Tuesday, June 30, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Although Jim Kaat pitched in four games in the 1982 Fall Classic, he failed to get a decision. The ancient veteran, 43 years young in '82 (And weeks away from his 44th birthday) was working out of the pen that year for the St. Louis Cardinals (Save for two starts). Kaat didn't even see any action in the National League Championship Series.

So when Jimmy got to the mound in game one of the World Series vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, he had to wonder how much work he'd get. The Cards, you see, were trailing by a wide margin when Kaat came in.

Indeed, it was 6-0, Milwaukee by the top of the sixth inning in the opening tilt in St. Louis. Kaat got the last out of the inning. The next inning saw Milwaukee get a hit and a walk off him, but Kaat got out of there. It mattered little. St. Louis ended up losing the game 10-0.

Game two was better. Kaat came in earlier, and he was needed. Kaat came on in the top of the fifth. 3-2, Brewers, Robin Yount on second after hitting a double. But Cecil Cooper greeted Jim with a single to score him. 4-2. The next two batters were retired by Kaat, but his night was done. St. Louis rallied to win.

In game three in Milwaukee, the Cardinals really asserted themselves. They were leading 5-0 by the time Kaat came in. There was one on and one out in the bottom of the seventh. Jim got Ben Oglivie to fan, but then Gordon Thomas singled. Kaat's night was again done quickly. The Cardinals, however, won the game 6-2 to go up two games to one in the 1982 Fall Classic.

Kaat came in to douse the flames in game four, with the Cardinals leading 5-4. The Brewers had runners on the corners, and two out. But a single by Cooper off Kaat tied the game, and Jim had a blown save to his name. Ted Simmons batted next. On a 1-1 pitch, Kaat threw a wild pitch. The Cardinals replaced Kaat with Jeff Lehi, who ended up intentionally walking Simmons. St. Louis went on to win the game, but Kaat was not charged with the loss.

The Cards ended up winning two of the next three games, but Kaat did not pitch in any of them, He picked up his first World Series ring, however. 23 years after entering the bigs with the original Washington Senators. Long time coming!

Monday, June 29, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Rick Wise ended up the winning pitcher in a game many (myself included) have dubbed "The Greatest Game Ever Played". Well, at least at Fall Classic time. Game six of the 1975 World Series. Started with a flyball from Pete Rose to Carl Yastrzemski, ended with a majestic home run from Carlton Fisk. Right off the foul pole in left.

Wise did not start the game. The Boston Red Sox, down three games to two at home, had to beat the Cincinnati Reds in game six and seven in order to win it. They started Luis Tiant (winner of games one and four) this game. For four innings, he stopped the Reds. A three-run home run by Fred Lynn gave Boston a 3-0 lead.

But the Reds wanted to wrap it all up tonight. They tied it in the top of the fifth. Ken Griffey scored Ed Armbrister and Pete Rose. A long single off the Green Monster by Johnny Bench tied the game. Two innings later, the Reds pushed across two more runs on a George Foster double. A solo home run by Cesar Geronimo in the top of the eighth finished Tiant, and gave the Reds a 6-3 lead. Just eight more outs to go. The Reds managed two get two outs in the bottom of the frame. But a dramatic pinch-hit three-run home run by Bernie Carbo tied the game, and sent the faithful at Fenway into a frenzy!

Roger Moret had a scoreless inning for Boston. Dick Drago added three scoreless frames of his own. But really, what Drago got was a game-saving catch from Dwight Evans in right in the top of the eleventh. The Red Sox, avoided the bullet, but had to be mad at the fact they hadn't won it themselves in the bottom of the ninth. They had the bases loaded and nobody out for Lynn. Lynn flied out to Foster in left, who gunned out Denny Doyle at the plate, trying to score the winning run.

Rick Wise pitched the top of the eleventh, after Boston went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eleventh. He gave up a one-out single to Tony Perez, and then another single to Foster. However, the next two Cincy batters went down without either base runner advancing. So when Carlton Fisk came up in the bottom of the inning, and belted Pat Darcy's second pitch of the inning (He'd gotten six straight Red Sox out in the tenth and eleventh) off the left-field foul pole, Wise was the winning pitcher. The Red Sox and their fans were so ecstatic (and relieved), that probably no one was going to remember the winning pitcher, in relief.



The Reds recovered from this (And another 3-0 lead by Boston the next game) to win game seven. Wise did not pitch in it.



No doubt, it's all about Fisk when you talk about the 1975 World Series. And for very good reason. Wise had started game three in Cincinnati and gotten routed. He did not take the loss. He and the Reds had an interesting history. On June 23rd of 1971, he no-hit Cincy right there in Riverfront Stadium (Pete Rose was the final out of that game). And his bat did some damage, too. He smacked two home runs!



Then, facing Don Gullet of the Reds on July 3rd of the next season, he hit another home run. Clearly, there was something special for Rick Wise versus Cincy. And while it's Fisk with the walk-off, it's The Wise Guy with the relief win.


References

Cincinnati Reds 6, Boston Red Sox 5 (Retrosheet Boxscore:)

Cincinnati Reds 4, Boston Red Sox 3 (Retrosheet Boxscore:)
http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1975/B10220BOS1975.htm

Rick Wise Career Home Runs | Baseball-Reference.com (Baseball-Reference.com)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Basketball History On Youtube: Wilt's 100!

The game of the century.

Wilt Chamberlain, perhaps the most dominating pro athlete in the history of all sports, scored 100 points in one NBA game March 29, 1962. Kobe had 81 a few years back, but that's still not even close. The Philadelphia Warriors may have been playing a poor Knick team, but still...

Sadly, the game was not televised, so we have only the audio, but no matter. It's sort of like, "The Giants win the pennant," and "Oh, the band is out on the field!", for me. Wilt was truly a superman!

Things to look (hear) for:

Wilt scored 31 in the final quarter

Wilt made 27 of his first 28 free throws, then went into a slump and made only 1 of his last four. That's still good enough for an amazing 28/32! Quite an accomplishment for a poor free throw shooter!

Speaking of which, the Warriors shot 43 of 52 from the line, and only three players (Chamberlain, Guy Rogers and Joe Ruklick) actually missed free throws. The rest of the Philadelphia players went 5-5 from the line.

Al Attles has a perfect game: 8 for 8 from the field and 1 for 1 from the line. Another forgotten footnote from this game!

Wilt attempted 63 shots and made 36 of them. The Philadelphia Warriors actually made 63 of their shots from the field. They attempted 115.

Amazingly enough, the New York Knicks actually attempted more shots (118) then the Warriors did. But they made only 57.

Wilt had a better night at the line then Richie Guerin (13-17) and Willie Naulls (13-17) of the Kicks combined!

Wilt missed at his first two attempts at 100.

The Knicks score is given incorrectly no less then three times!

The attendance was just 4, 124!




References

http://www.nba.com/sixers/news/wilt_boxscore.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anDkZskmQVs

Saturday, June 27, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The Yankees won the 1962 Fall Classic, despite batting just .199 as a team. Their opponents, the San Francisco Giants, hit .226. It looked like in game one that it might be high-hitting series, but it was not to be.

Game one saw the Yankees win 6-2 in Candlestick Park, but barely out-hit the Giants 11-10. The game was closer then the score would indicate as the teams were tied at two going into the top of the seventh. A surprising home run by Clete Boyer broke the deadlock. Boyer knocked home another the next inning with a sac fly. But San Francisco seemed to have the edge in pitching after this.

Ralph Terry pitched a fine game for New York. However, he took a 2-0 loss. Jack Sanford stopped the Yankees cold on just three hits. Mickey Mantle hit a double in the top of the ninth, but he was stranded. It was on to New York in game three, where the Yankees seemed doomed for a while against Billy Pierce.

The Yankees scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the seventh off Billy Pierce, and it was enough for a win. Singles by Tom Tresh, Mantle and a an error brought Roger Maris to the plate in that inning with two runners in scoring position. Roger came through with a single to score two. Later, he scored the third an final run of that inning.

New York got nine hits, but only three runs in game four, and the Giants squared this thing at two games with a big 7-3 win. Maris and Mantle both scored a run, but were held hitless, as was Elston Howard. Worse still, an ex-teammate of Mantle's got the win, Don Larsen!

Game four was tied at two, like the World Series itself, going into the bottom of the eighth. But a dramatic, three-run home run by rookie Tommy Tresh paved the way for an eventual 5-3 win by the Yankees. But the Yankees woes at the dish continued as they were held to just six hits at home. And while they were up three games to two in the 1962 Fall Classic, they'd have to win it on the road.

New York lost game six in San Francisco, 5-2. Billy Pierce pitched even better this time. It seemed amazing that the Bronx Bombers got two runs in this game, as they collected just two hits. Their biggest was Maris' solo home run in the top of the fifth. But the Giants were ahead 3-0 at the time. Whitey Ford took the loss for the Yankees. Winner-take-all game seven!

That's where Ralph Terry pitched a gem for the Yankees. He'd lost game two, won game five, and pitched a shutout in game seven! But how about the Yankees? Well, they got only seven hits. And only one run. It proved to be enough, but the run scored on a double play. Willie Mays hit a double to put runners on second and third with two down in the bottom of the ninth. Willie McCovey lined to Bobby Richardson at second to end it. The Yankees didn't do much hitting, but they managed to pull it out!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Johnny Sain was the only member of the New York Yankees bullpen to surrender a run in the 1951 Fall Classic. Seems odd considering he was a better pitcher then Bobby Hogue, Bob Kuzava, Tom Morgan and Joe Ostrowski. But they held the New York Giants in check while Sain didn't. That's insane!

Hogue and Morgan picked up Allie Reynolds in a lost cause in game one at Yankee Stadium. Leo Durocher's team didn't need any miracles. They won it easily, 5-1. Dave Koslo went the distance for the Giants.

The Yankees lost Mickey Mantle for the rest of the Fall Classic, as he tripped over a sprinker in game two, but they won the game by the score of 3-1. Hank Bauer finished the game in Mantle's spot. Mickey scored the game's first run. How about the bullpen? The Yankees didn't need any as Ed Lopat went all the way to square up the World Series.

Game three was in the Polo Grounds, and the hometown team won. Like game one, it was a rout. The final score was 6-2 as the Giants got a great pitching performance from Jim Hearn. The Yankees' pitching was ineffective. At, least, that was until Hogue and Ostrowksi came in for mop up duty. The held the Giants scoreless for 3 2/3 innings. But it was too late.

So the Yankees needed game four. They ended up returning the favour to the Giants. They won a 6-2 game of their own here. Allie Reynolds got the better of Sal Maglie as Joe DiMaggio hit a home run. Reynolds finished with a eight-hitter and seven K's.

The Yankees left the Polo Grounds on a winning note as they took game five, to go up 3-2 in the 1951 Fall Classic. Oh, they won it big. 13-1! Gil McDougald had a grand slam in the top of the third. It was more than enough, of course. DiMaggio and Phil Rizzuto drove in three each for good measure. Lopat was even better then in game two, as he pitched a complete game five-hitter.

The Yankees wrapped it up at home Vic Raschi won it 4-3. But he had trouble. Vic left without retiring a batter in the top of the seventh. It was 4-1, Yankees at the time. And the tying run was at the dish. Johnny Sain hopped in from the bullpen and got the next three batters out. It looked like a brillant move by Casey Stengel. But Sain narrowly avoided disaster in the eighth as the Giants loaded 'em up on a hit and two walks.

In the top of the ninth, the wheels really came of the chariot for Said. It was still 4-1, but Eddie Stanky singled. Alvin Dark got a bunt single. Wally Lockman singled to load 'em up. No outs. Bob Kuzava came in to pitch.

But Monte Irvin hit a long drive to left to score Stanky. Both Dark and Lockman moved up into scoring position on the play. Another long drive to left scored Dark, with Lockman staying at second. Still, a single could tie this thing, eh? Pinch hitter Sal Yvars gave it a ride to right. But Hank Bauer, who'd drove in three runs on the afternoon, made the catch to end it.

So Sain got a "hold" out of all that, but he hardly deserved it. Yet he was a valuable member of Stengel's teams from 1951 to 1954. He'd spot start (Going 11-6 in '52 and 14-7 in '55 with only 35 starts), he'd relieve (Leading the league in saves in 1954 with 26). Sain was part of the "Spahn and Sain" combo of the 1948 Boston Braves. And he was the last pitcher to face Babe Ruth (In an exhibition game) and the first to pitch to Jackie Robinson (Opening Day, 1947). Later, he served as a pitching coach on the Yankees from 1961 to 1963, helping Whitey Ford, Ralph Terry and Jim Bouton to their first 20-win seasons). Maybe he got bombed here in 1951, but that shouldn't take away from all his Yankee contributions! Sadly, most Yankee fans rue the fact that they traded the very man who beat New York three times in the 1957 Fall Classic for him.

Lew Burdette!

Sports Reference LLC. "(title of a particular page or blank for general citation)." Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. ()

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Stan "The Man" Musial hit only one home run in the Fall Classic. The Man had a little growing up to do in his early years in baseball, but he got plenty of World Series experience.

Stan had been called up late in the 1941 season. While he batted .426 over the course of his twelve games, he couldn't get his St. Louis Cardinals past the Brooklyn Dodgers. The next year, it was different. Stan hit .357 to lead the National League, and the Cards were in the Fall Classic against the New York Yankees. Joe DiMaggio hit .333 to Stan's .222, but it was St. Louis with the win in just five games.

The next year, same two teams, but a different result. The Cardinals won 105 games and Stan hit a respectable .278 in the October Showdown, but it was the Yankees needing just five games themselves to win.

The Cardinals were favoured again the very next year, and it was the cross-town Browns who faced them. This was an all Sportsman's Park affair. But after three games, it looked like the Browns might pull off an upset. They led two games to one and were the "home" team in game four.

The Cards needed a boost and quick. And they got it! Stan was the man to do it. In the top of the first with one out, Johnny Hopp singled. Stan Musial came to the dish, and got a pitch he liked. Stan put the Cardinals out in front 2-0 with the four-bagger. He singled and scored in the top of the third, added a double and a walk later, and propelled the Cards to a 5-1 lead. The stunned Browns never got back on track in the Series.

The Cardinals won it all in six games, and Stan had one World Series left in him. The 1946 Fall Classic was hailed as a showdown between Stan and Ted Williams, but Stan hit what he had in 1942, .222, with no home runs. Williams hit only .200, and also failed to go deep. The Cardinals won in seven games.

It wasn't long after that Stan began to hit the long ball with regularity. In 1948 he hit a career-high 39. Five more times he was to pass the thirty home run plateau. Stan had taken his game to a new level, but try as he might, he couldn't get St. Louis back to the World Series. The 1946 Fall Classic proved to be his last, and Ted Williams only.

And, in one of the game's great irony's, Stan's team returned to the World Series in 1964, just one season after he retired with the second most hits behind Ty Cobb. Pete Rose passed Stan and Ty for that eventually, but Musial ranks near the top of many offensive categories. Stan Musial finished with 475 home runs. Just two days ago, David Ortiz hit # 476 to pass Stan for 29th on the all-time list.

But The Man and all his milestones can't be overshadowed by just one World Series home run.

Monday, June 22, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Stan Hack hit a triple in the top of the ninth inning of game six in 1935, only to be stranded. Hack's Cubs needed just a fly ball to get him home and break the deadlock. But it never came. And when you don't get it done in the World Series, it's not long before the other team does!

The Cubs trailed the Detroit Tigers three games to going into game six in bengal country. It was one great back and forth game six.

Chicago trailed 1-0 and 2-1, but scored twice in the top of the fifth on a Billy Herman two-run blast. The Tigers weren't about to yield this thing at home, and tied it in the bottom of the sixth on a double and a single. There, things stayed until the bottom of the ninth.

But it was in the top of the ninth that the Cubs looked destined to score. Stan Hack hit a triple to centre. Remember, just a fly ball here and it's 4-3, Chicago. But Billy Jurges went down on strikes. Larry French, the Cubs' starting pitcher, was allowed to bat for himself for some reason. It was not a smart move as he grounded back to his mound adversary, Tommy Bridges. When Augie Galan flied out to left the inning was  over, with Hack right there on third. Someone should have just thrown Hack his glove, for he played third base.

The Tigers took advantage of that wasted opportunity by Chicago. With one out, Mickey Cochrane singled. Charlie Gehringer grounded out to first, moving Cochrane to second. Unlike Chicago, Detroit would get the man home. Goose Goslin singled to right, and Cochrane raced around to score the winning run. 4-3, Tigers. And the World Series was theirs, four games to two.



References

Detroit Tigers 4, Chicago Cubs 3 (Retrosheet Boxscore:) http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1935/B10070DET1935.htm

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Baseball And Father's Day

Well, Happy Father's Day to all the sports dads out there. You persistence and passion in getting 'em to the game or practice on time never gets enough appreciation. My father was one such parent to myself and my two brothers. And we have all grown up to like sports.

As for things I do every Father's Day. Well, let's start with baseball, right? How about a movie? Field Of Dreams. I saw that movie for the first time in the early 90s, I think. From the start, it led me down the path of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 World Series. Poor Joe, for something he probably didn't realize what the consequences were, had to take the fall for that Fall Classic. As for the film's accuracy, Joe batted left and threw right. In the film, Joe batter right and threw left. Moonlight Graham's one game was actually June 29th, 1905. Not the last game of the regular season in 1922. The book, Shoeless Joe, which the movie is based on, gets the correct date. But both the novel and movie state that Graham played just a half of an inning in the outfield. Graham played the bottom of the eighth and ninth, but did not bat.



Jim Bunning is one of my favourite Father's Day story. In 1964, as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, he tossed a perfect game against the Mets. The final score was 6-0 for Philly, but there's a little known fact to this game. Bunning delivered two RBIs, for good measure. The Phillies, weren't so good down the stretch as they had the pennant in the bag. 6 1/2 with 12 to play, before a 10-game losing streak derailed their hopes. I met Jim Bunning earlier this year at a forum for the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team (Not to be confused with the hockey team) and we had a great conversation.



My father was a huge Yankee fan in the Mantle era of the 50s and 60s. I'd read dad's books cover to cover, and it made me a fan of the game from back then, appreciating the history. Recently, I decided to renew my interest in baseball, which was at it's peak in the early 90s when the Jays were winning. Time to get back to that, Toronto!

My father and I went to our first game together May 29, 1992. Toronto beat Chicago 3-0. We made it a point to go to some games after that. My big regret was my interest in baseball started to wane in the early 2000s. I'd still read and watch about the history of it, but that was it.

But dad and I made it back to the Roger's Centre last year, and for the first time since 2001. Actually, we went to two games last year. And I went to the season finale. 2015 saw dad and I go twice more. On May 24th, we saw the Jays pound Seattle 8-2. Likewise, on the 17th of June they pounded the Mets 8-0, bringing back memories of the 1993 team with all this offence.



A big thank you to my father, for making me a baseball fan. It's been quite a journey!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

In the 1922 Fall Classic, at least one team scored exactly three runs in all five games. But the New York Yankees could not find a way to beat their cross-town rivals in this World Series. The Babe and his teammates had to accept being a bridesmaid. It was a tight one all the way, though.

In game one, the Giants, the home team at the Polo Grounds, edged the Yankees 3-2. But the Giants could have scored more as they banged out eleven hits to the Yankees seven. It was the Bronx Bombers with a 2-0 lead until the Giants scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

In game two, the Giants wasted no time, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. The game was also played at the Polo Grounds, but it must have felt like the Giants were the home team. Yankee Stadium did not come along until the next season. But the Yankees did not go away quietly. The got a run back in the bottom of the first to make it 3-1. Another tally in the bottom of the fourth on an Aaron Ward solo home run got the Yankees to within a run. And then, Mr. Home Run himself tied it. No, not with a home run, but Babe Ruth doubled and scored on Iris Meusel's two-bagger. From there, it was the Bob Shawkey and Jesse Barnes show. No more runs scored and the game was called due to darkness after ten innings. But some felt there enough time to play at least another inning.

Certainly the Yankees wish they could have. From their, they came up short every game. Their effort in game two was as close as they would come to not losing. It was also the last tie ever in the Fall Classic. The Giants took game three, 3-0 behind a splendid pitching performance from Jack Scott, who finished with a four-hit shutout. The National Leaguers had a 2-0 lead in October's Classic of '22 and were getting stronger.

But the Yankees scored twice in the bottom of the first inning of game four, and looked to get back in it. The Giants scored all four of their runs in the top of the fifth. The Yankees got a run back in the bottom of the bottom of the seventh on another home run by Ward. But that would prove to be the final score. With a 4-3 win in this game, the Giants were looking for the sweep in game five.

And they got it, but it was another nail-biter. The game see-sawed back and forth. First it was 1-0, Yankees, then 2-1, Giants. Two more runs by New York on single tallies in the top of the fifth and seventh game the Yankees one last lead, but the Giants were not about to be denied the sweep. The scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth to put this game away. Art Neft retired the Yankees 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to clinch it.

So, for the second year, the Giants and Yankees had met, and the Giants had won both. The Yankees needed a change, obviously. And it seemed to come with the new ballpark. Remarkably enough, the Yankees and Giants would meet again in the 1923 Fall Classic (The Dodgers and Yankees never met in the World Series three years in a row). But this time, Babe Ruth and company would prevail. And with the coming of Lou Gehrig as a regular in 1925, the Yankees turned the tide in this historic rivalry. There wasn't Mickey and Willie there yet, but as 1922 proved, it was still exciting when the Giants and Yankees met in the final showdown in baseball!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Frank Baker hit home runs in back-to-back games in the 1911 Fall Classic. He more than made up for failing to hit any the year before. Frank became the first player to do that. And while he had been beaten to the "Two home runs, one game", he showed in '11 that he was one of the most feared sluggers in the game.

Frank had hit 11 round-trippers that year, which led the American League. He also helped the Philadelphia Athletics win 101 games that year. They face the New York Giants in the Fall Classic. And while their were several pitcher's duels, Frank's performance stood out.

Frank failed to hit any long balls in game one at New York, which went to Christy Mathewson and the Giants, 2-1 over Chief Bender. In game two at Philadelphia, Frank hit a two-run home run off Rube Marquard. It was another pitcher's duel, but this time, Philadelphia won, 3-0. Eddie Plank pitched the shutout for Philly.

Game three was back in New York, and Baker hit a dramatic home run. Mathewson was back on the hill, and looking for a shutout. He had three in 1903, and looked like a threat to pitch one every time he took the hill in a World Series game. Why not one right at home?

Christy was working on a five-hit shutout as New York took a 1-0 lead into the top of the ninth. The series lead was on the line. Eddie Collins started the inning by grounding out. Two outs away from a 2-1 series lead.

But Frank Baker hit a home run to the right field stands, tying this thing up. Mathewson held on from there, and the game went on to the eleventh. The A's scored twice in the top of that inning to break the 1-1 deadlock, and the Giants came roaring back in the bottom of the frame. A double and an error made it 3-2. But then Beals Becker was caught stealing second to end it.

The A's managed to win two of the next three games to win it all, but Baker did not hit another home run. The Giants were no doubt careful from then on in when pitching to him, fearful of another four-bagger. But no matter what the Giants and others team did after 1911, they couldn't deny that Frank Baker had more than earned the nickname, "Home Run"


References

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/ws/yr1911ws.shtml


Monday, June 15, 2015

Things We Don't See In Sports Anymore!

There are some things, many of them before my time, that seemed to be a staple of pro sports. And then, gradually, they have slipped into a forgotten time and place.

Baseball
Flip-Down Glasses

These things looked real, real, cool. I'll be honest with you, I wanted a pair. But sunglasses developed into a good feel in the 1990s and as a result they were fazed out. Too bad. It was kind of like watching players playing with regular glasses switched up, then sunglasses, switched down.

The Hit And Run Play

This went way back to the deadball era in baseball. Opened up a whole on one side of the infield, allowing the runner to go first to third. Alas, looking at it now, it's a risky play. It you miss, the runner is often a dead duck. Most hitters now aren't thinking singles, anymore. Earl Weaver, the great Oriole manager, liked three-run home runs instead of sac bunts. Bit of the same philosophy is now used with hit and runs. Why risk it?

Pitchers Going Nine

Just isn't smart baseball, with injuries over the years to pitchers. And with pitch counts used by everyone, the minute the pitcher reaches 100 pitches, there's one or two men up in the 'pen. You've paying the short man and lefty specialist over a million, as well. Might as well use them, right? complete games and even shutouts don't mean as much as quality starts, anyways!



Hockey

No Helmet

Or how about, no head. Because you don't have your head screwed on straight if you're not wearing one. The league put in a rule in 1970/80 that any player entering the league that year had to wear one. Craig McTavish, who retired in 1997, is therefore the last player to go helmetless.

Sidenote, check out the 1972 Canada / USSR Summit Series. Canada had a grand total of three players wearing them: Stan Mikita, Paul Henderson and Bill Goldsworthy!

Meanwhile, the whole Soviet team had helmets. Later, they had all those Jofas, and Gretzky made them famous not long after.

Small Goalie Pads

Everyone has gotten bigger in hockey. The skaters, and even the goalies, so small pads are the way of the dinosaur. You can't even see the net anymore with the goalie and his big equipment. Why would you go small and lose that disadvantage over the shooter? Tony Esposito in the 1970s, started the habit of bigger gloves, and bigger blocker, and who can argue with his success?

Basketball

Goggles

Well, there was only one Kareem right? And his majestic Sky Hook. I see Kareem now, long retired, and honestly with he still wore them. Even off the court. But goggles only looked good on him (Honourable mention to James Worthy and Horace Grant) for some reason. Anyone else, forget it! Maybe though, it's like that scene in the Simpsons, when Rainer Wolfcastle says, "The goggles, they do nothing!" Did everyone take notice? Watershed moment for the NBA, perhaps?




Small Centres

Big man game today. You got Tim Duncan, a power forward, over seven feet. Can you imagine a guy six-nine at centre trying to guard him. That was back in the days of Russell and later Cowens and Reed. Can you imagine them going up against Shaq? It wouldn't be pretty, says I!

Tennis

Wooden Raquets

Remember Miloslav Mecir? Big Cat? Played with a wooden racket. And did he ever look good and cool with it. But alas, he always seemed doomed against the bigger hitters (Namely Lendl). Even John McEnroe was forced to concede that he needed a more modern stick to compete. The players got bigger and stronger (And continue to) and rackets are always evolving. That brand new stick of yours twenty years ago got over the hill faster then you did!



White Balls

I actually had my father buy a can of these in 1990. But right away, there were problems. You couldn't see them (I played on hard court), and they looked awkward, even on a red hard court. Simply put, watch some of those old Wimbledon matches of the 70s and tell me what you see. And what you don't! 'Sides, we got a white baseball, right?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Frank "Home Run" Baker did not hit a home run in his first Fall Classic. You'd expect that from someone with that kind of nickname. At this point, 1910, he was not a home run hitter. He swatted only two that season. Still, he found ways to contribute. It was Frank's Philadelphia Athletics vs. the Chicago Cubs. Both teams had the wins that year. A whole lot. 104 for Chicago and 102 for good measure by Philly. The World Series was entering it's second decade, and Frank's A's were one of the better teams of it.

Baker collected three hits and a pair of RBIs in the first game at home. The Athletics needed that, for the rest of the team had only two RBIs. It was a 4-1 final by Philly, but the A's collected jut four hits outside of Baker's three.

The A's did much better in game two with a decisive 9-3 win over the Cubs. But Frank had only one hit and one walk. No RBIs or runs scored. A bad game for him. The good news was this thing was headed towards Chicago and Philadelphia was halfway to a world championship.

Baker delivered. He had a game of deadly two's. Two runs, two hits, and two RBIs. And one of his hits was a triple, so he did the next best thing besides a four-bagger. Philadelphia actually got a home run this game from Danny Murphy, who had two hits of his own. It was another laugher for Philly. 12-5 was the final score, and it was apparent the A's were the better team.

Chicago avoided the sweep with a 4-3 win in ten innings, but Baker helped keep the Athletics in this one. He collected another three hits, and scored a run. On the negative side, for the second game in a row, he was caught stealing.

Baker was held hitless in game five, but scored a run. Philadelphia, as a team, scored seven to Chicago's two. The were world champions in only five games.

Frank finished the 1910 Fall Classic with a .409 batting average, joining Eddie Collins and Danny Murphy in that category in the World Series. He tied Frank Chance for second in RBIs with four, behind Murphy's nine. But Frank would be back the next year to smack a pair of home runs.

Frank led the league in home runs the next three seasons, with modest totals compared to today. But he would also go on to appear in five more World Series. In 1921 and '22, he closed out his Fall Classic career as a teammate of another home run hitter. Babe Ruth!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The fewest ever gathered to see a Fall Classic game was from way back in 1908. Game five, Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers. Sadly, fans barely got to see an hour of Ty Cobb. The Georgia Peach and his teammates were up against a splendid performance from Orval Overall. Not enough people came to see it, and the game itself didn't have enough time.

Orval, however, was in a pitcher's duel in this game, which clinched the second straight Fall Classic for Chicago. They have not won one since.

Frank Chance gave Chicago the lead for good with a single in the top of the first off Bill Donovan. Bill would finish the game with ten hits allowed but only two runs scored.

Overall, however, had things going from the get-go. The batter walked in the bottom of the first, but a strikeout followed. Sam Crawford singled, but Detroit would manage only two more hits the rest of the way. And here's where Overall made history.

He fanned Cobb. Then he followed that with a K of Claude Rossman. However, the ball got away from Johnny Kling, and Rossman made it to first. The bases were loaded. But it only prolonged the agony for Detroit. Germany Schaefer fanned, and Overall became the first and only pitcher for fan four batters in one inning in a Fall Classic game.

Donovan kept Detroit in this, and even drew a walk and stole second in the bottom of the second. But try as he might, he couldn't inspire any offence from him teammates. Another player from Chicago's famed double-play poem, Johnny Evers, singled home the second and final run for the Cubs in the top of the fifth with a double. In the bottom of the frame, Detroit stranded a single by Bill Coughlin and a double hit by their leadodd hitter, Matty McIntyre. The Tigers were no-hit the rest of the game.

Donovan got out of the top of the seventh, when a single struck a baserunner. Evers, credited with the hit, was promptly picked off first by Bill. But Overall got 'em 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, and did the same to Detroit in the next two innings. It was just that easy for him. When the game ended, after just 85 minutes, Orval had a three-hitter, a shutout, ten K's and four walks. Chicago, in as quick as manner as ever seen in the Fall Classic, had a World Series triumph in record time! Baseball is a sport about good timing, eh? Well, the fans weren't in tune to what was going on in that time of year in Detroit. Even with characters like Cobb, Donovan and Schaefer, only 6,210 fans took this one in. Who would have thought it would be the last time the Cubs won?


References


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.

Retrosheet. Web. 10 June. 2016.  <www.retrosheet.org>

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. 10 June. 2016.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Baseball History On Youtube: Jim Maloney No-Hits The Cubs in 1965!

A few years back, I wrote about Jim Maloney no-hitting the Chicago Cubs in 1965. He had quite a few gems from that year. The gem against Chicago has made it's way to everybody's favourite video sharing site.

Or right here, for your pleasure:


Sadly, it's only the tenth (And last) inning, where the Cincinnati Reds win it and Maloney gets the last out. Still, it feels very historic and good to watch.

What to look out for:

Colour (Big plus, as video taping in colour back then was rare. While many games were broadcast in colour, few were preserved in colour)

Interesting camera angles. Remember, they didn't have all the angles covered, back then!

Reds had numbers on the back of their uniforms. Cubs don't. How do you root for the home team when you don't know who's who on your team?

Some vintage 1960s commercials. How many can you remember if you were alive back then?

A very young Pete Rose (#14 for the Reds)

The last out, or should I saw two outs. A nice double play. I won't spoil who it is.

Larry Jackson, who is the losing pitcher in this game, does not walk a batter, while Maloney walks ten. I thought walks are supposed to kill you!

They let the starters go, go, go back then. That's probably the biggest change in baseball when comparing then to now. Pitching counts weren't really used. Although, thanks to the uploader, you see how many they used to throw back then? Were their arms dangling off by the end of the game? Unreal!


References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN196508191.shtml

World Series: Did You Know?

Even though the 2012 Fall Classic was a sweep, both teams nearly tied an earlier record. The San Francisco Giants needed just four games to take care of Detroit, but both teams combined to have ten pitchers with ERAs of 0.00. Two more, and they would have tied a record set only six years earlier. The Tigers were also on the losing end of that, too! But they sure had pitching both years.

Barry Zito of the Giants was not one of them, but he pitched well in game one. Right at home, he got the Giants off on the right foot with a 7-2 win. He gave up six hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched, but allowed just one earned run. Tim Lincecum, who did finish the 2012 World Series with an ERA of 0.00, went 2 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Jose Mijares, making his only appearance, retired the only batter he would face this Fall Classic. Detroit did score another run off George Kontos, before Jeremy Affeldt closed the door on the Bengals.

And if was not as if Detroit did not get any pitching in this game, the rout aside. Joaquin Benoit and Rick Porcello combined for 1 2/3 innings pitched of shutout ball for Detroit. Too little, to late.



In game two, it was closer. Detroit, however, failed to score. The Giants only touched home twice themselves. Madison Bumgarner fired a two-hitter over seven innings, and left with the shutout intact. Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo finished up the shutout for San Fran. Detroit, in addition to a fine (albeit) losing effort from Doug Fister, got a scoreless performance from Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke, who each retired a batter. Coke, however, would eventually be scored on. It was off to Detroit for game three, but the final score was the same as in this game.



Detroit again got a fine pitching performance. But again it was not to be. Ryan Vogelsong went 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball and the bullpen did the job. Lincecum again went 2 1/3 inning of shutout ball. Romo came in to pitch the ninth and got the save again, not allowing a run. Detroit got a scoreless eighth from Benoit. Coke again pitched, and again was not scored on. However, it was all too late as Detroit wasted another fine effort from the starter, this time, Anibal Sanchez.



In game four, San Francisco completed the sweep with a 4-3 win. The game went back and fourth and was tied 3-3 after six. There, it stayed until the Giants scored the series-winning run off Coke. Affeldt was superb in relief. He 1 2/3 innings, didn't allow a run and fanned four. Casilla got the last out of the ninth inning for the Giants and picked up the win, again, without allowing a run. Romo came in and got 'em 1-2-3 on strikeouts for his third save of the 2012 World Series. Detroit got a scoreless 1 1/3 inning stint from Dotel. Drew Smyly, not part of the 0.00 group, also did not allow a run. But it was all for not. San Francisco had the sweep!



References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/2012_WS.shtml

http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/2012/YPS_2012.htm


Sunday, June 7, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Randy Johnson, in winning games six and seven of the 2001 Fall Classic, became the first pitcher to do that since Ray Kremer in 1925. Kremer had won game seven vs. another Johnson. That by the name of Walter. But it 2001, it was Randy Johnson that brought it to game, same as The Big Train.

Johnson's Arizona Diamondbacks, who had just come into the league in 1998, were making progress fast! But, still, they were up against the New York Yankees. And while Johnson won game two with a three-hit shutout at home, the Yankees were about to wake up.



Arizona was up 2-0 heading to New York, but somehow the mighty Bronx Bombers found a way to win all three. Now, for game six back in Arizona, Randy Johnson was needed again just to send this to the limit. Johnson went ahead and did it all.

If you can believe it, Arizona went out and scored fifteen runs after four innings. In the bottom fo the third, Johnson came through with his bat. He singled for and RBI to make it 7-0. Later, Johnson came around to score and make it 10-0. Watching the game at home, I remember thinking how they should yank The Big Unit. Yep, don't even let him take the hill in the top of the fifth. Yeah, it costs Randy a win, but that way, he can come back and pitch in relief of game seven, fresh. The Diamondbacks elected to keep Randy in for three more innings. Probably a mistake as New York eventually scored twice off in the top of the sixth, as Johnson finished the game with 104 pitches. What would happen in game seven? Amazing things!




It was Curt Schilling's turn to pitch. And did he ever pitch a masterpiece. Through seven innings, it was a 1-1 tie. But, in another case of going too long with the starter, Curt game up a tie-breaking home run to Alfonso Soriano in the top of the eighth. When Dave Justice singled with one out, Schilling headed towards the shower. Then, with two down, Randy Johnson came in to pitch. He retired four batters in a row, but the score was still 2-1, New York going into the bottom of the ninth. Last call for Arizona.

And Mariano Rivera was now pitching. Game over, right? Wrong!

Mark Grace greeted him with a leadoff single. David Delluci came in to run. On a bunt towards first, catcher Drew Miller, reached on an error. Winning run at first, no one out! Randy Johnson was due up next, so obviously a pinch hitter was needed. Jay Bell batted for Johnson and tried to sacrifice, but ended up forcing Delluci at third. The game was beginning to resemble the ninth inning of game six of the 1985 Fall Classic. But this was game seven. Do or die time for the D-Backs!

Midre Cummings ran for Miller. Tony Womack, the Arizona shortstop, doubled to right on a 2-2 pitch from Mariano to score Miller and send Bell to third. Winning run, ninety feet away with just one out and no double play situation!

On an 0-1 pitch, Rivera did something odd: He hit Craig Counsell to load the bases! It was probably by accident, but now at least the double play could get New York out of this. Rivera now faced Luis Gonzalez. Gonzalez fouled a pitch off, but then stroked the next offering to centre, scoring Bell with the World Series-winning run! The D-Backs had done it!


Lost in all this was Johnson's three wins. But when Randy and Curt Schilling were named MVP of the 2001 Fall Classic, their could be no denying Johnson's contributions. Schilling had been outstanding, too. But Johnson had gone 3-0 and pitched splendidly in relief of Schilling in game seven. The Big Unit's World Series had arrived in grand fashion!


References

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Stanley Cup Finals 2015: Some "Other" Players To Watch

So it's down to the final twosome in the quest for Lord Stanley's Mug. The Tampa Bay Lighting have beaten three straight original six teams, and now face a fourth. The Chicago Blackhawks. For the record, no team in NHL history has ever beaten four Original Six teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Tampa will have to do that if they want to win. This is also the first time since 1964 that both teams won the semi-finals on the road.

So who to keep an eye out for in the finals. Well, we all know about Stamkos, Toews, Kutcherov and Kane. But how about some of the others?

Zack Johnson is a small guy, who gets better every year. And this year, he's been doing it from the get-go of the regular season and continuing it through the first three playoff rounds. Small in stature, 5'9, but quick on the ice, he's in only his third year in the league, yet is leading the playoffs in scoring with 21 points. Look for that to continue in the finals.

Another player impressing me for Tampa Bay in the playoffs has been Nikita Kucherov. Although only 5'11 himself, and also in his sophomore season in the NHL, he had 65 points from the right wing position in the regular season, and 19 more so far in the playoffs. He also lead the NHL in +/- in the regular season, as that probably comes as a surprise to many. Nikita finished at +35. He's a +7 so far in the postseason.

But put all those players and some more aside, and it's gotta be Ben Bishop that stands out. Actually, he stands 6'7 in net. A player that Johnson and Kucherov look up to in more ways then one. Funny, coming into this postseason, he'd never actually played a single NHL playoff game. And now, it's as if he's been there a while. Big Ben has the poise, confidence, and even skills of a veteran of many-a-playoff game. At least that's what it looks like on television. He leads the playoffs in wins (And sadly, losses, too), shutouts and games played. All of this experience will benefit him and the Lightning down the road.

Meanwhile, Chicago has got some faces at work in this postseason. Jonathan Toews is actually second on the team in scoring with 18 points in 17 games. But it's Patrick Kane with the team lead with 20 points. But here's where someone else is having the postseason of his life. Duncan Keith, the defenseman, is 31 years old and averaging better then a point-a-game this postseason! He's been in Chicago since way back in 2005/06, along with Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp. Back in the dark days of the Hawks.

Due in part to some injuries, Sharp had a bit of an offseason this year in terms of point production. But in the playoffs, he's back to his usual self with 12 points in 17 games. Look for him, Marian Hossa (Playing in his fifth(!) Stanley Cup Finals in the last eight years), and Sharp to provide the experience necessary in the finals. He's also gotten six points in his last eight games and provided some clutch scoring in recent do-or-die games.

How about Chicago goaltending?

For now, smooth sailing. It did, however, seem like Corey Crawford was overmatched and overwhelmed against Nashville and Anaheim. Against the Predators, he was swept under the rug in favour of  Scott Darling, who played well. However, when Darling faltered in game six, Crawford came in and got the win in relief. The job has been his ever since.

Even so, it's Bishop with the better SV%, .920 to Crawford's .919. Not much of a difference. But I've seen Bishop make so many unreal saves, it's hard to look past him. Especially with his height. This finals has the potential of being a great goalie duel!

I look forward to it!


References

http://www.nhl.com

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

http://www.hockeydb.com/

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/how-marian-hossa-is-an-ageless-wonder-for-chicago-blackhawks--trending-topics-132740319.html

http://prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com/2015/06/02/sharp-deflects-dynasty-talk-but-acknowledges-hawks-group-is-something-special/

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/star-spotlight-corey-crawford-vs-ben-bishop/

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Jim Leyritz has the last pinch-hit home run to date. That also means the New York Yankees have both the first and last home runs from off the bench. Both home runs were in Fall Classics that were eventually won by the Bronx Bombers.

But Leyritz and his teammates would need just four games to beat the Atlanta Braves in the 1999 World Series. New York simply had all the tools needed for an easier time then they'd had with the same Braves in 1996.

New York obviously won the first three games. Game four was in the Big, Bad, Bronx, and it time for the Yankees to end it. They rushed out to a 3-0 lead after seven innings. Atlanta scored a run in the top of the eighth (Walt Weiss touching home), and actually knocked Roger Clemens out of the game, so there was plenty of hope. Mariano Rivera had to be brought in early to get the last out of this frame. Then, Leyritz came to the dish in the bottom of the eighth, and the game was suddenly over.

Terry Mulholland, who'd pitched against the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1993 Fall Classic, was on to pitcher after John Smoltz had left. And he was having an easy time, for a while. Bernie Williams led off the inning and was retired on a pop fly to second. Tino Martinez then followed with the second out of the inning on a pop up to the catcher. Would the mighty Yankees get the ball out of the infield this inning?

Jim Leyritz batted for Darryl Strawberry. With that, Darryl's career was over, although nobody knew it at the time. Leyritz and Mulholland had quite an at-bat. The count went full, and then Jim fouled off a pitch. But on another payoff pitch, Leyritz launched one to left, over Gerald Williams and the fence, to make it a 4-1 Yankee lead. All in a New York minute, eh?



Rivera took over from there, as he got the side out 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth for the save. New York had the sweep. There have been no pinch-hit home runs since, but this one served the Braves and anyone notice that the explosive firepower of New York has been around a while, and will continue to be!


References

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

http://www.retrosheet.org/

http://www.mlb.com

http://www.youtube.com

Monday, June 1, 2015

An Interesting Find On Youtube!

You know, following sports has been a huge part of my life since I started collection sports cards around the age of nine. Before that, I played several sports. Maybe I should have written, "Tried to play several sports. Now, I was never really good at hockey or basketball. Baseball was, sadly, a case of all-hit-no-field for me. Tennis and golf actually ended up being my two favourite and best sports. Golf, in particular, in my last few years.

Baseball, though, as you can tell by reading my blog, was once my favourite to watch. My father had been a huge New York Yankee fan during the heyday of the Mickey Mantle era (50s and 60s), and would tell me stories of the World Series from that time. My older brother was a pretty good baseball player back in the late 80s and early 90s. My younger brother proved to be a pretty good player himself in the mid to late 90s. I never caught on.

We used to live in Stoney Creek, Ontario, which is located east of Hamilton, for most of the 1980s. Now, a confession: I didn't so much as care for the Little League World Series! And sorry, there will be no "Little League World Series: Did You Know?" here. Unless someone wants to write it for me. Can I have a volunteer?

So I read an article the other day about how 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Canada's only trip to the Little League World Series. Amazingly enough, it was a team from Stoney Creek that made it. Having seen my brother play Optimus Little League, it suddenly took on a new meaning. The very fact that the league started playing on the same street that my very first school is now located, only added to that.

So to make a long story short, I tried to locate the rosters and other related material to the 1965 Little League World Series. Little did I know that the entire game from '65 still existed and someone was kind enough to upload it to youtube!

My initial reaction to all this was it was just a bunch of kids who could field a lot better then I could. I don't know if Little League has ever adopted the DH, but it sure wasn't around in '65, thus I would not have had a chance to make it, even back then!

Enjoy!



References

http://stoneycreeklittleleague.com/