkins in the New York Times, Mets GM Omar Minaya may be dipping down to AA Binghamton and bring up either Mike Pelfrey or Alay Soler.
Random Game Callback, May 20, 1953
The bored and the unemployed wandered out to Yankee Stadium on a Wednesday afternoon to watch the best team in the American League take on the worst team. Just 9,013 people looked on as the New York Yankees rallied from a 5-run deficit to beat the Detroit Tigers, 9-8 in a game that took 3:08 to play, or about 2:30 in 2006 terms.
Tigers manager Fred Hutchinson started veteran lefty Hal Newhouser. Although he was just 32, Newhouser was in his 15th season in the big leagues and had won back-to-back MVP awards in 1944 and 1945, the only pitcher to do so. Yankees manager Casey Stengel, whose team had won four consecutive World Series, started lefty Eddie Lopat. But there would many more pitchers who turn up in this game.
The Tigers got three hits and two runs off of Lopat in the first to jump on top. But the Yankees scored single runs in the second and third to tie the game. But in the top of the fifth, the first four Tigers reached, scoring a run and Lopat left with the bases loaded in favor of Ray Scarborough. Scarborough didn't get out of the inning until four more Tigers score, three of them on a double by second baseman Gerry Priddy. The Tigers led 7-2.
The Yankees got two men on in the bottom of the fifth. Gil McDougald brought them home when right fielder Bob Nieman played his fly ball into a triple. McDougald came home to score when Mickey Mantle beat out a grounder to shortstop Harvey Kuenn. That made the scored Detroit 7, New York 5.
Bill Miller came in to pitch for the Yankees in the sixth and walked two batters and was yanked in favor of Tom Gorman. Don Lund doubled home a run to put Detroit up 8-5, but the Yankees bullpen would stop the bleeding and it was up to the Tigers pen to save the game. They weren't up to the task.
Hutchinson brought in Dave Madison to pitch the sixth. Pinch-hitter Irv Noren, batting for Gorman, singled and first baseman Joe Collins, who came in as part of a double switch to play first in place of Don Bollweg, then homered into the right field bullpen to pull the Yankees to within a run at 8-7.
Allen got through the seventh unscathed as did Yankee reliever Bob Kuzava. In the bottom of the eighth, left fielder Gene Woodling singled and pinch hitter Yogi Berra, batting for Charlie Silvera, reached on a force play that should have been a double play, but Kuenn (a rookie in 1953) threw away the relay and Berra moved up to second. Stengel then opted to use pitcher Johnny Sain to pinch hit for Kuzava and he responded with a single to tie the game. Sain batted .250 in 1953 and .245 in his career.
Allie Reynolds, the 23rd player of the game for the Yankees, came in to pitch the ninth (the Yankees had used 25 players two days before, which was the record at the time). Reynolds set down the Tigers in order to preserve the tie. in the bottom of the ninth, against reliever Bill Wight, Billy Martin got things started when he reached on an error by Priddy. McDougald sacrificed him over. Hutchinson brought in Ray Herbert to pitch. His first task was to intentionally walk Mantle. This was followed by a run of the mill walk to Hank Bauer. Woodling followed with a line drive over Kuenn to score Martin with the winning run.
Lopat's bad outing on this day was unusual for him in 1953. He finished the season with the AL's lowest ERA at 2.42. Lopat won 16 games and lost just 4. Stengel liked to mix and match his starters and he used 13 different ones during 1953. He must have known what he was doing as the Yankees had the lowest ERA in the AL at 3.20. Miller was the only pitcher with an ERA of over 4.00 and he pitched just 34 innings. Whitey Ford led the staff with 207 innings. Bob Lemon of Cleveland led the AL with 286 2/3 IP.
The Yankees offense was great, although injuries kept any one player from standing out. Woodling led the AL in OBP at .429. Mantle hit 21 home runs in just 127 games. Berra led the team with 27 home runs. The Yankees won the AL by 8 1/2 games over Cleveland with a 99-52 record. And they would go on to win a still unmatched fifth straight World Series, defeating the Dodgers in six games.
As for Detroit, the Tigers were able to climb up to sixth place at 60-94, 40 1/2 games behind the Yankees, one game ahead of Philadelphia and six ahead of St. Louis. Hutchinson had a long year with his pitching staff, which had the worst ERA in the league at 5.25. Newhouser pitched in seven games with an ERA of over 7 and was released in July. Newhouser would return to play for Cleveland in 1954 and put up a 7-2 record in 46 2/3 innings of mostly relief pitching.
Kuenn would win the Rookie of the Year award, batting .308. Kuenn got every vote but one in the balloting. (Tom Umphlett got the lone dissenting vote.) The Tigers signed a "bonus baby" out of Baltimore named Al Kaline and he made his major league debut on June 25. Kaline would play for the Tigers until he retired at the end of the 1974 season. The Tigers had another 18-year old on the team in Reno Bertoia and a 17-year old in Bob Miller (the one whose career ended with the 1962 Mets). The Tigers would get back over the .500 mark in 1955 but Hutchinson had been let go by then and Bucky Harris was in charge.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Get your hits!
Thanks to Jon for giving me the chance to attend the May 19, 2006 16-3 rout by the Dodgers over the Angels at Dodger Stadium.
The 25 hits by the Dodgers were an L.A. record breaking the previous highs of 24 against Arizona on 9/2/2002 and Chicago on 8/20/1974. In both of those games, the Dodgers were the road team and had an extra time at bat. The NL record for hits in a game by one team is 36 by the Phillies in 1894. The AL record is 31 by Milwaukee against Toronto back in 1992.
Yes, my handwriting is that bad.
Random Game Callback, May 19, 1891
A rainy day in Cincinnati added to the misery of Boston manager Frank Selee as he saw his team routed by the last Cincinnati squad, 16-7, at League Park before a crowd of 1,811.
Boston was expected to be one of the best squads in the NL, which was back to full strength after a third league, the Players League, folded after one season in 1890. But Boston came into this game with an 11-11 record. Cincinnati was 8-15.
The game matched up two of the greatest pitchers of the 19th Century. Selee started John Clarkson, a future Hall of Famer, who would win 328 games in 12 seasons. Cincinnati manager Tom Loftus picked Charley Radbourn, better known as "Old Hoss". Radbourn had won a record 59 games for Providence in 1884. 1891 would be the last season for this future Hall of Famer.
The game did not start well for Boston. Cincinnati opted to bat first. Bid McPhee led off with a walk and Arlie Latham followed with a grounder to Clarkson, who tried to force McPhee at second only to find no one covering the base. Lefty Marr hit a fly ball to Steve Brodie in center, who threw back to first to double off Latham, but McPhee tagged and scored. Boston took the lead in the bottom half of the inning when Brodie singled and Bobby Lowe followed with a home run.
In the third, Radbourn led off with a bunt single and McPhee tripled him home to tie the score at 2-2. Then Marr hit a grounder to Latham, who tried to get a double, but ended up getting none. Bug Holliday singled to load the bases. Mike Slattery then walked to force in a run to make it 3-2 Cincinnati. John Reilly hit into a force play at second and it was 4-2 Cincinnati. Germany Smith grounded out, but Bob Clark walked to load the bases again. Radbourn then chased them all home with a double.
For reasons not specificed in the Boston Daily account of the game, Radbourn left after this inning. He supposedly left the field singing "They used to be the caper, but they don't go now!" Tony Mullane came in to pitch.
Down 7-2 now, Boston got one run when Billy Nash doubled and came around to score on two sacrifices. Boston scored single runs in the fifth and sixth and Boston was down just 7-5. But in the seventh, Cincinnati strung together two triples, a single and an error to score four times and take an 11-5 lead.
Boston scored another run in the seventh to close within 11-6, but Cincinnati got a 3-run homer from catcher Jerry Harrington (who had replaced Clark in the middle of the game) to make it 14-6 Cincinnati after 7 1/2 innings.
In the ninth, Selee finally decided to replace Clarkson on the mound.
Clarkson remained in the box until the ninth, when Tom Tucker went into pitch, [Harry] Stovey to first base, [Charlie] Getzein to left field, [Charlie] Ganzel to the bench, Clarkson to right field and Manager Selee nearly insane.
Cincinnati would score twice in the ninth off of Tucker and Boston's lone run in the ninth made the final 16-7.
The 1891 season would get better for Boston as they won their fourth NL pennant with an 87-51 record, 3 1/2 games better than Chicago. Cincinnati would finish in seventh place at 56-81, 30 1/2 games behind Boston.
Clarkson would have a pretty good year in 1891 as he had a 33-19 record. Teammate Kid Nichols was 30-17. The staff ERA was 2.76, best in the NL. Boston also led the league in runs scored with 847. The team was adept at drawing walks, leading the league with 532. Stovey tied for the NL lead in home runs with 16. Boston was a very example of a 21st century team as they lead the league in walks, strikeouts, and were second in home runs. They were second in stolen bases with 289, although they were awarded then for taking extra bases on hits.
As for Cincinnati, they scored the fewest runs in the NL with 646. The pitching staff wasn't great either with the sixth highest ERA in the NL at 3.55. (The league ERA was 3.34.) Radbourn appeared in only 24 games and had a 4.25 ERA. The Reds had won an American Association pennant in their first year of existence in 1882, but they would not win the NL flag until 1919.
Boston had four future Hall of Famers: Clarkson, Nichols, King Kelly (who was at the end of his career) and Joe Kelley, a 19-year old rookie. Selee would eventually make it to Cooperstown as a manager. Cincinnati had two future Hall of Famers in Radbourn and McPhee.
Source: Boston Daily, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
It's time for .... Interleague Baseball!
Love it, hate it, have no opinion, novelty has worn off, fun to watch... take your pick.
One thing is for certain. There is interleague baseball this weekend. Except for fans of Atlanta and Arizona.
There are intracity rivalries: Yankees at Mets, Cubs at White Sox
One of the biggest complaints about interleague play is that it makes the schedule unbalanced. So for your own study, here's who everybody plays. All the series scheduled are three games.
Duffy's Minor Leagues
"Duffy's Minor Leagues. Where the AAAA outfielders go to play. Jim Tracy the manager speaking. Duffy ain't here. Oh, hi Duffy!"
The White Sox as a complex system
Patrice Jones of the Chicago Tribune interviews Northwestern University physicist Luis Amaral (no relation to Rich Amaral I believe) about how baseball teams can be good examples of a complex system.
What are complex systems?
Random Game Callback, May 18, 1917
The defending champion Boston Red Sox came into Chicago this day in first place and riding the strong left arm of Babe Ruth, who had won eight straight games, and had people buzzing that he could approach Smokey Joe Wood's then-record 16 straight. But the White Sox made quick work of Ruth, knocking him out early en route to an 8-2 win.
Chicago manager Pants Rowland (given that nickname because he seemed to wear pants most of the time) picked a lefthander of his own, Reb Russell to start. Presumably Russell got his nickname because he hailed from Mississippi. Although I think he wore pants too.
Ruth got a lead in the second when third baseman Larry Gardner and shortstop Everett Scott hit back-to-back doubles to give the Red Sox a run. The White Sox responded with three of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Ruth walked Happy Felsch to start the inning. First baseman Chick Gandil followed with a single. Shortstop Swede Risberg walked to load the bases. Catcher Ray Schalk singled in two runs. After Russell made out, Shano Collins singled home Risberg.
It got worse for Ruth in the third. Eddie Collins reached on an error by Scott. Joe Jackson followed with a dribbler that Barry (who played second in addition to managing) couldn't get to in time to catch Jackson at first. The Boston Daily Globe called Jackson "Dixie Joe". Felsch grounded out, but the runners moved up. Gandil then singled home both runners to make it 5-1. Barry yanked Ruth and replaced him with King Bader.
The White Sox added three more runs off of Bader in the sixth. Shano Collins and Buck Weaver singled and moved up on a ground out. Jackson grounded to Scott who tried to throw out Collins at home, but threw the ball into the stands to let two runs score. Felsch singled home Jackson.
The Red Sox got doubles in the ninth from Del Gainer and Jimmy Walsh, but Gainer didn't score until Gardner grounded out. Russell went the distance for the win. And Ruth picked up his first loss of the season.
If you paid attention to baseball in 2005, you would probably know that 1917 was the previous year that the White Sox had won the World Series. The White Sox went 100-54 and beat out the Red Sox by nine games. The White Sox scored the most runs in the AL and gave up the fewest, which is usually a guarantee of success.
Felsch led the offense with a .308 average. Jackson batted .301, which was his lowest figure for a full season. Jackson had a career batting average of .356. The White Sox hit 18 home runs, which was actually the third highest total in the AL. (The Yankees led the league with 27.)
The White Sox pitchers were the strength of the team. Eddie Cicotte would go 28-12 with a 1.53 ERA in 346 2/3 innings of work. Cicotte's speciality was the spitball. Russell went 15-5 with a 1.95 ERA, but missed the World Series with an arm injury. The White Sox used just eight pitchers for the whole season and had a staff ERA of 2.16. The White Sox would go on to win the World Series over the New York Giants in six games. It was their second World Series title.
Boston still had a pretty good team. Ruth went 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA. Carl Mays was 22-9 with a 1.74 ERA. Ruth batted .325, but hit just two home runs. But in 1918, he would lead the AL with 11 and most of you know the rest of the story. On June 23, 1917 Ruth started a game against Washington and walked the leadoff man. Ruth argued the call and was ejected (some reports say he hit umpire Brick Owens). Ernie Shore came into relieve and the runner, Clyde Milan was caught stealing, and Shore went on to retire the next 26 batters he faced. Ruth and Shore ended up with a most unusual combined no-hitter (it was considered a perfect game for many years, but the Powers That Be say no). Shore does get credit for a complete game shutout however.
The Red Sox win the AL and the World Series in 1918. But people have heard about that. And the White Sox won the AL in 1919, but lost the World Series. But that's another story too.
Sources: Boston Daily Globe, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
'Lost' thread - IF YOU'VE ALREADY WATCHED
In the AL, everybody ties!
About 1/4 of the way through the season, all three divisions in the AL have dead-even ties.
In the Central, the White Sox and Tigers are 26-13.
Toronto is the lone team in the AL to have a winning record and not be in first place.
'Stepping Up' in USA Today
Alex Belth had an interview in USA Today with Sports Weekly writer Devin Clancy about his book Stepping Up: The Story of All-Star Curt Flood and His Fight for Baseball Players' Rights.
I've never seen so many subordinate clauses in an USA Today story before!
In the NL, everybody wins!
Or it just seems that way. After the Braves beat the Marlins 6-4 in 11 innings, 12 of the 16 teams in the NL are at .500 or better.
The bottom four: Chicago, Washington, Pittsburgh, and Florida are already a combined 49 games under .500. Never have so few lost so much, so other teams could have better records.
And the Cubs beat the Nationals tonight 5-0, with four pitchers combining on a one-hitter. The Nationals have now sunk to the same record as the Pirates. Or perhaps the Pirates rose to the level of the Nationals. Either way, it's not a good thing.
As for the AL, 7 of the 14 teams are at .500 or better. While the Royals are awful, they are the only team playing sub .400 ball in the league.
No more waiting for Boof
But the waiting is over!
The Minnesota Twins have demoted pitcher Kyle Lohse to Rochester and recalled ...
The luckiest man on the face of the earth, or just Albuquerque
The Albuquerque Tribune has the story of Larry Trujillo, a 45-year old hair stylist from Albuquerque.
On August 1, 2005, Trujillo attended an Albuquerque Isotopes game and signed up for an in-game contest where he could win a car if an Isotopes player hit a grand slam in the third inning. And on that day, the Isotopes loaded the bases and Jason Wood hit a grand slam and Trujillo won the contest and got a 2005 Nissan XTrerra.
Now, let's move ahead to May 5. Trujillo goes to an Isotopes game, enters the same contest, has his name selected, and ... Paul Hoover hits a grand slam in the third and Trujillo drives home in a 2006 Ford Escape.
No word yet on whether or not Trujillo is playing the lottery in New Mexico with the number 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 however.
The flying Molinas
Last night in Anaheim, Angels catcher Jose Molina stole second off of his brother Bengie in the sixth inning. It was his seventh career stolen base.
In the seventh inning, Bengie returned the favor, stealing second without a throw. The Angels weren't holding on Bengie because they were up by five and it was Bengie Molina at first. It was the third career stolen base for Bengie.
Sadly, the official scorer changed Bengie Molina's steal to a fielder's choice.
Random Game Callback, May 17, 1954
Only 1,420 fans came to Forbes Field to watch the Cubs and Pirates, the two worst teams in the NL, play on a Monday afternoon. And the good people of Pittsburgh probably had good reason for staying away as the Bucs gave up seven runs to the Cubs in the fifth en route to a 10-6 loss.
The Pirates had won 42 games in 1952 and 50 games in 1953 and 1954 wasn't going to be much better for Fred Haney's team. Haney started rookie Bob Purkey, who would become a good pitcher in Cincinnati. Cubs manager Stan Hack opted to go with Howie Pollet.
In 1953 the Cubs and Pirates had pulled off a big trade when Pittsburgh sent Pollet, Ralph Kiner, Joe Garagiola, and George Metkovich to Chicago in exchange for five guys who weren't very good and $150,000 in cash. Kiner had led the NL in home runs in his first seven seasons, but hit "just" 35 in 1953.
The Pirates led 2-0 going into the fifth inning when the Cubs offense exploded. Kiner led off with a single. Ernie Banks (in his first full season) singled and went to second when the Pirates tried to throw out Kiner at third. Garagiola grounded out to score Kiner and move Banks to third. Purkey walked Pollet. Frankie Baumholtz then grounded to second baseman Curt Roberts who tried to catch Banks at the plate, but the throw was late and the game was tied. First baseman Dee Fondy singled home Pollet and sent Baumholtz to third and the Cubs led 3-2. Purkey then walked second baseman Gene Baker to load the bases. Hank Sauer then unloaded them with a grand slam to put the Cubs ahead 7-2.
Pollet gave up a run to the Pirates in the fifth and two more in the sixth and Turk Lown came into relieve. In the seventh, the Pirates had closed to within 7-6 and had two on with one out. Jim Davis came into relieve Lown. Davis struck out pinch hitter Walker Cooper, but walked Roberts to load the bases. This brought up rookie shortstop Gair Allie, in his first and last major league season. Allie flied out to Sauer to end the threat.
In the ninth, the Cubs added some insurance against Max Surkont. Fondy singled to lead off and Baker sacrificed him over. Sauer received an intentional walk and then Fondy and Sauer pulled off a double steal. It would be one of only two steals for Sauer in 1954. Randy Jackson walked to load the bases. Kiner then hit a deep fly to score Fondy and Banks then hit a triple to the deepest reaches of Forbes Field to score Sauer and Jackson and make the final score 10-6.
Fans of the Cubs and Pirates don't have much to look back on with a lot of joy from the 1954 season. The Cubs finished in seventh place at 64-90, 33 games behind the Giants. The Pirates went 53-101 and were 44 games out of first.
The emergence of Banks at shortstop was the only hope for the Cubs. In his first full season, Banks batted .275 with 19 home runs. In 1955, Banks would slug 44 home runs and was starting on his way to the Hall of Fame. The Cubs would send Kiner off to Cleveland at the end of the season and he would retire after one year there at age 32.
Garagiola would be put on waivers by the Cubs in September and the Giants picked him up for the final month. Garagiola never played in the majors again, but he managed to make a few bucks out of the game after he retired.
Sauer had won the MVP in 1952 and he had a good year in 1954, hitting 41 home runs and driving in 103 runs. But age would catch up to him and he never played regularly again in the majors and retired after the 1959 season with the Giants.
The Pirates wouldn't win the pennant until 1960. Three key players from that team were on the squad in 1954 in Bob Skinner and pitchers Bob Friend and Vern Law. But it wouldn't be until 1958 that the Pirates would even have a winning record again.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-reference.com
Do you like bad pitching?
The Mets have announced that Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez will each get at least one more start.
And the Reds are going to reactivate Eric Milton from the DL to pitch Friday.
Collectors speculate on price of Bonds #714 ball
In case you want to buy futures contracts on the value of the ball that Barry Bonds will hit for home run #714, collectors are guessing that it will fetch between $100,000 and $1 million, at auction.
I don't believe souvenir home run balls are traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange however.
Highlights from the Christian Science Monitor sports section
It's where I go first for all my sports news!
Terence P. Jeffrey writes in the Christian Science Monitor with a critique of the design for the new DC ballpark.
The new stadium, which will cost Washington more than $600 million, is designed to have 41,000 seats but only 1,225 parking spaces. Instead of parking lots, it will be surrounded by a new "entertainment district" featuring restaurants, bars, and retail stores.
Random Game Callback, May 16, 1951
The Chicago White Sox, with a new manager and some new players, won their second straight game at Fenway Park, bashing the Red Sox, 9-5, before 5,828 spectators. The win moved the White Sox to within 2 1/2 games of the league leading Yankees.
The White Sox were skippered in 1951 by Paul Richards, who was in charge of a major league team for the first time. Richards would go on to manage for 12 seasons with one of the higher profiles ever attained by someone whose teams never finished in first place. Richards would also manage the Orioles and work as a GM for the Houston Astros. The day before the White Sox had beaten the Red Sox in 11 innings, a game in which Richards had brought in Billy Pierce to relieve in the 8th, but kept his original pitcher, Harry Dorish, in the game at third. After Pierce retired Williams, Dorish went back to pitch. The White Sox would eventually win that game on Nellie Fox's first major league home run.
The White Sox got right to work against Stobbs. With one out, Paul Lehner singled and Minnie Miñoso (acquired at the end of April from Cleveland as part of a three-way deal that saw Gus Zernial sent to Philadelphia) followed with a walk. Eddie Robinson singled to load the bases. Al Zarilla then doubled in two runs. Jim Busby singled in the third run and then stole second. Fox followed with a triple to score Zarilla and Busby to make it 5-0 and knock Stobbs out of the game in favor of Paul Hinrichs (who would pitch in just four major league games).
In the second inning, the White Sox were in action again. Lehner walked and Miñoso singled. Robinson singled home Lehner. Zarilla hit a deep fly to score Miñoso. (Sacrifice flies were not an official statistic at the time). Busby followed with a triple to score Robinson and knock out Hinrichs. Bill Evans came into relieve and pretty much restored order the rest of the way.
The Red Sox would score five runs in the second and third innings with first baseman Walt Dropo accounting for most of them. Dropo hit a solo home run in the second and a three-run homer in the third. Billy Goodman drove in the other Boston run. Chico Carrasquel singled in catcher Gus Niarhos in the ninth for the final run of the game.
This win was part of a 14-game winning streak to finish out the month of May for the White Sox. On Memorial Day, the White Sox were 26-9 and 2 games ahead of the Yankees. The Yankees beat the White Sox four out of seven times in June to close the gap. The Red Sox also got hot. In July, the White Sox went 11-21 and had fallen into fourth place, where they would finish the season at 81-73. The Red Sox would go 87-67 and finish third, 11 games out.
Nevertheless, 1951 was a 21-game improvement for the White Sox. The acquisition of Miñoso was a big one as the Cuban outfielder would bat .324 and lead the AL in triples with 14 and stolen bases with 31. Fox batted .313 and was becoming one of the AL's best second basemen. However, the White Sox had an unimpressive pitching staff even with the help of cavernous Comiskey Park. Pierce went 15-14 with a 3.03 and Saul Rogovin was 11-7 with a 2.48 ERA. Richards tried 11 different starting pitchers.
The Red Sox, in their first full season under O'Neill, weren't quite the same offensive force as they had been in 1949 and 1950. Vern Stephens was limited to 109 games and Bobby Doerr played in just 106. Dropo couldn't match his spectacular rookie season and batted just .239 in 99 games. The Red Sox still led the AL in runs scored with 804, but that was over 200 fewer than they scored in 1950. Williams batted .318 with an OBP of .464 as he drew 144 walks. Williams would miss most of the next two seasons because of the Korean War.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
Whose numbers are these anyway?
Alan Schwarz of the New York Times examines the continuing dispute MLB Advanced Media and CDM Sports about who controls statistics in the use of baseball fantasy leagues.
"We're disseminating information to the public about baseball players no different than what a newspaper does," said Rudy Telscher, a lawyer representing CBC. "The American populace, at least a significant portion of it, has a fascination with baseball, they have a fascination with following the statistics, and I think the popularity of fantasy sports is borne right out of that passion for tracking the game and the statistics."
Liriano moves into Twins rotation
The Minnesota Twins are moving Francisco Liriano into the starting rotation on Friday in Milwaukee. Carlos Silva, with an 8.80 ERA, is being moved to the bullpen. Silva's demotion to the bullpen is described as "temporary."
Meanwhile, watching the Twins play the White Sox this afternoon, announcers Dick Bremer and Jack Morris have taught me much about fishing lures.
The name's the same
The Angels have optioned infielder Howie Kendrick to Salt Lake City and recalled Erick Aybar.
So now both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have an Aybar on their teams as an infielder AND they both have players named Izturis on the disabled list.
Random Game Callback, May 15, 1913
It a wild game by Deadball Era standards, the Cardinals and Dodgers (or Superbas if you like) combined to score 14 runs, get 30 hits (including three home runs), pick up five walks, have two batters reach on hit by pitches, and one error. And by the time everybody went home, Brooklyn went home with an 8-6 win at Ebbets Field, then its first year of existence.
Dodgers manager Bill Dahlen started Pat Ragan. Cardinals player-manager Miller Huggins opted to start Bill Steele, although he didn't exactly have the greatest selection to choose from. Huggins batted leadoff and played second base for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals scored twice in the first inning off of Ragan on a two run inside-the-park from Ed Konetchy to take the lead, but the Dodgers came back to score three times in the second and chase Steele from the game in favor of Pol Perritt, a 20-year old. Perritt lasted six innings and he was touched up for two home runs, one by Zack Wheat and another by Jake Daubert.
Sopranos thread - If you have already watched
Moe 'n' Joe
In the bottom of the sixth, Luis Castillo of the Twins bunted into a triple play. With Nick Punto on second and Shannon Stewart on first, both runners broke from their bases. Castillo popped up his bunt which Paul Konerko caught, threw to Tadahito Iguchi at first and then Juan Uribe at second.
The last triple play turned by the White Sox was on July 7, 2004 when they got a 5-4-3 ground ball triple play against the Angels. Bengie Molina was the batter.
The Twins last hit into a triple play on September 8, 1996 when Ron Coomer grounded into a 5-4-3 ground ball triple play against the Angels.
There is a listing of triple plays available at Retrosheet under "Special Lists".
Three Days in May
When I looked at the "Transactions" lists on various wesbites for the past three days it seemed a little longer than normal. Or maybe it was my imagination. Here is a summary of those transactions.
Lima Time may be no time
The New York Times's Pat Borzi examines Jose Lima and his two bad starts for the Mets and seems to think that Lima is blaming them on everybody but himself.
Lima claimed the plate umpire, Rick Reed, did not give him a called third strike on a borderline 2-2 pitch to Rickie Weeks in the fifth with a man on second and two out. In his first start, last Sunday against Atlanta, Lima accused the umpire Ángel Hernández of not giving him the corners because he was not John Smoltz, his opponent. Lima walked Weeks, then gave up a hard single to Bill Hall after falling behind, 3-1.
Sturtze to the DL....
Sorry for infringing on Bronx Banter territory here, but the Yankees have put struggling reliever Tanyon Sturtze on the disabled list.
To replace him, the Yankees have recalled...
The guy ....
The pitcher who cannot be killed ....
He's Coming to the Bronx ....
Random Game Callback, May 14, 1925
1925 was the National League's Golden Jubilee Year (it started in 1876, so this was the 50th season) and baseball showed that it was already prepared to celebrate whatever anniversaries it could. So on this day at the Polo Grounds, the New York Giants had an Oldtimers Day. And over 18,000 fans came to see stars of the past, like Amos Rusie, honored before the game and then they watched the Giants rally for three runs in the ninth to tie the game and the win it in the 12th, 5-4.
Cincinnati manager Jack Hendricks chose Dolf Luque to start. Giants manager John McGraw was away from the team on business (he did that a lot) and Hughie Jennings was running the team. Jennings tabbed Hugh McQuillan to start on the mound. By the time the game was over Jennings would be doing a lot of manipulating as he would get 18 players in the game. Hendricks just wrote in the names of his nine starters and never substituted.
The Reds scored first. In the second inning, second baseman Hughie Critz singled, moved up on a Babe Pinelli sacrifice and came home on an Edd Roush single. The Giants tied the game in the third when centerfielder Billy Southworth walked, stole second, and then scored on a double by Ross Youngs that Roush thought he had caught. Luque put his team ahead in the fifth when he hit a solo home run off of McQuillan.
In the eighth, Luque helped himself again. He singled, went to third on a double by Critz and then came home on a long fly by Pinelli. The Reds made it 4-1 in the ninth after Rube Bressler doubled and eventually came around on a single by Jimmy Caveney.
Thanks for doing a great job as a mother.
Thanks for teaching me about the past. Thanks for telling me that it was a good thing to remember starting lineups of baseball teams from 30 years in the past. Thanks for not complaining as I kept heading for the "x 796" section of the library as a kid.
Thanks for giving me your Whitey Kurowski autographed baseball. I would have liked it more if you were still here to look at it with me, but we can't arrange life to happen the way we want it to.
Thanks again, Mom.
A long, hot, unpleasant summer in D.C.
Thomas Boswell has a sobering look at what the Nationals season is likely to be. It's not a pretty sight.
If Livan Hernandez has suddenly gotten prematurely old at 31, we'll find out. If a fitter Jose Vidro is really a premier hitter again, there will be six long months to document it. If Alfonso Soriano wants to play the outfield in Southeast someday, or if he's desperate to skip town, we'll find out by July. If the pitching rotation assembled by General Manager Jim Bowden is a season-long disaster, then the Lerner-Kasten jury will render a verdict in due course. And if the Nats take a few more 4-1 leads in the 11th, and lose 5-4 (as they did Thursday) because Frank Robinson can't find a way to manage three outs before his bullpen allows four runs, then he'll presumably be a Nats senior adviser next season, not the boss on the bench.
ESPN suspends Sutcliffe for a game
Sutcliffe apologized for his behavior.
Random Game Callback, May 13, 1914
Thanks to Ken, there is a nice dropdown menu of past Random Game Callbacks on the sidebar.
The 1914 season was not starting well for the Boston Braves. They were off to a 3-12 start. And the season got worse on this day, as the Braves dropped a 1-0 game in Cincinnati. Red Ames gave up just three hits for Cincinnati and that held up even though Boston starter Bill James surrendered just two hits.
The Reds scored the lone run of the game in the first inning when right fielder Herbie Moran walked and scored on a double by shortstop and manager Buck Herzog. Catcher Tommy Clarke singled in the second for the Reds' other hit and did not get a runner on base after the fourth inning.
But the one run would be enough for Ames as the Braves put up little fight. The Braves got two runners on in the first but second baseman Johnny Evers was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a grounder. In the sixth, first baseman Butch Schmidt walked, stole second and moved to third on a wild throw from Clarke, but third baseman Charlie Deal flied out to end the inning.
The Cole Hamels Era
Check in to see if Cole Hamels is the second coming of Grover Alexander or the second coming of Tyler Green.
Wilbon on Bonds
Michael Wilbon, when not engaged in shouting matches with Tony Kornheiser on ESPN, can still crank out a good column for the Washington Post.
Earlier in the week, Bryan Burwell also wrote about Bonds and the "race card" in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Random Game Callback, May 12, 1919
1919. It would be a year that would live in infamy in baseball's history. It's been the subject of numerous books by historians and novelists. So go read those if you want to find out about the White Sox and the Reds. Today, we go back to the Polo Grounds for a 15-inning, 4-4 tie between two of the AL's lesser lights that year, the New York Yankees and the Washington Senators. Why? Because it was one weird game.
First of all, the day before the Yankees and Senators had played a 12-inning 0-0 tie. The game was called at 6 pm because the umpires thought that there was a law in New York that required all Sunday games to end at that time. As it turned out, the law didn't say that and the teams could have kept playing.
Nevertheless, the two teams recovened the next day in hopes of getting in one game of their scheduled four game series. The first two had been rained out.
Washington manager Clark Griffith started Jim Shaw. New York manager Miller Huggins chose Allan Russell. With players still missing because of wartime commitments, the starting lineups were still something of a hodgepodge. The Yankees started George Halas in right field, then a rookie outfielder whom some people thought was better suited to football. Washington started Harry Thompson in left field. Thompson was a pitcher most of the time.
Washington scored the first run. Sam Rice singled and moved to second on a sacrifice by catcher Patsy Gharrity. Thompson singled home Rice for the first run and picked up one of his three career RBIs.
Simmons rejoins Giants booth
The 2004 Ford Frick award winner Lon Simmons will rejoin the San Francisco Giants booth on a fill-in basis (presumably when Jon Miller is off on ESPN assignments).
In on the field news, the Giants reactivated Ray Durham from the DL and sent Kevin Frandsen down to the minors.
You mean he's supposed to be coherent? (with update)
Rick Sutcliffe had his mike cut off during an interview with the Padres TV announcers Wednesday night.
Sutcliffe, who used to broadcast Padres games for Channel 4 San Diego, dropped by the broadcast booth late in Wednesday night's game and was warmly welcomed by announcers Matt Vasgersian and Mark "Mud'' Grant, a former big league pitcher.
Ahh, Padres baseball.
The return of Ken Griffey
Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano and then getting bored and relocating to Mission Viejo and San Clemente, Ken Griffey, Jr. is back off the DL and will bat third for the Reds today.
Chris Denofria gets to make the long and often treacherous journey from Cincinnati to Louisville.
Jesse pulls for Barry
Rev. Jesse Jackson was in the crowd at AT&T Park Wednesday night to root on Barry Bonds in his quest to hit home run #714.
"Today we must balance the years of steroids with the jeers of the fans. Mix the anger with the heat on the field and in life."
Minor League splits database
Here is a sample page for Vinny Rotino.
Note: David wishes people to know that he didn't make the database. He just found it
Random Game Callback, May 11, 1966
A truly optimistic fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers would have viewed an early season 5-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on a Wednesday night at Connie Mack Stadium before a crowd of 11,756 as a sign of good things to come. While most people looked at the Dodgers formidable pitching staff of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Claude Osteen as their strength, it was a 21-year old rookie from Clio, Alabama who picked up the Dodgers first complete game shutout of the season.
Sutton would go on to throw 57 more shutouts in his career. And he would win 324 games and strike out 3,574 batters in a 23-year career. And Sutton would get himself a plaque in Cooperstown.
Lawsuit available to the first 20,000 fans
A man denied a tote bag at Angel Stadium last Mother's Day is starting a class action suit against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Corinthian Colleges (sponsors of the event) alleging discrimination because of sex and age.
The Los Angeles Times report says that the promotion last year gave away red nylon tote bags to all women over 18 in attendance.
Do people just wake up every morning and think of ways to sue the Angels about something incredibly stupid?
In my life, I've only been to one baseball promotion where you had to be over a certain age. That was at Yankee Stadium where Bud Light sponsored a souvenir umbrella night on July 10, 1997. I got the date from Retrosheet because I remember the game being Hideki Irabu's New York debut. Presumably that since a beer company's name was on the umbrella, you had to be of legal drinking age to get the umbrella.
I think I tried opening that umbrella a few times. It was about 18 inches in diameter when open and looked sturdy enough to withstand wind gusts up to 2 mph.
Lost Discussion Thread - if you've watched
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
Fox still wary about renewing baseball TV contract
News Corp president Peter Chernin said that its primary television network, Fox, won't renew its contract with MLB unless it can be guaranteed a profit.
From Broadcasting and Cable
Speaking during News Corp.'s quarterly earnings call, Chernin said that Fox has a "very straightforward view" of baseball. "We have enjoyed our relationship with them and are more than happy to renew, if we can make money on the contract. We are not prepared to sign a deal that loses money and we are prepared to walk away," Chernin says.
The Bunting Babe?
As loath as I am to link to a column by the execrable Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, I will this time.
1. I don't know why Plaschke picked out Ruth's 1926 season for sacrifices. He had more sacrifices in other season. Ruth had 21 of them in 1930.
2. But sacrifices in Ruth's day weren't all bunts. There were sacrifice flies. And they were all just lumped together as "sacrifices". I doubt Ruth bunted all that much. Sacrifice flies weren't counted separately.
However, Ruth probably did bunt a little bit more than Bonds has. Why? Because managers in Ruth's day would play for one run more often.
Interestingly, in 1931, the sacrifice fly rule was revoked and it wouldn't return until the 1950s.
How many sacrifices was Ruth credited with for the 1931 season. In 145 games, Ruth had *ZERO*. How many runs did the Yankees score that season? 1067! The Yankees had 87 sacrifices in 1931. They had 162 in 1930. And they scored 1062 runs in 1930. I doubt Joe McCarthy was playing little ball with anyone on his roster other than his pitchers and guys like Joe Sewell.
Check out the career sacrifices for Lou Gehrig and how they drop off sharply after the elimination of the sacrifice fly rule in 1931.
Harmon Killebrew played 22 seasons and NEVER SACRIFICED. Is Killebrew some sort of monster? No, Killebrew was a slugger who played in an era of low offensive output and he was far more valuable to the Twins by trying to hit a home run.
But I've been told that Bill Plaschke is a keen observer of baseball...
The Fabled One to make his debut for the Phillies
Philadelphia GM Pat Gillick announced that prospect Cole Hamels will be recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday to start in Cincinnati.
In 23 innings at AAA this year, Hamels has a 0.39 ERA in 23 IP with 36 strikeouts.
Pink at the bat
Jim Thome, Manny Rodriguez, Adam Dunn, Derek Jeter, David Eckstein, Marcus Giles, Kevin Mench, David Ortiz, Jim Edmonds, Mark Texeira, Michael Young, and Hack Blalock are named as participants.
Random Game Callback, May 10, 1927
This is probably no other year in baseball where the mention of it instantly brings to mind one team. If you say "1927" and the Yankees don't come to mind, either you are woefully ignorant of baseball's history or you are just one of those people who really, really, really likes the National League. So today, we look back at one of the New York Yankees 110 regular season wins of 1927. This one was more dramatic than most as the Yankees scored three times in the ninth inning, and held on for an 8-7 win over the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman's Park.
Yankees manager Miller Huggins chose George Pipgras, playing in his first full season at age 26 and Browns manager Dan Howley picked veteran Milt Gaston, who broke in with the Yankees in 1924 and was traded to St. Louis in the offseason for Urban Shocker.
Sheets out again
The Brewers will put Ben Sheets on the DL Wednesday with tendinitis in his right shoulder. Dana Eveland will be called up from Nashville to take his place.
MLB drug policy could be scrapped if no labor deal made
The Associated Press is reporting that Congress has noticed that if there isn't a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place between the Players Association and MLB that the new drug testing program could be unilaterally ended by MLBPA.
Contreras put on DL
Jose Contreras, winner of 13 straight decisions over the past two seasons, has been put on the DL by the White Sox.
The White Sox haven't decided whom to bring up yet. It will either be Brandon McCarthy or Charlie Haeger. It was McCarthy according to MLB Gameday's roster.
Better hitting through compression
Jacob Luft of SI.com explores Andrew Zimbalist's theory that more records are being set in baseball now not because of PED's, but rather from a compression of talent in the major leagues.
Zimbalist's take is that as the number of major league jobs remains constant and the available talent pool grows, the harder it becomes for individual players to stand out above the rest. Conversely, increasing the number of major league jobs (via expansion) creates disparity in the talent pool and allows for record-breaking performance to happen again.
IL puts the hammer down on Delmon Young
Durham Bulls player (and Tampa Bay prospect) Delmon Young was suspended for 50 games and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service as punishment for his bat throwing incident at an umpire at a game in Pawtucket on April 26. Young will be eligible to play again on June 19.
Random Game Callback, May 9, 1957
There were just 2875 spectators at Briggs Stadium in Detroit to go to a Thursday matinee game between the Tigers and the last place Washington Senators. The Senators had lost 10 straight, but they were finally able to pick up a win in the month of May with an 8-5 win and give manager Cookie Lavagetto his first win after taking over the job for Chuck Dressen on May 7.
The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second as an error by Eddie Yost led to Camilo Pascual giving up an unearned run. But in the top of the third, Roy Sievers slammed a three-run home run off of Frank Lary to give the Senators a lead they would never relinquish.
Pascual was far from sharp, giving up 11 hits and walking two, but he went the distance and became the first Washington pitcher to win two games on the season. Pascual would finish the year 8-17 with a 4.10 ERA, the lowest ERA of any Washington starter.
Washington right fielder Jim Lemon had two long drives chased down in center by Jim Tuttle, but in the ninth Lemon hit the flagpole in centerfield (which was in play) and ended up with a triple and scored Washington's final run. Yost would go 4 for 4 with a walk. Yost had walked 151 times in 1956, but injuries limited his playing time in 1957 and he finished with just 73. Yost had an OBP of .370.
While the Senators would finish 1957 in last place with a 55-99 record, Sievers did provide some highlights. Sievers led the AL in home runs with 42 and RBI with 114. Sievers finished third in the MVP voting behind winner Mickey Mantle and runnerup Ted Williams. Sievers would hit 39 home runs and drive in 108 in 1958, but would never again put together a year like 1957.
Detroit fared better in 1957, finishing 78-76, good for fourth place in the AL. Despite having a lineup featuring Al Kaline and Harvey Kuenn, no Tiger regular batted over .300. Kaline led the regulars with a .295 average. Charlie Maxwell led in home runs with 24.
Lary would go 11-16 in 1957. Jim Bunning was the staff ace, going 20-8 with a 2.69 ERA. The Tigers earned their nearly .500 record as they both scored and allowed 614 runs on the season. The Tigers were 75-68 late in the year, but then lost 10 of 13 down the stretch.
The Senators started Pete Runnels at first base and he batted .230 in 1957. In the offseason, Runnels was traded to Boston for Albie Pearson and Norm Zauchin. Runnels proceeded to hit over .300 in five straight seasons for the Red Sox and won the batting title in 1960 and 1962.
Starting in center field on this day for Washington was Whitey Herzog. Herzog would play in just 36 games with the Senators in 1957 and batted just .167. 21-year old Harmon Killebrew was in Chattanooga most of the season and got into just 9 games with the big club. He would not become a regular until 1959. He would be the only player on this Senators team who would still be with the franchise when it won the AL pennant as the Minnesota Twins in 1965. Kaline would be the only Tiger player still on the team in 1968 when the Tigers won their next pennant.
Sources: Washington Post, Baseball-Reference, Retrosheet
Sometimes old lefthanders do retire
To make room for Noah Lowry, Jeff Fassero was designated for assignment by the Giants. Fassero, who pitched for Montreal, Seattle, Texas, Boston, the Cubs, St. Louis, Colorado, Arizona (for about a week), and San Francisco.
Outfielder Dan Ortmeier was called up from Fresno and catcher Justin Knoedler was sent down to Fresno.
Another long day in the minors and a contentious one too
On Sunday, Lakewood beat Hagerstown, 8-7 in 22 innings, the longest game in the history of the South Atlantic (Sally) League. The game started on April 26 and was suspended after 17 innings because of a curfew.
Meanwhile in the Southern League, Jacksonville defeated Birmingham 11-5 in a forfeit. Birmingham manager Chris Cron pulled his team off the field in eighth inning after the benches emptied for the third time in the game.
Birmingham News story. Cron blamed the replacement umpires for letting the situation deteriorate.
Joe and Marilyn: A wealthy memorabilia story
A baseball autographed by both Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe fetched $191,200 at an auction Sunday.
It is believed to be the highest price ever paid for an autographed baseball ever.
A Ty Cobb bat at the auction fetched $44,812.
No word on whether or not the autographed Enzo Hernandez bat I tried to sell fetched much.
Shrine of the Eternals inductees
This is the press release from the Baseball Reliquary announcing the inductees into its Shrine of the Eternals:
The Board of Directors of the Baseball Reliquary, a Southern California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering an appreciation of American art and culture through the context of baseball history, is pleased to announce the 2006 class of electees to the Shrine of the Eternals. The Shrine of the Eternals is the national organization's equivalent to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Josh Gibson, Fernando Valenzuela, and Kenichi Zenimura received the highest number of votes in balloting conducted in the month of April by the membership of the Baseball Reliquary. The three electees will be formally inducted into the Shrine of the Eternals in a public ceremony on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at the Pasadena Central Library, Pasadena, California.
Of the fifty eligible candidates on the 2006 ballot, Josh Gibson received the highest voting percentage, being named on 38% of the ballots returned, followed by Fernando Valenzuela with 32% and Kenichi Zenimura with 32%. Runners-up in this year's election included Yogi Berra (31%), Casey Stengel (31%), Effa Manley (25%), Bill Buckner (23%), Dizzy Dean (23%), Pete Gray (23%), Rube Foster (21%), Ted Giannoulas (21%), Bill James (21%), and J.R. Richard (21%).
Random Game Callback, May 8, 1991
It was just 1991, but on a Wednesday evening at Fenway Park, Jack Morris of Minnesota and Roger Clemens of Boston would match up in a game that Jeff Lenihan of the Star Tribune described as a matchup between the winningest pitcher of the 1980s and the pitcher would likely end up with the most wins in the 1990s. Morris was 2-3 with a 5.49 ERA in his first year away from Detroit. Clemens was 5-0 with a 0.66 ERA coming into the game. The Twins were tied for fifth in the AL West at 13-13 while the Red Sox led Detroit by a half game in the AL East at 14-9.
Morris was not on his game this night. The Red Sox scored five runs in five innings off of Morris and got 16 runners on base against him and would win 8-3. The Red Sox had 10 hits (8 singles and 2 doubles) and 6 walks off of Morris. Every Boston starter would reach base on a hit or a walk in this game except for designated hitter Jack Clark, who went 0 for 5.
Clemens had given up just three runs all season and gave up just one on this night. That came in the seventh when Brian Harper singled home Kirby Puckett who had singled to lead off the inning. Boston would come back to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh off of reliever Carl Willis. The Twins scored two in the ninth off of Tony Fossas and Jeff Gray was called in to retire Junior Ortiz for the final out of the game. Gray would suffer a stroke in the offseason and was unable to pitch again in the majors after 1991.
With the win, Clemens ran his lifetime record against the Twins to 12-2. One young Twins player was impressed.
"He was awesome," said Twins rookie Chuck Knoblauch. "The best I've seen. He throws gas, plus he's got the breaking ball and the forkball."
So was the manager. "That's the hardest I've seen Mr. Clemens throw the ball in my years in the big leagues," Twins manager Tom Kelly said. "He just overmatched us. We mixed in a couple of hits and got a run, but he dominated the game. He was just too much. The most dominating thing to me was his fastball. He didn't have to use his other pitches as much. He had the good fastball, and it seemed he went to it more."
The Twins would fare better against Clemens after this night and at the end of the 2005 season, Clemens had a lifetime record of 23-12 against Minnesota with a 3.01 ERA. (The most wins Clemens has against any one team is the Angels at 29-9.) Clemens wouldn't end up as the winningest pitcher of the 1990s despite his good start. Greg Maddux ended up with that honor with 176 wins to Clemens 152. Tom Glavine won 164.
When the 1991 season ended though, the fortunes of the two teams playing this night were quite different. The Twins, who had finished in last place in 1990, went 22-6 in June en route to a 95-67 record and an 8 game edge over the White Sox. The AL West was a tough division in 1991 as no team had a losing record. Last place California was 81-81. The Red Sox went 22-32 in June and July and finished seven games behind first place Toronto.
Morris would win his next start vs Milwaukee, but then lose at Detroit on May 19. Then Morris would turn it around and win eight consecutive starts from May 24 through June 30. He finished the season with an 18-12 record and a 3.43 ERA. Clemens would lead the AL in ERA at 2.62 and an 18-10 record that would earn him his third Cy Young award.
The Twins had a team ERA of 3.69, third best in the AL behind Toronto and California. Scott Erickson went 20-8 and Kevin Tapani was 16-9. Rick Aguilera saved 42 games with a 2.35 ERA. Knoblauch won the Rookie of the Year award with a .281 batting average and 25 steals in 30 attempts. Chili Davis led the team with 29 home runs.
It would be in the postseason where this Twins squad would make its mark in history. They would beat Toronto in five games in the ALCS and then defeat the Braves in an epic seven game affair in which five of the seven games were decided by one run, three of them in extra innings. Morris would win Game 7, 1-0 in 10 innings and win the World Series MVP award.
Soon after the World Series ended, Morris signed a free agent deal with Toronto.
Sources: Star Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com, Los Angeles Times
Zambrano done for the year
Relax Cubs fan, it's Victor Zambrano of the Mets who is out for the year. Zambrano has a torn tendon in his elbow.
Jose Lima is starting for the Mets today.
I believe this is known as a short-term solution.
Random Game Callback, May 7, 1872
The first place team in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the Boston Red Stockings stopped by the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn to take on one of the NA entries there, the Atlantic Club. According to the New York Times about 200 people showed up and it wasn't much of a contest as Boston walloped the Atlantics, 23-3.
The accounts of the game are pretty sketchy. I do know that Boston scored in every inning but the seventh and led 18-3 after six innings. Harry Schafer, the left fielder this day, but usually the third baseman, had five hits and scored four runs. Dave Birdsall was the catcher and batted fourth. Birdsall was Boston's lone reserve player and he got into only 16 games. Boston used just 10 players during its 48-game season, during which it went 39-8-1 and easily claimed the pennant. The 48-game season for Boston started on April 30 and finished on October 22.
The Atlantics went 9-28 and lost their first nine games. They didn't win a game until July 2. And they kept playing off and on until October 31. The Atlantics featured two players of note. One was third baseman Bob Ferguson, forever immortalized in history books with the nickname "Death to Flying Things". He played for 14 seasons in the majors and also served as an umpire and manager. The other star was shortstop Jack Burdock, who played for 18 seasons and would manage Boston's NL entry in 1883 for half the season. Burdock would play most of his career at second base.
The Times game story mentions Ferguson making a one-handed catch of a liner off the bat of Boston's Charlie Gould and then having to retire from the game in favor of someone named Jackson. However, the mysterious Mr. Jackson didn't show up in the boxscore, although Baseball-reference.com does credit a Sam Jackson as appearing in four games for the Atlantics in 1872.
The last surviving player from this game 134 years ago was Boston's Hall of Fame shortstop George Wright, who didn't pass away until 1937 at the age of 90.
As for scoring 20+ runs, Boston would do so eight times during the 1872 season, three times against the Atlantics.
Sources: Retrosheet, New York Times, Baseball-Reference.com
Are there any Angels in the outfield?
Darin Erstad is likely headed for the DL because of ankle problems that may require surgery. With personnel short, Angels manager Mike Scioscia gave Tim Salmon his first start in the outfield since 2004. Salmon homered in the game, a 3-0 Angels win over Toronto. Juan Rivera is due back Tuesday.
It took as many innings as it takes hours for Jack Bauer to save the world from destruction while shooting at least that many people in the thigh, but the New Orleans Zephyrs beat the Nashville Sounds, 8-7 in 24 innings in a game that was completed today after being suspended after 18 innings Friday night.
The game tied the PCL record for most innings.
The game was so long that the linescore doesn't display properly in my Firefox browser.
Maybe it didn't really end.
Posted by popular demand. Thanks to Sam and Jon.
I've since noticed that in the 19th inning, New Orleans pitcher Chris Schroder had to stay in the game and play right field as the Zephyrs were out of position players. But not pitchers!
Alou to the DL
The San Francisco Giants lost outfielder Moises Alou to the DL with a sprained ankle. Catcher Justin Knoedler was called up from Connecticut to take his spot as backup catcher Todd Greene was banged up in a collision with Milwaukee's Prince Fielder. However, Greene isn't expected to go on the DL.
In honor of the Kentucky Derby winner
Take a look back at the career of the only Barbaro in big league history: Barbaro Garbey.
As I recall, Sparky Anderson thought this guy was going to be really good.
Perhaps he was misinformed.
Forget the Maine, we're Fortunato it's Lima Time
According to the Mets website and also mentioned by Gary Cohen on the SNY broadcast, the Mets have put John Maine on the disabled list. Bartolome Fortunato was called up to fill in for today's game. Then on Sunday Jose Lima is scheduled to start against the Braves.
The Mets beat the Braves 8-7 in 14 innings Friday night.
In today's game, Mets starter Victor Zambrano retired the first four batters and after retiring Andruw Jones, he ran off the field, apparently unable to continue. Darren Oliver is now pitching. Willie Randolph will likely keep Oliver out there for a while.
Random Game Callback, May 6, 1887
There wasn't much scoring at Washington's Swampoodle Grounds, but there was plenty of controversy and a near riot as the Philadelphia Phillies edged the Washington Senators, 2-1, before a crowd estimated at 1,500. The Phillies scored both of their runs in the bottom of the eighth (Washington opting to bat first in this game) to pull out the win.
Washington manager John Gaffney started his ace, Jim Whitney. Phillies manager, Harry Wright, started Charlie Ferguson, who pitched as well as playing second, third and the outfield during the 1887 season. Ferguson would be at the center of all the action. So would an umpire named John Wilson.
The Senators scored their only run in the second inning. First baseman Bill Krieg singled, moved to second on a passed ball by Philadelphia catcher Deacon McGuire and scored on a double by Whitney, who batted sixth this day.
Sometime during the game, according to the Washington Post account of the game, Phillies outfielder Jim Fogarty tried to slip an extra baseball into his uniform, presumbaly to use to throw back in if a drive went past him. However, the crowd noticed and umpire Wilson made Fogarty surrender the ball. The Post writer took a dim view of such actions. "Spectators play to see clean, fair ball playing, and such tricks should be discountenanced by every honest player, whether it is done to advance the interest of his side or not."
In the eighth, the game got more heated. McGuire led off with a single. One out later, Ferguson (batting in the #2 slot) lined a shot down the third base line that apparently everyone at Swampoodle thought was foul. Except for the umpire Wilson, who called it fair. McGuire went to third and Ferguson ended up with a double. The crowd was livid as the inning before Ferguson had ruled that a fly ball down the same line by Whitney was a foul ball and not a home run. But the call stood despite the protestations of the Senators. Charlie Buffinton, normally a pitcher, but filling in at center this day, singled in both McGuire and Ferguson to put the Phillies up 2-1. Washington couldn't score in the ninth.
When the game ended, many in the crowd came on to the field and seemed to want a piece of Wilson. Although this was not uncommon in 19th century baseball, the Post seemed to think it was unusual for Washington. However, Washington's owner, Robert Hewitt, came on to the field to escort Wilson away from the crowd. Nevertheless after the game, Hewitt declared that his team would rather forfeit a game than play in one that Wilson was scheduled to umpire. For the next game the next day, Phillies reserve catcher Tom Gunning served as umpire. (Again, not an unusual practice at the time.)
Interestingly, one of Washington's reserve pitchers that day was Hank O'Day. O'Day would pitch in the majors for seven seasons and then go on to a long career as a National League umpire. O'Day was the home plate umpire at the Polo Grounds on September 23, 1908 and he ultimately made the call in the "Merkle" game, ruling that Fred Merkle had been forced out at second to end the inning instead of allowing the winning run to count.
Washington's catcher this day in 1887 was a 24-year old in his second season in the majors. His name was Connie Mack. He would play in 11 seasons and manage for 53. In 1887, Mack batted just .201. And this was in a year when walks counted as hits!
Philadelphia would finish in second place in the NL in 1887, 3 1/2 games behind pennant winning Detroit (the only NL flag ever claimed by that city). Washington was a distant seventh, 32 games out. Charlie Ferguson, the man who hit the double that set everybody aflame, would pass away in Philadelphia in less than a year on April 29, 1888 of some form of typhoid fever or malaria at age 25.
Sources: Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Baseball-reference.com, Retrosheet
Remain calm Washington fans, remain calm!
Cristian Guzman is now out for the season after shoulder surgery.
Guzman should be ready for spring training in 2007.
Kids don't try this at home, or at practice, or anywhere
Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times reports that the baseball coach at Providence High in Burbank, CA was using a pitching machine and real baseballs to teach his players how to get hit by a pitch.
Providence High officials say the intent of first-year Coach Nick Rondon was to teach a fundamental safety technique for the protection of players who were not reacting well to inside pitches. However, some parents complained that their boys had been bruised and the coach's tactics were over the top, even dangerous.
Jeff Cirilllo played his high school baseball at Providence High.
Royals owner says he 'out of patience'
Despite the Royals one-game road winning streak, Royals owner David Glass is unhappy about his team's 6-20 start.
Or maybe Glass is patient to a fault.
"I'm very patient," he said, "but at the same time, I pretty much understand what it takes to play here. I think we're obviously better than we're playing, but we've got a ways to go yet.
Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star is at the end of his rope.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports follows up on the story of the disgruntled Royals fan who auctioned off his loyalty.
Excerpt from Rob Neyer's 'Baseball Blunders' : Alston Goes 0 for 6
ESPN.com columnist Rob Neyer has a new book Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders : A Complete Guide to the Worst Decisions and Stupidest Moments in Baseball History.
It's an interesting look at some of the biggest blunders (which he defines as a bad choice taken, not a physical error) in baseball's history. The blunders start in 1917 when the White Sox acquired Chick Gandil through 2003 when Joe Torre opted not to use Mariano Rivera in Game 4 of the World Series because the game was tied and instead brought in Jeff Weaver.
Neyer does a good job in viewing every decision fairly objectively and the decisions are evaluated in terms of whether or not the blunder cost a team a chance at the pennant or a playoff spot for the most part. Surprisingly, a lot of blunders aren't nearly as bad as you think they might have been.
One of my favorite chapters is about Game 165 of the 1962 National League season. It was the deciding playoff game between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 3, 1962.
Some excerpts follow below.
Random Game Callback, May 5, 1899
Two of the lesser lights in the 12-team National League got together on a Friday afternoon at the Polo Grounds and the New York Giants were able to score three times in the ninth to pull out a 5-4 win over the Washington Senators before a crowd estimated at 1200. Washington started the day 4-12 and the Giants were 6-8, which put them in 11th and 9th places respectively.
Washington manager Arthur Irwin, whose main claim to fame may be that he died at sea (some reports say he may have drowned himself because of illness or because he apparently was a bigamist who was going to be found out), started Gus Weyhing on the mound. New York was managed by Jack Day (who apparently died on solid ground), but team captain and first baseman Jack Doyle called most of the shots. The Giants started lefthander Ed Doheny.
Doheny got off to a rough start and was scored on in the first two innings and Washington led 3-0. In the bottom of the second, there was some controversy. Washington second baseman Dick Padden appeared to have forced George Van Haltren at second base, but the umpire on the bases, Ed Andrews, called Van Haltren safe. Padden argued and was kicked out of the game. Scrounging around for a replacement, Irwin called on coach Arlie Latham to fill in at second base. Latham was one of baseball's first baseline coaches, although he provided little in the way of signs or assistance to runners. Latham's job was primarily heckling the opposition. Latham was 39 and hadn't played in the majors since 1896.
By the time the ninth rolled around, Washington led 4-2. Weyhing retired John Warner to lead off the inning. Kid Gleason, who would later earn more notoriety as the manager of the 1919 White Sox, then beat out an infield hit to Latham at second base. Tom O'Brien then drew a walk. Gleason and O'Brien then pulled off a double steal to put the tying runs in scoring position. Mike Grady pinch hit for third baseman Fred Hartman and walked to load the bases.
This brought up right fielder Pop Foster who singled to left, scoring Gleason and O'Brien to tie the game. Grady was thrown out at third, primarily because Latham threw a block on him at second base that umpire Andrews failed to see (such plays were not that unusual for the era however). On the throw to third, Foster moved up to second. This brought the pitcher Doheny to the plate.
Whether or not the Giants would have pinch hit for Doheny if the game were not tied is unknown, but Doheny got the call. And he delivered a clean single to center to score Foster with the winning run.
There wouldn't be many other opportunities for celebrating for either team in 1899. New York finished in 10th place with a 60-90 record, 42 games behind champion Brooklyn. Washington finished in 11th place at 54-98, 49 games out of first. The last place team that year was the Cleveland Spiders, who finished 20-134. 1899 marked the last year of syndicate ownership in the NL. An owner could control two teams then, and the owners of Cleveland, the Robison brothers, also owned St. Louis and they moved all of the good players to the St. Louis team and filled the Cleveland roster with players who could kindly be described as mediocrities.
Washington's NL franchise would be dissolved in 1900 and its best players would go to Boston, but the Senators had few stars. The best player was Buck Freeman, who led the league with 25 home runs, the second highest total in major league history at the time. Freeman also had 25 triples and he drove in 122 runs. For reasons I wasn't able to determine, Freeman managed to hit just 19 doubles.
The Giants problem at the time was its ownership. In particular, not many people liked the owner. The team was owned by a politically well-connected businessman named Andrew Freedman. Some have described him as the first George Steinbrenner. During his time as owner of the Giants (1895-1902), the team went through 16 managers (like Steinbrenner, some managers came back for a second tour of duty.) Some of the animus toward Freedman was sparked by anti-Semitism, but Freedman rubbed a lot of people the wrong way especially since he became so rich so fast. Freedman tried to prevent the American League moving in to New York, but ulitmately the Baltimore franchise of the AL was able to find a home and settled in New York in 1903. Freedman was also instrumental in financing the construction of much of the New York city subway system. I hear that gets used a lot.
The 1899 Giants had one superstar, although his fame was not recognized for quite a while. Shortstop George Davis, who would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, batted .337 in 1899. Davis was one of the best shortstops of his era from both and offensive and defensive standpoint. He finally played on a World Series champion when he was 35 years old and playing for the 1906 White Sox. Davis batted .295 in a 20-year career.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference, and Baseballlibrary.com
Royals win! Royals win!
Paul Bako drove in a run in the second and Jeremy Affeldt, Joel Peralta, Elmer Dessens, and Ambiorix Burgos combined for a 1-0 shutout win over Minnesota.
It was the Royals first road win in 13 tries this season!
The Mike Piazza caddy list
Starting from his first full season with the Dodgers in 1993, here are Mike Piazza's primary backups. Catchers called up late in the year are omitted.
Will Josh Bard get enough playing time to join the list?
Henry Chadwick talks to Jeff Francouer
From A Game of Inches : The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball Volume 1: The Game on the Field by Peter Morris, on p. 84
He quotes this statement written by Henry Chadwick in the New York Clipper on November 11, 1876.
You can likely apply this quote to your favorite team's most impatient hitter.
Kirby Puckett still not at rest
The ex-wife and the fianceé of Kirby Puckett are both laying claim to the cremated remains of Kirby Puckett.
However, it seems that both sides in this dispute are going to settle this a bit more amicably than the case of Ted Williams.
One year makes a difference - Angels vs Tigers
Starting lineup for the Angels in Detroit:
Chone Figgins 3B
Starting lineup for the Tigers
Even a lineup where the Tigers rest some of their regulars actually looks better than what the Angels have now.
As Napoli went up to the plate for the first time in the majors, Angels announcer predicted that Napoli would hit a home run. And Napoli ... hit a home run.
Mueller, Miller Hallelujah Twist
In 1996 the San Francisco Giants called up infielder Bill Mueller. He played two games in April in Chicago and then didn't play in the majors again until July. He was up for three days in April while the Giants had a temporary shortage of infielders. Mueller was called up again after Robby Thompson got hurt again (although not enough to go on the disabled list). But Mueller was up in the big leagues to stay.
Mueller would play five seasons in San Francisco, get traded to the Cubs, then traded back to the Giants briefly and then move on to Boston as a free agent and now plays for the Dodgers.
When Mueller first came up and I saw him play, I was surprised to find out that his name was pronounced like it was spelled "Miller". I had excepted him to pronounce it a bit more Teutonic. More like "MULE-er" with the first syllable sounding like the farm animnal.
But Bill Mueller was "Miller". And sometime in 1996, I turned to my father and asked him, "How do you pronounce the last name M-u-e-l-l-e-r?" I was fully expecting to trick him on this.
My father (who had no idea who Bill Mueller was) turned to me and said, "Miller, how else would you pronounce it?" I told him how there had bee several other major leaguers and they had all been "MULE-ers" to the best of my knowledge.
Dad explained, "There was a whole family of Muellers in Clinton County [Illinois, where he grew up], they all said Miller."
And indeed my father was right. Bill Mueller was from the same part of the country (although he grew up on the St. Louis side of the Mississippi). Mueller himself has said that his family had anglicized the pronunciation of the name (although not the spelling) when they came to the U.S. Mueller never says when, but I'm guessing that World War I, when sauerkraut became "victory cabbage", was a precipitating event.
However, I still don't know why the family would worry so much about having a German name. After all, one of the muncipalities in Clinton County is called Germantown and it has a sign telling you that it's the home of the Spasfest. (Festival of Fun, literally.) Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst was born in Germantown. But who knows what sort of hostilities the original Muellers (Bill variety) felt when they came to the U.S. Then again, judging by this series of events in Montana may be indicative of problems that Germans faced in some parts of the U.S. during World War I.
So what's the point of all this rambling? Well, today would have been my father's 77th birthday. He passed away in 2002. He didn't get the chance to show off his keen insights into the pronunciation of the surname of the Dodgers third baseman. I hope, for my Dad's sake, that Bill Mueller gets a few hits tonight. I know it's strange to associate a loved one with something as esoteric as a pronunciation, but I thought I would avoid getting too maudlin here. Just a little tip of the hat to you, Dad.
Random Game Callback, May 4, 1874
The two best teams in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (referred to by historians as the National Association) in 1874 met each other in an early season game at the South End Grounds in Boston. The Mutual Club of New York faced off against the two-time defending champion Boston Red Stockings squad. And the star-studded Boston squad won easily 11-4 to run its record to 2-0 on the season. The Mutuals were 0-3.
Both teams had young starters. The Mutuals, captained by shortstop Tom Carey, started 22-year old Bobby Mathews. Boston, managed by Harry Wright, started 24-year old Al Spalding, a man who would go on to much greater fame in baseball off the field, but nevertheless was a great player, and Harry Wright batted his young pitcher in the fourth spot in the order.
Boston scored in every inning but the first and eighth and batted in the ninth as they opted to bat first. They had 13 hits for the game, 3 by Spalding and 3 from Cal McVey. The Mutuals also committed 14 errors which was not an unusual amount in an era where no one was wearing gloves. Boston committed 8 errors.
Harry Wright had put together a team that mixed together both young and old (relatively speaking) stars and was nearly unstoppable during the five years that the Association existed. The 1874 squad featured, Harry's brother, George Wright at shortstop and Ross Barnes at second base. Barnes would be the first player to lead the NL in batting average and was a master of the "fair-foul" hit. Under the rules of the day, a ball was fair if it landed first in fair territory even if bounded off in to foul ground. Barnes was able to squirt the ball in front of the plate with a lot of spin that would send it off to the sidelines. By 1877, the rule was changed and the rules on fair and foul balls more closely resembled today's rules. (But they still would have seemed weird, trust me.)
The Wright brothers (the baseball ones, not the airplane ones) were the stars of baseball's first all-professional team, the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team. When the National Association was formed in 1871, the Wrights went to Boston and brought along some of their teammates. By 1874, McVey and outfielder Andy Leonard along with the Wrights remained together on the team.
But there was some significant new blood on the team too in first baseman Jim O'Rourke, who was 23 and would play regularly in the majors until 1893 and would make a token appearance in 1904. 23-year old Deacon White played the outfeld for Boston and would play in the majors until 1890. The Wrights, Spalding, and O'Rourke are in the Hall of Fame.
The Mutuals had an 1869 Cincinnati alum as well in Doug Allison, who played catcher and outfielder. Allison started out the May 4 game at catcher and then moved to the outfield. He switched places with Dick Higham. Higham would become an umpire in the National League after he stopped playing. He became the only umpire in the history of Major League Baseball to be fired on grounds of corruption. That happened in 1882. But in 1874, Higham would still be trusted enough to captain the Mutual squad after Carey lost that title.
Boston won the pennant in 1874 with a 52-18-1 record. The Mutuals were 7 1/2 games back at 42-23. The scheduling was a bit odd that year (actually it was odd all the time the NA existed) as teams didn't necessarily play a balanced schedule. Boston played the most games because they were good and people wanted to see them. If an NA team, started having a bad year, it would play fewer games or schedule games against teams that weren't part of the NA. The last place team, Baltimore, played just 47 games.
Sources: Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference, Boston Daily Globe.
'Lost' thread - IF YOU'VE ALREADY WATCHED ONLY
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
I will just say. I guess the penalties for drunk driving in Hawai'i are much stricter than I thought.
Now you know why those hot dogs cost so much?
Aramark, the company that handles the food concessions at 14 different major league stadiums (and a lot of prisons too), is seeing its stock soar on the reports that its CEO, Joseph Neubauer, is attempting a leveraged buyout of the company. Aramark is presently valued at $5.94 billion and the buyout group is arranging around $6.25 billion in debt financing.
What do these guys have in common?
In 2006, what do Luis Terrero and Dave Roberts have in common?
Nationals ownership saga - Finally over?
But here's a rough timeline of "soon" when it comes to picking an owner for the Nats. I just used the Washington Post, your official Washington Nationals booster club newspaper.
K.C., baseball cards, loyalty and the price of it
J. Brady McCollough of the Kansas City Star has the tale of a man named Chad Carroll who has officially given up on the Royals after 25 years. Carroll auctioned off his 25 years worth of Royals collectibles, including signed baseballs by Bob Hamelin and Angel Berroa.
Thanks to Nick Blakeley for the tip.
Also in Kansas City, Royals prospect Alex Gordon has a card worth close to four figures already as Topps printed his card too soon. Under a new agreement between MLB and Topps, only players on 25-man rosters or ones that played the season before can have a baseball card printed. Topps thinks around 100 Alex Gordons got into circulation before they found out the mistake.
Thanks to a guy who won't mind me checking scores for him during his wedding Sunday.
Random Game Callback, May 3, 1876
Just about a week old, the National Leauge of Professional Base Ball Clubs was still not a big story in newspapers throughout the country. There were two games on May 3, 1876 and the one between New York and Philadelphia was not deemed worthy of coverage in the New York Times, however the other game scheduled that day, St. Louis at Louisville, did manage to get a boxscore in the Chicago Tribune and even a brief story. And with the copyright on that story long since expired, I can reprint the entire story.
Disheartening Defeat of St. Louis by Louisville
And that's the way it was. Louisville won its first ever game as a National League team, raising its record to 1-3, while St. Louis fell to 1-3. Chicago (whom no one would have even considered calling the Cubs back then) was in first place at 4-0, and Chicago would go on to win the pennant with a 52-14 record, six games better than St. Louis and Hartford. Louisville would finish fifth, 22 games back.
The two starting pitchers for this game, Jim Devlin of Louisville and George Bradley of St. Louis, pitched nearly every inning of every game for their teams in 1876. Devlin tossed 622 innings with three others combining for 17 innings. Bradley started all 64 games for St. Louis and finished all but one of them. Outfielder Joe Blong pitched four innings of one game.
Devlin and Bradley had crossed paths in 1875. At the time, Devlin apparently knew how to harness baseball's secret weapon, the curve ball. Bradley asked Devlin for a tip on how to throw it, but Devlin refused.
This was found out in Peter Morris's excellent new book, A Game of Inches : The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball Volume 1: The Game on the Field. It is loaded with all sorts of interesting information about firsts in baseball, such as who developed the pitching rotation or who used the first double switch. You will find out the answer to these questions is usually not Gene Mauch or Joe Morgan.
St. Louis used just 10 players for the entire season. Shortstop Denny Mack was the only regular who missed any time and St. Louis picked up 40-year old Dickey Pearce, a player whom many credit with inventing the bunt, to fill in. Pearce would play in 8 games in 1877 for St. Louis. Bradley would lead the NL in ERA in its first year at 1.23 (these numbers have been figured out retroactively) and led the league in shutouts with 16. Bradley also threw the first no-hitter in NL history on July 15, 1876 against Hartford.
Both franchises would play one more season in the National League and then disappear under unpleasant circumstances. Louisville was a contender for the 1877 pennant, but went into a suspicious late season slump and fell into second place behind Boston. Eventually four Louisville players were identified as taking bribes to throw games. These players were Devlin, George Hall, Al Nichols, and Bill Craver. The National League president William Hulbert expelled the four players and stripped of four of its best players, Louisville folded up shop.
St. Louis's problems were a little more subtle. Blong and Joe Battin were suspected of taking bribes in a game in August and they disappeared from the St. Louis roster and then were never seen in the league again. At the end of the year, St. Louis folded.
The NL had already expelled its New York and Philadelphia franchises after the 1876 season after both teams refused to play its final road games because they were out of the race and didn't want to lose money on a trip out to St. Louis. By 1878, the NL had just six teams, located in Boston, Cincinnati, Providence, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. The Hartford team of 1876 moved to Brooklyn in 1877, but still called itself Hartford, serving as an inspiration to Arte Moreno, but it still folded.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference. Special thanks to Frank Vaccaro for his information on the demise of the St. Louis and Louisville teams.
Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?
Tampa Bay minor leaguer Matt Rico was suspended for 100 games after testing postive a second time for a banned substance.
Judging from his stat line Rico was trying to switch from the outfield to pitcher.
I thought they just didn't like ducks
The Richmond Braves could have just told the Methodists that they call themselves the "R-Braves" also. Maybe it would have fooled them.
Random Game Callback, May 2, 1928
The 1928 AL season featured two great teams: the Yankees and the Athletics. And they weren't playing each other on May 2, so we turn our attention to a game at Comiskey Park between the White Sox and Tigers.
Neither team was off to a flying start. The White Sox were 7-11 and the Tigers were 8-13. Detroit featured two good players in second baseman Charlie Gehringer, who would play in all 154 games that year, as well as outfielder Harry Heilmann, in his 14th season in Detroit, after breaking in as a 19-year old in 1914 (he didn't play for Detroit in 1915). Heilmann would bat just .328 in 1928, which only seems bad when you look at his previous five years when he batted .394, .356, .403, .346, and .393.
The White Sox, nine years removed from their ill-fated previous AL pennant, weren't much to look at on offense. Third baseman Willie Kamm was about all there was at bat. Alex Metzler had a pretty good season as well, but the White Sox would manage to hit just 24 home runs in 1928, or 30 fewer than Babe Ruth accumulated by himself that year.
Chicago was without its star pitcher, Ted Lyons, for this game and player-manager Ray Schalk (the last holdover from the 1919 team), started reliever Sarge Connally. Tigers manager George Moriarty countered with former Holy Cross star Ownie Carroll.
It was Carroll who was on his game this day, holding the White Sox to just four hits in a 7-1 Detroit victory. The Tigers chased Connally after three innings, scoring four runs. The Tigers finished with 11 hits, including two doubles and two triples. The White Sox had one extra base hit, a double by Bibb Falk that led to their only run.
George Cox relieved Connally and pitched the fourth through eighth and the "hitting pitcher" Charlie Barnabe pitched the ninth. Bernabe earned that monicker by going 4 for 8 at the plate in 1928 with a double and home run. Unfortunately, Barnabe forgot the pitching part of the name and after pitching in 7 games with an ERA of 6.52, Barnabe left the majors for good on May 13.
The White Sox would finish the year in fifth place at 72-82. Lena Blackburne took over for Schalk as manager in the middle of the year. The Tigers finished in sixth at 68-86. Blackburne would become more famous for selling mud used to rub up baseballs before games.
While the White Sox wallowed around in the second division and drew under 500,000 to Comiskey Park, the North Side Cubs won 91 games and finished in third and drew over 1.1 million fans, the most in the majors, surpassing the World Champion Yankees in attendance. The Yankees would win the World Series in 1928 in four games over the Cardinals.
One of the two starting catchers for the White Sox in 1928 was Moe Berg, playing his first full season behind the plate. If you don't know who Berg is, there is no shortage of information online. It's worth the read and I don't have nearly enough space to scratch the surface.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com
All the Royals problems solved!
Kansas City is 5-18. They have a team OBP of .301. (Believe it or not, the Angels are worse at .299). They are slugging at .376, ahead of only Minnesota and San Diego. They're 0-10 on the road.
Demote the hitting coach. Andre David will be working in the minors (where the Royals actually have good hitters) and Mike Barnett will take over and get the chance to try to tell Angel Berroa what he's doing wrong. The first question he could ask is "Why are you in the majors?"
Minor league umps say 'Strike Two!'
The Association of Minor League Umpires rejected a proposed settlement from Minor League Baseball to end their strike.
Future settlements talks have not been scheduled.
There is no word on whether or not the umpires wanted additional pay for working games that Delmon Young plays in.
Agents Boras and Munsey in war of words over Braves prospect
The agent for Braves minor league catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jim Munsey, has accused Scott Boras of "stalking" his client to induce him to change agents.
Jim Munsey, a Florida-based agent and lawyer who represents Braves star catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia, said that representatives from Boras' agency continued to pursue Saltalamacchia even when the player repeatedly made it clear that he had no desire to switch agents.
Note use of cut and paste to correctly spell Saltalamacchia this time.
Mirabelli headed back to Boston - updated
Apparently frustrated by the inability of Josh Bard or Jason Varitek to catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleballs, the Red Sox have reacquired Doug Mirabelli from San Diego in exchange for Bard, minor league pitcher Cla
Except the part about the Susan B. Anthony dollars.
Jack Curry of the New York Times had written a very long piece about catching Wakefield's knuckler.
It included quotes from Bard.
Bard said he doubted there would ever be a time when he and Wakefield "kick it into automatic pilot." Sliders, changeups and curveballs are pitches Bard has mastered. But the knuckleball tricks catchers, Bard said. It torments them, too. It made Flaherty retire, which is not an option for Bard.
Good luck with that Josh.
And the Boston Globe confirms the story as well.
Bard leads the majors in passed balls with 10. Ramon Hernandez and Kenji Johjima have four each.
Big night for Nioka in Japan
Tomohiro Nioka of the Yomiuri Giants had a big night Sunday at the Tokyo Dome, belting three home runs, including grand slams in consecutive at bats, and driving in 10 runs as his team routed the Chunichi Dragons, 15-4.
Nioka missed the Japanese record for RBIs in a game by one.
The Major League record for RBIs in a game is 12 by two Cardinal players: Jim Bottomley in 1924 and Mark Whiten in 1993.
The last MLB player with 10 RBI in a game was Alex Rodriguez last season in a game against the Angels.
Random Game Callback, May 1, 1883
The 1883 National League season got underway on May 1 and the featured game of the day marked the return of National League baseball back to New York City after a seven-year absence. An estimated 15,000 fans came to the Polo Grounds (then located around 110th Street and Sixth Avenue) to watch the game. Former president Ulysses S. Grant was attendance. Grafulla's Seventh Regiment Band provided pregame music. I have a lot of their stuff on my iPOD now and I can tell you, they rock!
Although there was a New York entry in the National League's initial season in 1876, that team was kicked out after one season because it refused to play out its schedule. Apparently the memory of that New York NL team had been erased from the mind of the New York Times writer covering the game who wrote "It was the first time in the history of base-ball that a New-York club played for the League championship ..."
New York, managed by John Clapp and captained by Buck Ewing, was squaring off against Boston, led by captain and manager Jack Burdock. Mickey Welch was the starting pitcher for New York (he batted sixth) and Jim Whitney started for Boston (and batted third).
There was a coin flip to decide who would get the option of first or last ups and Boston won and opted to bat last. But New York didn't waste time to get on the board. The second batter of the game, Roger Connor, tripled to right field. John Ward followed with a hard grounder that Boston shortstop Sam Wise couldn't handle and Connor scored to make it 1-0. Pete Gillespie singled Ward to third. Both men later scored on a hit by Mike Dorgan. New York led 3-0 after just three outs.
In the second, Ewing, a catcher batting leadoff, singled in Ed Caskin to make it 4-0 (the newspaper called him Caskins). In the third, hits by Dorgan, Welch, and Caskin along with an error (Boston made eight on the game) led to two more runs and a 6-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings.
Boston finally scored in the bottom of the third thanks to three errors in the inning by New York shortstop Dasher Troy. Troy's miscues led to two runs and a 6-2 score after three innings.
New York kept on coming as Frank Hankinson doubled and he came around to score on a single by Connor to make it 7-2 New York. Boston scored single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth, but could not get any closer and New York won its opener by a 7-5 count. The band played "See the Conquering Hero Comes" by Handel in celebration.
But when the season was done, it would be Boston claiming the NL pennant. Boston finished with a 63-35 record, four games better than Chicago. New York finished 16 games out in sixth place. New York spent the season sharing the Polo Grounds with its American Association counterpart. And it was not as if the teams were scheduled to not be in town the same day. In 1883 the two teams literally shared the Polo Grounds. There were two diamonds and the NL New York team took one end and the AA team took the other.
The New York and Boston teams from 1883 are of course what we know today as the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves, but at this time they only had informal nicknames, mostly applied well after the fact. Record books refer to the New York team as "the Gothams" and the Boston team as "the Beaneaters", but the newspaper accounts rarely used those names.
And although Boston was the champion of 1883, the New York team had the roster full of future Hall of Famers. Ewing, Connor, Ward, and Welch would all be inducted into the Hall of Fame, albeit quite a while after they had passed away. Ward, who had started his career as a pitcher, was slowly moving away from that position due to arm problems and would still be a standout playing in the infield for the rest of his career. Boston's team had no one who was deemed worthy of Cooperstown. Boston would not win the pennant again until 1891 and then would dominate the last decade in the NL. New York would eventually win the NL in 1888-89 and then become one of the NL's most troubled franchises until John McGraw arrived on the scene in 1904.
Sources: New York Times, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.
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About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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