Baseball Toaster The Griddle
Monthly archives: April 2008


Not that anyone asked me, but ...
2008-04-30 18:15
by Bob Timmermann

Since this is a day for Baseball Toaster to discuss top ten baseball books, I thought I'd drop in my 10 favorite baseball books. I don't know if they qualify as "best" or "essential" or "influential" or perhaps any or all.

Most of the titles have been mentioned before in both of the two links above and they aren't presented in any order except the order I remembered them (this list changes as I see titles on my shelf):

The Southpaw and Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris. Josh Wilker has written about Harris's work much more eloquently than I can over at Cardboard Gods, but the story of Henry Wiggen and Bruce Pearson is something that everyone should read. Even with the stories set in the 1950s, the themes are timeless.

The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter. Ritter lets the history of the Deadball Era speak for itself. Sure some players told some tales, but this is still the most enjoyable and enriching way to learn about baseball before the era of film, radio, and television. The Fred Snodgrass and Chief Meyers chapters are the best.

The Long Season by Jim Brosnan. Before there was Jim Bouton, there was Jim Brosnan and he was told us the story of being a big league relief pitcher in 1959. There aren't tales of players taking greenies or looking up women's skirts, but Brosnan's season is just as fascinating.

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip through Buck O'Neil's America by Joe Posnanski. Posnanski took a man who had turned into an icon and turned him back into a human being and made you realize that the difference between icon and regular guy is not much. In the end, I admired the human being more than the icon.

Lords of the Realm by John Helyar. Helyar expertly details how baseball's owners took the country's leading legal monopoly and in, paraphrasing Ted Turner, "****** it up."

Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman by Lee Lowenfish. For a 683 page, greatly detailed, and heavily footnoted book, this is a quick read and tells you the good, the bad, and the in between about one of baseball's most influential figures.

Baseball Before We Knew It by David Block. Block turned up historical information on the history of baseball-like games that completely changed how we should view the sport's beginnings. It is an incredible work of scholarship.

Even the Browns by William B. Mead. (Also published as The 10 Worst Years in Baseball). This is picked more for sentimental reasons as Mead writes about the 1944 season in which the St. Louis Browns took advantage of rosters decimated by players sent off to serve in World War II to win their only AL pennant. 1944 was my mom's favorite year to watch baseball as her two hometown teams in St. Louis made it to the World Series.

Strange, but True Baseball Stories by Furman Bisher. This children's book was published in 1966 back when Furman Bisher was just a grouchy old man, unlike now when he is just a grouchy very old man. But it was one of the first baseball books I read over and over and over. I loved the story about how Stan Musial switched from being a pitcher to an outfielder (the story isn't that strange, he hurt his shoulder) or how Gene Rye hit three home runs in an inning in the minor leagues. I just ate stuff up like that. And what is The Griddle now, but a collection of strange, but true baseball stories?

No hits? No problem!
2008-04-30 15:00
by Bob Timmermann

The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League won a 7-inning game in the nightcap of a doubleheader at home against the Winston-Salem Warthogs without getting a hit. Potomac scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the game, 3-2. Doubleheaders in the minors have two seven inning games.

Here's the play-by-play from the bottom of the sixth from

Potomac Bottom 6th

  • Pitcher Change: Matthew Long replaces Matthew Zaleski.
  • Brian Peacock reaches on fielding error by third baseman C. J. Retherford.
  • Elijah Dukes walks. Brian Peacock to 2nd.
  • Jemel Spearman walks. Brian Peacock to 3rd. Elijah Dukes to 2nd.
  • Pitcher Change: Kanekoa Texeira replaces Matthew Long.
  • Christopher Marrero called out on strikes.
  • With Leonard Davis batting, passed ball by Billy Killian, Brian Peacock scores. Elijah Dukes to 3rd. Jemel Spearman to 2nd.
  • Kanekoa Texeira intentionally walks Leonard Davis.
  • Edgardo Baez walks. Elijah Dukes scores. Jemel Spearman to 3rd. Leonard Davis to 2nd.
  • Dee Brown grounds into a force out, third baseman C. J. Retherford to second baseman Javier Colina. Jemel Spearman scores. Leonard Davis to 3rd. Edgardo Baez out at 2nd. Dee Brown to 1st.
  • Steve Doetsch strikes out swinging.

Elijah Dukes was playing as part of a rehab assignment for Washington. Paul Lo Duca had played in the first game.

The Mike Hampton Curse continues
2008-04-30 10:46
by Bob Timmermann

Mike Hampton's rehab start for the Braves AAA Richmond squad was cut short in the fourth inning in a game at Durham when Hampton started feeling pain in his left pectoral muscle again. That was the injury that sent him to the DL this season as he was warming up to make his first major league start since 2005, back on April 3.

[Atlanta General Manager Frank] Wren said it is too early too determine the consequences of this setback. But it seems logical to believe the southpaw won't be able to rejoin the Braves' injury-depleted rotation within the next couple of weeks. His only other rehab start had come on Friday, when he tossed three scoreless innings for Richmond and felt minimal discomfort in his pectoral region.

It was a nice gesture, but you didn't need to
2008-04-29 21:33
by Bob Timmermann

George Vescey of the New York Times (after Graham Hays of ran the story) picked up on the story of Sara Tucholsky, a softball player for Western Oregon, who hit a 3-run homer against Central Washington last Saturday. Tucholsky tripped going over first base and hurt her knee, which left her unable to complete the circuit of the bases.

The umpires at the game ruled that Western Oregon couldn't put in a pinch runner for Tucholsky and that the runners on base could score, but Tucholsky would only be credited with a single. Two Central Washington players, Liz Wallace and Mallory Holtman, offered to carry Tucholsky around the bases so she could be credited with her home run. And they did.

The efforts by the Central Washington players are certainly worthy of praise, but ultimately, the umpires messed up the call. According to the copy of the 2008 NCAA Softball rules,

Rule If an injury to a batter-runner or runner prevents her from
proceeding to an awarded base, the ball is dead and substitution may
be made. The substitute must legally touch all awarded or missed
bases not previously touched.

This is similar to the rule that exists in baseball where a player injured while running out a home run can be pinch run for.


But first place was on the line!
2008-04-29 19:18
by Bob Timmermann

It is still just April 29, but Baltimore and Tampa Bay duked it out tonight for first place in the AL East. Both teams came into the game with 14-11 records, tied for first.

The announced attendance was 11,588. The O's won 7-4. Baltimore leads Boston by .006 with Tampa Bay 1 game back.

Incomplete completeness
2008-04-29 18:57
by Bob Timmermann

Roy Halladay picked up a complete game today, but he didn't go nine innings. And he didn't go eight innings and lose on the road. Instead Halladay pulled off the relatively rare feat of losing in the bottom of the ninth while getting a complete game as he surrendered an RBI singled to Kevin Youkilis with two outs in the ninth in Boston. The Red Sox won 1-0.

The last pitcher to lose a complete game in the bottom of the ninth inning was Derek Lowe of the Dodgers on May 10, 2007. Lowe gave up a 3-run homer to Josh Willingham with one out in the ninth for a 3-0 loss to the Marlins. Chien-Ming Wang of the Yankees lost to the Nationals on a one-out home run in the ninth by Ryan Zimmerman on June 18, 2006.

The man without the position gets a hit
2008-04-29 09:04
by Bob Timmermann

Last night in Anaheim, Rajai Davis of Oakland pulled off the unusual feat of getting a hit while not actually having a position at the time. In BPro's terms, he was a 12.

In the top of the seventh, Oakland DH Frank Thomas led off the inning with a double and Chris Denorfia pinch ran for him. Two batters later, left fielder Jack Cust singled and Davis pinch ran for him.

The inning kept going and going and going as Angels pitcher Chris Bootcheck had a bad night. Eventually, the DH spot came up again and Denorfia batted. Denorfia, because he ran for a DH, was automatically considered to be a DH the first time he came up. But when Davis came up, he was a man without a position. Players aren't credited with a position played in the field until they actually go out into the field.

He wasn't a pinch runner anymore. After all, he wasn't running for anyone at the time. He wasn't a pinch hitter, he wasn't batting in place of anybody. He was just Rajai Davis.

Davis would eventually go into the game as the center fielder as center fielder Ryan Sweeney moved to right and right fielder Emil Brown moved to left.

Davis' situation isn't that unusual and comes up every now and then when a pinch hitter bats early in a big inning or a pinch runner does the same. The last pinch runner to come in and then later have an at bat and get a hit as a "no position" was Jason LaRue of the Reds on July 7, 2006.

Suspended animation!
2008-04-28 16:59
by Bob Timmermann

Today's game between the White Sox and Orioles in Chicago was delayed at the outset (for 86 126 minutes) by rain and played in miserable weather (high 30s, drizzle, rain, wind, presence of Ozzie Guillen and A.J. Pierzynski).

The White Sox took a 2-1 lead going to the 9th, but Bobby Jenks couldn't hold the lead. So the game went into extra frames. And in the top of the 11th, Ramon Hernandez homered off of Scott Linebrink to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead. But in the bottom of the 11th, Juan Uribe homered off of George Sherrill to tie the game. Sherrill was able to retire Pierzynski with two on and two outs and then the rain came again to stop the game.

The game has been suspended, but no date for its continuation has been set. The White Sox and Orioles do not play again until August 25 in Baltimore. The Orioles have no more trips to Chicago scheduled, so the game will likely be made up before the start of the August 25 game with the Orioles batting in the top of the 12th.

Aubrey Huff won't be there. He was ejected from this game.

The last suspended game in the majors involved the Orioles. That was this game that started on June 28, 2007 and finished on July 27, 2007. Since that was an intradivisional game between the Yankees and Orioles, there was no need for a change of venue.

All quiet on the CI front
2008-04-28 07:17
by Bob Timmermann

Last year on April 28, Dave Roberts of the Giants drew the sixth catcher's interference call of the month. Edwin Encarnacion had already drawn two!

Yet this year, there is only one, by Lyle Overbay of Toronto, on April 10. I fear that the catcher's interference alarm may get all beat up like an old civil defense siren. Remember that complacency is the biggest enemy of catcher's interference. Always be watching, always be waiting. You never know when it could happen.

Rays sweep! Rays sweep!
2008-04-27 13:06
by Bob Timmermann

Tampa Bay has had series sweeps before, but today the Rays just finished their first ever home sweep of the Red Sox with a 3-0 win as James Shields went the distance on just 98 pitches.

The Rays did sweep a two-game series from the Red Sox in Fenway on June 30 and July 1, 1999, but overall Boston leads the alltime series with Tampa Bay by 111-61 margin. 1999 was the only year that Tampa Bay won the season series against Boston.

Tampa Bay also won despite striking out 15 times against Josh Beckett and Manny Delcarmen. The only other time Tampa Bay won a 9-inning game while striking out that many times was back on May 6, 2000 when Tampa Bay eked out a 1-0 win against Pedro Martinez of Boston. Yep, Steve Trachsel outpitched Pedro Martinez for one game.

'Fessing up in Pittsburgh
2008-04-27 11:26
by Bob Timmermann

The Pirates released struggling (0-4, 9.67 ERA) pitcher Matt Morris today.

And it seems that both the Pirates and Morris realize that the trade sending Morris to Pittsburgh last year didn't work out well.

Team president Frank Coonelly was disappointed the Pirates added a salary as big as Morris’ not long before Coonelly joined the club from major league baseball’s central office late last season. Former general manager Dave Littlefield, who dealt for Morris, was fired about a month after he acquired Morris from the Giants.

“The decision to acquire Matt Morris last July did not turn out to be a sound baseball judgment,” Coonelly said in a statement issued by the team. “Ownership’s willingness to acquire Matt’s contract … demonstrated ownership’s commitment to fielding a championship team. I am confident that the investments that we are now making in this club will be far more productive.”


Morris is aware the decision likely ends his career.

“I’ve accepted it,” he said. “It was a great segment of my life. I really can’t wait to move on and be with my family. It’s a sad day, but it’s also a joyful day. … I’m proud of my career. I didn’t mean or want for it to end this way. I’ve always said the other team will let you know when you’re done.”

It wasn't even that unusual or was it?
2008-04-27 01:41
by Bob Timmermann

Mark Redman's 10 runs allowed in the first inning in Los Angeles was the first time a pitcher had allowed that many in the first inning since last year. Jason Jennings of Houston coughed up 11 runs in the first to the Padres in a game.

What was unusual was that Redman came back out for the second. Actually, it was more unusual that he even survived the first inning as surrendering 10 runs in the first inning is a universal distress symbol to managers that the pitcher is having a bad game.

I tried going through the Play Index to look for pitchers who might have given up 10 runs in the first and then kept pitching. I quickly determined that such a search would be fruitless. But you're welcome to double-check.

Tony Mullane of Boston did give up 16 runs in the first to Baltimore in the first game of a doubleheader on June 18, 1894, but I couldn't tell from the Sporting News boxscore if Mullane pitched further in the game. Boston won the game 24-7. Mullane most likely didn't finish the game and I think Bert Inks finished the game.

Baltimore still won the NL that year with an 89-39 record. Mullane made four more starts for the Orioles before he was traded to Cleveland for John Clarkson, a future Hall of Famer, who ended up not appearing in any games for the Orioles and was out of the majors after the season.

In most people's memories, the biggest first inning was Boston's 14-spot put up in the first against Florida on June 27, 2003. The Red Sox scored all those against three different Marlin pitchers, the first two of whom failed to retire a batter as the first 11 Boston batters reached safely.

Wainwright's throwback complete game
2008-04-26 13:59
by Bob Timmermann

Adam Wainwright picked up a complete game win over Houston today as the Cardinals won 4-3. Not only was Wainwright's complete game unusual because most pitchers don't throw them anymore (it was the 14th one in the majors this season), but Wainwright also batted in the bottom of the ninth inning.

After Brian Barton led off with a walk as a pinch hitter for Jason LaRue, Wainwright stayed in the game and tried to bunt Barton over. After a Brendan Ryan single sent Wainwright to second, Cesar Izturis pinch ran for him. Skip Schumaker singled home Izturis for the win.

The last pitcher I could find who batted in the bottom of the ninth of a complete game win was Greg Maddux. And that was on May 11, 1988. And the game went 10 innings. But Maddux did bat with a runner on base in the bottom of the ninth.

It's quite possible (and highly likely) that another pitcher has batted in the bottom of the ninth of a complete game win, but checking this was pretty tedious work.

UPDATE - On July 2, 1986, Rick Rhoden of the Pirates led off the bottom of the ninth of a 3-3 tie against the Phillies and got a single. Rick Reuschel(!!!) pinch ran for him and eventually scored the winning run.

I just don't get it
2008-04-26 12:29
by Bob Timmermann

You can picture me saying this in either an extraordinarily pretentious voice or perhaps like Allen Iverson.

But for your Saturday sports viewing there are:

And yet most people seem to want to spend a Saturday afternoon watching Roger Goodell telling them who's on the clock and see large men hold up jerseys with a number 1 on them. Or listen to idiotic New York Jets fans complain about their team.

We're talking about a draft, man. It's just a draft.

Don't mind me though. As I've said before, I'm no fun. Perhaps if I just filled this space up with "Great Moments in Electoral College history" I would get more interest.



Liriano not quite ready for prime time
2008-04-25 17:48
by Bob Timmermann

Minnesota sent left-handed starter Francisco Liriano down to AAA Rochester after making three starts with an 11.32 ERA in his attempt to comeback from elbow surgery.

I can now bore people by telling you that I had picked up Liriano for my fantasy team. I can further bore you by telling you that I don't have him anymore. I can continue boring you by telling you that I'm losing to my 11-year old nephew's best friend in my league.

Weekly Puzzle #19
2008-04-25 07:17
by Bob Timmermann
+ DUCKS = Maddux
 WIN (NYSE symbol for company)

350 (type of engine)

Unconventional, but only so far
2008-04-24 22:41
by Bob Timmermann

Darren Everson of the Wall Street Journal recaps some of the unconvential strategies that  managers are using this year, none of which are all that old. These strategies include batting the pitcher eighth or having a reliever move to the outfield temporarily. But at least one idea isn't getting used.


But if [Brewers GM Doug] Melvin had his way, the Brewers organization might be even more progressive. He has another counterintuitive idea: using relievers to start the game, and delaying the "starting" pitcher's entrance until the third inning or so. The thinking is that starters are typically among a team's best pitchers, yet nowadays they often pitch only through the fifth or sixth inning, well before many games are decided. By having them pitch later, they'd be around for the higher-leverage innings.

The idea would need to be tested first in the minor leagues, Mr. Melvin says. The only problem, it appears, is that it's too unconventional. "I can't get anybody to do it," he says.

Ow, Gabba, Gabbard
2008-04-24 08:59
by Bob Timmermann

Rangers pitcher Kason Gabbard, aka the only starter on the team with a future, was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Scott Feldman and Kazuo Fukumori were recalled. Wes Littleton was optioned to Oklahoma.

This one does indeed go to 11 (update)
2008-04-23 18:56
by Bob Timmermann

Bottom of the sixth in Detroit. Tigers lead Texas 7-6.

Detroit - Bottom of 6th SCORE
Jamey Wright pitching for Texas TEX DET
R Santiago walked. 6 7
C Granderson singled to right, R Santiago to second. 6 7
I Rodriguez sacrificed to pitcher, R Santiago to third, C Granderson to second. 6 7
C Guillen doubled to right, R Santiago and C Granderson scored. 6 9
M Ordonez walked. 6 9
M Cabrera homered to right, C Guillen and M Ordonez scored. 6 12
W Littleton relieved J Wright. 6 12
J Jones hit by pitch. 6 12
E Renteria singled to center, J Jones to second. 6 12
B Inge walked, J Jones to third, E Renteria to second. 6 12
R Santiago hit by pitch, J Jones scored, E Renteria to third, B Inge to second. 6 13
C Granderson singled to right, E Renteria and B Inge scored, R Santiago to second. 6 15
I Rodriguez doubled to right, R Santiago scored, C Granderson to third. 6 16
C Guillen hit sacrifice fly to left, C Granderson scored. 6 17
M Ordonez singled to center, I Rodriguez scored. 6 18
M Cabrera flied out to center. 6 18
11 Runs, 7 Hits, 0 Errors

The Tigers sent 15 batters to the plate, but there were only 8 official at bats and the Tigers were 7 for 8 in the inning. I think it was a good thing that Ivan Rodriguez sacrificed early in the inning. If you play for one run, you might just end up with 11.

Detroit added another run in the bottom of the seventh on four walks by Joaquin Benoit. The Tigers finished with 19 runs on 14 hits. In's Play Index, there have been only three prior instances of a team scoring 19 or more runs on 14 or fewer hits, all of them in the NL.

Since the DH rule started in 1973, 13 other AL teams have scored 19 or more runs in a game and still felt the need to sacrifice at least once during the game. Cleveland sacrificed twice in a 1991 game against Oakland in the second inning and they were already ahead 3-1.

In a 1977 game between Cleveland and Boston, the Indians third batter of the inning, Jim Norris (batting 3rd and hitting .545 in the early going) sacrificed. The game was tied 3-3 at the time. Fourteen batters later, Cleveland had scored 13 times against Bill Campbell, Jim Willoughby, Tom House, and Tom Murphy.

O. Cabrera and Renteria: Don't Invite 'ems
2008-04-23 10:48
by Bob Timmermann

Jorge Arangue, Jr. of ESPN the Magazine tells us of the enmity between baseball's two most notable Colombian players: Edgar Renteria of Detroit and Orlando Cabrera of the White Sox. The two men had a falling out over Cabrera pulling out of an investment in a Colombian baseball winter league.

...."Edgar," the clubbie says, "Orlando Cabrera says he would like to speak to you." But Rentería does not wish to speak to Cabrera, his counterpart on the White Sox, his fellow Colombian. The day before, Rentería explained why to a reporter: "I won't accept dealing with him. I think he's disrespected so many baseball people in Colombia who have been working to improve the sport. And that's not something I can accept, even with an apology from him."

Arangue has some background on the two men and how they have vastly different personalities and outlooks on life.

Report: Reds can Krivsky
2008-04-23 08:48
by Bob Timmermann

Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports this morning that the Cincinnati Reds have fired general manager Wayne Krivsky after fewer than three seasons on the job. Walt Jocketty will be named as his replacement.

I guess people weren't all that impressed with the acquisition of Gary Majewski.


The one on the right was on the left, the one on the left was on the right
2008-04-22 21:12
by Bob Timmermann

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland has decided that his third baseman Miguel Cabrera should be play first base. Not surprisingly, Leyland decided that first baseman Carlos Guillen should move to third base.

Leyland's petition to Bud Selig to force Detroit's opponents to run the bases clockwise was denied.

This is what happens when you have 13 pitchers on your staff
2008-04-22 16:30
by Bob Timmermann

The St. Louis Cardinals came in to today's game at Milwaukee carrying 13 pitchers. And when shortstop Cesar Izturis left with an arm injury after getting hit by a pitch from Eric Gagne in the ninth, Albert Pujols was pressed into duty at second base.

The photo from here shows Pujols trying to make a play on Gabe Gross stealing second in the 12th inning. Gross was safe and he went on to score the winning run as the Brewers prevailed 9-8.

The key to the Brewers win: carrying 14 pitchers on staff.

More double digit bad days
2008-04-22 08:36
by Bob Timmermann

After last night's discourse on pitchers giving up 10 runs or more in a game, I wanted to take a closer look at the pitchers who really gave their all when it came to giving up runs in a game.

The list I had in this post dated back to 1969 and I used that criterion again to pick the pitchers who had given up the most runs in a game since then. And the high water mark for runs allowed by a pitcher in a game since then is 14.

Bill Travers of the Brewers gave up 14 runs in 7 2/3 innings of work in the second game of a doubleheader to the Indians back on August 14, 1977. Brewers manager Alex Grammas must have been in the mood to let his pitchers take a beating that day. Milwaukee lost the first game to Cleveland, 12-4, and starter Jim Slaton stayed in to give up 8 runs. And the Brewers used just one reliever in each end of the doubleheader.

The combined totals for Slaton and Travers in the doubleheader: 12 innings pitched, 29 hits, 22 runs (all earned), 6 walks, 6 strikeouts, 3 homers allowed.

Skipping ahead now to August 3, 1998, we encounter Mike Oquist of Oakland, starting for the 50-60 Athletics against the 77-28 Yankees. It did not go well for Oquist as the Yankees scored a run in the first, five in the second, seven in the third, and then another in the fifth, before manager Art Howe mercifully sent Oquist to the showers. Oquist gave up 14 runs on 16 hits, including four home runs in five innings of work. Four Oakland relievers finished the game giving up just one hit. Oquist was left to his fate as the Yankees and Athletics had a doubleheader scheduled for the next day. The Yankees swept those games by a 10-5 (scoring 9 runs in the 9th) and 10-4 margin. The Athletics salvaged the last game of the series with a 3-1 win.

Dave Rowe holds the major league record for most runs allowed in a game, 35, for Cleveland on July 24, 1882 at Chicago. Rowe was actually an outfielder filling in on the mound. Since 1901, the AL record is held by another Travers, Al Travers of the Tigers who was pressed into duty when the Tigers staged an impromptu strike to protest a suspension of Ty Cobb. Travers gave up 24 runs in his only major league appearance. On June 21, 1901, Doc Parker of Cincinnati gave up 21 runs to Brooklyn. Parker was not invited back to pitch another game for the Reds.

Thanks, but you didn't have to return the favor
2008-04-21 19:28
by Bob Timmermann

Scene: Miller Park

Time: 8th inning

Ryan Ludwick of the Cardinals pinch hits for Chris Duncan and lofts a fly ball down the right field line that Corey Hart drops for a three-base error. Ludwick eventually scores on a sacrifice fly by Adam Kennedy to put the Cardinals ahead 3-2.

Now we move to the bottom of the 8th.

Ryan Braun is on third with one out. Hart is at bat. Hart hits a fly ball to right field. Ryan Ludwick loses the ball in the lights of the ceiling and then falls over and the ball goes off his glove. Hart goes all the way to third on the error, although he does get credited with a sacrifice fly. The official scorer has changed it to a triple.

A column where double digits are not welcome
2008-04-21 18:45
by Bob Timmermann

Justin Germano of the Padres gave up 10 runs in Houston tonight in 3 1/3 innings of work. Germano was just the 12th pitcher in Padres history to give up 10 or more runs in a game.

Since the Padres started play in 1969, here's how other teams have fared in that department. They're in alphabetical order by team nickname because that's how I got them out of the Play Index. Since having a pitcher giving up 10 or more runs in a game is a relatively rare event, the totals go all over the place. The A's and Royals have led in this department from 1969 on with 18 such games. Surprisingly, the Nationals/Expos have had only three pitchers give up 10 or more runs in a game and no one did it until 1969 1999.




Better late than never, a tip of the cap to the man with 23 Ks
2008-04-20 23:43
by Bob Timmermann

The game was played back on April 11 when I was flying home from Kauai, but I thought I should give San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg some mention. In a game against Utah in San Diego, Strasburg fanned 23 Utah batters in a 1-0 victory for the Aztecs.

The 23 Ks were a San Diego State and Mountain West Conference record. Utah got just one hit in the game and Strasburg struck out 16 of the last 17 hitters of the game.

Strasburg's next start was on April 18 at UNLV. He settled for 13 strikeouts in a 17-1 win SDSU win. Strasburg will not be eligible for the MLB draft until 2009.

The NCAA record for strikeouts in a 9-inning game is 26 by Buddy Schultz of Miami University against Wright State on April 30, 1973. Schultz did make it to the big leagues for five seasons.

He will not be sending resumes to Arizona or Los Angeles
2008-04-20 16:27
by Bob Timmermann

Perhaps the most obnoxious "good guy" in the history of baseball, Luis Gonzalez, says that he wants to be a minor league instructor after he retires.


"I don't want to be a coach," the Tampa, Fla., native said. "I want to be more of a guy where they send you off to Minor League clubs, and you impact them by showing them how to be a big league ballplayer. There are two sides to it. It's not just how you play on the field. It's how you treat people in the clubhouse, working with the media. There is a whole side of it."

Other teams may actually be interested in hiring a minor league instructor who can actually teach the players how to play better. But I do hear that the Chicago White Sox have an opening for a minor league pouting instructor. It's possible that A.J. Pierzynski may become the White Sox attitude coach after he retires.

What would one of Gonzalez's coaching sessions be like?

"Remember, if you get benched, it's likely not your fault. Managers should always look at the back of your bubble gum card first before criticizing you. Tomorrow's lesson will be on sucking up to the media. Remember people, the people with cameras are likely your friends. The people with notepads aren't."

Nomo looks to finally be out of comebacks
2008-04-20 10:29
by Bob Timmermann

Hideo Nomo was designated for assignment today by the Kansas City Royals and it's likely that Nomo's professional career in North America is over. Nomo appeared in three games this season and had an ERA of 18.69.

Top draft pick Luke Hochevar was brought up to take Nomo's roster spot.

The Big Unemployed?
2008-04-20 08:42
by Bob Timmermann

TSN of Canada is reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays have released designated hitter Frank Thomas. Thomas complained to the media yesterday after being benched in favor of Matt Stairs. Thomas was batting .167 with 3 home runs in 60 at bats.

No word if David Ortiz (.141 with 2 home runs) has decided to just keep quiet too.

(From the Dodger Thoughts comments)

UPDATE - A followup story says that the release came by mutual consent of Thomas and the Blue Jays.

Baffling futility
2008-04-20 00:15
by Bob Timmermann

Cal, USC, Stanford, Santa Clara, Cal State Los Angeles, Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Fresno State, Long Beach State, and UC Irvine.

What do all these California universities have in common? Probably a lot of things. I'm guessing that you can get an English major at all of them. But the answer I'm looking for here is that all of these schools have sent a team to the College World Series in Omaha and they have all won at least one game there. Cal, USC, Stanford, Fullerton, and Pepperdine have all won the CWS.

But my alma mater, UCLA, remains on the outside looking in when it comes to wins in Omaha. The Bruins have made two trips to Omaha (1969 and 1997), but in each instance, the Bruins lost their first two games and were eliminated.

However, 2008 was supposed to be different. Baseball America had UCLA as its preseason #1 team. USA Today wasn't as optimistic, but still had UCLA ranked at #17.

And so what's happened this year? UCLA has gone 18-16 and is 3-5 in Pac-10 play after dropping its second straight game at home to first place Stanford. UCLA is five games behind the Cardinal. And since teams only play 24 conference games (3 games against each of the 8 opponents as Oregon doesn't field a baseball team at this time), five games 1/3 of the way through the season is not good.

Continue reading...

Tall vs. Short
2008-04-19 19:50
by Bob Timmermann

Tall Chris Young of San Diego faced off against Short Chris Young of Arizona tonight in Phoenix. Short was looking for his first ever hit off of Tall.

1st inning - Short walks on five pitches.

2nd ining - Tall strikes out short.

5th inning - Short strikes out looking.

Tall came out after the 6th and Short drove in the go ahead run in the 7th against Joe Thatcher. The DBacks presently lead 10-3 in the 8th.

Overall, Short is 0 for 12 with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts in his career against Tall.

John Marzano, 1963-2008
2008-04-19 15:03
by Bob Timmermann

John Marzano, a backup catcher for three teams during 10 major league seasons, passed away in Philadelphia this weekend after reportedly falling down a flight of stairs at his home after suffering a heart attack.

Marzano was the Red Sox first pick in the 1984 amateur draft. He leaves behind a wife, two children, and two grandchildren.

I still maintain that is a horribly flawed product
2008-04-19 10:24
by Bob Timmermann

According to my credit card company, I did get my $119 refunded from for its "quirky" service. Last night, I was clicking on an audio broadcast of a game, but accidentally hit one for a video stream.

It worked.


Then I tried an old game. That worked.

But today, it's all gone again. I'm beginning to think that is run out of a storefront in Brigadoon.

Maddux takes one for the team
2008-04-18 20:58
by Bob Timmermann

The day after the Padres lost a 22-inning game at home to the Rockies, San Diego traveled to Arizona to start a 3-game set with the Diamondbacks. Greg Maddux made the start for the Padres.

Maddux did not have a great night, surrendering six runs in the first and nine runs overall. Maddux threw 113 pitches in seven innings, the most he has thrown in a game since September 27, 2005, a 5-3 complete game loss to the Pirates and Maddux's last home start of the season for the Cubs. This was Maddux's 715th game and only the 75th time he has hit 113 pitches. (I don't know if pitch count totals on are complete for his career though.)

The nine earned runs surrendered by Maddux was the most in his career. He has given up 10 runs in a game twice, but some of the runs were unearned. Maddux also gave up 13 hits, one fewer than his career worst, which came back on May 15, 1999.

Arizona won the game 9-0 and the Padres had just three hits. Cla Meredith pitched the eighth inning for the Padres.

All we need now is a name that will upset Joe Morgan
2008-04-18 19:16
by Bob Timmermann

Lawrence Donegan of the Guardian interviews Billy Beane and discusses some sabermetric (for lack of a better term) for evaluating soccer players.

Four areas where Sabermetrics scientifically identify the best footballers

1. Number of touches

A measurement of how often a player is involved on the ball

What it reveals Player's fitness level, the number of times he gets into a position to receive the ball and team-mates' willingness to pass to him

2. Shot creation

The number of times a player participates in a possession leading to a shot (both on target and off)

Reveals The attacking effectiveness of a player, especially attacking midfielders and forwards. Measures ability to balance ball retention with creating scoring chances

3. Ability to retain the ball

A measurement of the probability that the next player who touches the ball will be a member of your team

Reveals Contribution of players who are less directly involved in attack

4. Balls won per 90 minutes

Measures defensive effectiveness

Reveals Attacking players' willingness to defend; defenders' ability to tackle, intercept passes and position themselves well


I guess he made a good first impression
2008-04-18 11:20
by Bob Timmermann

The Tampa Bay Rays have signed third baseman Evan Longoria to a new contract that would keep him in St. Petersburg until 2016 (if all the options are taken). The contract would be worth $44 million over 9 years.

The last time for 22
2008-04-18 07:15
by Bob Timmermann

Prior to last night's Rockies-Padres marathon, the last time a game in the majors went 22 innings was in 1993 when the Twins beat the Indians 5-4. Thankfully for both teams, that game was played on August 31, so there was help on the way the next day. The game ended on a home run by Pedro Munoz off of Jason Grimsley.

Only two pitchers appeared in both games (8/31 and 9/1): Minnesota reliever George Tsamis and Cleveland reliever Eric Plunk.

Cleveland got revenge the next day with a 12-2 win over the Twins.

They could have played all night, they could have played all day
2008-04-18 00:45
by Bob Timmermann

Colorado - 000 000 000 000 010 000 000 1 - 2 14 1

San Diego - 000 000 000 000 010 000 000 0 - 1 11 2

Box score

UPDATE - 12:45 am - I'm still here...

12:52 am - If you think that one of the pitchers will end it with a home run, the last walkoff homer by a pitcher that I could find was on May 26, 1958 by Murry Dickson of the Kansas City A's against the Baltimore Orioles.

12:56 am - There have been 35 total strikeouts in the game, but the record is 43 by the Angels and Athletics on July 9, 1971.

12:58 am - 36 strikeouts.

1:01 am - Latest home run by innings in NL history is the 22nd inning by Rick Dempsey for the Dodgers in Montreal on August 23, 1989. The latest home run overall is the 25th inning by Harold Baines in the completion of a suspended game for the White Sox against the Brewers on May 9, 1984. The game had started on May 8.

1:11 am - The run by the Rockies has now tied the NL record for most runs scored in a 22nd inning. The Yankees scored 2 runs in the 22nd on June 24, 1962 against the Tigers.

1:22 am - Good night all!


66 runs? I was skeptical, but not anymore (UPDATED)
2008-04-17 22:06
by Bob Timmermann

Since I've been told about this several times in the past half hour, I'll link the Reuters (to be precise Thomson Reuters) story about a Japanese high school game being called off after two innings when Shunshukan was leading Kawamoto Technical School 66-0.


The coach of Kawamoto technical high school threw in the towel to spare his pitcher’s arm with his team losing 66-0 with just one batter out in the bottom of the second.

The hapless hurler had already sent down over 250 pitches, allowing 26 runs in the first inning and 40 in the second before Kawamoto asked for mercy.

“At that pace the pitcher would have thrown around 500 pitches in four innings,” Kawamoto’s coach was quoted as saying. “There was a danger he could get injured.”

I haven't yet found any other source other than this that confirms the story.



I received an e-mail from Japanese reader Izumi Devalier who confirmed the story in the Japanese press. (The link is for a Japanese site). Lopsided scores are not unusual in Japanese high school baseball. The game in the story above was in an early round of the qualifying for the summer Koshien tournament.

More big scores in high school games can be found here. That page is in Japanese, but the numbers tell the tale.

Weekly puzzle #18
2008-04-17 20:16
by Bob Timmermann

A return to the old format.


Looking for something that may not be there, Musial's 'lost' home run
2008-04-17 14:33
by Bob Timmermann

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in his Bird Land blog has a fascinating (to me, your mileage may vary) recap of different researchers checking through old newspaper boxscores and stories to see if Stan Musial lost a home run to a rained out game in 1948 and whether that cost Musial a Triple Crown. The conclusion is that, well, it's still inconclusive.

Musial hit 39 homers in 1948, one fewer than co-leaders Johnny Mize and Ralph Kiner. Musial also batted .376 that season (beating out Richie Ashburn by 43 points), drove in 131 runs (6 more than Mize), had 230 hits, 46 doubles, 18 triples (for a staggering total of 429 total bases, a total surpassed by a select few), slugged .702, and struck out just 34 times.

Yes, Musial was the MVP of the NL in 1948.


It is not as long gone as you think
2008-04-17 11:31
by Bob Timmermann

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports talks with author Bill Jenkinson about the supposed 565 foot home run that Mickey Mantle hit off of Chuck Stobbs of Washington at Griffith Stadium (and out of it) back on this day in 1953.

Mantle connected on a belt-high fastball from Stobbs, and the ball kept soaring, a shooting star in the afternoon sky. It clanged off the Natty Boh sign, estimated about 460 feet from home plate, and disappeared. The ball had broken the confines of the stadium, and with it went any chance of truly knowing how far it traveled.

Still, Arthur “Red” Patterson, the Yankees’ enterprising public relations man, wanted to find out. So he returned with the ball – and a tall tale.

Patterson said he retrieved the ball from a 10-year-old boy named Donald Dunaway, who stood with it in the back yard of 434 Oakdale Lane. Patterson said he paid Dunaway $1 and sent him a pair of autographed balls in exchange for Mantle’s home run. Finding any record of a man named Donald Dunaway who would have been 10 years old in 1953 has proven elusive.

Until his death, Patterson never wavered on the Dunaway portion of the story. He did admit later in life that his claim of using a tape measure to record the distance between the ball’s landing spot where Dunaway found it and the edge of the stadium was dubious. Though the term tape-measure home run stuck, Patterson in reality walked the space himself, added the guess to 460 and, voilà, Mickey Mantle’s 565-foot home run was born.

I believe Baltimore Sun reporter Scott Templeton could find Donald Dunaway.

A few years back, I was asked by another long home run expert, John Pastier, to check on a report that Mantle, in an exhibition game played at USC in 1951, hit a home run that traveled close to 600 feet. The game was played at USC's old stadium, Bovard Diamond and supposedly carried over the fence and then across the entire width of the adjoining track stadium, Cromwell Field.

I read five different newspaper accounts of the game. Not one writer mentioned Mantle hitting a home run that long. Maybe nobody covering the Yankees in 1951 thought it was newsworthy to mention that the team's much heralded rookie phenom hit a home run that carried 600 feet.

Send him extra birthday presents this year
2008-04-17 11:08
by Bob Timmermann

Houston shortstop Miguel Tejada has admitted today that he is actually two years older than he has claimed to be in the past. Tejada told Astros officials that his birthday is actually May 25, 1974, not May 25, 1976.

According to the story, Tejada had his correct birthday on all of his official documents, but just told people he was two years younger and nobody bothered to check on it seems.

Benedicts at Yankee Stadium
2008-04-16 23:49
by Bob Timmermann

In honor of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming Mass Sunday at Yankee Stadium (as well as filling space), I'd thought see if there had been other Benedicts who had played baseball in Yankee Stadium.

Benedict isn't that common of a name among baseball players and just gave me 10 players who had Benedict (or Benedicto) as part of their names.

  1. Arthur Melville Benedict. He played three games for the Phillies in 1883. He was probably booed.
  2. Bruce Edwin Benedict. He never played a game at Yankee Stadium as he spent his entire 12 season MLB career with the Braves.
  3. Roman Benedicto Colon. Although he pitched in 32 games for the Tigers in 2005 and 2006, none of those games were at Yankee Stadium. He has pitched at Shea Stadium, but the Pope doesn't do Shea. He's afraid of the 7 train.
  4. Thomas Benedict Cotter. He played in six games for Boston of the American Association in 1891.
  5. George Benedict Jumonville. He played briefly in 1940 (and batted .088) and 1941 (and batted .429) and he also hit a home run in his last major league at bat. But he played all his games for the Phillies.
  6. John Benedict Kelly. He played in 52 games with the Cardinals in 1908 as an outfielder. 100 years later, we don't know if he was righthanded or lefthanded.
  7. Emil Benedict Kush. His career was interrupted by World War II, but he did pitch in parts of six seasons for the Cubs from 1941 through 1949. But no appearances at Yankee Stadium.
  8. Samuel Benedict Perlozzo. Finally, a Benedict who has done something at Yankee Stadium! Perlozzo had two cups of coffee as a player, one with the Twins in 1977 and another with the Padres in 1979, but he never got to Yankee Stadium. But he did manage the Orioles. Perlozzo took over for the last 55 games of the 2005 season and got to see the O's lose four games at Yankee Stadium from 9/19 through 9/22. In 2006, the O's the dropped 5 of 9 games at Yankee Stadium. In 2007, Perlozzo's Orioles won 2 of 3 in Yankee Stadium, but he didn't get to make a return trip as he was fired after game 69. Overall, Perlozzo's teams were 6-10 at Yankee Stadium.
  9. Biff Benedict Pocoroba. What's the deal the Braves and catchers with the name Benedict in this time period? Pocoroba played his whole big league career with the Braves. He even made the NL All-Star team in 1978. But he never got to Yankee Stadium.
  10. Benedict Joseph Zientara. Benny Zientara is the only major leaguer who has the first name of Benedict. He played parts of four seasons, interrupted by World War II for the Reds. So again, no trips to Yankee Stadium.

If I were thorough, I would include players named Benito, the Spanish and Italian equivalent of Benedict. So here they are.

  1. Benito James DiStefano - Benny DiStefano is probably more famous for being a left-handed catcher (three games in 1989 for the Pirates) than anything else. He was a career NL player.
  2. Benito Santiago - Santiago played 20 seasons and for 10 different teams. But he only played at Yankee Stadium 16 times. He hit one home run at Yankee Stadium, a solo homer off of Dwight Gooden on September 19, 1997.

The Pope will also celebrate a Mass Thursday at the new Nationals park, where it is expected that the Pope will offer a special prayer that will give the Nats the ability to score runs.


You mean baseball is a business?
2008-04-16 18:51
by Bob Timmermann

Forbes magazine released their rankings of the most valuable baseball franchises.

The New York Yankees checked in at first place unsurprisingly at $1.3 billion. The Mets are second at $824 million. Boston is third at $816 million. The Dodgers are fourth at $694 million and the Cubs are fifth at $642 million.

The Florida Marlins are last at $256 million.

This shows that just because a team has a low payroll doesn't mean it's not valuable. Unless you think you $256 million to spare.

I didn't check for reaction from Bud Selig, but it's safe to say that he disagrees. As does Bob DuPuy. DuPuy is off buying more doorknobs.

The Bowker Bonanza
2008-04-15 19:46
by Bob Timmermann

Continuing my theme of all things relatively unimportant about Giants rookie outfielder John Bowker....

Bowker, after homering in his first two major league games, sat out Monday's game against Arizona. But Bowker was back out there today in San Francisco against the DBacks. Bowker didn't homer, but he did triple against Tony Pena.

So Bowker now has an extra base hit in his first three major league games. This is not all that unusual. The last NL player to have extra base hits in his first three major league games was Joel Hanrahan of Washington.

Jason Bay started his career with a streak of four games with extra base hits. The first three were with the Padres on May 23 and 24. Bay played again on May 25 and drew a walk in his only plate appearance to keep his streak going. Then Bay didn't play in the majors again until he surfaced in Pittsburgh on August 27.

The only other career-starting streak of four games with at least one extra base hit that I could find belonged to Coco Laboy of Montreal in 1969.

The major league record for longest streak with at least one extra base hit in a game (at any time in a player's career) is 14 by Paul Waner in 1927 and Chipper Jones in 2006.

Reynolds, ESPN settle wrongful termination suit out of court
2008-04-15 18:13
by Bob Timmermann

Big hugs all around!

"My family and I are ecstatic," said Reynolds, the former All-Star second baseman. "This is a matter of principal. And I stood on principal and never wavered. "All of my goals were met, and now I look forward to concentrating on the game I love."

Presumably, Reynolds spoke better than the USA Today copy editors.

The New York Times apparently cleaned up the statement.

“This was a matter of principle,” Reynolds, who now works for, said in a statement. “I stood on principle and didn’t waver. My goals were met. Now I can put this behind me and concentrate on the game I love.”

Jeff Weaver reportedly signs with Brewers
2008-04-15 09:12
by Bob Timmermann

Jeff Weaver, whom teams still think will turn it around and be a good pitcher, has reportedly signed a deal with the Brewers and will report to Nashville for conditioning. So reporteth Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. More info here also.

Weaver was 7-13 with a 6.20 ERA for the Mariners last year. So is this the year for the decent Jeff Weaver or is the year for the really, really bad Jeff Weaver?, I can't say I wasn't warned (updated with less interesting information!)
2008-04-14 17:55
by Bob Timmermann

Usually, I buy the Extra Innings package on my cable system, but this year, to save a few bucks and because I have a new computer that has lots of bells and whistles. Actually, there are no bells or whistles, it's just a MacBook with an Intel processor and I can run both the Mac OS and Windows. Why? Because I can.

That "because I can" theory inspired me to get I thought it might be a more productive use of my time to just dip in on games that I wanted to instead of being married to the TV when the game I was interested in was being played.

A friend of mine who works for recommended to me that I buy Extra Innings since I should watch a TV broadcast on a TV. But I pressed on. Mainly to be contrary.

I haven't had any troubles watching live games, but, archived games don't play. Ever. In any browser. In any operating system. Never. Ever.

So I've called the tech support people for I've heard horror stories about this. But I figured how bad could they be? It's not like they were going to take my soul and give it to Bud Selig or Bob DuPuy so they could barter with it and get future endorsements from Satan for other products. "Tonight's text message poll: Who is more deserving of eternal damnation: A) Pete Rose, B) Jose Canseco, or C) Adolf Hitler? Standard text message rates apply."

The first tech support person I spoke with didn't realize I had a Mac and gave me instructions that didn't work at all. But her supervisor intervened and started helping me out. The help consisted of me uninstalling Microsoft's mysterious Silverlight, which seems to almost, but not quite, be entirely unhelpful, or installing Flip4Mac, which is supposed to take precedence over Silverlight. Except it doesn't. Or it could. I've tried it several ways.

Eventually, I was told by the tech support supervisor, "Well, it works fine for me."

I also e-mailed tech support for a different point of view. I was told to call for "extra help."


I can't say I wasn't warned.

UPDATE: I called today and became a former subscriber. Back to the world of Extra Innings. Television as seen on television! What a concept!

UPDATE 2:'s email support says that "Bob Timmerman" has a different e-mail address than what I gave them and I can't have my account cancelled. And people wonder why I tell people to spell my name correctly. Also,'s Mosaic support team will be glad to help you if you send them a DXDIAG report or a NetStat report. Because that's something that I've always expected to do to get my computer to work.

Despite all this, I could watch NCAA Tournament games on CBS Sportsline with no problems. And I didn't even get charged for that.

Why didn't I just sign up to get beaten up by Bud Selig and Bob Bowman with a sack of door knobs instead?

UPDATE 3: The door knob beatings commence. won't even display a login screen for my Gameday audio, which I still pay for. I was told it was a website issue. But I was also advised to make sure I have Silverlight installed. That apparently will make the door knob beating more enjoyable.


Tommy Holmes, 1917-2008
2008-04-14 12:31
by Bob Timmermann

Tommy Holmes, a star for the Boston Braves during the 1940s and who had an 11-year major league career, passed away today in Boca Raton, Florida at age 91.

In 1945, Holmes led the NL in home runs with 28 and struck out just nine times. Holmes put up an OPS of .997 that year and had a 37-game hitting streak. A .997 OPS or higher with single digit strikeouts has been accomplished by players qualifying for the batting title just nine times since 1901. Holmes played in the 1948 World Series for Boston and the 1952 World Series for Brooklyn.


Yes, there are still some New York Giants fans
2008-04-13 22:32
by Bob Timmermann

While the move of the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles has been turned into a weepy saga, the move of the Giants from New York (specifically Manhattan) to San Francisco has never captured the imagination of writers in the same way.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times visited a meeting of the New York Baseball Giants Nostalgia Society, or Ottophiles as they call themselves.

Some still resent Horace Stoneham, the Giants’ owner, for following the Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley to California. Others have accepted his motives.

“Stoneham was O’Malley’s willing lackey,” said Rappaport, who is firmly in the anti-Stoneham camp.

“He was a lackey, but he was forced,” Liebowitz said.

“He saw a good business opportunity,” said George Sommerfeld, who grew up in Manhattan. “The Giants and Dodgers took over the West Coast.”

“Everything fell into Stoneham’s lap,” said Gary Brown, who was too young to remember the old Giants but has immersed himself in their history and is writing a book about the 1954 World Series-winning Giants.

The New York Giants, who were a far more successful franchise than the Brooklyn Dodgers, have lost the nostalgia war. There is a cottage industry in weepy books about the Brooklyn Dodgers: The Boys of Summer, Praying for Gil Hodges, The Greatest Ballpark Ever are examples. There are even books with parts that were made up out of whole cloth in parts, such as Wait 'Til Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

And now an organization devoted to the history of one of baseball's premier franchise has to put "Baseball" in its title so people don't think it's devoted to nostalgia for Ken Strong, Mel Hein, and Y.A. Tittle.


I guess they don't have the book on him yet
2008-04-13 18:30
by Bob Timmermann

Giants rookie outfielder John Bowker has homered in each of his first two major league games, the first San Francisco Giant player to do so. There could be a New York Giant player, but I can't check back to that era.

The last major leaguer to start his career with home runs in his first two games was Elijah Dukes of Tampa Bay last season on April 2 and April 5, 2007. The last NL player to do it was Keith McDonald of the Cardinals on July 4 and July 6, 2000. McDonald's homers came in his first two major league at bats.

Other notables who have pulled off this feat are Todd Helton, Sam Horn, Alvin Davis, Tim Laudner, Joe Lefebvre, Earl Averill, Ricky Jordan, Roberto Pena, Dick Stuart, and Joe Cunningham. Cunningham actually began his career in 1954 with three homers in his first two games.

The names above are not an inclusive list, but pieced together from and the Sporting News Complete Baseball Record Book.

Braves release Spiezio
2008-04-12 12:06
by Bob Timmermann

Scott Spiezio, beset with alcohol-related problems, was released by the Atlanta Braves from their AAA Richmond team after realizing that he was not in condition (in many different ways) to play.

"He was appreciative of the opportunity," [Braves General Manager Frank] Wren said. "He and we realized he needed more time to continue his rehabilitation. He just needs more time and needs to be in an environment where he can get the care he needs."

Send not for whom the catcher's interference bell tolls
2008-04-10 21:42
by Bob Timmermann
Unless you're Lyle Overbay of the Blue Jays. Overbay notched the first CI of the season in the seventh inning of tonight's game at Rogers Centre. Kurt Suzuki of Oakland was the guilty party. More details when I get back Saturday.
Weekly Puzzle #17 (non-rebus)
2008-04-10 00:50
by Bob Timmermann

Your mission name the type of marine mammal depicted in the following three photos. By naming them, you need to come up with something like "The Great White Whale" and not "Moby Dick." In one photo, there are three of the marine mammals present.

Picture #1



Picture #2


Picture #3

Bonus question (which scores no bonus points):

What reptile do most people associate with the following place?




The Best Game Ever?
2008-04-07 21:00
by Bob Timmermann

The people behind Improv Everywhere turned a Little League game in Hermosa Beach, California into the "best game ever" for the kids, complete with NBC coverage (even if it was just Jim Gray), a JumboTron, peanut vendors, fans painting team names on their chest, and the Goodyear blimp stopping by.

You can also watch on YouTube.


NCAA Tournament, Final Game, Day 10 open thread
2008-04-07 14:44
by Bob Timmermann

And so here we are: Kansas vs Memphis for the national championship in San Antonio, tipping off at 6:21 pm. (I get to watch starting at 3:21 pm!).

I would write more, but I have composed this by BlackBerry, an inefficient mode for typing a lot. Or accurately.

The big battle tonight is for the Bracket contest. If the Jayhawks win, Ham Fighter Nation takes the prize. If the Tigers win, Bama Yankee takes the prize. The prizes won't be sent out until I get back home, but the sidebar will be changed as soon as I possibly can.

Expect Billy Packer to say "MOP" a lot tonight. And he'll point out that the team behind is running its offense wrong.

Remember, only one team gets to finish its a season with a win, the NCAA champ. That team and the NIT champ (Ohio State) and the CBI champ (Tulsa) and some teams in the Ivy League.


And now for an interlude
2008-04-06 18:34
by Bob Timmermann

NCAA Tournament, National Semifinals, Day 9 open thread
2008-04-05 09:00
by Bob Timmermann

I should be winging my way toward Kauai as this post is going up and I should be landing around the time the first game tips off.

At this point, the teams playing need no introductions. But I like to introduce them because it fills up space.

3:07 pm - #1 UCLA (West champion, 35-3) vs #1 Memphis (South champion, 37-1). If the Tigers win, they will set the Division I record for most wins in a season. Duke (1986 and 1999), UNLV (1987), and Illinois (2005) have all won 37. No Division II or III team has won more than 37 either. The women's teams for Tennessee and Connecticut won 39 games in 1998 and 2002, respectively.

UCLA is the leader in the clubhouse with 11 National Championships in men's basketball and 89 other NCAA titles. Memphis seeks its first NCAA championship of any kind.

UCLA and Memphis played each other in the 1973 Final and the 2006 Oakland regional final with the Bruins winning both times.

5:47 pm - #1 Kansas (Midwest champion, 35-3) vs #1 North Carolina (East champion, 36-2). This is another matchup oozing with basketball history. (Apply direct pressure.) The Tar Heels have won four national championships and the Jayhawks have won two.

These two teams first NCAA tournament meeting was in the 1957 final, which the Tar Heels won 54-53 in triple overtime. They met again in the 1991 semifinals and Kansas won that game 79-73, which kept us from having to watch a Duke-UNC final. The two met again in the 1993 semifinals and UNC won that game, 78-68 en route to a national championship (#3).

The championship game hasn't featured two #1 seeds since 2007. It's a been long wait. Other times, since seeding was instituted in 1979, were 1982 (North Carolina vs Georgetown), 1993 (North Carolina vs Michigan), 1999 (Connecticut vs Duke), and 2005 (North Carolina vs Illinois).

Here are the possible winners left in the Griddle's bracket picking contest.

If North Carolina wins, Sesame Chicken and Mike Meyer Sound tie. The latter didn't enter a tiebreaker score, so Sesame Chicken would win and get the first choice of prizes (either the Oregon State t-shirt or the Sayonara Home Run book). Both names would go on the sidebar.

If Kansas wins and beats Memphis in the final, Ham Fighter Nation wins (by 20 points!). If Kansas beats UCLA, Pomeroyanian wins by one point over Gauchos.

If Memphis wins, Bama Yankee wins regardless of the opponent in the final.

If UCLA wins and beats Kansas in the final, Steven Alpert wins. If UCLA wins and beats North Carolina in the final, Bison Power wins.

So there are eight possible permutations for the last three games and six possible winners (counting the tie for UNC as one).

And if I made any typos or factual errors or otherwise screwed up, you'll just have to live with it for a while.

Weekly Puzzle #16 (multimedia version!)
2008-04-04 17:05
by Bob Timmermann


Weeks scores run in 17th straight game, one shy of record
2008-04-04 14:28
by Bob Timmermann

Although it's over two seasons, Rickie Weeks of the Brewers is one short of the major league record for consecutive games with a run scored. Weeks scored a run in the last 13 games of last season and has scored a run in all four of the Brewers game this season.

Weeks scored three times, including a run in the first, in the Brewers 13-4 romp over the Giants in the Milwaukee home opener.

Next in line for Weeks is the major league mark of 18 games held by Kenny Lofton (from August 18, 2000 through September 4, 2000 for Cleveland) and Red Rolfe (from August 9-25, 1939 for the Yankees, a streak that included doubleheaders.)

Then there are sticklers like me who say the REAL record is 24 games by Billy Hamilton of the Phillies from July 6-August 2, 1894. Hamilton scored 192 runs in 129 games that season. His team scored 1143 runs that season and finished in fourth place. The Boston Braves set a major league record with 1220 runs scored that season and finished in second.

NPB to grant players free agency earlier, sort of
2008-04-04 11:42
by Bob Timmermann

The Kyodo News Service reported (last week and I missed the story) that the waiting period for Japanese players to become free agents is going to be lowered from nine years to seven years for players who started out of college or industrial ball and eight years for players signed out of high school. However, according to this discussion at, players wishing to go overseas would still have to have nine years in before heading across the Pacific.

Pitchers Koji Uehara and Kenshin Kawakami both recently reached the old minimum requirement to become free agents.

Bobby Cox pulls a Paul Richards or possibly a Joe Cantillon
2008-04-03 19:22
by Bob Timmermann

With runners on first and third and one out in the top of 10th in Atlanta, Bobby Cox replaced pitcher Chris Resop with Royce Ring to pitch to Adam LaRoche. Resop moved to left field to replace Matt Diaz. After Ring struck out LaRoche, Resop moved back to the hill to face Xavier Nady. Gregor Blanco then entered the game as the new left fielder.

Resop then gave up a single to Nady to put the Pirates ahead 4-3. The Pirates won the game by that score.

Paul Richards, then the manager of the Chicago White Sox, is believed to be the first manager in the major leagues in modern times to pull off a switch like this in order to save a relief pitcher. There were numerous instances in the 19th Century of players switching positions between the mound and the field although that was easier in that era when many players played multiple positions.

Peter Morris in his book Game of Inches, describes a 1909 White Sox-Senators game in which Washington manger Joe Cantillon used four pitchers in a 17-inning tie and rotated many of them between the mound and the field, although his moves were not as much strategic as they were out of necessity. The game finished in a 1-1 tie despite Washington's pitchers giving up 13 hits and nine walks.

Mets manager Davey Johnson rotated Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell between the mound and the outfield in this contentious extra-inning game at Cincinnati in 1986.

Outtakes from the library talk
2008-04-03 19:22
by Bob Timmermann

Thanks to everyone who came to my talk at the Central Library in Los Angeles about the Dodgers and Chavez Ravine. I had a crowd of about 30 people, which was far more than I expected. And there aren't that many seats in that room.

I didn't have much time to prep and a few things got left out.

First of all, I wanted to thank Andy McCue, who let me read some chapters from his unfinished biography on Walter O'Malley and helped me out immensely. Andy is the true expert in this field. I'm just a guy at the library who has access to cool photos.

Speaking of cool photos, I omitted a crucial figure from my talk, Chad McClellan, who was a prominent L.A. businessman who did much of the day to day negotiation with O'Malley while the various politicos were off politicking.

McLellan is the man in the back of the photo on the right.




(Photo from the Hollywood Citizen-News collection of the Los Angeles Public Library)

I assume that most people can identify the man in the middle (if you can't, Jay Leno would like to speak to you.) If you can name everyone in the photo, you know your Los Angeles area politicians.

Although both O'Malley and Horace Stoneham had dealings with a pay TV service named Skiatron, the Dodgers did not bring out a pay TV plan until 1964 with a service called Subcription TV. It only lasted a few months until California voters declared pay TV illegal. And that lasted a few months until the California Supreme Court ruled that the voters of California had no right to declare pay TV illegal.

Norris Poulson, who was mayor of Los Angeles when the Dodgers moved out, lost his bid for a third term in 1961 to Sam Yorty. Poulson blamed his support for the Dodgers for his loss, although many others think that Poulson lost because: 1) he had laryngitis during much of the campaign, 2) he decided very late to run for a third term, and 3) Yorty was able to campaign on a platform that stated that it was too great of an imposition for Los Angeles residents to separate their trash for recycling purposes.

Roz Wyman lost her bid for a third City Council term in 1965 because Yorty didn't like her and found her too liberal. She lost her seat to Ed Edelman, who was about as liberal as Wyman. Wyman has never held elective office since then, but she's still a force in local politics and she's a superdelegate for the Democratic Party in 2008.

Suggested readings on the topic:

Sullivan, Neil J. The Dodgers Move West (Oxford University Press, 1987). Just about the only book that has come out about the Dodgers move to Los Angeles that aims for objectivity.

Shapiro, Michael. The Last Good Season (Doubleday, 2003). The best book on the battle between Walter O'Malley and Robert Moses.

Normark, Don. Chavez Ravine, 1949: A Los Angeles Story (Chronicle Books, 1999). Normark photographed the people who lived in Chavez Ravine before the City of Los Angeles cleared them out for the housing project that was never built. The images are often haunting. The stories from the people who lived there are often touching and always interesting. It's a great look back at a part of Los Angeles that most people never knew existed.

Henderson, Cary S. "The Great Dodger War" in Southern California Quarterly (1980), vol. 62, pp. 261-289. One of the first scholarly looks at the Dodgers move to L.A. and still one of the best.


Hamp(ton) Pool
2008-04-03 12:00
by Bob Timmermann

Braves pitcher Mike Hampton is scheduled to make his first start since August 19, 2005.

Your task: Pick the injury and the inning in which Hampton gets hurt tonight against Pittsburgh.

Specify left or right as needed. You may also guess "no injury."

Note: I wish Mike Hampton no actual harm.

But they're great and loyal fans, aren't they?
2008-04-03 07:03
by Bob Timmermann

The St. Louis Cardinals had their first non-sellout at the new Busch Stadium, ending a stretch of 165 games. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote about the woebegone Cardinals.

“It’s just bad weather more than anything,” Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen said. “It’s cold out. Kids have school tomorrow. You know, that’s the way I look at it.”

Well, yeah. The Cardinals have paid Isringhausen about $50 million in his seven seasons here. The least he can do is give them good excuses.

I, for one, refuse to believe the Best Fans in Baseball™ would have been dissuaded by bad weather or kids having to school. It's not that the fans have gotten smaller in numbers, it's just that the stadium got bigger suddenly.

Pedro back to the DL
2008-04-02 18:29
by Bob Timmermann

Pedro Martinez's return to the active roster was short-lived as he pulled a hamstring in his first start of the season and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Sports Ticker describes the replacement this way:

To compensate for the loss of Martinez, the Mets purchased the contract of righthander Nelson Figueroa from Class AAA New Orleans. Figueroa, 33, has not pitched in the major leagues since 2004 with Pittsburgh.

The journeyman has a 7-17 record with a 4.65 ERA in 74 career games with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and Pirates.

I guess the compensation for the loss of Pedro Martinez really isn't compensatory?
If you can't make the talk, you can read the graphic novel
2008-04-01 09:23
by Bob Timmermann

New Angeles Monthly has a graphic novel telling the story of Roz Wyman (she's the one on the left below), the Los Angeles City Council member who was a leading proponent of bringing the Brooklyn Dodgers out to L.A.

You can learn more about Wyman and many of the other cast of characters involved in the Brooklyn to Los Angeles saga in my talk at the Los Angeles Central Library on Thursday, April 3 at 12:15 pm.


Link from L.A. Observed. Photo from the Los Angeles Public Library.


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