Sunday, November 29, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

My parents, and my grand parents (On my father's side), were all born on years where at least one Chicago team played in the Fall Classic.

My grandfather was born in 1906, and became a Brooklyn Dodgers' fan in the late 40s or early fifties. He was very happy to see them finally win in 1955, but the excitement was short-lived. My father's Yankees took their revenge the following season (Thanks in large part to Don Larsen's perfect game in game five). The Dodgers didn't even reach the Fall Classic in 1957, and were off to Los Angeles (Sans Roy Campanella, who was paralyzed in a car accident) the next season. While the Dodgers won in 1959, by grandfather no longer cared for them. His heart was in Brooklyn, and there no more Brooklyn Dodgers to cheer for. And there were also no more New York Giants to cheer against. At least in baseball.

But the year my grandfather was born was the first subway Fall Classic. Both Chicago teams made it. It was, however, the junior circuit version of the windy city that won it all. But the Cubs were undaunted by the setback.



My grandmother was born in 1908. I'm not sure what (If any) baseball team she rooted for. However, she was born during a great time to be a Chicago Cubs' fan. They won in 1907 over the Detroit Tigers, and were back the next season. Ty Cobb's Tigers were also back, but this one wasn't in doubt, except in the first game. For 12 innings the two teams battled neck-and-neck. However, time (Rather, sunlight) ran out, and the game ended 3-3.



The next four games, however, were all Chicago's. The Cubs have never won it again as of this writing.

The Cubs played in their last World Series to date in 1945, which happens to be the year both of my parents were born. It was a rematch of a Fall Classic the Cubs had won in 1907 and 1908. Detroit, however, had beaten Chicago in their next meeting, in 1935. That one went six games.



The 1945 World Series was even closer. It went all the way to a game seven. But it was an anti-climatic game seven. The Tigers scored five runs in the top of the first inning, and were on cruise control the rest of the game, which ended 9-3.



My father went on to become a Yankees fan during the Mickey Mantle Era of the 1950s and 60s with the Yankees. But my mother never became a baseball fan. My older brother, born in 1977, became a Toronto Blue Jays in the 1980s. Ironically, Toronto's first season was '77. Their first game? Chicago White Sox, of course. I was born in 1980, Philly and KC in the final round. My younger brother was never quite a baseball fan.

However, baseball, try as I might, have always been in my blood as far as interests have been concerned. I'll stay away from it, but always come back. A huge portion of this very blog has been devoted to baseball. And both Chicago teams have been mentioned numerous time. I guess I just explained why.



References

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. (11 Dec. 2015)


Retrosheet  www.retrosheet.org. Web. (11 Dec. 2015)

Youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/. Web. (11 Dec. 2015)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Common Denominator: Took A Batting Title Away From The Kid And The Mick!

That would be Pete Runnels, who came out on top in 1960 and 1962. Pete had also hit .310 in 1956, but it was Mickey Mantle winning his only batting title that year.

Oddly enough, Mickey hit a career-high .365 in 1957, only to lose the batting crowd to Ted Williams, who hit .388. The Splendid Splinter won his final batting title the next year, .328. Mantle was again in the hunt after a slow start, getting it all the way up to .308 on August 19th, before finishing at .304.

Neither Ted nor Mickey lead the league in batting average in 1959, however. Mickey hit .285, and Ted had his worst season, hitting just .254. But both would be back in different ways the next season.

For The Splendid Splinter, it was one last kick at the can. It was his last season. Williams was able to play in just 113 games. But he looked like the Williams of old. He got his average all the way up to .345 on July 7th. He was still at .326 on July 25th, and even .321 on August 10th. But try as he could, Ted wasn't going to beat his teammate.

Pete Runnels, was going great that year. He was hitting .406 on May 14th. Where have we all heard that number before? It was still .390 on June 9th. By August 10th, with Ted hanging on, Pete was at .307, 14 points back. However, going 9-11 in an August 30th doubleheader shot the average up to .324. Ted actually was ahead on September 25th, .318 to .317. Williams surrendered it with an 0-2 performance the next game. He hit a home run on September 28th, and it proved to be hit final hit. Runnels was the batting champion of the American League in 1960, .320 to Ted's .316.

Runnels was the champion again two years later over Mickey Mantle. It was actually the Oklahoma kid that had to do some scrambling. Mantle was actually bellow .300 on August 28th, .299. September proved to be a good month for him. But there was a problem. Going into the last game of the season, he was three plate appearances short of the 502 required to qualify for the batting crown. Mantle had missed 49 games that year. The Yankees needed Mantle to bat three times for the guarantee. Runnels had no such problem, having reached that on August 17th in the first game of a doubleheader. He had ended August at .338. The lowest it dropped was his final number, .326. Mantle's high for the month of September was .322 on September 26th.

So Mantle was in the leadoff position on September 30th, the last day of the season. He singled and scored in the bottom of the first, fanned in the second. In the fourth, he hit his 30th home run of the season. 502 plate appearances! Like Ted Williams in 1960, he went yard in his last plate appearance.

Jack Reed replaced Mantle in centre to start the fifth inning. The Mick had come up a little short. Pete Runnels could forever brag about topping two of baseball's all-time greats!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Koufax And Drysdale: A Most Dominating Twosome!

The Dodgers were on their way out west after the 1957 season. But that year Don Drysdale had his breakout. Sandy Koufax was also there that season, and Jackie Robinson was retired. Sandy didn't quite emerge until 1961, but what Brooklyn / Los Angeles had were two pitchers who showed up in a lot of important top tens.

Stat Set 1


Year Pitcher GS Wins K CG SHO IP
1957 Drysdale 17 (4) 148 (5) 4 (2) 221.0 (10)
Koufax 122 (9)
1958 Drysdale 131 (6) 211.2 (9)
Koufax 131 (6)
1959 Drysdale 36 (4) 17 (7) 242 (1) 15 (8) 4 (1) 270.2 (4)
Koufax 173 (3)
1960 Drysdale 36 (T3) 246 (1) 15 (6) 5 (2) 269.0 (5)
Koufax 197 (2)
1961 Drysdale 37 (2) 182 (3) 3 (3) 244.0 (9)
Koufax 35 (4) 18 (4) 269 (1) 15 (2) 255.2 (4)
1962 Drysdale 41 (1) 25 (1) 232 (1) 19 (4) 2 (10) 314.1 (1)
Koufax 2 (10)
1963 Drysdale 42 (1) 19 (6) 251 (3) 17 (5) 315.1 (2)
Koufax 40(3) 25 (1) 306 (1) 20 (2) 11 (1) 311 (3)
1964 Drysdale 40 (1) 18 (8) 237 (3) 21 (2) 5 (2) 321.1 (1)
Koufax 19 (4) 233 (4) 15 (6) 7 (1)
1965 Drysdale 42 (1) 23 (3) 210 (9) 20 (3) 7 (3) 308.1 (2)
Koufax 41 (2) 26 (1) 382 (1) 27 (1) 8 (2) 335.2 (1)
1966 Drysdale 40 (3) 177 (10) 11 (9) 273.2 (5)
Koufax 41 (1) 27 (1) 317 (1) 27 (1) 5 (1) 323.0 (1)
Year Pitcher GS Wins K CG SHO IP

Stat Set 2


Year Pitcher ERA WHIP H/9 K/9 K/BB OBA
1957 Drysdale 2.69 (2) 1.167 (3) 8.0 (7) 6.0 (6) 2.43 (5) .236 (4)
Koufax
1958 Drysdale 5.6 (8)
Koufax 7.5 (2) 7.4 (2) .220 (1)
1959 Drysdale 7.9 (4) 8.0 (1) 2.60 (5) .233 (3)
Koufax
1960 Drysdale 2.84 (3) 1.063 (1) 7.2 (4) 8.2 (2) 3.42 (3) .215 (4)
Koufax 6.8 (2) 10.1 (1) .207 (1)
1961 Drysdale 3.69 (9) 6.7 (4) 2.19 (10
Koufax 3.52 (7) 1.205 (4) 7.5 (1) 9.5 (1) 2.80 (1) .222 (1)
1962 Drysdale 2.83 (4) 1.113 (3) 7.8 (4) 6.6 (7) 2.97 (4) .230 (4)
Koufax 2.54 (1) 1.036 (1) 6.5 (1) 10.5 (1) 3.79 (2) .197 (1)
1963 Drysdale 2.63 (9) 1.091 (10) 7.2 (7) 4.40 (2)
Koufax 1.88 (1) 0.875 (1) 6.2 (1) 8.9 (2) 5.28 (1) .189 (1)
1964 Drysdale 2.18 (2) 0.965 (2) 6.8 (2) 3.49 (8) .207 (2)
Koufax 1.74 (1) 0.928 (1) 6.2 (1) 9.0 (1) 4.21 (2) .191 (1)
1965 Drysdale 2.77 (8) 1.090 (5) 3.18 (6) .233 (9)
Koufax 2.04 (1) 0.855 (1) 5.8 (1) 10.2 (1) 5.38 (1) .179 (1)
1966 Drysdale 3.93 (6)
Koufax 1.73 (1) 0.985 (2) 6.7 (2) 8.8 (1) 4.12 (4) .205 (2)
Year Pitcher ERA WHIP H/9 K/9 K/BB OBA

Amazingly, it could have been better, too. Koufax actually fanned 122 batters in just 104 1/3 innings in 1957, so he might have made an appearance in the top ten in K/9. In 1959, opponents batted just .235 against him, which would have been good enough for about sixth spot. But because he didn't pitch 156 innings that year (Los Angeles won a best two-of-three playoff vs. Milwaukee and Sandy threw just 153.1 innings), he did not qualify for that. Nor did his 10.2 K/9 qualify.


References

Baseball Reference (Baseball-Reference.com) http://www.baseball-reference.com/