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Found 140 results

  1. Jonah Keri, Montreal native, has a new book out on his love for the Expos, I just ordered it and can't wait to read it. 1994 was a special season, with Matt Williams chasing though far away from 61, a couple players including my favorite Frank Thomas chasing an unlikely Triple Crown, having the best year of his career and one of the greatest seasons ever seen in MLB, Tony Gwynn chasing .400, Greg Maddux having a historically great season, and the first season of re-alignment seeing a woeful new AL West. It hurt a lot as a 10-year old White Sox fan to have that team not get a chance to compete again in the playoffs after losing to the defending and eventual champions the fall before. And it was the Sox owner who led the hardline owners in the strike. Coming back in 1995, the team wasn't the same--broken up because of a bitter owner who didn't want to invest in new lucrative free agency and broke up the existing team. It took years for the franchise to recover, and arguably still hasn't seen the heights in popularity that they had in the early 1990s (which even a World Series title in 2005 couldn't quite cure). "Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos" by Jonah Keri Although the Expos may be long gone from Olympic Stadium, special sporting moments can still happen there, as seen just a couple days ago with MLS' Montreal Impact:
  2. Does anyone know how the term "Southpaw" was coined to describe a left-handed pitcher? Traditionally, baseball parks -- in the days before night baseball games -- were laid out so the batter faced east. After all, the sun rises in the east, and by early afternoon when a game starts, the sun would be well overhead and heading to the western side of the stadium behind the batter. The batter would therefore never have the sun in his eyes. That would mean the pitcher faced west, and imposing an imaginary compass on the pitcher's head, the left arm would be on his south side. Thus, "southpaw" was the natural nickname. (Of course, you might wonder why "northpaw" for the righthander never caught on, but who really cares?)
  3. I used to; I was obsessed with baseball (and baseball cards - which were pretty much my only source of baseball information back then, other than the occasional televised game and my monthly copy of Sports Illustrated). Then, when I was about 12, my big brother bought my entire collection for $13, on the condition that I sort the cards for him. (*) Matt had a fairly large card collection that he got sick of, almost overnight - he was going to dump them for next to nothing, and I told him I'd buy the cards from him at market value. I didn't want him to make the same mistake I did. (*) On a similar note, we made a $5 bet on who would retire with more home runs: Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. I was about seven-years-old, this was probably around 1968, and I had no concept of aging - Mays was the much bigger marquis player, was way ahead of Aaron, and I literally couldn't conceive of him being passed. From 1969 going forward, Mays hit 81 more home runs; Aaron hit 245 more. There should have been a 1954 Bowman card of Banks, and there should have been a 1972 Topps card of Banks, but there were neither. Note also that Topps used the same picture in 1955-1956, and then again in 1968-1969; I never knew they employed that practice until tonight (not that there's anything wrong with it; I just never knew). Baseball cards are a lot like tapas - tapas used to be a throw-in as an enticement to get you to buy a drink, and baseball cards used to be a throw-in as an enticement to get you to buy cigarettes (the T206 Wagner is now an expensive throw-in.)
  4. Believe it or not, this man was at my house last night having some wine; unfortunately, it wasn't Ernie Banks.
  5. Both of which I absolutely love.... Fuzzying up Cuellar's screwball a tad, batters had the tendency to hit it downward because it had predictable downward movement on the way to the plate. It's a bit like a slider to righthanded hitters, although if you have a good slider, you don't need a screwgie. Almost nothing is harder to hit for a righthanded hitter than a lefty's slider biting in under his hands. Later in the 1970s, a true "Screwball" named Bill Lee pitched for the Red Sox. The last of the great screwgie pitchers were guys like Fernando Valenzuela and Tug McGraw, more or less. Come about the year 2000 or so, the screwball vanished from the game.
  6. I have rarely seen such a divisive question as this one - maybe whether or not Pete Rose should be in the Hall Of Fame. As Clayton Kershaw is probably going to win the 2014 NL MVP award, people are crying foul (no pun intended) because he has only played in 27 games. When you think about that by itself, you can see why this might chafe some people: That is exactly 1/6th of a full season. But I think a pitcher who is overwhelmingly dominant can singlehandedly make a direct difference of about 15 wins per year, as well as having a strong indirect impact during games that he doesn't play - this indirect impact is what people don't think about. "Kershaw Hard To Beat, Even In MVP Vote" by Tyler Kepner on nytimes.com features some deep insight by his manager, Don Mattingly, in support of Kershaw. Note that in Kepner's article, he mentions that Mattingly batted .352 with 31 homers and 113 RBIs in 1986, but lost the MVP award to Roger Clemens. Personally, I vote "yes," but it has to be an exceptional year - a year that's so dominant that every time the pitcher starts, it's nearly an automatic win. That is Kershaw's 2014 season - the Dodgers are 23-4 (.851) in his 27 starts, and 69-64 (.518) in other games. To put this season into a different perspective: If you had 6 Clayton Kershaws, the Dodgers would be 138-24 in 2014 - that's a statistic you'd only see in a video game. To put it in a similar perspective: If you had 0 Clayton Kershaws, the Dodgers barely limp into the playoffs as the final wildcard. "Clayton Kershaw Deserves To Be MVP" by Neil Greenberg on washingtonpost.com If you scroll down in that article, you can see the list of pitchers who have won the MVP award - it just doesn't seem right that Rollie Fingers won in 1981. Yes, Fingers had a phenomenal ERA and plenty of saves, but that's just not enough (although 1981 was a strike-shortened season). Here's a question I've never seen addressed before: If a pitcher doesn't ever deserve to win the MVP award, why should a pitcher ever deserve to be in the HOF? As an aside, some people say that Kershaw's June 18th no-hitter, with 15 strikeouts and 0 walks (1 error away from a perfect game) was the greatest game ever pitched - statistically, at least, there's a legitimate argument for that being the case: out of 28 batters faced, only 1 went to a 3-ball count, only 11 went to a 2-ball count, and the final 6 batters saw *zero* balls. It's as if he were throwing a ping-pong ball through a hula-hoop from six inches away.
  7. Congratulations to the 2014 World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants. Madison Bumgarner is now 4-0 for his career pitching in the World Series, with a 0.25 ERA (1 run in 36 innings), and those 4 wins don't even include his 5 shutout innings pitching a Save last night (he did not get the win). That's Hall Of Fame stuff. That's three World Series Championships in five years (*much* more difficult to do in this era than ever before). Nothing more needs to be said, although I suspect someone might chime in and say some more.
  8. "Film Of The Washington Senators Winning The 1924 World Series Found!" by Mike Mashon on blogs.loc.gov This is the best footage of Walter Johnson I've ever seen.
  9. Derek Jeter is 2nd only to Hank Aaron in total number of hits by a right-handed batter. That is one *incredible* statistic that few people know about - his lifetime batting average (with just a few games to go in his final season) is .309. Just to give some additional perspective, he has over 700 more hits as a Yankee than Gehrig, Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio - anyone you can name, and he's done it in only 20 years which is long, but not *that* long. Here's a very funny video from earlier today - it's only 32-seconds long, and you have to watch it.
  10. Bernie seems to get bundled into the Paul O'Neil, Tino Martinez, Scott Brocious side of the equation more than the Andy, Mo, Jorge, and Jeter - unfairly at times. I'm not sure why as I always viewed him as being a superior every day player to the former group.
  11. Scully will return for the 2015 season marking SIXTY-SIX years as the voice of the Dodgers-- both the Brooklyn team and L.A.! He presided over so many historical moments in the game. What a life! A-freakin-mazing! Some Scully quotes... I love the one that says "Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamp post: for support, not illumination."
  12. Here's a historically important video of Game 7 of the 1971 World Series, in which the Pittsburgh Pirates (affectionally known as "The Lumber Company") defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 2-1. I could only watch the first inning because there's too much memory of a ten-year-old's anguish, knowing what happened, but even watching the first inning alone is of historical importance - you get to see three hall-of-famers in action: Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and Roberto Clemente. Willie Stargell played, of course, but didn't see any action in the first inning. Can any old-timer from Pittsburgh tell me why Billy Meyer's number was retired? It takes an aficionado for this to mean much, but Pittsburgh's retired numbers from the infield (Mazeroski at 2B, Wagner at SS, Traynor at 3B) are probably as fine as anyone's in baseball, especially Wagner (.328 career BA) and Traynor (.320 career BA) - you could justifiably place both of these two men on a major-league all-time roster by position, and be taken seriously.
  13. And then today they fall to the Padres, 4-2. I've been trying to stay silent to avoid jinxing the Nats. Dammit, as much as I've always loved baseball, and always will, there's something fundamentally wrong with a sport that has so much built-in parity. I get it: it maximizes round-the-league revenue and interest in smaller markets, but it isn't right. The Yankees are all the more impressive for having won so many damned World Series. As in: 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2009 (and even here, they had cold streaks of 15 and 18 years without a championship). To be precise: 1920s: 3 championships 1930s: 5 1940s: 4 1950s: 6 1960s: 2 1970s: 2 1980s: 0 1990s: 3 2000s: 2 Do you see how free agency (which began in 1975), expansion (1969), and the mighty Orioles (1960s, 1970s) killed them? (Sorry - had to get that one in, but the mighty Yankees were the team you *loved* to hate, and what's so wrong with that?) Best post-live-ball records in baseball history, and whether or not they won the World Series: 1954 Cleveland Indians: 111-43, Lost (season shifted from 154 games to 162 games in 1961 (American) and 1962 (National) 2001 Seattle Mariners: 116-46, Lost (you've got to win the series to be in the discussion for GOAT - unfair, but true) 1927 New York Yankees 110-44, Won (featuring the legendary Murderer's Row, and batting .308 as a team) 1998 New York Yankeees 114-48, Won (must be included in any serious discussion of greatest team of all time) 1931 Philadelphia Athletics, 107-45, Lost 1939 New York Yankees, 106-45, Won Of these, since the 1969 expansion, only the 1998 Yankees has ever had the best regular-season record, and won the World Series. There's something about a sport where a team (the 1972 Miami Dolphins) can win the Super Bowl by going 17-0. Complete, total, dominance. *That* is truly memorable. Or the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls going 72-10. In baseball, when your teams goes 110-52, you're considered one of the very greatest teams of all time, and even then, you've only won less than 68% of your games - hardly dominance - and there's probably only about a 30% chance of becoming World Series Champions (just a guess on that latter point). I am not a fan of parity in sports. Yes, in drafts, it's fair I suppose, but salary caps annoy me. Let the rich get richer, and let us hate the Yankees, dammit. It's fun! (We don't really hate them by the way; but we can't actually *admit* that we respect them!) "‹I have *always* had this problem with baseball, and yet, it's what makes it so damnably lovable. I think. It would help things, in my mind, if we didn't have so much free agency resulting in "Musical Players." It kills the love for a city's team, at least it does for me. Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. Parity, my eye. Let the best win.
  14. Interesting story focused on how food at the ballpark is undergoing an upgrade (actually this has been a trend underway for several years now, starting at Camden Yards) "All across America, the national pastime has been hustling to keep pace with the latest food trends: Juicing in baseball has taken on a whole new meaning, with fashionable cold-pressed fruit and veggie juices sold at Marlins Park in Miami. At Citizens Bank Park in Philly, even fans with celiac disease can enjoy a cheesesteak "” or choose from a bunch of other gluten-free options from Section 136. Phillies faithful who have no aversion to wheat, meanwhile, can gorge themselves on artisan-style doughnuts designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Solomonov. At Fenway Park in Boston, there is now a whole peanut-free zone, where clean-up crews take extra care to eliminate every trace of the old-fashioned shelled snack in line with modern concerns about allergens. And, in Denver, the crew at Coors Field seems especially eager to adopt the latest food craze, laying claim to a trio of firsts over the past several years: MLB's first dedicated gluten-free stand (2009), first food truck to set up inside a ballpark (2011) and, in a remarkable flip-of-the-script to Field of Dreams, the first sustainable garden to be built within a ballpark (2013)."
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