Sunday, December 23, 2012

Every Decade, Baseball Deals With Problems, Scandals

While I believe this Steroids Scandal to be a huge problem in baseball, it's not like there has not been problems before. And in each case, baseball moved on:

1900s: As the World Series began in 1903, this was supposed to be an annual affair, but just one year after baseball had taken then right step in becoming the national pastime, it took a huge step back as the New York Giants did not want to compete against a "Minor League" opponent in an "Exhibition Series". Fortunately, the World Series became an annual affair starting the next year. Nevertheless, I wonder how fans of the Boston Americans (as they were called) were to view this "exhibition" after 1918?

1910s: An certainly, this was no exhibition in 1919, when the Series was thrown, or earlier when a third league, the Federal League, openly competed. Fortunately, that league lasted just 2 years, and 8 White Sox players, were thrown out of baseball for life. Too bad, for two of them, Buck Weaver and Shoeless Joe Jackson, had little to do with it.

1920s: The very next year, Ray Chapman was killed by a pitch ball, which cried out for the use of batting helmets. They didn't actually become mandatory until the the late 1950s. Nonetheless, baseball had suffered a black eye

1930s: Spitballs were actually a problem, because they were legal, and dangerous. The above occurrence, sans the fatality, was becoming far to common, and the spitball just made it worst. Fortunately, the league abolished it in 1920. But the reason it is here was, those that threw it, were allowed to continue to use it, until Burleigh Grimes retired in 1934. So from 1934 on, there were NO legal spitballs thrown. Or were allowed without punishment, unless you found a way.

Also in this decade, the use of night baseball, which no doubt raised the issue of the realism of baseball. Not until 1971, however, would the World Series be played under the lights!

1940s: World War 2, obviously made baseball seem irrelevant, but when blacks were not allowed to play until 1947, it cost baseball fans the likes of a prime Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson. Along came Jackie Robinson in 1947. And then Larry Doby to the American League the next year. Baseball was for everyone.

Although, having said that, the forming of the Mexican League, cost MLB some of its better players, several of whom tried to return, and were banned for almost  the rest of the decade, including my favourite, Sal Maglie.

1950s: Baseball wasn't really coast to coast, but soon MLB was on the move, to Baltimore, to Milwaukee, to Kansas City, and finally, sadly for many, to the west coast, costing New York two of it's teams. But at least the National League was everywhere now. With the expansion Los Angeles Angels in 1961, the American League was now a coast to coast affair.

1960s: Baseball was an outdoor sport, until the Houston Colt .45s opened the Astrodome, and changed their names to the Houston Astos in 1965. The game would no longer be just an outdoor affair. Also, the game would now be played on artificial surfaces, such as Astroturf, something Tug McGraw said he had never smoked before and wasn't sure he liked.

MLB also adapted a draft in 1965. Suddenly, the Yankees, Dodgers and Mets would no longer have an advantage over everyone.

Also, a very turbulent decade, as United States lost both Kennedys and Martin Luther King. Baseball was declining in attendance.

Marvin Miller was appointed the very first Executive Director Of The Major League Baseball Players Association.

1970s: With the advent of the Designated hitter by the American League in 1973, baseball was now almost two different sports, rather than two different leagues.

Curt Flood took baseball to court in 1970. And while he lost his case, others would soon take up the challenge. The reserve clause, which had been in effect since the dawn of big league hardball, would soon be abolished.

After the Reds beat the Red Sox in the 1975 World Series (and an exciting one at that), two pitchers, Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith, filed for a hearing, having played a season without a contract. McNally and Messersmith won their case, and the dawn of free agency began.

1980s: Carlton Fisk tested the free agent market after the 1985 season, but received no offers. The same happened to Andre Dawson the next year and Jack Morris in 1987.

It was soon found that that there was a collusion among owners to keep contracts down during those three years. The owners were forced to pay the players 280 million.

Pete Rose was investigated as having gambled on his own team. While he did fight the case, he agreed to a lifetime suspension. Then in 2004, Rose admitted that he did, indeed, gamble on his own team. Whether or not Rose will ever make the Hall Of Fame is unknown.

1990s: The World Series was not played in 1994 due to a players strike, which was not settled until early in the 1995 season. The season had already been reduced to 144 games, but the real players returned that season, avoiding replacement players, who were slated to step in.

2000s: Jose Canseco retired in 2002, and told Fox Sports Net. that 85 percent of major league baseball players used steroids. "There would be not baseball left if they drug tested everybody today.", he said.

Then two years later, he released his book, Juiced, where he admitted that he took steroids, along with sluggers, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi  Rafael Palmerio,  Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez.

Palmerio would fail a drug test in 2005, while McGwire would admit to steriod use in 2010. Earlier in 2002, Ken Caminitti would admit to steroid use in 1996. In 2004, Caminitti died of a drug overdose.

Baseball instituted a random drug test in 2003 to see how bad the problem was. Over 100 major leaguers tested positive. Then in 2007, a 409 page report (The Mitchell Report) investigating the use of performance enhancing drugs, named 89 major leaguers.

Today, major league players are tested twice a year. A player failing one test is suspended 50 games.  If twice, 100 games. Three times and your out, lifetime suspension.

2010s: Hall Of Fame Debate. With so many of the games legends, in recent years, linked to steroids, it bears the question, if it was legal to do at the time, should they be allowed in the Hall Of Fame. And just how close, or not close, would the players be to Hall Of Fame caliber if they hadn't taken PEDs. This is one subject the has no right or wrong answer.
Who knows what other scandals baseball will experience in the coming decades to come? Rest assured though, MLB will once again reassert itself on us fans, as always, with it's integrity never questioned!

Monday, December 17, 2012

2013 BBWAA, Part 3: The Problem With NOT Voting For Bonds

Barry Bonds has us in a predicament.

If we don't vote for him or Clemens, how do we know for sure the guy we are voting for is Hall Of Fame material?

Or the guy could not be first ballot Hall Of Fame, but he gets in, on his year on the ballot! Hey, even Roberto Alomar didn't make it his first year, and he didn't takes PEDs!

That's a scenario that could very well play itself out, not only this year, but over the course of the next coming years.

See, take some of the names I think should be in:

Morris

Wells

Schilling

Okay, like I said, they all had great postseason success, which does seem to be an edge.

But take Morris and Wells, who had high ERAs, or Schilling, who won only 216 games. Schilling's ERA was pretty high (3.46), too. Should Schilling go in his first year on the ballot? Should Morris or Wells go in at all?

Now, none of them cheated.

And while I think they should be in, that doesn't mean you think they should be in.

It's strange, you know. Some guys might make it because they're numbers fall short.

I even expect Dale Murphy to get a high number of votes this year. It's his last year on the ballot. He was Mr Nice Guy To All.

He won't get enough to get in. But when we are talking about whose better, years down the road, you will all say he was better than Bonds. Just as you all say that Roger Maris was better than Bonds.

I have to laugh at that. I'm here to tell you (and I like both Roger Maris and Dale Murphy), neither of them is better than Bonds.

Not even close.

Not even in the same sentence.

Know how painful that is to say?

Not so painful as knowing they were better people than Bonds.

But that is not what the Hall Of Fame is all about here, people. It's about greatness, domination.

And you could argue that Mattingly and Trammell, two of my favs, are also not Hall Of Fame material. But, you know what, I think one of them might make it if no one votes for Clemens, Bonds, Sosa and other PEDs who will be added to the ballot next year.
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I mean, Griffey is better than Bonds, I think. It's so sad to look how his numbers went down the last few years. Why? Because he didn't cheat.

Part of me wishes he had cheated. He was a nice guy, he was well liked, and he was better than Bonds. Better than Sosa, McGwire, A-Rod, Palmerio, Gonzalez and these other sluggers who we know cheated.

But years from now, look at their stats. Griffey looks not as good as Bonds, A-Rod. And not that much better than Sosa, Palmerio, Gonzalez, etc

And part of me thinks that is not right!

I want to be able, years from now, to walk into a bar and say how happy I am that (insert non-cheater HOF here) made the baseball Hall Of Fame. And not hear, out of the corner of my ear, "He only made it because they didn't vote for Bonds", and have to nod my head in reluctant agreement!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2013 BBWAA Ballot, Part 2: Bonds

This won't be the only time I mention Bonds.

So, it's time for all of us to get back at him! For all the years he lied to us, was rude to us, and showed us Barry's three favourite people in the world: Me, Myself and I! (Bonds would want me to capitalize all three, so there!)

And guess what, he took steroids.

So, now, let's keep him out of the Hall Of Fame.

And keep Gaylord Perry, Ty Cobb and others in, never to be questioned.

Or have their character questioned.

But with Bonds their is always controversy. And whether he makes it in or not, there will still be controversy.

Before we go into anything, let's also remember: the voters have to vote for someone. Anyone, maybe even someone who isn't qualified numbers-wise. See where I'm going?

It is ironic that Bonds first year on the ballot will also be Dale Murphy's last. The difference between the two could be like night and day.

It's kinda of sad that a guy so colourful, sometimes grand, and spectacular will probably not make it. I guess that it what happens when you don't cheat. You lose.

Then you cheat and lose.

Your stats can take a nosedive if you don't cheat (as Murphy's did after 1987), when he had 310 homeruns and a .279 batting average. If he had started cheating in 1988 like Jose Canseco (who was in his 3rd year of juicing and about to go 40-40), you can bet he would have finished with more than 398 homeruns and a .265 batting average.

The thing is, you can condemn Barry Bonds all you want! But by the end of the 1998 season, he had become the first player to hit 400 homeruns and steal 400 bases. That is Hall Of Fame material.

So too, was Barry's then .411 OBP, more than 400 doubles, 3 MVPs (plus many say he should have won it in 1991. This was one of the ways the writers punished him), EIGHT gold gloves...

That's all Hall Of Fame calibre.

And by the way, he was in the top 10 in stolen bases 9 times, including his rookie year, where he appeared in only 113 games and stole 36 bases.

And now for something interesting: Barry Bonds didn't start juicing until 1999!

See, the point I am trying to make, he is a Hall Of Famer. Yes, before Barry started to cheat. Even Clemens, I'll don't think, quite had his foot in the Cooperstown door before he started juicing.

And you know what? Bonds was, and probably still is, a jerk. A self-absorbed , and has no time for you, me or anyone else. Happy I said that. That's what you wanted to hear. Guess I should have put that in the first paragraph. It was that obvious.

But Barry Bonds is still a Hall Of Famer. And I don't think the same thing of McGwire, Sosa and Canseco. Clemens, I'll leave that up to you.

And Barry did lead the league in homeruns, in 1993, when he was still clean. And, of course, no one else he was competing against was cheating, right? So what does that say? He beat the guys whose low he would stoop to 6 years later!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Aaron VS Downing: Much More Than That April Night Of 1974

I guess if not Bonds, then we go to Aaron, because A-Rod is a confirmed PED so it doesn't count in your minds.

I was thinking back to the clip of #715 against poor Al Downing, and thinking how you hate to have your name there.

If you're Al Downing.

But then again, that's what happens when you face a batter whose number is 44, and your number is also 44!

Downing, though, need make no apologies.

As the first black who pitched for the Yankees, forming a black battery with Elston Howard, Downing was more than just the "Guy who gave up 715." Take a look:

Called up July 19th 1961, he pitched, struggled, but got to see Mantle hit homerun #36 of Dick Donavan.

He pitched just 4 more times, but got to see Maris hit #57 off Frank Lary on September 19th. He stayed with the team the rest of the season and saw Maris hit #61.

He joined the Yankees as a regular in 1963 and proceeded to win, 13, 13, 12, 10 and 14 games on Yankee teams that were below .500 for those last three win numbers.

He was 10th in the AL with those 14 wins, and second in the NL in 1971 with 20 wins.

Downing also pitched in the 1967 All Star Game. Later that season, August 11th, he struck out the side against Cleveland in the second inning, on just 9 pitches.

He was 5th in the AL in ERA in 1963 (2.56), 8th in 1967 (2.63) and 7th in the NL in 1971 (2.68).

Being a flamethrower early in his career, he was 8th in the AL with 171 K's in 1963. Then he topped all AL hurlers in K's the next season with 217. He was good enough for 5th next year with 179.

Shutout-wise, Downing threw 4 in 1963, good enough for 3rd in the AL. He threw 4 more in '67 for 9th places among AL hurlers. Once he moved to the NL in 1971, he tossed 5 more for tops in the league. The next year, Downing added 4 more for 6th.

But he had never faced Aaron who was with the Braves in Milwaukee from 1954 until 1965. The franchise, which had moved from Boston to Milwaukee in 1953, made another shift to Atlanta in 1966.

But Downing was stuck in the American League until 1971.

In that season, the two would cross paths for the first time on September 19th, 1971. Downing had been firing on all cylinders coming in (18-8). It was the first game of a doubleheader.

Aaron could do little against him on this night.

A night that saw him start the game at first base.

Phil Niekro was on the mound for Atlanta. He lasted less than four innings and gave up six earned runs.

Aaron flied out in the top of the first with Felix Milan on first and one out. In the top of the fourth, he lined out to left.

With Ralph Garr (the first player to score a run against my boys, the Toronto Blue Jays) on first and one out, Aaron grounded to third, getting thrown out at first. The Braves were behind 6-0 at this point.

The lead swelled to 9-0 in the 7th as Aaron left the game and was replaced by his brother, Tommy.

Tommy, by the way, flied out in the top of the ninth with the Braves now down, 12-0. He was the second last batter of the game.

The final score was 12-0, as Downing had his 19th win and 4th shutout on the campaign. He had surrendered just 3 hits on the day.

The nesxt time out was a little better, Aaron and his mates again being shutout, but only 2-0, 5 days later. It was also better for Niekro, who this time fired a fine 4 hitter, 0 walks. Cecil Upshaw picked him up in the top of the eight and threw two shutout innings, giving up 2 hits.

Aaron flied out in the bottom of the 1st, lined out to center in the 3rd, then grounded out in the bottom of the 6th. Finally in the eight, with Felix Millan on 2nd, an Aaron single and then a walk to Earl Williams loaded the bases. Alas, Mike Lum hit into an inning ending, liner, double play.

Downing had his 5th shutout (in his next start, his team lost 11-0) on an 8 hitter with just 1 walk. But he had faced just 35 batters on the night.

So Aaron is 1-7 against Downing with no RBIs or walks, but also no K's for 1971.

In 1972, they met just once, on June 23rd. What I find incredible, I mean what are the odds, is Downing's mound opponent this night Phil Niekro.

The Dodgers scored 2 again, but this time, the Braves got one. Did Aaron have anything to do with it? Each pitcher finished with a fine, 5 hitter.

Aaron grounded out in the top of the first. Downing then K'd Aaron for the first time ever in the 4th. With Niekro on 2nd and 2 out in the top of the 6th of a still scoreless deadlock, Aaron popped out to second.

After Frank Robinson smacked a 2-run dinger in the bottom of the frame, the Braves finally got a run of Al in the top of the next inning as Sonny Jackson hit into a double play.

Downing entered the 9th and faced three tough hitters: Aaron, Rico Carty and Orlando Cepeda

Aaron grounded out, Carty gounded out, Cepeda popped out foul to first.

Aaron is 1-11 off his future record setting victim. But right now, in 1972, it is Aaron who is the victim, time and time again.

So 1973 marked a change.

Aaron and Downing would meet up on April 15, 1973, sans a week, almost exactly a year before the real matchup.

Anyways, the Dodgers won again, 6-2. And this time, it was Gary Gentry (Met's 1969 World Series Game 3 starter!) pitching on the Braves. Aaron?

Aaron batted with two outs in the top of the first, and flied out. In the top of the 4th, Hank coaxed a walk. Dusty Baker ended the inning by fanning.

Aaron led off the 7th with a groundout. But the Braves finally got the first run as Darrell Evans doubled home Baker.

The Dodgers answered the Braves 1 tally with 6 of their own in the bottom of the frame. Downing himself singled, but was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Al gave up a double in the top of the eight, but K'd two more to bring his total to 7 on the day. Aaron would lead off the top of the ninth.

And he took Downing deep.

And that's how the game ended, 6-2.

May 20th, 1973, the nightcap between Atlanta and LA, Downing was in fine form. Gentry, his mound opponent again, lasted just 2.1 innings and gave up 8 hits and 5 runs, all earned.

Downing threw another 3 hitter, although the Braves also got three runs off him. Another complete game gem.

Aaron though, didn't play!

Downing also started a game on June 20th of that year against Atlanta. The Dodgers won 6-5 in the 11th inning. But again, no Hammerin' Hank!

June 29th, 1973, was a wild night in Atlanta.

The Braves already had one in the bottom of the 1st, but Aaron grounded out to third to end the frame.

The Dodgers build a 4-1 lead as Downing faced Aaron in the bottom of the frame with two out. He got under it and flied out to centerfielder Willie Davis.

The Braves themselves scored 4 more runs by the bottom of the 5th to go ahead 5-4, and in the 6th, after Darrell Evans reached on an Downing, Hank sent Al to test the showers with a 2-run shot. The Dodgers, though, came back to win this game 12-9.

Al and Hank would not meet again until after the all star game, and even then it was all the way to September 20th, 1973, 12 years to the day that Al's teammate, Roger Maris, had hit homerun #58 of 1961.

Aaron came into this game with 38 homeruns on the season and 711 on the career.

Downing would not let him hit another on this day.

A flyball to center. Another flyball to center. Finally in the top of the 6th, Aaron came up with 2 on, 2 out, and the Braves down by 2.

Boom! A double to left to tie the game. The Braves scored again as Baker singled Aaron home!

But the Dodgers came back with another tally in the bottom of the frame to tie it at 3. It came on Willie Crawford's second homerun on the day.

In his final plate appearance of the game against Downing, Aaron singled with one out, but was stranded on first as Dusty Baker and Davey Johnson (the last out of the 1969 World Series) both flied out to left.

Downing got through the ninth without another run scored.

Charlie Hough came in to pitch the top of the 10th and walked Aaron. But the Braves failed to score. In the top of the 12th, Aaron hit his second double of the game, but it didn't score a run and Hank was again stranded. The Dodgers won the game in the bottom of the frame on a Davy Lopez homerun.

Aaron had hit another homerun on the 22nd of the month, to give him 39. Could he reach 40, 4 days later?

Downing looked lost on this day. The Braves scored first in the bottom of the first as he hit a flyball for a sacrifice fly. The Braves scored again before the inning was over.

Then in the second, with the score now tied 2-2, Aaron put the Braves ahead again with a single to left. Dusty Baker plated the 4th Braves run with a single of his own. Weather report: Early showers for AD. The Braves lost the game 9-8 as Aaron went 0-3 with a walk the rest of the game.

Aaron would hit his 40th homerun of Jerry Reuss. Darrell Evans trumped Aaron by hitting his 41st on the year in the same game. Amazingly enough, the Braves had a third player, Davey Johnson, join the 40+ homerun party by hitting a team leading 43 homeruns.

But Aaron now had 713 homeruns at the conclusion of the 1973 season.

He was also now 6-22 lifetime against Downing. 2HR, 7RBI, 1BB, 1K

It was a long winter for Aaron, but the Braves opening game of the 1974 season in Cincinnati, Hank faced Jack Billingham with Ralph Garr on second and Mike Lum on first.

He connected for homerun #714, tying Babe Ruth.

On April 6th, with Phil Niekro back on the hill, but facing someone other than Al Downing for a change, the Braves beat the Reds 5-3, for their first win on the season. Our man, Hank, was 0-3 with 2 K's against Clay Kirby, before leaving the game in the 7th for Rowland Office.

So one the 9th of April 8th, 1974, Downing made his first start of the season, on the road against Atlanta. Henry Louis Aaron needed just one more homerun to pass Ruth.

Aaron's lifetimes stats after the Cincinnati game: 2966 GP, 714 HR, 2136 RBI, .311BA, .378OBA

So it was game #2967 for Aaron, and 334 for Al Downing.

Downing faced Aaron in the bottom of the second, and walked him. 53, 775 fans didn't like that.

But they must have liked the face that Dusty Baker doubled to left, scoring Aaron.

Then the Dodgers came back and put a "3" on the scoreboard in the top of the 3rd, as Downing himself scored Steve Garvey with a single. Soon, it would be Jim Wynn who scored Downing and Davey Lopes.

Aaron would bat again in the bottom of the 4th. Darrell Evans led off the inning by reaching on an error. There was no place to put Aaron.

Downing, perhaps a little shaken with Evans on first, threw a high rising fastball.

But it didn't rise fast enough, and it didn't have enough zip from the mound to the plate.

Aaron turned those fast wrists of his on the ball and sent it to left.

What happened next is hard to describe. Time seemed to stand still. The ball made it over the wall in left of Atlanta's Stadium, which would eventually have name change, Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

Aaron had done it. A wild celebration ensued.


And Downing was even more shaken.

Dusty Baker walked. Davey Johnson walked. Downing was done for the night, but knew, no matter how long he lived, this night, would be his most memorable.

The Dodgers ended up losing the game 7-4 as Downing took the loss.

Was there more, you ask? That's what makes baseball the great sport it is. There is always more.

So on May 17th of that season, it was the Braves making a trip out west to face the Dodgers.

Aaron faced Downing with 2 outs and Marty Perez on first. This time, all Hank could do was hit into an inning ending force out.

Perez then walked to open the first, with the Dodgers up 1-0. Aaron flied out.

In the top of the 6th, with the Braves having gone up 3-2, Aaron coaxed a walk off Downing. But he was thrown out trying to go from 1st to 3rd on Davey Johnson's single.

Downing left after the 7th, not having faced Aaron again. The Dodgers came back to tie the game, but lost in extra innings.

There would be one last meeting between the two on July 27th, 1974. Phil Niekro started again. This is becoming all too common here, eh?

Anyways, Aaron's first inning single scored a run, and the Braves were up 2 at the end of the frame. Al then K'd Hank in the bottom of the 3rd. Dusty Baker then hit a solo homerun off Downing.

Two more runs in the bottom of the 4th finished Downing and the Dodgers, who would go on to lose the game, 10-0.

Al Downing pitched 8 more times that season, but would never face the Braves again that season.

The Braves missed the postseason, but the Dodgers made it all the way to the World Series, losing to Oakland, 4-1.

Downing carried on pitching for the Dodgers until LA released him in the summer of 1977, so he was not there that fall when the faced Al's old team the Yankees.

But Downing would never face Aaron again. In the 1974 offseason, they traded Aaron, who hit 20 homeruns that season to bring his career homerun total to 733. He would hit 20 more in two seasons with the AL Milwaukee Brewers, who amazingly enough, would join the National League in 1998.

But for Hank Aaron and Al Downing, it was so much more than that one crisp night in April 1974.

Oh, and for you stat lovers like me, here are the head to head totals, Aaron VS Downing

PA: 31

AB:27

R: 8

2B: 1

3B: 0

HR: 3

RBI: 10

BB: 3

K: 2

BA: .296

OBP: .355

SH: 1

SF: 0

IBB: 0

HBP: 0

GIDP: 0

References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Monday, December 3, 2012

2013 BBWAA Ballot, Part 1: The Jays Players

So here we go in what is unquestionally going to be the most memorable Hall Of Fame induction. One that I am sure is going to pave the way, one way or another for what we are all going to do with all the PED users.

But for now I digress and choose to look at some of the players on this years ballot who wore the Blue and White Toronto Blue Jays:

Name: Royce Clayton

Years on Ballot: 0 (First Year, and probably Last Year)

Blue Jay From: 2007

To: 2007 (69 Games)

Hall Of Fame Chances: Pretty much none, although he was one of best fielding shortstops of his time as he was consistantly among the leaders in Range Factor Per Game and Range Factor Per 9 Innings. He didn't hit for much of an average (.258 BA and .312 OBA) and little power (110 homeruns).

Name: Roger Clemens

Years on Ballot: 0 (First Year)

From: 1997

To: 1998

Hall Of Fame Chances: Oh, here we go. I'd say I would stay clear of this, but...

Anyways, the minute I bring up his lifetime stats, you say, "Yeah, you want to know how get got those..."

There really is no point with the stats. It is thought that Clemens started using PEDs in 1998, although, just to satisfy you haters, I'm going to go a little further than this and say, 1997.

The reason I say this, is Clemens came to the Jays that year. And here is a breakdown of his career up until his last four seasons in Boston:

Seasons: 9

G: 273

GS: 272 (His one relief stint you ask? July 18th, 1984 vs Oakland)

W: 152

L: 72

W%: .679

ERA: 2.80

IP: 2031.0

H: 1703

K: 1873

BB: 552

OBA: .226

OOBP: .282

Then came 4 bad years (1993-1996)

Seasons: 4

G: 110

GS: 110

W: 40

L: 39

W%: .506

ERA: 3.77

SHO: 4

IP: 745.0

H: 656

K: 717

BB: 304

OBA: .236

OOBP: .316

So the totals of the Rocket in Boston are:

Seasons: 13

G: 383

GS: 382

W: 192

L: 111

W%: .634

ERA: 3.06

SHO: 38

IP: 2776.0

H: 2359

K: 2590

BB: 856

OBA: .229

OOBP: .292

So he turned it around in '97 with the Jays in '97 going 21-7 with a 2.05 ERA. The Jays won only 76 games that year. They then improved to 88 wins next year, the most games won by a Jays team in a single season since they last won it all in '93 (Clemens had never had a losing season up 'til that point, but he went 11-14 that season).

Clemens started out slow that 1998 year, though. By the end of May, he was 5-6 and his ERA was 3.50!

Then something clicked.

Roger went 15-0 from there until the end of the season, 22 starts. His ERA was 2.29 for that stretch and batters hit .201 against him. He fanned 201 batters in 165.1 inning. That's an average of almost 11 K's per nine innings!

I'm guessing, this is the PEDs kicking in for sure. This is someone 36 years old, leading the league in ERA for the second straight year (2.65), winning 20 games and fanning 271 batters!

From there, it's off to New York for David Wells, and then to Houston, where in 2005, at the age of 43(!) he compiles a 13-8 record and an ERA of 1.87!

Oh, wait a minute, the above doesn't count, now does it?

Seems to me like Clemens was on pace for the Hall of Fame before 1993, dipped to "win one, lose one" for the next 4 seasons, really came back in '97, and was almost as good in '98.

So odd that he has that great year in 1997 with no PEDs, though. I gotta think he was doing something with them in '97, else how do you explain how he does so well with a sub .500 team?

Clemens finished with 354 wins, 3.12 ERA and 4672 Ks. Opponents batted just .229 against him lifetime.

But, let me guess, the PEDs did all that.

I think Clemens could have finished his career with around 250-275 wins. Lotta Ks and and a low batting average against. He would have made the Hall of Fame eventually with those numbers, although, perhaps not first ballot.

At any rate, he's going in.

And on this coming year, 2013.

Name: Shawn Green

Years on Ballot: 0 (First Year)

From: 1993

To: 1999 (716 games)

Hall Of Fame Chances: Green came up to Toronto in '93, was okay for a few years, then suddenly caught fire in 1998, and went on to finish his career with 328 homeruns, more than 1000 RBIs and more than 1100 runs scored. His lifetime batting average was just .283, but he did have a .355 on base percentage.

I also though he was a very, very good fielder.

But his numbers fall short. He might stay on the ballot for a few years, but that's all you can expect

Name: Fred McGriff

Years on Ballot: 3 (Fourth Year)

From: 1986

To: 1990 (578 games)

Hall Of Fame Chances: The Jays needed someone to replace George Bell in left, so they made a trade with San Diego that sent McGriff and Tony Fernandez for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar.

McGriff went from there to Altanta to Tampa Bay to the Cubs to the Dodgers and finally back to the Rays.

Everywhere he went, he hit.

And he basically contended (although he never won) for the triple crown each year.

He finished his career with 493 homeruns, 1550 RBIs, .284 BA and a .377 OBP.

These totals are good. And there has never been any steriod accusations, which helps him even more. I think he'll make it, but he might have to wait 5-7 years.

Name: Jack Morris

Years on Ballot: 13 (14th Year)

From: 1992

To: 1993 (61 games)

Hall Of Fame Chances: Morris is an interesting case. He did win 254 games, which brings considerable consideration (Just remember, I invented that saying!) to the Hall. He also won a World Series with the Tigers in '84, the Twins in '91 and the Jays in '92. And he did have a lot to do with all three. Let's not forget, prior to Morris coming to the Jays, no Toronto pitcher had won 20 games. Morris did that and 1 better.

Now, the knock against Morris is that his ERA is high (3.90). And it had nothing to do with Tiger Stadium:

Morris Home ERA Lifetime: 3.90 in 288 games

Morris Away ERA Lifetime: 3.90 in 269 games

Morris Tiger Stadium ERA Lifetime: 3.80 in 224 games

See, it was actually lower at Tiger Stadium than at other ballparks.

But still, Morris brought the right attitude to clubhouse. He never made excuses, never pointed at teammates. To the Jays he brought a swagger, an arrogance, that I really think helped the team. And this rubbed off on Toronto, even on days Jack wasn't pitching. The Jays were missing these things.

For a while, I would have said no to Morris. Consider me, if I was a voter to vote.

Vote for Morris.

Name: David Wells

Years On Ballot: 0 (First Year)

1st Tour Of Duty With Jays

From: 1987

To: 1992 (237 Games)

2nd Tour Of Duty

From: 1999

To: 2000 (69 games)

Hall Of Fame Chances: If it was what he looked like, Wells would have a difficult time explaining what he was doing in a baseball uniform, much less the Hall Of Fame for baseball.

Seriously though, Wells looked to me like a guy who was inconsistant, season to season and even start to start. But he got it together in the Bronx, came back to Toronto and won every game he pitched, then pretty much went wherever he wanted and won everything.

What's impressive to me about Boomer is, all those teams he played for, he'd give up hits, have a high ERA and he'd just win, win, win, no matter how good or bad the team was. That's how he did it with teams like New York and Boston, but also in teams like Toronto and Detroit.

He finished his career with 239 wins and only .604 W%. And no PEDs, although good thing Wells didn't take them. Might have done, god only knows to him.

Anyways, he pitched in the postseason for, ready?

Toronto

Cincinatti

Baltimore

New York

Boston

San Diego

See, winning just followed this guy around! And he was 10-5 (That's a .667 W%) in the postseason.

Wells is up against Clemens, Morris and Curt Schilling. Only Clemens has a better  W%, and that's under a cloud according to you.

Morris was 7-4 in the postseason (.636)

Schilling was 11-2 in the postseason (.846)

Clemens was 12-8 in the postseason (.600)

So Wells is right there with wins in the postseason and W% in the postseason.

So he gets my vote, because Wells wins everywhere, everytime, April to November!

Plus, baseball players come in all shapes and sizes. Gotta have someone in the Bronx that looks a litte different. Perfect for the Hall!

Name: Woody Williams

Years on Ballot: 0 (First Year and probably Last Year )

From: 1993

To: 1998 (166 games)

Hall Of Fame Chances: I still remember thinking about Woody as the 4th or 5th starter on the Jays. But as Toronto declined from 1994 on, he moved on up and became a "good 3rd or 4th starter". Once he got out of Toronto, he went from San Diego to St Louis back to San Diego and finally to Houston in 2007, where he retired.

Actually, he was better than I remember. The guy actually won 132 games, led the NL in winning % back in 2006 at the age of 39 (?!) and had seasons of 18, 15, 12 (x2), 11, 10 (x2).

Great enough for a #3 or #4 starter. Too bad there is isn't a "#3 or #4 starter Hall Of Fame, because my favs Claude Osteen, Mike Cuellar, Mike Garcia and Johnny Podres would get in.

Alas, none of these guys or Williams will ever get in!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Found: Things The 1962 Mets Did That WERE Positive

So, the 1962 Mets are the worst team of all time! Marv Throneberry couldn't catch a ball at first, or bat, Ellio Chacon kept running into Richie Ashburn, and Roger Craig just lost, lost, lost. Finally, Harry Chiti was the first baseball player to be traded for himself.

Anything I missed? Yeah, but why keep bringing it up?

Truth is, I've always had a special feeling for this team. And let's not forget about what they did seven years later, right?

Before I start, what team lead the National league in walks in 1962?

Yeah, that's right, the Mets. In all of MLB that year, only the ChiSox (620), Twins (649) and Tigers (651) drew more walks than the Mets (616).

Funny how it works, eh?

Let's start with my fav, Marv Throneberry.

Really now, is there any point in looking up his stats for 1962. I mean he's god-awful, right?

The funny thing is, he didn't even start the '62 campaign in the National League.

Actually, he over in the AL, where he started his career back in 1955 with the Yankees.

So he joined the Mets after being god-awful for the Orioles in 1962.

Here's his stat line: 9AB, 1R, 0H, 0HR, 0RBI, 6K, 4BB

A perfect start for a future 1962 Met!

So he joined New York on May 9th of that season for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Hobie Landrith.

Landrith, by the way, shares a few things with Marv: he was out of the bigs after 1963, he batted, lifetime .23x, he played for the Mets and O's, of course.

So he got into his first game 2 days later with his first hit on the season, a walk, and even a run scored.

And he raised his average from .000 to .083

But it took him 24 games and 62 at bats to hit his first homerun, and even then his average was only .258!

From June 17th to June 23rd, he played 8 games, drove in 10 runs, hit another dinger and batted .250. The Mets by the way, were 3-5 in those eight games. They're moving on up!

But what I'll be remember about Marv in this most difficult of seasons, was a July 7th doubleheader against St Louis.

The first game entered the bottom of the ninth, with the Mets down 4-3 and looking at their 58th loss in 80 games.

Curt Simmons entered the that inning and gave up a leadoff single to Joe Christopher. Ernie Borglio came in an surrendered a single to Gil Hodges. It was time for Elio Chacon to bat.

No, actually, it was for a pinch hitter. Our man.

And Marv won the game with a dramatic 2 run pinch hit homerun.

Marv was not done as the night cap came around. The Mets entered this game 23-57 instead of 22-58!

The Mets trailed 2-1 going into the bottom of the 7th against Ray Washburn.

But leading off, Throneberry tied the game with solo blast.

Alas, Stan Musial won the game in the top of the eight with a homerun of his own.

A month later, in an ugly 9-4 loss against the Phillies, Throneberry went deep twice, as did Frank Thomas, but it was not enough as no one was on base for any of the 4 blasts!

Throneberry added another homerun the next game against Cincy and even another on the August 4th doubleheader (first game) for 4 homeruns in 4 games.

He also nailed the Reds later on that month for 2 homeruns in 2 games, Aug 10, 11.

Another dramatic pinch hit homerun came on August 21st against Pittsburgh. First game of a doubleheader.

With the Mets losing and heading towards a 30-96 record, Marv came up as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth.

Funny to see Harvey Haddix (does this guy have any luck?) enter the ninth with a 4-1 lead.

But Richie Ashburn did a little pinch hitting of his own, as he batted for one of the two Bob Millers (Ah, what better way to say, "It wasn't me, it was someone else!) on the team and singled.

After a Christopher walk, Elroy Face came in for the save. No problem, right?

Certainly it looked that way as Charlie Neal fanned. The Felix Mantilla, who broke up the perfect game against Haddix three years earlier (by reaching on an error in the bottom of the 13th) singled to score a run.

Frank Thomas flied out.

One out to go.

The batter was Jim Hickman.

But, no, it was Marv Throneberry.

4-2, 2 outs, here we go.

Homerun, game over, 5-4 Mets!

How about a homerun off the great Don Drysdale. Yes, August 24th in a 6-3 Met win.

Quite a month for Marv 9 homeruns, 19 RBIs in 30 games. But he batted just .219.

In September he faded, hitting .250, but hitting just 2 homeruns.

But they were hit in back to back games (September 15th and 16th).

And they were hit against Cincinnati.

Throneberry ended up playing just 116 games, but he hit 16 homeruns. Only three of them were hit with his team ahead. Seven of them came against The Reds. Seven of them also came with the score tied or the Mets trailing by a run or two. Two of them came with the score tied 0-0.

But he knocked in just 49 runs and batted just .238

And there was the time on June 17th when he hit a triple but was called out for failing to touch second base. Casey Stengel, the lovable manager came out to argue, only to be told Marv had missed first base, too!

Or how about not being given a birthday cake on Stengel's birthday, because everyone was affraid he'd drop it.

Having Marv Throneberry play on your team, said Jimmy Breslin, is like having Willie Sutton work for your bank.

But what about Thomas, who lead the team with a more than respectable 34 homeruns? Or Ashburn, who batted .306 in his last season?

Thomas homered twice on August 1st of that years VS the Philies, then added two more the next day for four against Philly. Amazingly, he hit two more on the 3rd against Cincinatti's Joey Jay for 6 homeruns in 3 games, setting a record.

Thomas also did something else incredible against Philadelphia that year. In an 8-0 Met win on April 29th, the first game of a doubleheader, Thomas was hit by a pitch with the Phillies up 1-0 in the bottom of the 4th. Thomas had hit a homerun earlier that gave the Mets all the offence they would need.

But in that inning, by the time Thomas batted again, the Mets had pushed across 7 more runs.

Then Thomas was hit again.

Once again, Thomas had set an NL record, this time for most times hit by a pitcher (actually, two different Philly pitchers, Art Mchaffey and Frank Sullivan) in one inning.

On August 15th, in the second game of a doubleheader, the Mets trailed 6-1 in the bottom of the 6th inning against the Phillies.

But a triple by Chris Cannizzaro scored Mantilla, and Choo-Choo Coleman batted for pitcher Craig Anderson.

So Coleman goes downtown, cutting the lead to 2, 6-4. The Phillies would add a run in the 8th, then it was Coleman's turn to be pinch hit for in the bottom of the frame.

The batter was Jim Hickman. 2 on, 1 out.

And Hickman goes yard to tie the game!

But this is the 1962 Mets, so they ended up losing the game anyway.

Still, two pinch hit homeruns in the same game, by the same team? Wow.

The Mets of 1962 would hit 11 pinch hit homeruns in total, 2 each by Throneberry, Coleman and Ed Bouchee.

Gus Bell, right fielder, joined the team for the start of the season and got the first ever Met hit, off the Phillies Larry Jackson on April 11th, in the bottom of the second. Mantilla would draw the first ever walk.

He did something amazing in that opening game.

In the bottom of the 3rd, with runners on the corners, Philadelphia's Stan Musial doubled to right, scoring Julian Javier.

Bill White, on first, also was thinking home. But Bell's throw to Charlie Neal was on the mark, and Neal fired home to get White.

Ken Boyer grounded out (out # 2), Minnie Minoso singled to right to score Musial from second. But when the fleet footed Minnie headed towards second, Bell fired to first basemen Gil Hodges, and Minoso was eventually caught in a rundown and putout.

Two outfield assist in one inning by Bell, to set a National League record.

Bell wasn't done yet, either. In the bottom of the 6th, the Cardinals were up 10-4 with two out.

The Cardinals had plated 4 runs that inning, and a Musial single to right kept the ball going.

But Musial had thoughts of second, and Bell made the throw again, this time to shortstop Mantilla, and Stan The Man was out at second. The Mets would lose the game 11-4.

Quite a start one way or another, eh?

Pitching wise, you did have Craig, who lost 24, but also won 10 and got 3 saves. There was Al Jackson, who despite going just 8-20, pitched 3 shutouts.

But reliever Ken MacKenzie went 5-4 with a save, finished 16 games.

There was Bob Miller and Bob Miller. No that's not a missprint. They both batted right handed and were each 6'1 and roomates on the road!

Galen Cisco, who pitched just 4 times after coming over in a trade with the Red Sox was on the hill on September 21, 1962.

Against the Cubs in the top of the fourth, George Altman pinch hit for Moe Thachker.

Cisco struck him out.

The next batter, was another pinch hitter, Bob Will (hitting for pitcher Don Cardwell).

Cisco struck him out.

In the top of the 6th, Don Landrum batted for pitcher Glen Hobbie.

Cisco struck him out.

In the 8th, Cuno Barragen hit for Dick Bertell.

Cisco threw a wild pitch, allowing Alex Grammas, who was on first, to got to second.

Cisco then struck out Barragen.

4 pinch hitters struck out in one game by a pitcher. Again, another National League record was sent.

By the way, Billy Ott then pinch hit for pitcher Don Elston.

Cisco didn't strike him out, but fielded him comebacker and threw hit out at first.

Cisco went on to win the game 4-1 as Cisco finished with a fine 4 hit, 5 walk, 8 K performance. And the Mets won the game 4-1.

That dropped the Cubs to 56-99.

And improved the Mets to 38-115.

The Mets went 2-5 in their next 7 games.

The Cubs themselves beat the Mets on September 30th to hand them their 120 loss.

Joe Pignatano batted in the bottom of the 8th inning of that game with Sammy Drake and Richie Ashburn on with nobody out.

Pignatano lined to second for out #1. Ken Hubbs, who caught the ball, fired to Ernie Banks at first to nail Ashburn, who had left the bag. Banks fired to Andre Rogers, the shortstop covering second, to get Drake, who had also left too soon.

Triple play.

Pignatano's last at-bat of his career.

I just had to finish with a negative, eh? The real story of the '62 Mets!


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 01 Dec. 2012.

Thorn, John, and Pete Palmer. Total Baseball. Vers. 1994. Portland, OR: Creative Multimedia Corp., 1994. Computer software. CD-ROM