Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The 2014 Baseball Hall Of Fame: A Look At The Leaders In Career WAR

So here is the 10 highest WAR Hall Of Fame potentials for 2014.

Interesting to see so many pitchers actually have a high WAR. Higher than many position players.

That's always my problem with Wins Above Replacement: You can have pitchers with a higher rating than position players in seasons and careers!

And Clemens has the highest! Right below Bonds. Do you see two problems here?

Again, I'll repeat what I said last year: I believe Bonds is Hall Of Fame material since his numbers qualified prior to juicing!

Clemens, I'm 50-50 on his chances. It was sure of his chances at one point. But Roger's denying of his PED use is a foolish and hopeless move.

Roger was 213-118 by the end of 1997. That's when, the juicing started, from all accounts. But looking at the turnaround in 1997 from his previous 4 seasons, you have to wonder if he wasn't already juicing.

Greg Maddux won 355 games. No point in going any further.

Mike Mussina won 270 games, but he did have a high ERA (3.68). I think he will make it, but I'm not sure about this year (2014).

Tom Glavine won 305 games. But again, a high ERA (3.54). He also pitched 4 more seasons than Mussina. The closeness of their WAR suggests they were both about equal. The 300 wins might give Glavine the edge. Voters might also feel persuaded by inducting not one, but two great pitchers from the Braves of the 90s.

Curt Schilling, I've always liked. His stats are not near Clemens, Maddux, Mussina or Glavine's.

But what about that game 5 shutout  of the Jays in the 1993 World Series? What about 2001 vs. the Yankees? What about pitching the Red Sox to not one, but two World Series?

Those kinds of things. I saw this guy pitch. Believe me, when the chips were down, turn to him. I'd like to see him make it. Will he?

I'd lean towards "no" for this year. But soon...

Jeff Bagwell had over 400 home runs, over .400 OBP and the 1994 MVP. Oh, that's great! But how about the man I feared the most as a Jays fan back in the 1990s?

The Big Hurt.

Frank Thomas.

521 home runs, .301 BA, .419 OBP, 1993/94 MVPs.

Granted, Frank never once led the league in homeruns (Huh?). But it was that fear factor of him. To me, he was the most feared hitter in the AL in the 1990s. For that alone, I'd vote for him. And so should the writers! Gotta give Frank the edge over Jeff!

Larry Walker might be a close-but-no-cigar, this year and beyond. He hit over .300 but not quite 400 home runs. Yet his WAR rating is exactly 1.0 less than Thomas. He might have to wait another 4 or 5 years for his time to come.

Rafael Palmeiro isn't getting anywhere near enough votes!

2011: 64 votes

2012: 72 votes

2013: 50 votes

Not going the right direction with the voters, I'd say.

It's too bad. But, at the same time, Palmy has been named by several sources for his PED activities, including the dreaded Mitchell Report. It seems clear to me that he was doing it. When did he start? For how long? He's not saying. What I can say is it that's hurting his Hall Of Fame chances in a big way!



<![if supportMisalignedColumns]> <![endif]>
Player Seasons WAR
Barry Bonds 22 162.5
Roger Clemens 24 140.3
Greg Maddux 23 106.8
Mike Mussina 18 83.0
Tom Glavine 22 81.4
Curt Schilling 20 79.9
Jeff Bagwell 15 79.5
Frank Thomas 19 73.6
Larry Walker 17 72.6
Rafael Palmeiro 20 71.8
-->

Monday, December 30, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Chief Bender was the first Native American to play in the World Series.

Following in the footsteps of Louis Sockalexis, Bender faced descrimiation and other taunts from the crowd.

But, Albert (his real first name) silenced that with a masterful performance in game 2 of the 1905 World Series.

Pitching for the Philadelphia Athletics against the New York Giants, all Bender did was go the distance, pitch a shutout and K 9 men.

He was also in command in game 5 of the that Series, allowing just 5 hits and just 2 runs. The problem was, the A's couldn't touch Christy Mathewson. The majestic Giant also gave up 5 hits, but not a man scored! The Giants lost the game and the Series.

In 1910, Bender and the A's were back against Chicago Cubs, who were becoming a dynasty. But as things turned out, the Cubs have yet to win another World Series after 1908. Bender made sure they didn't win this one.

In game 1, Bender fired a fine 3-hitter and fanned 8. While he did give up a run, it was unearned.

Bender was to meet his match again in his second outing of the 1910 Fall Classic!

Locked in a pitcher's duel (despite each starter giving up 10 hits) with King Cole in game 4, Bender was two outs away from another W in the World Series.

But Frank Chance of the famed Tinker-Evers-Chance trio, lashed a triple to tie it. Then in the 10th, Jerry Archer hit a double. Then with two outs, Jimmy Sheckard hit a walk-off single!

Bender and his old friend Mathewson hooked up in a jewel of a duel in game one of the 1911 World Series. But once again, Ole Matty was just two good for The Chief. A 1-0 win for the Giants.

But in game 4, Bender got his revenge, as he topped Christy, 4-2. Then a lopsided 13-2 win by The Chief in game 6 brought the World Series to Philly!

In game 1 of the 1913 World Series, Bender was bending over in some discomfort from all the runs that were scoring against him. The Giants were his opposition again. And they scored 4 times.

But the Athletics scored 6. Chalk up another World Series W for Bender!

Mathewson, for those wondering, did not start that game. He won game 2 with a complete game shutout. This was Christy's 4th and final World Series shutout.

Bender seemed to have not fazed the Giants anymore, as they touched him up for 5 more runs in game 4. The A's scored 6, and Bender got the win!

Philadelphia then took the Series in game 5 as Eddie Plank won a narrow 3-1 win over Matty. Plank tossed a 2-hitter!

Chief Bender would make one last start, game 1 of the 1916 World Series. It wasn't much to talk about. The Boston Braves (how ironic that this was the last team he faced in the World Series, eh?)

The Chief gave up 7 runs and 11 hits in a 7-1 shellacking. The Braves ended up winning the Series in a sweep.

Over the course of 5 World Series, Bender had a 6-4 record with a 2.44 ERA in 10 starts. His WHIP was an impressive 1.012.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Red Ames was the first switch-hitting pitcher to appear in the World Series.

Sort of.

Ames never got a chance to hit, at least in 1905.

It was the second game of the second World Series, as the event was not played in 1904.

The New York Giants got a splendid pitching performance from Christy Mathewson in the opener. The sure needed it, as the Giants got but 3 runs off Eddie Plank of the Philadelphia A's.

Game 2 saw the A's turn to Chief Bender to try and draw even. The Chief provided the A's with some much needed relief after the spanking the A's took in game 1. Actually, Bender needed no relief. It was Ames who pitched some relief for the Giants.

Bender went out there and pitched a gem of a game that must rank up there with Christy's crisp performance in the opening tilt.

The Giants got only 4 hits and 3 walks off the Chief, who also K'd 9 batters. He faced just 34 batters on this day.

What about the Giants' pitching?

Well, it wasn't bad. Joe McGinnity, a 35 game winner the year before (but only 21-15 in 1905) went out there and pitched well enough to give New York a 2-0 lead in the Series.

But it didn't happen.

Just a cheap run on an error, a sacrifice bunt (by Bender himself) and a groundball out led to the game's first run. Which is all Philly needed, as it turns out.

It all happened in the third, with plenty of time left for New York to come right back. But Bender broke their spirits. He was making that one run look a lot bigger than it really was.

Finally, in the to of the 8th, the Athletics got some much need insurance. And as it turns out, they never scored again in this game.

Or again in this Series!

Philly scored twice in the top of the frame, but neither run was earned. An error by catcher Bresnahan meant neither run was earned. Yep, the game ended without an earned run.

Art Devlin led off the bottom of the 8th for the Giants and singled off Bender. Bender got the next hitter, Billy Gilbert, out on a flyball.

With McGinnity due up to hit, the Giants turned to Sammy Strang to pinch hit.

But Bender K'd him.

The Giants then received a gift from the A's as Bresnahan reached on an error. But Bender got George Brown to ground out and end the inning.

So in came Red Ames, the first ever switch-hitting pitcher to appear in the World Series. But he was here to pitch the top of the 9th for the Giants.

It was a tough inning as third basemen Lave Cross led off with a walk. Then, with one out, Danny Murphy stroked a single. Ames was in a jam.

Could Ames extinguish the flame and keep the Giants in the game?

Monte Cross, who was not related to Lave, was the batter. Must have been odd having a third basemen and a shortstop named Cross. Wonder if anyone ever got them crossed up at the same time? Or maybe just plain got them mixed up?

It was Red who must have been a little crossed at the thought of and uprising at this point. He K'd Monte. Then he got Ossee Schrecongost to ground out. Yes, I got his name right!

The Giants got the first two batters on in the bottom of the 9th. Then with two outs, New York had runners on 2nd and 3rd. But Art Devlin ended the game with a groundout to second.

Had he and the next batter (Gilbert) reached, it would have been Ames scheduled to hit. If he had, we would have seen the switcher pitch and hit. But it was not to be, at least in this Series. So that kind of history was not quite made. But it would be in next year's World Series.

Ames would go on to bat in a World Series almost a decade later, 1911.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Candy LaChance was the first switch hitter in the World Series?

In game 1 of the very first World Series in 1903, he batted in the second inning. The Boston star, faced Decon Phillippe of Pittsburgh Pirates. Decon fanned not only him, but the entire side.

The Americans (not yet the Red Sox) were behind 4-0 at this point, despite the presence of the immortal Cy Young on the hill!

The Pirates weren't through as they added a run in the top of the 3rd and another in the top of the 4th. The game was pretty much over!

In the top of the 7th, Jimmy Sebring's inside-the-park home run made it 7-0 for the Pirates. It was becoming a real laugher.

But a pair of triples in the bottom of the frame brought home a run. LaChance then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-2.

In the bottom of the 9th with 2 on and nobody out, LaChance hit another sacrifice fly to score a run. It would prove to be the last run of the game. Phillippe got Duke Farrell, another switcher who was batting for Young, to ground out and end the game.

LaChance ended up hitting just .222 for the Series, but had 2 more RBIs for Boston. Farrell failed to get a hit in two tries, although he ended up with an RBI.

The Pirates also had a switch hitter, Claude Ritchey, but he hit just .148 in this first World Series!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Reggie Jackson had 4 home runs in 4 at bats in the 1977 World Series!

Yes, we all remember his 3 home runs in game 6 vs. the Dodgers. But coming into the game, Reggie was red hot!

The Yankees were not.

Down 10-0 in the top of the 7th in game 5, the Bronx Bombers still had Mr. October right? And Reggie had a tendency to swing the big stick late in the game.

Jackson singled leading off the inning against Don Sutton. The Yankees had a mini-uprising and scored twice. But it was Jackon's next at bat that started something truely amazing, awesome and incredible.

On and 0-1 pitch from Sutton in the 8th, Jackson went yard. It didn't seem to matter as the Yankees still lost 10-4. But game 6 was back at Yankee Stadium. Reggie was swinging the hot bat! It was about to get hotter, if you can believe it!

In the bottom of the second inning of game 6, Jackson walked on four pitches. Burt Hooton was on the mound for LA, and in for a long day. Chris Chambliss then hit a home run. That tied the game 2-2.

But Reggie Smith hit a home run in the top of the 3rd to give LA the lead again. It stayed that way until the bottom of the 4th. Here comes Reggie!

With Munson on first after hitting a single to start the inning, Jackson hammered Hooton first pitch (and last of the game) to deep right for a home run. That would put New York on top for good. But Reggie was far from finished.

The next inning, with New York now up 5-3, Jackson again belted a 2-run home run! This time off Elias Sosa. Again, first pitch swinging!

Now, it was obvious the Yankees were going to win. And it had been a long time coming. The Yankees hadn't won the World Series since 1962 and had since lost it 3 times. These chances don't always come around, you know!

In fact, the Yankees hadn't appeared in a World Series from 1965 to 1975. 1975 saw them get swept by the Reds. But Reggie Jackson was not on the team then. He was now. And he was making a huge impact!

And he still wasn't done!

Leading off the bottom of the 8th against Charlie Hough, Jackson swung at the first pitch. And this thing went like a rocket into the dark seats in centerfield. That made it 8-3.

4 home runs on 4 pitches in the last two games. 5 hits in 5 AB's. A walk without a strike. Reggie was the man in New York.

The demoralized Dodgers scored one more run in the 9th, but it mattered little. The Yankees were World Series Champions for the first time since 1962.

Thanks to Reggie Jackson.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why I Think The Price Is The Right Guy...

...to send to Sochi!

I was reading the lastest Sportsnet magazine about Carey Price. I didn't manage to finish it. But I think Price is a great candidate to play goal for Canada. Maybe not the number 1 goalie, but 1B or even a 1A.

I should offer a few disclaimers:

Do I Roberto Luongo should go? Based on his play, and the way he handled the situation last year with the Canucks, yes! I don't want to brag, but remember what I said last season? Oh yeah, who was in net in 2010? Exactly!

How about Mike Smith? Tough situation for him too. But there he is, night after night. Hey, if we need a goal, he can even do that!



Okay, so now we have three pretty good goalies. Liking our chances?

But here's why I like Price (and Luongo got hurt his last game for good measure). Remember about what I said about Randy Cunneyworth having the worst job in hockey? I think Price has the second worst!

Your a goalie in Montreal and it's a whole new ballgame. Believe me, there is no, "meaningless regular season" games in Montreal. You always get compared (unfavourably, of course) to names like Vezina, Hainsworth, Durnan, Plante, Dryden, Roy. Somedays, you just can't win!

But Price is played well this year and is showing a lot of poise. Here are his numbers and his league rank:

Wins: 17 (6)

Shots Against: 906 (4th)

Saves: 844 (4th)

Save Percentage: .932 (6th)

Goals Against Average: 2.10 (8)

Shutouts: 2 (9th)

He may not be there are far as leading the league in any categories, but he's almost there in a lot of places. Price is also 6th in games played and 6th in minutes played. So he can handle the load.

The big knock against him is his lack of postseason success. Okay, perhaps Carey doesn't have it at the NHL level. Fair enough. But what about the next highest level? AHL!

Back in 2007, all Price did was lead the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Calder Trophy. Oh, that wasn't the only hardware Carey skated off with.

He also won the prestigious Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. I know, that's a long way from the Conn Smythe award. But Price was just the third teenager ever to win it. He had the poise as a teenager. If he's in net for Canada and Carey has it, it could be a golden moment to talk about for years to come!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Babe Ruth: His Canadian Connections

This blogger is a Canadian kid.

Amazingly enough, the great Babe Ruth had several connections to Canadian players and a "first" that happened on Canadian soil.

Ruth, called up by the Boston Red Sox in 1914, made his first appearance on July 14. It was a mound appearance. And it was a good one!

Okay, he went 0-2 at the plate. What about on the hill? The first batter to face him was Jack Graney. Graney was from St. Thomas Ontario. He promptly greeted Ruth the hard way with a single. But Ruth settled down after that and tossed a fine game, eventually winning it, 4-3.

Demoted by to the Providence Grays, Ruth was about to make history. In Canada.

On September 5th, 1914 Babe Ruth tossed a fine 1-hitter against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But he also hit hist first (and only) minor league home run. And this was in Toronto! It came off Ellis Johnson. Not related to Walter Johnson. The Grays went on to take it, 9-0. The Leafs, by the way, were the only Maple Leafs in town! The NHL had not yet arrived.

Babe went on to have a career like almost none other. Along the way, he was seen on the field with guys like Graney, Frank O'Rourke and George Selkirk. Canadians!

Selkirk, from Huntsville, Ontario was a teammate of Ruth in 1934, his last year with the Yankees. With Ruth out of the picture the next year, it was George who replaced George Herman Ruth. Selkirk went on to help the Yankees win 5 World Series from 1936 to 1941, including 4 in a row from '36 to '39.

Even so, he'll always be just a Canadian connection, or footnote to the great Sultan Of Swat. A hero to many years after his passing.

Oh, one last thing: Ruth's last game was May 30, 1935!

So?

I was born on May 30th, albeit many years later. As you can see, I too am swept up by Ruth years later.

And I am Canadian!




Monday, December 23, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Babe Ruth was invovled in the last out of both the 1926 and 1928 World Series.

And both were against my St. Louis Cardinals.

Actually, it looked like Ruth was going to bring it home all by himself in 1926! In game 4 of the Series, The Sultan Of Swat went deep. Three times! The Yankees took the game, 10-5.

But the Series was destined to go the limit.

In game 7, Ruth continued his heroics by slugging a home run of Hall Of Famer Jessie Haines to put the Yankees up 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd. But the Cards weren't about to let this Series slip away.

In the top of the 4th, the Cardinals scored 3 runs. Two costly errors did in the Yankees. Third basemen Joe Dugan and left fielder Bob Meusel made a gaffe each and that cost starting pitcher Waite Hoyt dearly. None of the runs scored were earned.

Hoyt left after 6 innings, having allowed just 5 hits. Herb Pennock came in and blanked the Cardinals the rest of the way. With Ruth, Lou Gehrig and some other potent hitters around, New York were far from finished.

Indeed, with 2 down in bottom of the 6th, Dugan singled. He must have felt some redemption as Hank Severeid (a rather underrated player playing his final game) drove him home with a double. When Spencer Adams came in to pinch run for Hank, Severeid's career was over. New York could not get him home.

But the Yankees looked like they were going to send Severeid out a winner as they loaded the bases the very next inning against Haines. In came Grover Cleveland Alexander.

The batter was Tony Lazzeri.

Lazzeri lined a pitch just foul down the line, which might have scored at least 2 runs. Grover then fanned poor Tony. Was that it?

With 2 down in the bottom of the 9th, all that stood between the Cardinals and the crown was Ruth. St. Louis had the smarts to walk him. Bob Meusel was next. But Ruth decided he needed to be in scoring position.

Ruth tried to steal and was gunned out by catcher Bob O'Farrell, who fired to Rogers Hornsby. Hornsby, (2nd basemen for those who don't know) slapped the tag on Ruth to end it.

But when the two teams played 2 years later, Ruth and his mates were out for revenge. Quick revenge. New York took the first 3 games 4-1, 9-3 and 7-3.

They actually trailed 2-1 in game 4, but a 4-run 7th put the Bombers up by 3 runs. Two more runs in the top of the 8th made it 7-2, Yankees.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Cardinals scored a run to make it 7-3. But there were now two outs. However, two singles put runners on the corners. Would the Yankees lose it now?

Frankie Frisch lifted a flyball in foul territory to left. It appeared to be heading into the seats.

Well, it was. But the very man who put a lot of baseballs into the seats (fair) was there to make sure it never made it! The Bambino, who was a better fielder than given credit for (and not to mention playing with a injured ankle), raced over and caught it over the railing. Ruth continued on into the dugout. There was nothing more to say, really.

But hey, when Ruth is involved in the last out of a World Series, what fan would not be on the edge of their seats?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Fernando Valenzuela and Curt Schilling were the only two pitchers to shutout the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays.

The Jays, if they had a weakness, it was against left-handers that season. There record was below .500 (22-25). So the The Baltimore Orioles must have suspected the Jays would struggle against lefties. They got Fernando in the off-season.

Having lost a tough 3-2 decision vs. the Jays on May 7th of that season, Fernando had it even more the next time he faced Toronto.

His record was only 2-7, but he was a lefty. So it was troubled times ahead for the Jays. June 30th, 1993 was a tough night for the Jays and their fans. But almost 3 years earlier, both starting pitchers on this night were involved in something amazing. I'll get to that later.

In the May 7th start, the Jays could only get 6 hits of Valenzuela in 8 innings. They would get only 6 more in 9 innings on this day. With that screwball of his really breaking, the Jays had trouble.

The O's got a run in the bottom of the first off Toronto starter, Dave Stewart. It was actually one of Stew's old teammates, Harold Baines, who drove in the first run.

Stew settled down for a time after that. But the Jays were screwed with that 1 run against.

Amazingly enough, the Jays got half of their hits in the top of the 2nd, as three straight singles loaded the bases. But Darnell Coles popped out and Pat Borders hit into a double play. The Jays had just squandered their best chance to win the game.

I remember being frustrated on this night. Even as a 13-year old, I knew how good Valenzuela was. I had read about the 1981 World Series.

But I was amazed. Having not played in the majors in 1992 (Fernando was in Mexico) and having a record of 44-57 since 1986, I thought he was past it.

Well, not tonight. But this was a special night. Stewart and Valenzuela were joined at the hip, to tell you the truth.

Teammates they were, on the 1981 Dodgers. And then on opposite sides in the 1988 World Series. Fernando was left off the postseason roster that year as his arm hadn't been up to the task.

Then there was June 29th, 1990. Stewart, up against the Jays, tossed a shutout. It was a no-hitter. Later that same day, it was Valenzuela who went out and got one of his own.

Stewart was keeping up with his old pal tonight. But Harold Baines scored two more with a double in the bottom of the 5th. Stewart was out of there after this inning. Woody Williams came in and the Orioles scored 3 more in the bottom of the 7th.

The Jays didn't do much more the rest of the way. Valenzuela didn't walk a batter, and fanned only 2. But it just seemed like the Jays timing was off. That screwball does wonders, eh?

So in any event, the Jays later made it to the World Series. And up 3-1 against the Phillies, I honestly thought they were going to wrap it up in game 5. Right there in Philly.

If they had done that, no Carter walk-off.

In game 4, the Jays had scored 15 runs. But the next game, it was nothing but 0's.

Schilling just seemed to have it on this day. And so did his defence, turning 3 double plays. The Phillies had no intentions of losing the Series at home. And Toronto starter Juan Guzman wasn't exactly that bad on this night for the Jays.

A walk to Lenny Dykstra to lead off the game meant trouble for the Jays. A steal, with the throw going into centerfield, and the Phillies were that close to the only run they would need.

A John Kruk ground out scored that run. The Phillies added another on 2 doubles in the bottom of the second. The Phillies put 2 more runners on and couldn't get them home. Could the Jays get anything back?

It didn't look too good. A Borders' single was quickly erased on a double play to start the third.

In the very next inning, Roberto Alomar singled with one out. As Carter struck out, Roberto was out trying for a steal of second.

 3 walks by Guzman in the 4th loaded the bases. Again, some real nice clutch pitching meant the Jays could still wrap this thing up.

Except Curt Schillin' was a thrillin' the Phillies fans tonight!

The Jays hit the ball well in the top of the 5th, but pretty much right at Philadelphia outfielders. Paul Molitor, playing third base for the second straight game, reached on an error. But Paul was stranded.

Guzman, suddenly full of confidence, had a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the frame. That's what I liked about Juan: give him a few innings to struggle, and as long as Toronto are within four runs, the Jays come back and win!

Guzman, having to bat, fanned in the top of the 6th. But then, Schilling lost it! Well, only momentarily.

Ricky Henderson walked, as did White. Robbie up! But Robbie hit into a double play!

Another 1-2-3 inning by Guzman and you had to think the Phillies had blown their chance to win in the 3rd and 4th.

Molitor singled in the 7th, but the Jays got nothing else.

Schilling was showing his versatility on this night, which has to impress anyone. Even this Jays' fan here.

In the third, he laid down a bunt to make it second and third with two outs. But Guzman walked Dykstra intentionally and K'd Duncan. In this half of the Philly inning, Schilling led things off with a single. Guzman K'd Dykstra and got Duncan to hit into a double play. Hey, what goes around...

The Jays actually looked like they were going to win this thing in the top of the eighth. Borders led off with a single. Rob Butler, the Canadian, pinch hit.

The Butler did it! He singled to right. 1st and 3rd and no outs!

Henderson hit a grounded that deflected off Schilling's glove. Willie Canate (pinch running for Borders) tried for home. Caught in a rundown, Willie was out. 1st and 2nd and 1 out.

Schilling then K'd White and got Alomar to ground out. It can be a cruel game sometimes.

Danny Cox, in to pitch for Guzman, walked the first two batters in the bottom of the 8th. Oh man. The Jays looked like they were going to win it in the top of the inning, and now...

Philly with a chance to blow this thing wide open. Cox threw Darren Daulton a pitch that seemed to touch the plate it was so low. Daulton swung at it and missed for strike 3.

Cox threw Jim Eisenreich a pitch that seemed to touch the plate it was so low. Eisenreich swung at it and missed for strike 3.

Cox threw Milt Thompson a pitch that seemed to touch the plate it was so low. Thompson...swung at it...and missed for strike 3.

Wow! Now that's how you do it, eh?

But Schilling got Joe Carter to pop out to open the 9th. John Olerud grounded out. Paul Molitor ended the game by flying out to Dykstra in center.

The Jays had been shutout for just the second time all year. To date, it's the only time they have ever been shutout in the World Series. It was also the last World Series game Toronto has lost as of this writing (2013).

Friday, December 20, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Mariano Rivera did not get any saves in his first World Series.

The Yankees won the Series. And there were 4 save situations.

That's because Mariano was not the closer. John Wetteland was.

All Wetteland did in the 1996 World Series was record 4 saves to set a single World Series record!

Wetteland was one of the best relief pitchers of ever at this point. In 1993, John had one of the best relief seasons of all time. How would our boy fit into the picture? Or onto the pitcher's mound?

Rivera came aboard in 1995 with the Yankees and didn't do much as a spot starter. He did post a 5-3 record, but his ERA was high (5.51). 1996 saw Rivera go to the setup role. And boy, did he come through!

Mariano Rivera went 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA. He posted 26 holds. He only saved 5 of 8 games. Yep, he actually blew 3 saves. But his 26 holds led the American League. Rivera was also third in the Cy Young race.

He also finished 10th in the AL in WAR among pitchers. A 5.0 is quite prestigious. As to, is his 5.4 WPA (Win Probability Added). Only the Angels' Troy Percival had a higher WPA.

So in the World Series, of that season it was a rematch of the 1957 and '58 matchup: Braves and Yankees!

Rivera made it into game 2, but it was too late to make any difference. The Yankees were behind 4-0 in the top of the 9th. But, just to show you what he had to offer, it was a nice 1-2-3 inning. However, the Yankees lost and were down 2-0 in the Series.

It was off to Atlanta for game 3, where the Yankees lead 2-1 in the top of the 7th. It may seem a little early in hindsight, but it was Super Mario time!

He had his second hitless inning, despite issuing a walk. And the Yankees took the cue and added 3 more runs in the top of the 8th. Hey, now it's not a save situation for anyone else other than you-know-who! That is, the pitcher on the mound!

But a leadoff triple and then a single by pesky Mark Lemke scored a run for the Braves in the bottom of the frame. With this new threat, the Yankees pulled Rivera. But Mariano had picked up his first World Series hold. New York also ended up winning the game.

Rivera came into game 4, with the score tied 6-6 in the bottom of the 8th. Andruw Jones greeted him with a single. A bunt moved him to second. But Rivera was up to the task by fanning Luis Polonia. Eddie Perez bounced it back to Mariano. Whew!

New York failed to score in the top of the 9th. Winning run is always, at the very least, at the dish in the bottom of this inning. Rivera got Marquis Grissom out. Then, it was Lemke who again singled. Winning run on first. A walk to Chipper Jones moved the winning run to second. Rivera was pulled.

The Yankees managed to pull it out to square the Series. This ensured game 6 back at Yankee Stadium.

Andy Pettitte and John Smoltz hooked up in a real gem of a pitchers' duel. The Series' lead was on the line and Pettitte prevailed 1-0 as Wetteland got the save.

Rivera got to the hill in the top of the 7th inning of game 6. New York had a 3-1 lead. After walking leadoff hitter Terry Pendleton, Rivera got out of there without any damage.

In the top of the 8th, Mariano got through Chipper Jones, Fred McGriff and Javy Lopez, 1-2-3. Wetteland gave up a run in the 9th, but the Yankees won the game and the Series. Wetteland had his 4th (and last) save and Rivera had his 2nd (and last) World Series hold.

Rivera and the Yankees were back in 1998.

But this time, it was closer Rivera!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Okay, that was a painful one yesterday.

But now, for the good. Actually, great. The great St. Louis Cardinals!

The Cardinals have won the most World Series of any National League team.

There first one came against the Amercian League team that has one the most Fall Classic triumphs, The Yankees.

Ever seen Babe Ruth thrown out trying to steal a base? That's how the 1926 World Series between the Yankees and Cardinals ended. Very odd, indeed.

The Yankees got their revenge two years later, while the Cards stopped the Athletics from another Fall Classic win in 1931.

Dizzy Dean, Pepper Martin et all, won it in 1934. But they sure incurred the wrath of the Tigers in game 7. The Cardinals won it, in any event, 11-0.

Then, with Stan Musial in his first full season in 1942, the Cardinals again beat the Yankees.

1944 had to be the sweetest! It was an all St. Louis World Series between the Cardinals and Browns.

2 years later, the Cardinals handed the Red Sox their first ever World Series defeat.

In 1964, St. Louis had to overcome another great Yankee team. The Cardinals prevailed, 7-5 in game 7. Lou Brock and Bob Gibson were just beginning their magic.

In 1967, the Red Sox pushed it to the limit before Gibson won game 7.

In 1982, the Cards had to win game 6 and 7 to snatch it away from the Milwaukee Brewers. Ozzie Smith got his first and only ring right there!

In 2006, it was a rematch of the 1934 and 1968 World Series. Detroit Tigers. But unlike '34 and '68, St. Louis made sure it didn't go 7. It was only 5 games. Tony La Russa, who in 1988 got his first ring with the A's, got his second here.

La Russa made it 3 with a win in 2011. It sure wasn't easy as the Cardinals were one strike away from losing the World Series in game 6 (Like the Mets in 1986). But St. Louis won that game and game 7 to make it 11 World Series wins for the Cards.

Okay, the latest World Series (this year, 2013) didn't turn out well. But with 11 World Championships and 19 pennants overall, it's a safe bet to say:

 It will be all in the Cards in a few years!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

The St. Louis Cardinals have twice blown a 3-1 lead in the Fall Classic.

Being a Cardinals fan, this one hurts. Oh, wait, they also have the most...

Sorry, but that's for another "Did You Know?"

In 1968, with Bob Gibson posting a 1.12 ERA, the Cardinals charged into the World Series for the third time in the decade. And they were looking to make it 3 for 3 in capturing it all.

Certainly, it looked that way with Gibby's performance in game 1. Gibby K'd 17 Tigers. A dominating performance by Gibson in game 4 put the Cards up 3-1 in the Series.

It looked over in game 5, as St. Louis took an early 3-0 lead. The Tigers came back to win the game. Then a fine performance by Denny McLain in game 6 pushed the Series to the limit.

In game 7, Gibson and Mickey Lolich (winner of his 2 starts as well) looked for the knock-out blow. The Cardinals had their chances, but couldn't convert them.

In the bottom of the 1st with 2 outs, St. Louis had runners on 1st and 2nd. Lolich escaped.

But the Cards big chance came in the bottom of the 6th. Lou Brock and Curt Flood singled. But if you can believe it, they were then promptly picked off by Mickey!

Detroit scored 3 times in the top of the 7th, the big blow being Jim Northrup's triple that scored 2 runs. The Tigers would add another in the top of the 9th.

Mike Shannon hit a solo blast for the Cardinals in the bottom of the 9th, but that was it.

In the 1985 World Series, St. Louis grabbed 3 of the first 4 games against Kansas City.

Game 5 was at home, but the Cardinals couldn't get it done.

Game 6, though. Ouch!

St. Louis grabbed a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 9th, thanks to the pitching of two future Toronto Blue Jays. Yes, indeed, Danny Cox and Ken Dayley got the Cards to within 3 outs of the World Series.

Jorge Orta hit a roller that closer Todd Worrell was a little slow in getting to first on. In any event, he took the toss and covered first. And he beat Orta to the bag. Fate intervened.

Orta was called safe. The next batter, Steve Balboni, popped it up in foul territory, but somehow the ball eluded everyone on the Cards. Given another life, Balboni singled.

Jimmy Sundberg then made what looked like a critical error for the Royals. Trying to bunt, all he did was force Orta at third.

Now, St. Louis was within 2 outs of a World Series. A ground ball could get them both outs!

But a passed ball by Darrell Porter moved both runners up. Hal McRae was walked intentionally to load 'em up. But, once again, a ground ball ends the season for the Royals.

Dan Iorg batted for pitcher Dan Quisenberry. Yep, another Blue Jays connection. Dan was Garth's older brother. Unlike the Jay, Dan batted left-handed.

Lashing a single to right, the tying and winning runs scored for the Royals!

And in game 7, the Cards came undone at the seams. Kansas scored 2 runs in the 2nd, and then 3 in the 3rd. If you can believe it, the Royals added 6 runs in the 5th. 11-0, was the final score.

Another 3-1 lead let slip away!

Monday, December 16, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

The Red Sox have won every World Series played in the century's second decade.

Oh wait, I should have said, "Every World Series they have played in, in the second decade of the last two centuries." So from 1910 to 1919 and then from 2010 to 2013. So far, I should add.

In the first year of Fenway Park (1912), the Red Sox faced the New York Giants in the World Series. The Series went the limit, before Boston pulled it out. Smokey Joe Wood was 3-1 in the Series. Tris Speaker hit .300 and Harry Hooper hit .290. Wood also contributed with his bat, hitting .286.

Oh, where is Babe Ruth you ask? Stay with me!

Ruth was 18-8 as a rookie in 1915, but the Red Sox didn't need him in the Series. Turns out they didn't need Wood either (15-5, 1.49 ERA despite an ailing arm). No, instead Boston used Rube Foster, Ernie Shore and Dutch Leonard to win the Series. It was a  4-1 triumph over the Phillies. The Red Sox 3 pitchers combined for an ERA of 1.84 in the Series.

Back was Boston the next year against Brooklyn. They were still the Brooklyn Robins at this point. But this time, Ruth was involved, I tell you.

In game 2, he gave up a first inning run. Then, Babe settled down and put 13 0's on the scoreboard as the Red Sox won in 14 innings. In the bottom of the third, Ruth got his first World Series RBI.

The Red Sox went on to win in 5 games again, but wasn't easy.

In game 1 of the 1918 World Series, Ruth extended his shutout streak to 22 1/3 innings with a masterful 9-inning shutout of the Chicago Cubs.

In game 4, it was 7 more 0's from Ruth for a World Series shutout streak of 29 2/3 innings. Ruth them surrendered 2 runs in the top of the 8th. That knoted the score at 2. The Red Sox scored 1 in the bottom of the frame for the win. Babe Ruth was now 3-0 all-time in the World Series.

Ruth showed some muscle with his bat as he hit a triple to right-center to drive in the first run of the game. Sadly, Ruth didn't get to pitch again. But he did come in as a defensive replacement in the top of the 8th of game 6. Odd was that Babe was inserted with 2 outs in the inning.

The Sultan Of Swat did not get to bat in this game, as the Red Sox were retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 8th.

But with one out in the top of the 9th, and the Sox just 2 outs away from their 4th World Series of the decade, Charlie Hollocher sent a fly to Ruth in left. The Babe made the catch. 2 out.

When Les Mann grounded out to Dave Shean at second, the Red Sox were World Series Champions, again. A long wait followed, of course. But this current 2013 World Series win ensures the Red Sox of a perfect Fall Classic record in the 1910s and 2010s through this year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

The Yankees failed to reach the World Series only twice in the 1950s.

And both years, Early Wynn was on the team that did make the World Series!

The Yankees missed in 1954 because the Cleveland Indians won 111 games. 5 years later, a team full of speedsters made it.

Both teams also had the American League leader in Wins. Fitting since that was his last name with an "S" on the end. At least, that's how you pronounce it.

It was an early win usually when Early Wynn was on the mound!

On his way to a career total of exactly 300 wins, Early led the AL in that category twice in the 1950s.

And it was 1954 and 1959.

So his AL leading 23 wins in 1954 actually only tied Bob Lemon, but it was enough to stop the Yankees from making it 6 straight trips to the Fall Classic.

So what happened to Wynn and the Indians in '54?

Lemon started game 1 against Sal Maglie and the Giants (Still in New York at this point), and took an early 2-0 lead. Back came the Giants to tie.

Then, Willie Mays made The Catch. Then, Dusty Rhodes hit a dramatic 3-run-pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the 10th!

In game 2, our boy Wynn started and pitched real well. New York got 4 hits off him. The Indians got 8 for the second straight game. And they still lost.

They lost because of Dusty Rhodes and Johnny Antonelli.

Antonelli, taking the hill for the Giants, gave up a leadoff home run to Al Smith (who would also play for the White Sox of '59) of the Indians. But it was nothing but "0" on the scoreboard for Cleveland the rest of the way.

Wynn, outside of Rhodes, gave up just 2 hits.

Rhodes, again pinch-hitting, ruined the Indians again.

His 2-run, pinch-hit single in the bottom of the 5th scored Mays to tie the game. The Giants then took the lead on Antonelli's groundout.

In the 8th, it was Rhodes hitting a solo home run to make it 3-1 Giants. That was the final score.

New York went on to a sweep. So I guess Wynn and the Indians couldn't stop the other New York team from winning in 1954. Actually, still another New York team, the Dodgers, won the next year. So even if the Yankees didn't make it to the World Series, New York pretty much owned it. If the Yankees made it to the World Series in 1955, and lost to Brooklyn, New York pretty much owned the World Series. You get the idea.

Milwaukee took that away in 1957, and then Brooklyn and the Giants moved for the 1958 season.

Wynn was in Chicago (AL) for the 1959 season. He made sure the Yankees didn't make it to the World Series.

Actually, his old team, Cleveland finished 2nd for good measure.

So, Wynn was up against the Dodgers. The Los Angeles Dodgers, that is.

Wynn led the AL with 22 victories for Comeback Player Of The Year. He was 39 years old. But Wynn was pitching like he was in his early 30s!

Wynn would get the call in game 1. Would Early's team win a game this time? Would Wynn win a game this time?

Everyone found out soon enough!

Wynn took the hill in game 1 and tossed 7 shutout innings. Gerry Staley came in and pitched 2 more for the combined shutout. Chicago scored 11 runs. Wynn drove in 1 of them for good measure.

Wynn also started game 4, and was trampled by Los Angeles in the 3rd inning. 4 runs scored against him. Chicago rallied later to tie the game, but ended up losing anyways.

And Early also started game 6. He was knocked out again after just 3 1/3 inning. The White Sox lost the game and the Series. Early never pitched again in the Fall Classic, as the 1960s dawned, the Yankees made it a point to make it back to the World Series. They did the first five years, 1960-1964. Wynn retired by then with exactly 300 wins.


References


Enders, Eric. 100 years of the World Series. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005. Print.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print, pp. 282-391.

Nemec, David et all. 20th Century Baseball Chronicle: A Year-by-year History of Major League Baseball. Collector's Edition. Lincolnwood, Ill: Publications International, 1993. Print, pp. 260-399.

Snyder, John S. World Series! Great Moments and Dubious Achievements. San Francisco: Chronicle, 1995. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. Dec 14. 2013.

Monday, December 9, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Jim Palmer pitched in every Fall Classic the Baltimore Orioles have ever played in.

Well, at least until the O's make it back. But that will be 2014 or beyond.

Palmer happens to be one of this blogger's favs on the mound. And while he pitched 4 years past my birth, I never got a chance to see him pitch live.

In any event, a rather sad goodbye overshadowed his first World Series win.

Only 20 years old, he took the hill in game 2 of the 1966 World Series. The Dodgers' hadn't faced Palmer before, but Jim made sure they'd never forget. Jim tossed a fine game: 4 hits and 3 walks over 9 innings a no runs allowed!

The O's won 6-0. But that isn't what I remember. It was the last game Sandy Koufax pitched. The O's went on to win the Series in 4 straight.

In 1969, it was the Mets turn to face Baltimore. Palmer started game 3 and didn't pitch too badly. But New York took advantage of his wildness. Palmer walked 4 batters in only 6 innings. That, plus 5 hits were enough for 4 earned runs and a 5-0 Met win. Palmer never got another start. New York won it, 4 games to 1.

So the next year it was Baltimore's turn to win again. And reverse 1969 by winning it in 5. The Balimore Orioles wouldn't have won the 1970 World Series without Palmer.

In game 1, Big Jim (Palmer was 6' 3") gave up 5 hits and 5 walks in 8 2/3 innings. The Cincinnati Reds scored 3 times off him. But a fine play by Brooks Robinson in the 8th (stopping a Lee May hard hit ball down the line) sealed the Reds fate. Palmer ended up winning 4-3.

After 6 innings in game 4, which was Palmer's second start, the O's were up 5-3. Brooks Robinson took a ground ball and stepped on third to force out Bernie Carbo. This happened in the top of the third to retire the side. Brooksie didn't make a putout, an assist or an error other than that. But at the plate, Robinson went 4-4 with a home run, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. The Reds actually rallied on a 3-run home run by Lee May in the top of the 7th to win. Palmer was out of the game by then. Baltimore lost this game but took game 5, 9-3, to wrap up the Series.

It was the Pirates' turn in 1971 and '79 to face Palmer.

Jimmy won game 2, 11-3. He went 8 innings, walked 8 but K'd 10. The Orioles were up 2-0 in the Series. But they proceeded to lose 3 straight.

Back in Baltimore for game 6, Palmer kept his team's hope alive by going 9, giving up just 2 earned runs and fanning 5. The O's were tied at this point. They won it in extras, but Palmer didn't get a decision. The Pirates took game 7, alas.

8 years later, same 2 teams.

Palmer left after 7 with the score tied at 2, in game 2. The O's lost the game and the Series was now tied.

When the Orioles won the next 2 games, it looked all but over. The great Baltimore offence was about to die in the last two games.

Getting just one run in game 6, the O's lost.

Palmer looked like he was ready to bring Baltimore it's third World Series title in game 6, however.

Nothing but zeros from Jim and Pirate John Candelaria through 6. Baltimore, with it's home field advantage, looked primed for a breakthrough, though.

Instead, it was the Pirates that scored twice in the top of the 7th. Candelaria was gone for a pinch hitter, but the O's could do nothing with Ken Tekulve, who came in a blanked Baltimore for the last 3 innings. Palmer was nailed for 2 more runs in the top of the 8th. The O's got 1 hit off Tekulve. It was down to the wire.

The O's seemed to have it figured out as they led the finale, 1-0. But then Willie Stargell smacked a towering 2-run blast in the top of the 6th.

The Orioles loaded 'em up in the bottom of the 8th, but Tekulve was too good again. 2 more runs by the Bucks and a 1-2-3 9th by Teke finished Baltimore off for good.

Palmer struggled in '83, going just 5-4 with an ERA of 4.23. He was 37 years old, but clearly past it.

His great manager, Earl Weaver, was gone. His replacement, Joe Altobelli, kept Palmer on the postseason roster. It was time for one last moment in the sun.

The other team from Pennsylvania, Philadelphia were making a crack at their second World Series win of the 80s. A win in game 1 got the Philadelphia Phillies off to the right star. Baltimore took game 2.

In game 3, Mike Flanagan was knocked out early by the Phillies. The O's seemed down and out. 2-0, Philly. Palmer picked Flanny up for the next 2 innings. The Orioles scored 3 runs and held on to win. Palmer had pitched his last World Series game, and gone out with a victory. The O's then won the next two games.

Palmer won his first World Series start, and now his last. Plus his teams had won the last four games of his first and last World Series. Neither his first or last World Series team was managed by Earl Weaver.

But those are just a few footnotes to this remarkable World Series performer.


References


Enders, Eric. 100 years of the World Series. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005. Print.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Nemec, David et all. 20th Century Baseball Chronicle: A Year-by-year History of Major League Baseball. Collector's Edition. Lincolnwood, Ill: Publications International, 1993. Print.

Snyder, John S. World Series! Great Moments and Dubious Achievements. San Francisco: Chronicle, 1995. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. Dec 12. 2013.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Dennis Eckersley had quite a wait before his first Fall Classic save. Something completely unforeseen prevented him from racking up one up for so long!

Having come to the A's in 1987, they changed him from a starter to a closer. Before that, he watched many an October come and go. He was on the 1978 Boston Red Sox, who might have gone all the way but lost to New York in a one-game playoff.

He made two early starts and also pitched some long relief that season. But the A's had an idea: convert him to a 1-inning closer and Dennis will dominate.

He sure did. That year opponents batted just .215 against him from innings 7 to 9. Then, in the 9th inning, opponents batted .192! The A's had it made for him.

Eck saved 16 games that year. But how about 1988?

Eckersley topped the AL in saves with 45 and he permitted just 11 walks in 72 2/3 innings. But it only seemed to get better in the postseason.

The A's beat the Red Sox in 4 straight, but it was a close 4. Indeed, Oakland needed Eckerlsey to slam the door.

All he did was get 4 saves.

So it was on to the World Series, but as we all know, Kirk Gibson ruined Dennis' attempt for a save in game 1. Too bad, as it would have been 5 saves in 5 postseason games. But this was one Los Angeles Dodgers team that had a flair for the dramatic. Poor Dennis was just one strike away, and then Gibby took it all away.

Orel Hershesier completely dominated Oakland in game 2, and the A's struggled to get their high-octang offence going in game 3. Tied going into the bottom of the nine, Dennis' chances for a save disappeared. Eck never got into the game. Mark McGwire's dramatic home run (but it proved to be his only hit of the Series) got the Athletics right back into the Fall Classic.

It also appeared this hom erun would lift the A's spirits like Gibson's did to the Dodgers'. They played a spirited 4th game, which is always a crucial game in the Series. The Series was a home-team-wins-every-game so far, but that changed.

The A's had been out-hit in evey game, including 10-3 in game 2 and even 8-5 in game 3. Game 1, if it matters, had 7 hits a side.

Oakland got 9 hits in this game. Los Angeles got 8. But guess who won?

The Dodgers scored 3 runs early off Oakland starter Dave Stewart, but the man with The Stare settled down and Oakland scored twice to pull within a run. The Dodgers' magic was fading.

But in the 7th, LA scored again. All it took was a walk, a single and a groundout. But it was enough.

A Dave Henderson double in the bottom of the frame got the A's right back to within a run. A walk and an error got McGwire back up. One swing here, and it's 6-4 Oakland. Then in comes Eckersley, and this Series is tied!

But, alas, it was not to be.

Jay Howell, who gave up the longball to Mark the previous game, got him to pop out this time.

The Atheltics got a runner on in the 8th but failed to score. Eckersley did pitch the 9th.

A fine job he did, as he stranded the only hit he allowed. Plus, he fanned Steve Sax.

Oakland put the tying run on first with just 1 out in the 9th, but Howell again settled down. Canseco fanned and Dave Parker popped out.

Hershiser finished off Oakland in game 5. Dennis would have to wait another year.

In 1989, Oakland won the West again. Eckersley had 33 saves and walked 3 batters in 57 2/3 innings.

Oh, and my Jays felt his full wraith in the ALCS. All Dennis did was save 3 games and post an ERA of 1.59.

Now comes the problem. The World Series opponents this year were not the Dodgers, but another team out in the West. Not far for Oakland to go. Justa across the Bay Bridge. But crossing the bridge would soon be difficult.

The San Franciso Giant were playing in their first World Series since 1962. They were sort of in over their heads, as you will soon see.

Stewart got the ball rolling on a shutout in game 1. Oakland took game 2, 5-1. Eckersley got the final 2 outs, but no save. Oakland was up 4 runs by the end of the 4th inning. Eckerlsey would have needed to come in and get the last 9 batters out to get the save.

Game 3 saw the Bay Bridge and the whole area rattled by The Quake. That was October 17, 1989. And it happened just before game 3, so the game was not played at all.

So 10 days later (it must have felt like an eternity for most baseball fans) game 3 got going. The A's were up 13-3 going into the 9th. A sort-of rally saw the Giants score 4 times. But Eck never made it in.

Oakland was up 3-0 in the Series, and in danger of a sweep. However, could Eckersley would go 2 straight World Series without a save? What a baseball world we live in!

Oakland kept strafing the Giants pitching in game 4. By the bottom of the 6th, it was 8-0 Oakland.

But San Francisco did not go away quietly.

A Kevin Mitchell 2-run home run broke the shutout bid of Oakland starter Mike Moore. Then 4 more runs the very next inning cut the lead to 8-6. Never say die.

The A's got a much-needed insurance run in the top of the 8th on a Terry Steinbach walk with the bases loaded.

Todd Burns, now pitching for Oakland, retired the Giants 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame. Steve Bedrosian did the same to Oakland in the top of the 9th. The A's were three outs away from a World Series sweep!

Oh, yeah! And it's a save situation!

So Eckersley was in to get the save!

He wasted no time, as 2 pitches later there were two outs. Bret Butler would be the last Giant batter of the game.

On Eckersley's second pitch, he hit a roller to second. Mark McGwire, the first basemen, was out of position to cover first.Dennis himself covered first for the final out.

Dennis must have been happy to get that stigma off his back. But he knew this Series was not going to be remembered for its one-lopsidedness, or his first Fall Classic save. It would be about only the quake.

Nothing more need be said.


References


Enders, Eric. 100 years of the World Series. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 2005. Print.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Nemec, David et all. 20th Century Baseball Chronicle: A Year-by-year History of Major League Baseball. Collector's Edition. Lincolnwood, Ill: Publications International, 1993. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. Dec 8, 2013.

Friday, December 6, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

John Wetteland set a World Series record in 1996 for most saves in a single World Series.

Well, he had one of the best single seasons of relief pitching in 1993, and continued on to be a true stopper for the rest of the decade.

1993 was in Montreal (43 saves), 1996 was in the Bronx (again, 43 saves). The Yankees hadn't won a World Series in 16 years. The Atlanta Braves were coming off a World Series win in 1995 and looking for back-to-back.

And it didn't look like 1996 was going to be this year for the Bronx Bombers. Atlanta took the first two games (right there at Yankees Stadium), despite a good 1-2-3, 1-inning relief stint from Wetteland in game 1.

Game 3 was in Atlanta. The Yankees extended a 2-1 lead to 5-1 in the top of the 8th.

But setup man Mariano Rivera faltered in the bottom of the frame, and the Braves got one back. Wetteland was needed in the 9th.

Javy Lopez reached on an error to lead things off. Wetteland, who had fanned 2 Braves in the 9th inning of game 1, settled down. He fanned two more here and the Yankees were right back in the Series.

And another fine performance by John tied the Series.

The Yankees themselves came back from 6 runs down to tie the score in game 4. In the 10th, 2 more runs set up a save situation for Wet.

He came in with one out, only to allow a single by Andruw Jones. But the next two men were retired. Save #2 for J.W.

Game 5 was a pitching duel for all time. Andy Pettitte for the Yanks and John Smoltz for the Braves.

The Yankees scored 1 run in the fourth off Smoltz. It was enough.

A double by Chipper Jones and a Fred McGriff groundout brought the tying run 90 feet away with just one out. Wetteland was needed, again!

Lopez grounded out to third, and things seemed easier.

But then Ryan Klesko was brought in to pinch-hit. Wetteland walked him intentionally.

Runners on the corner, two outs and Luis Polonia up at the dish. Polonia fouled off 2 pitches, then 4 more. On the 7th pitch of the at bat, Luis flied out to Paul O'Neil in deep right. It was a well hit ball.

But the Yankees had the win and New York was up, 3-2. And Wetteland had his third save of the Series. That tied him with a pair of Pirates, Ken Tekulve and Elroy Face.

Have I heard about those guys before? In any event, it was off to Atlanta for game 6. And game 7 if necessary.

The Yankees took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the 9th. Here comes that man again!

And he retired the leadoff batter. Two more outs.

But actually, the next two men singled.

Polonia was up again, but Wetteland fanned him. However, a single by Marquis Grissom scored a run. The tying run was now a single away from scoring. Mark Lemke, a contact (rather than power) hitter, was at the plate.

Right guy to do the job.

But isn't Wetteland the right guy to close it out?

Lemke popped up to third. The Yankees had come back to beat the Braves.

But lost in all that was John Wetteland's 4th save. Actually, this was Wetty's 4th save in the last 4 games. Both of those have never been accomplished before or since in a World Series.

As for what happened to John? Well, this was his last game as a Yankee.

The ended up going to the setup man of 1996. Remember him?

I do.

Rivera!


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. Dec 6, 2013.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

In the first 14 innings of the 1963 World Series, the Yankees had 16 K's.

All that was overshadowed by one Dodger getting 15 strikeouts in the first game alone!

But the Yankees had no shortage of pitching in 1963. And there were a few guys who could get three pitches by you in the strike zone. In one plate appearance!

Whitey Ford, despite the loss, managed to fan 2 batters in the first inning of game 1. And he didn't stop there.

Ford really only had one bad inning. But it was in the second and the Dodgers scored 4 times. Ford fanned speedster Maury Wills to end the threat. But the Dodgers had more than enough runs.

And Sandy Koufax had K'd the side in the first and two more in the second. Really hard to keep pace, isn't it?

The Dodgers scored another run off Ford in the top of the 3rd. But it was the last run LA would score. They needed 3 hits to get it. However, Los Angeles would get only 2 more hits the rest of the game. This after getting 7 hits in the first 2 2/3 innings.

Whitey failed to get a K in that inning, but got Los Angeles 1-2-3 in the 4th. He fanned Johnny Roseboro for good measure.

Koufax was unfazed as he got 1 K in the bottom of the 3rd and 3 more in the bottom of the 4th. That's 9 strikeouts in 4 innings for Koufax.

Ford no more K's but managed to get out of a tight 5th as the Dodgers left the bases loaded. This was it for Ford as Hector Lopez batted for him in the bottom of the frame. The Yankees managed to get 3 hits off Koufax, but failed to score.

Stan Williams failed to K a batter in the top of the 6th, but Koufax (who walked 2 batters in the bottom of the 6th) also failed to get any in his half. But with 2 more the previous inning, he was more than past double digits. 11.

In the 7th, Williams' K'd the side. New York was closing in on Sandy. They now had 7 as a team.

Koufax must have been like, "Oh, really?" He fanned Elston Howard to make it 12 in the bottom of the 7th.

Stan fanned two more in the top of the 8th. Now the Bronx Bombers were going to average a K an inning no matter what!

Koufax made it 14 himself with 2 strikeouts in the bottom of the frame. But the Yankees got two runs on Tommy Tresh's 2-run home run. It was 5-2, LA. Koufax also walked his third (and final) batter of the 8th. Sandy was now up to 14 strikeouts, tying a World Series record. That record was set, by the way, exactly 10 years earlier. It was by Carl Erskine in game 3 of the 1953 World Series. Erksine pitched for the Dodgers at the time. But the Dodgers were in Brooklyn at the time. The Yankees were their opponents in that World Series and every World Series, so it seemed. All the time! The game was played on October 2nd. This game was also being played on October 2nd. #yankees #dodgers #coincidence #everyyear

Oh wait, this isn't Twitter. This is Blogger! Where was I?

Phil Linz had batted for Williams in the bottom of the 8th and fanned. Ex-basketball player Steve Hamilton (all 6'6 of him) was on the hill for new York in the top of the 9th.

And he fanned Koufax himself for K #10 for the Yankees. Hey, they finished the game only 4 strikeouts less than Koufax. Unless...

Well, Koufax fanned Harry Bright (batting for Hamilton) to end the game. K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-K-Koufax!

In game 2, it was lefty vs. lefty.

Again!

Al Downing, who can K 'em, took the hill for the Yankees. Johnny Podres, who beat New York twice in the 1955 World Series (Brooklyn Dodgers' pitcher at the time!), took the hill.

The Dodgers scored twice off Downing in the first inning off three hits. But he fanned Moose Skowron to end it. No such luck for Podres in the bottom of the frame. But New York failed to score.

Downing made it look easy in the top of the 2nd as he regained his confidence. I mean, Al has got to be shaken after that rough greeting in the 1st. He allowed a single by...Podres, but K'd 2 more batters. 3 on the day so far, and 13 by the Yankees in 11 innings!

Podres gave up a hit and a walk in his half of the inning. But he fanned Clete Boyer and Downing.

In the top of the 3rd, Downing gave up a triple to Tommy Davis. Roger Maris hurt his arm and had to leave the game. He did not play again this Series. Davis would be stranded. Downing fanned 2 more (including the other Davis on a deadly curve) to give him 5.

That's just one less than Koufax had the day before at this point. The rookie (Downing was not considered one because he had pitched a bit in '61 and '62 for New York) has settled down!

But he was behind 2-0.

Podres failed to strike out anyone in the bottom of the 3rd, but retired the Yankees 1-2-3.

Skowron atoned for his earlier K against Downing by going yard on a solo job. The 4th inning dinger made it 3-0. Ouch. Downing also failed to fan a batter.

Podres, again had no strikeouts in his half of the inning. But the Dodger hurler (who would finish his post-season career with a 4-1 mark and an impressive ERA of 2.11), retired Mickey Mantle, Hector Lopez and Elston Howard (The Yankees had 4 MVPs in a row starting in 1960: Maris back-to-back, Mantle 1962, and Howard in 1963) in order.

Maury Wills' leadoff bunt single was quickly erased as the Yankees got a double play for the second straight inning. That hurts Downing's strikeout chances. In any event, he got Willie Davis again to fan. That is 6 for Downing and the Yankees today. 10 yesterday. We've only played 14 innings so far. At least the Yankees hurlers have.

Podres got two more himself in the 5th as he fanned Clete Boyer and Harry Bright (pinch-hitting for Downing). Podres had 4. The Dodgers were up to 18 themselves so far this Series.

Downing was through for the day. Podres went on to win. The Yankees didn't get another strikeout the rest of the game.

And while they lost the first two games, New York stayed close to the Dodgers in the strikeout department.


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. Dec 3, 2013.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

Don Drysdale did pitch in a World Series for the Dodgers…while they were still in Brooklyn!

As a rookie for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, Drysdale got into 25 games. He even got 12 starts.
He actually posted a pretty good ERA, although he was just a .500 pitcher that season (5-5). The Dodgers, nonetheless, put him on the postseason roster.

Drysdale waited 3 games. Then his first World Series moment came in game 4. It was not what Don was hoping for, however.

It was October 7th, 1956. Don Drysdale was 20 years old. And at this point, he wasn’t even the second meanest pitcher on the Dodgers. Gotta remember that Don Newcombe and Sal Maglie pitched this year. Gotta think Don took some serious lessons from each!

Drysdale would later state that Sal Maglie was, “an important influence. I learned more from Sal than from and other individual.”

Gee, I wonder what Sal taught Don? Anyone?

But by game 4 of the 1956 World Series, Maglie and Newcombe had already pitched games 1 and 2. No way were they coming in. The Yankees won game 2 over Roger Craig.

Game 4 was between the Yankees Tom Sturdivant to the hill against Carl Erskine. Erskine already had 2 no-hitters to his name. One of them was earlier that season against the Giants on May 12.

So that’s three no-hitters by the Dodgers staff coming into game 4. Sal Maglie pitched one on September 25th against the Phillies. There would be a no-hitter tossed in game 5 of this Series. Not by a Dodger pitcher. But we are only at game 4 at this point.

Erskine was gone after 4 innings, and the Yankees were up 3-1. Another run against Ed Roebuck (on a majestic solo blast by Mickey Mantle) and New York was poised for the kill of Brookyln.

Then, in the bottom of the 7th inning, came Don Drysdale out of the bullpen!

Gil McDougald grounded out to short. But then Andy Carey singled. Drysdale then K’d his mound opponent, Sturdivant. But Hank Bauer belted a 2-run home run to left. It was now 6-1 Yankees and the game was hopelessly lost. Drysdale then walked Joe Collins but retired Mantle on a grounder.

Drysdale then retired Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter and Billy Martin (1-2-3) on groundouts in the bottom 8th. So of the 6 outs Drysdale got, 5 were groundouts.

Not that it mattered. The Yankees won the game 6-2, took game 5 (on Don Larsen’s perfect game) then wrapped it up in 7 games. Drysdale did not get into a game this Series. He would not make his first World Series start until game  4 of the 1959 World Series.

But, at least Drysdale got into a game this Series. The Dodgers had another promising pitcher who was actually there in 1955 and ’56 as well. But he didn't pitch in either World Series.

His name was Sandy Koufax.