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Found 136 results

  1. I remember reading about this as a kid, and just did a search on it - the internet is amazing.
  2. I'm taking this moment to tip my cap to Milt Pappas, surely one of the most underrated, underappreciated players in MLB history. Pappas is best-known for "the main player in the Frank Robinson trade." That's fine, but why did the Reds want him so badly? Look at his stats: a career record of 209-164. 13 seasons with at least 12 Wins, a 3-time All-Star, and the NL leader in shutouts in 1971. This gentleman is worth remembering; not as fodder for Frank Robinson, but as a winner of 54% of his games over the course of his 17-year Major-League career - he won between 12-17 games in 13-out-of-14 seasons - how many players in Major-League history can say they won 12+ games in 13-out-of-14 seasons? Probably less than 50. In a sport where 10% means a lot, Milton Steven Pappas was well-above average as a Major-League pitcher - easily in the top-half of all pitchers measured over the course of history. Don't ever forget: If it wasn't for Milt Pappas, the Orioles might not have gotten Frank Robinson (think about that for a moment).
  3. In doing research for the 1970 World Series, I learned that Emmett Ashford was the first black umpire ever to officiate a World Series Game (I've updated my post about Game One of the World Series to reflect this fact.) Not only that, Ashford was the first black umpire ever to be in Major League Baseball - working from 1966-1970. Feb 7, 2011 - "Ashford Broke Barriers behind a Mask" by Danny Wild on milb.com (note milb, not mlb) Incredibly, Chuck Meriwether became the second black umpire in the American League - in 1993. In 2008, the donrockwell.com community was three-years old, and Barack Obama won the Presidential election. That same year, a pair of black umpires would work a major-league game for the first time. When I was younger, I thought affirmative action was demeaning and unnecessary; I could not have been more wrong. How is Emmett Ashford *not* in the Baseball Hall of Fame? Oct 10, 2009 - "Chapman Students Want Black Ump in Hall of Fame" by Doug Irving on ocregister.com
  4. There are several nice pieces about readers favorite ballplayers. Mine was "the Mick". Mickey Mantle. I know I share that memory and perspective with many many of a certain age and time. In fact Bob Costas who gave the "official" eulogy at Mickey Mantles funeral used these words: You can read the eulogy here You can see it on video here: In the late 1950's and early '60's television had been around for a while but the volume of sports broadcasting was limited, sports broadcasts were simply rare, but living in the New York area we got to watch the Yankees and we got to watch the Mick. Nobody ever filled out a uniform so well, took a more powerful swing, and crushed more tape measure home runs than the Mick. At those moments when the meat of the bat hit the center of the pitch it was bye bye baseball!!! He looked damn good doing it: the All American boy. Mickey played at a time with phenomenal outfielders: Mantle and Mays in Center Field. Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Al Kaline in Right Field; all of them were sublime outfielders who were awesome 5 skill players. They are the ones that come to my mind. You might suggest others. As the 60's evolved and more baseball hit TV one got to watch more of them. Each was spectacular. Mantle always looked the best doing the same things as all of them. He was naturally strong and incredibly fast. He was timed at 3.1 seconds batting lefty from Home to First, still considered the fastest time in baseball. He did that with injured legs. And he crushed home runs. Crushed them. If you search on the web for "who hit the longest home runs" you'll find two articles referencing 10 long home runs. One is exclusively about Mantle's 10 longest. The other is a Sports Illustrated article featuring long home runs by a variety of players. Mantle is first on that list...and they reference two of his mighty shots. He could club them. Mantle's career was annually short circuited by injuries. He was injured in his rookie year in '51, and it is suggested he played with a torn ACL ever after. He was timed at 3.1 seconds to first after that injury and other leg injuries. Recently Mickey Mantle came to mind for me on several fronts. Albert Pujols just passed Mickey on the all time home run list. Pujols now has 540. Mantle has 536. Pujols is 16th on the list of all time home runs and Mantle now 17th. Above them are at least 6 cheaters who are tied to steroids. On a list of who hit the most home runs per at bat. Mantle is tied for 15 at one every 15.11 at bats. Above him are ranked at least 5 known steroid cheaters. Besides Pujols passing Mick, a short while before my old town classmates had a reunion. It was fun and relaxing. Among the "jockish" guys I heard more than once, phrases such as this" "crushing the ball like the Mick". One guy had posted a nice FB picture of him hitting a golf shot. Responses included...."you look like the Mick". Mickey Mantle and making the perfect swing go hand in hand and is deeply imprinted in a generation's mind. Mickey Mantle was beyond sports. He was truly mythological. I suppose he ranks with the first TV Superman; The Adventures of Superman. It ran from '52 to '58. That roughly coincides with the start of Mantle's and Mays' careers. What wonderful synchrocity At the start of that show Superman would be described: Faster than a speeding bullet (I reference 3.1 seconds to first one more time ). More powerful than a locomotive (I think of that as more of a football basketball analogy: Jim Brown, Earl Campbell in football and Charles Barkley come to mind). Able to Leap tall buildings in a single bound (Mickey Mantle could put baseballs at the top or over huge stadiums.) Mickey Mantle was the living sports analogy to Superman. Now we learned way later in life that Mick was a drunk, a philanderer and womanizer, he was not great with his wife and kids, and had flaws up the kazoo. Regardless as a child and a teenager Mick was a one and only idol...for myself and I suppose millions. Here is to you Mick. Take another swing at a pitch....the greatest swing in the history of baseball.
  5. I was looking at some pictures of the Topps 1969 set of baseball cards, and it dawned on me that this may be the greatest year in history for quality of players: * This is Mantle's final card (and #500 in the set). The set also includes, among other Hall of Fame players from the 1950s: Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Frank and Brooks Robinson, Kaline, Killebrew, Banks, Yastrzemski, Drysdale, Mazeroski, Aparicio, Wilhelm, etc. * Players entering their primes include Rose, Gibson, Carlton, Marichal, Carew, Jenkins, Santo, Flood, Oliva, Brock, McCovey, Seaver, Stargell, Palmer, Reggie Jackson, etc. * Rookie cards include Johnny Bench and Nolan Ryan. * Ted Williams, Leo Durocher, Earl Weaver, and Walter Alston have cards as managers. To think I attended the All-Star game at RFK in 1969!
  6. I suspect many of our readers have never heard of Zach Britton, despite him pitching up I-95 for the Baltimore Orioles. An equal number of readers may be wondering why I'm starting a thread on him. As it turns out, Britton is the owner of some fairly impressive feats: * He was an All-Star in 2015 and 2016 * He was the American League Saves leader in 2016, with 47. Upping the "Impressive" factor ... * He is the all-time American League record holder in Consecutive Saves with 60. Apr 15, 2017 - "Britton Ties AL Record with 54 Consecutive Saves" by Dhiren Mahiben on mlb.com * He is the only American League pitcher to hit a home run this decade. [Oops, I'm wrong about that]: Jul 21, 2015 - "Nathan Karns Hits First HR by American League Pitcher in 4 Years" by Eric Stephen on sbnation.com
  7. Albert Pujols might be one of those all time greats whose historical stats might take a "hit": specifically his batting average. Just checked him out. As of last year his career average is .302. For the Cards during his first 11 years his average was .320. Over the last 7 years for the Angels his average is .260 and it keeps trending downward. He is one of those few players over time that I like to watch from time to time. During his first decade his hitting exploits rivaled that of the greatest players in history. Injuries, age, and advanced defensive alignments are combining to turn him into one of the most overpaid, under performing players in the game. (Nevertheless I still like watching him) Check back on this in a year or two. Pujols might drop out of that impressive group of players.
  8. Only once in MLB history have both teams thrown nine-inning no-hitters: On May 2, 1917, Fred Tony and Hippo Vaughn dueled through 9 entire innings, with both pitchers completing the regulation game with no-hitters, and the score locked at 0-0. In the 10th inning, Vaughn threw a single, and then an error put runners on 2nd and 3rd. At-bat was none other than Jim Thorpe, who hit the ball back to Vaughn, and the play at home was botched (Vaughn didn't want to throw to 1st because "Thorpe ran like a racehorse.")
  9. This video of R. A. Dickey's knuckleball is mesmerizing. Afterwards, there's plenty of explanation of the physics behind the pitch. I've caught a knuckleball before, and it's a devil - you can have your mitt right where you think the ball is going to be, and then, at the last moment ... it's in a different place (notice where it ends up in the catcher's mitt in the video (the brief glimpse of the batter's face is also priceless)).
  10. A little backstory: When a post asked which MLB baseball players approached a .400 batting average since Ted Williams last accomplished that...I thought of George Brett. Brett did get close, finishing one magic season with a .390 BA. Brett of course was a great baseball player, a hall of famer and fun to watch and follow. Brett played for the Kansas City Royals during their best period from the mid 1970's to the mid 1980's when they were one of the best teams in the major leagues, played in many playoffs, and made and won a World Series. But wait...While Brett was the star of the team he had an excellent high quality teammate in a fellow named Willie Wilson. Do any of you recall him? Willie Wilson was the fastest player in MLB during those years, made some all star teams and had a long successful baseball career, primarily with the Royals. Before Willie Wilson made it to MLB he was one of the all-time storied athletes in New Jersey high school team sports. I knew of him because he competed in the little conference of teams my town played in: The Suburban Conference in Northern NJ. The members of this conference were smaller schools in Northern NJ. The high school classes probably had between 150-300 students each. These were small, suburban schools. They were not known as incubators for super star athletes. Willie Wilson was the exception. For two years running he was All-State in both football and baseball and was also a tremendous basketball player. He dominated that conference, let alone was a super star in the state from among high school athletes. Reportedly he was the most recruited high school football player in the nation that year. Wilson spurned college football, was a high draft choice with MLB and within a few years made it to the big leagues for a long career. Go back to Willie Wilson's high school career and you can find the following video of his football highlights. Catch the following video. Its precious. Do you recall Thanksgiving day football games with your town's biggest rival??? Not only is the video precious but the comments take you back to those hallowed high school days........
  11. I know "the world turns" and all that, but this is fundamentally disturbing to me. "The Brewers Are Moving towards Positionless Baseball" by Emma Baccellieri on si.com If these keeps up, Rod Carew could come out of retirement, and be the MVP.
  12. In our Sports Forum, we have a thread on your rookie quarterback, Deshaun Watson. I've followed Watson carefully for the past four years, and have watched every single moment, of every single game, that he has played for the past two years. If you're concerned that Watson can't be an "NFL-style," pocket quarterback, well, I think that's a legitimate concern, but I also think that Watson - even though he can scamper - has a pocket-quarterback mentality in his head. The scrambling quarterback works best in college; the pocket passer works best in the NFL, and I honestly believe that Watson has the tools and the discipline to be both. Here in Washington, DC, we suffered through the agony of watching Robert Griffin III, who won the Heisman Trophy for Baylor, and for whom the Washington Redskins gave up a *fortune*. RGIII was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and *deserved* it, producing one of the greatest seasons in NFL history by a rookie quarterback. However, RGIII was never taught to be a pocket passer, and the Redskins allowed him to be a sitting duck for the NFL's monster linebackers, who used him as a tackling dummy. The Redskins didn't take him out when he became visibly injured (it was very, very hard to watch), and just like that, RGIII's career was over (or, at least, it's probably over). Don't think for a moment that Deshaun Watson isn't acutely aware of the sad tale of RGIII. All he needs is to be taught how to transition from college to the NFL, and you just may have yourself an All-Pro-caliber QB for the next decade. I'm going to be pulling for the Texans, and for the great Deshaun Watson - I only hope that he has someone down there who can teach him properly; otherwise, all bets are off. One thing you shouldn't worry about is all these articles about Watson's interceptions. The articles fed off themselves; I actually *watched* every play Watson made for the past two seasons, and he threw a total of about five lousy interceptions; the rest of them came with a large dose of sheer bad luck, irrelevant situations (an 80-yard, Hail Mary with 2-seconds left in the half, for example) or missed patterns by his receivers - the interception tally wouldn't worry me in the least. You've got yourself a champion on your hands, and at least one person up here in Washington, DC who will be pulling for him. Cheers, Rocks
  13. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Sometime in the late 1960s, we were visiting my Aunt Kitty and Uncle Ben in Detroit, and were out for a walk. We walked past a park, and Uncle Ben (who knew I was a baseball savant) asked me to guess who the park was named after - I immediately said "Ty Cobb,: and he (in his 70s at the time) said, "No, no, no! Ty Cobb wasn't loved here in Detroit - this park is named for Harry Heilmann!" (With his accent, I thought he had said "Harry Hahmann," and I never got the name right for the next twenty years). Uncle Ben had lived in Detroit for decades, and remembered both players very well - he said how much Heilmann was loved by the residents of Detroit - little did I know that Heilmann was also arguably the greatest right-handed hitter of all-time (apologies to Rogers Hornsby). He's the only player ever to be in the .400 / 40 club (with 40 Doubles) - I may be wrong about this: Someone please let me know if I am. If you're unfamiliar with Heilmann, look at his batting statistics in the 1920s! Maybe the greatest hitter you've never heard of? Nobody has ever hit .400 in four seasons, but people say that if Heilmann - whose nickname was "slug" - wasn't so slow afoot, he'd be the one who had done it: He was a total of 8 hits away - 8 infield hits away - from accomplishing the feat, had he hit them judiciously in 1921, 1925, and 1927.
  14. I wasn't sure what to think about "Cobb" going into it: It was a box office flop, that was mildly acclaimed by critics, which is generally right up my alley; in this case, I think I knew *too* much about baseball to enjoy it as a "regular" film critic would - it was just not a good film. The film focuses on Ty Cobb's final year of life, during which a famous sportswriter (Al Stump) is writing a biography of him. After the film, I still don't know what to believe about Cobb: Was he *that* much of a hateful man, or was this overplayed? I don't know, but if this story was true, then Cobb was simply despicable. Nothing about "Cobb" moved me - I didn't like the interplay between Cobb and Stump, and that's pretty much all there was in the entire film. I'd be very curious to hear from some other film lovers and baseball fans, as to what this film meant to them. I didn't "hate" it so much as I didn't "like" it, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, not an art-house film lover, and not a baseball fanatic. What else is left? I *do* like the fact that they took a very small slice of Cobb's life (his final slice) and spent a great deal of time exploring this, rather than doing a "cradle-to-grave" biography of him. Is that a compliment? I think it is.
  15. Saying "Alexander Cartwright invented baseball" is a little like saying "Christopher Columbus discovered America." Well, it isn't *that* bad, but there were precedents before Cartwright codified the "Knickerbocker Rules" in 1845. I grew up believing it was Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, NY, in 1839, but that has been largely debunked. This particular thread is for discussion about the game in general - rules, various leagues around the world, etc., and probably won't get much play since most discussion is more specific, but it's here if anyone needs it.
  16. I think after yesterday's performance, Mad Max merits his own thread. "Max Scherzer Flirts with Perfection, Striking Out 16 Along the Way" on nytimes.com "Max Scherzer Pitched One of the All-Time Games Today" by Rohan Nadkarni on deadspin.com "Max Scherzer Allows Hit to Carlos Gomez in 7th to Loser Perfect Game" on espn.go.com
  17. The Keys. Boy you can sit close. Highest priced seating about $15. Of course you can also go up to the club for the finest dining available at the Keys stadium courtesy of those well known providers of the most exquisite dining experiences in the region: Mattress Discounters!!! Lotta hot dogs at Keys stadium (I forget the real name), unless you opt for the mattress discounter cuisine prepared by your chef..............................uh...I didn't get his/her name. I like minor league ball!!!!!! You are so close and its so relaxed.
  18. Oh my, Yogi Berra, an all-time great catcher in the big leagues, and an all-American icon for his many quotes and advertisements that featured him. Seeing comments here referencing that .... really depressed me. Yogi is an iconic American sports star, a beloved character, and what hit hardest on a personal level, was that Yogi has lived most of his life since he got to the Yankees in a Northern NJ town, near where I grew up. There was a fair bit of news about Yogi in my neck of the woods, and all of it was positive and beloved. Yogi's achievements in baseball are legendary and formidable. He ranks with the best of the best. The Yog played in 14 World Series and was on the winning side 10 times!!! That could be a personal record that might not be beat. Yogi was part of Yankee dynasties that helped him get there, but his presence on those teams helped the Yankees win so often. Here are some astonishing nuggets: He led the Yankees in RBI's 7 years in a row through 1955. Those were teams with Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle, He was league MVP 3 times, and received MVP votes 14 years in a row, tied for 2nd behind all time leader Hank Aaron. He was a great player and had tremendous longevity. Yogi caught the famous perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He was a great contact hitter, and a notorious bad ball hitter all the same, being able to connect at pitches above his head, and being capable of golfing a ball thrown at his feet. When you review the reams of detailed statistics about his career there is a column of detail about his annual baseball salary each year. Yogi maxed out at $65,000/year in his playing career. Today the highest paid catchers make around $12-17/million/year, which comes to more per game than he earned in his highest salaried year. Not withstanding the way sports salaries have escalated I doubt baseball's best catchers today could hold Yogi's jock. He was excellent at both offense and defense. He is amazingly beloved in the NY region and among Yankee fans. Growing up his sons were noted athletes, two of whom made it into professional baseball and the NFL. One of my closest friends played on a noted regional Legion baseball team against one of Yogi's sons. As a kid that is simply thrilling. For such a lifelong humble guy he has that "Brooks Robinson" combination of baseball stardom and entirely admirable personal qualities. I truly hope he sticks around for quite a few more years. Here's to you, Yogi. "It ain't over till its over!!"
  19. I was just introduced to the Bases Fallacy, and it took me all of five seconds to say, out loud in a room all by myself, "This is bullshit." The central concept of the "Bases Fallacy" is that certain statistics (let's use Tom Boswell's "Total Average" as an example) are fallacious because (and I'll quote directly from baseballreference.com) - "Unfortunately, players are not trying to accumulate bases. The point of baseball is to score runs, not gather bases." which, itself, is a fallacy: If you read the Bases Fallacy link, it implies that "Total Average" assumes "bases" is the atomic unit of baseball. (A walk is as good as a hit.) But using that same logic, the "Bases Fallacy" assumes "runs" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter how many hits you get if you don't score.) Yet, I can walk this forward multiple levels. I hereby coin: The "Runs Fallacy," which assumes "games won" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter if you win 4-3, or 19-0). The "Games Won Fallacy," which assumes "playoff appearances" is the atomic unit of baseball. (It doesn't matter if you win games if you don't make the postseason.) It's obvious that you could continue with a "Playoff Appearances Fallacy," and then go even further with a "Pennant Fallacy," which assumes "World Series Titles" is the atomic unit of baseball. (Refer to the "Curse of the Bambino.") If you're going to use the term "fallacy," then you need to think about "Reductio ad Absurdum." At some point, my ever-larger atomic units will turn into, not Reductio ad Absurdum, but "Expandio ad Absurdum." Needless to say, this can apply to nearly any sport, and probably most other aspects of life. So what is the atomic unit of baseball? I'm thinking "Games Won," and not "Runs Scored." Does it really matter if your team is down 15-0, and a player hits a solo home run? Or perhaps, "Duration of Happiness." When an event occurs, whether it's a ball, strike, walk, hit, run, win, or World Series Championship, how long does your joy last? There can also be PlayDoH (Player-Adjusted Duration of Happiness (e.g., Aaron 715 vis-a-vis Bonds 756)), which actually rhymes with Plato, but I'm not going there.
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