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Found 135 results

  1. Okay, since I started the R.F.K. thread based upon the Nationals being there, and I don't know what the story is with concessions for D.C. United events or other events at R.F.K., it's high-time to steer the baseball food to this new thread. (Moderators: Please feel free to merge/add-in appropriate posts from the R.F.K. thread as necessary) It's been noted in the R.F.K. thread that the new food concessionaires for Nationals Park have been announced as follows: Ben's Chili Bowl, Boardwalk Fries, Cantina Marina, Gifford's Ice Cream, Krazee Ice, Kosher Sports, Hard Times Café, La Piccola Gelateria, Mayorga Coffee, Noah's Pretzels, and Red Hot and Blue. My first question is: Where the heck is Five Guys? I mean, it's a local, home-grown chain, after all. I'd love to see them there. By the way, as of today, the official Opening Day for the Nats season is only 35 days away, and for season ticket holders, the free game on Saturday, March 29th is only 34 days away. Spring is officially 25 days away. Don't those thoughts warm your heart?
  2. Juan González is one of the greatest hitters not to be in the Hall of Fame. Yes, steroids, but at least be aware that he exists - he put up some great numbers in the steroid era, and is a relatively forgotten power hitter of that time.
  3. Yes, but was he the best defensive SS since Mark Belanger? It's kind of sad when you win 8 Gold Gloves, and are only the second-best left-sided infielder on your team, arguably only the second-best defensive shortstop in your team's history (Luis Aparicio is more famous), and nobody even remembers who you are despite playing as recently as 32 years ago. (Of course, Belanger is (unfortunately) deceased, and also had a career batting average of something like .032.) It's okay, Mark - *I* remember you. What's interesting about Smith and Belanger (and no, I don't honestly think Belanger was as good as Smith) is that they both played very vertical - [brooks] Robinson and Simmons play more horizontally, if that makes any sense. Yeah, both SSs had excellent lateral range, but they just "looked" like they were playing up-and-down as opposed to side-to-side. [BTW, I welcome people who grew up loving other teams to write about them and their players. All views welcome here, and the more information, the better.]
  4. Ted Williams is the only person who can claim - along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb - to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. Here are some statistics which are so mind-boggling that they simply do not compute: * Williams had a lifetime batting average of .344 - the highest of any player with more than 302 home runs. * Williams had 521 home runs. * Williams missed 3 seasons in the prime of his career due to WWII. The three years before, he batted .344, .406 and .356; the three years after, he batted .342, .343, and .369. * Missing those 3 seasons cost him at least 100 home runs - he would have hit 625 for his career. * Even more remarkable than the above? His *career* on-base percentage was .482. That is not a misprint. * Perhaps even *more* remarkable? Not once did he ever have 200 hits in a season. See for yourselves. How can that be? I guess it's because he walked so much (he had 20-12 vision). There are *three people* on that list of *525-different 200-hit seasons* named Williams, none of which is Ted. * If Williams had played 20 years earlier, I might be able to comprehend these numbers, but he was a *generation* after the big-numbers hitters of the 1920s. * His batting average, his home runs, and his walks - in my mind - make him a perfectly legitimate choice for the moniker: Greatest Hitter of All-Time.
  5. "Sandy Koufax" is the answer to one of my favorite baseball trivia questions: "Which Hall of Fame pitcher had a career record of 36-40 exactly halfway through his career?" Of note: Koufax's 1965 World Series is the one where he took off Game 1 for Yom Kippur; yet he still managed to start 3 games, and win Game 7 on 2 days rest. In 1966, in his last regular-season game, he threw over 200 pitches. I take no pride whatsoever that he lost the last game he ever pitched to the 1966 Orioles. None whatsoever. Nope. No sir. And the thing is ... I'm being truthful here because he only gave up *1* earned run - Willie Davis made 3 errors in 2 plays by losing pop flies in the sun, and a 20-year-old Jim Palmer pitched a 4-hit shutout.
  6. Skip directly to Part 1 Game 4 Announcing Game 4, also in Memorial Stadium, is, once again, Gowdy and Kubek from NBC, along with Orioles' broadcaster Chuck Thompson. Gowdy: "The 1970 World Series. You've watched some of his plays during the first three games - let's take a review of them. This man, 10 times, has been voted the Golden Glove in the American League, as best at his position - he'll win it again this year. 13 times he's made the All-Star team. [Shows play] That was his first great play in this World Series, and he's been rattling them off, one right after another. Look at that stop! And he converts it into a double-play. His manager Earl Weaver says, "You see him make a great play one day - all you have to do is come back to the ball park tomorrow, and he'll do it again. The third-baseman is closest to home plate of any infielder, and that's why he needs the fastest reflexes - Robinson has those reflexes. He's a natural left-hander - he does everything left-handed, except bat and throw in baseball. He claims that he's better going to his left than to his right; but it doesn't matter - coming in on the slowly hit ball, going back on the pop-up, flashing to his left, going to his right - he makes all plays with sure hands, and a steady, accurate arm. [Shows play] Maybe his best play was that one, off the bat of Johnny Bench yesterday: a screaming line drive, with Robinson diving to his left for, with the ball *already by him*, and still made the stop. Always-to-be-remembered plays by Brooks Robinson - the 1970 World Series has been a baseball ballet at 3rd base." View the two-minute tribute which began the broadcast of Game 4. Tony Kubek interviews the legendary Mickey Mantle, talking about whether or not the 1970 Orioles compare with the 1960 Yankees (well, of *course* he's not going to come right out and say the Orioles were better - Mantle was a tremendous athlete and a fierce competitor!). He also discusses other issues about the Orioles and the Reds, in a relatively extensive clip. NB: 1960 MVP Voting: 1) Roger Maris (who also won in 1961, and isn't in the Hall of Fame?!) 2) Mickey Mantle 3) Brooks Robinson This is can't-miss TV - Video of the interview. "Batting fifth, playing third base, number 5, Brooks Robinson" - "And the rockets red glare ...." - York Suburban High School Band - Throwing out the first ball was announced to be Joe Cronin, but was instead Casey Stengel - Gowdy: "Brooks Robinson at 3rd." - --- Top of the 1st, 0-0, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Johnny Bench up, 3-0 count, Jim Palmer pitching - Bench hits a foul pop-up down first base near the dugout. Boog Powell runs over, tried to catch it with his mitt facing up, but the ball hits the mitt and pops back up into the air. As Powell is falling down against the dugout, nearly falling down the stairs, he somehow manages to catch the ball with his bare hand - this really needs to be seen. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 1-0, none out, none on; Brooks Robinson up, 2-2 count, Gary Nolan pitching - After fouling off several balls in a long at-bat, Robinson hits a line-drive home run to left field. Now, for the fourth-straight game, Robinson has hit a game-tying, go-ahead, or game-winning RBI. Gowdy: "Brooks Robinson not a *big* home-run hitter, but he'll hit 18, 20, 25 during a normal year - he had 18 this last year, and he's now taken the lead in the Series in RBIs - he's knocked in 5 runs." Thompson: "That is his third lifetime Series home run." Video of the play. --- Top of the 3rd, 1-1 tie, 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, Johnny Bench up, 1-1 count, Jim Palmer pitching - Tolan hits a routine pop-up to very shallow left-center. Belanger goes back, catches it, and throws home to prevent Bobby Tolan from even thinking about scoring - Robinson cuts off the play, making a reasonable decision in the process. Nothing out of the ordinary here, but it did involve Robinson touching the ball, and being in the right position. Video of the play. --- Top of the 3rd, Reds leading 2-1, 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Bernie Carbo up, 0-0 count, Jim Palmer pitching - Carbo hits a hard, one-hop grounder to Robinson, who catches it, and trots over to 3rd base for the force out, ending the inning. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 3rd, 2-2 tie, 2 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 1-2 count, Gary Nolan pitching - Robinson hits a hard line drive which makes the 2nd-base umpire jump in the air to keep from getting hit, scoring the runner on 2nd base. Center-Fielder Bobby Tolan bobbles the ball, allowing Frank Robinson to take 3rd, and Brooks Robinson to take 2nd on the error. Video of the play. --- NBC plays a recorded telephone interview with the great, humble Pie Traynor - Gowdy: "Pie Traynor, 71-years old, was voted year-before-last the "Greatest 3rd Baseman of All-Time. Lefty Grove yesterday, interviewed by Kubek, uh, said they were both even - so we called Pie Traynor today, and asked him his personal observations regarding Brooks Robinson." Traynor: "Well, Brooks Robinson is stealing the whole World Series - he's a man in a, a spot that it's unusual for a 3rd-baseman to go and steal a whole World Series, but he is doing it, and he's having a great play every day, in the three-game [unintelligible] fielding, and also hitting. But he was known as a great ballplayer eight- or nine-years ago, because I had to go to Baltimore, and we had quite a talk and they said this is the coming third-baseman of baseball, Pie, and glad you two got together." --- Bottom of the 3rd, Orioles leading 3-2, 2 out, runners on 2nd and 3rd, Elrod Hendricks up, 1-2 count, Don Gullet relieving Gary Nolan - Hendricks lines a single to right field - Frank Robinson scores easily from 3rd base, and Brooks Robinson is waved around from 2nd base. Pete Rose makes a great throw to Johnny Bench, who makes an even greater tag, getting Brooks Robinson out at the plate. Note that there were three first-ballot Hall-of-Famers plus all-time hits leader Pete Rose involved in just this one play. You can see on the replay that Brooks Robinson was giving his all, trying to get home, but he just wasn't that fast of a runner, and the slide itself wasn't one for the ages - the way he drops his batting helmet shows he's clearly discouraged at being thrown out. Video of the play ---, Tony Kubek interviews National League President Chub Feeney - Kubek: "With me down on the field, the President of the National League, Mr. Chub Feeney. Chub, this isn't the National League club we saw win that pennant over there - they're not hitting quite well." Feeney: "Of course they haven't been hitting the way they did during the season, but I think you can attribute that to the Oriole pitchers - I think they've *played* very well, these are two great ball club - it's no disgrace to be beaten by this fine club, and of course I Imagine you've heard it many times before, the difference in the series so far is that a man named Mr. Robinson's playing 3rd base for the Orioles." Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 5-2, 1 out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 2-1 count, Don Gullet pitching - Gowdy: "Brooks Robinson - homered, singled, driven in 2 runs, 2 homers in the Series, leads the Series now in RBIs with 6. I think the best statement about Brooks Robinson's fielding was made by Sparky Anderson, the Cincinnati manager: He said, 'I'm afraid to drop my sandwich in the clubhouse - Robinson will dart in and pick it up.' ... He plays ping-pong left-handed. There's a great game for athletes, ping-pong - keeps his quick eyes and quick hands." Robinson lines a single between shortstop and 3rd base. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 5-3, 1 out, runner on 1st, Elrod Hendricks up, 0-1 count, Don Gullet pitching - Hendricks lines a single between 1st and 2nd base. Robinson takes off, rounds 2nd, and heads towards 3rd. Rose throws towards 3rd from Right Field, and Robinson slides in safely. But if you take a close look at the left side of this grainy picture, you can see a little orb: Rose overthrew the 3rd baseman, and the ball went sailing into the dugout - as a result, Robinson was able to trot home and score on Rose's throwing error. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 5-2, 2 out, runner on 3rd, Mark Belanger up, 0-0 count, Clay Carroll relieving Don Gullet - A somewhat unusual no-pitch situation, as the left-field umpire had run in and called a time-out - this one you need to see in order to understand. Video of the play. --- Top of the 7th, Orioles leading 5-3, 2 out, none on, Pete Rose up, 3-2 count, Jim Palmer pitching - Rose hits a weak tapper straight to Powell at 1st base for an easy out, but as you can see from the pictures, Rose immediately turned around to the umpire, claiming the ball hit his foot (if you listen very carefully, you can even hear someone on the broadcast yell, "... foot!"). Rose loses his argument, and is furious with the umpire - based on the audio and visual evidence, I absolutely believe Rose was correct, and the ball was foul. Video of the play --- Tony Kubek interviews New York Mets' manager, Gil Hodges - Video of the interview. --- Top of the 8th, Reds leading 6-5, 1 out, none on, Tommy Helms up, 1-1 count Eddie Watt relieving Jim Palmer - Helms hits a medium-speed grounder between 3rd and short. Robinson moves to his left for what seems like a routine play for him, but for whatever reason, the ball skimmed off the top of his mitt, into the glove of Belanger, and Helms is safe at 1st with a single. I'm putting this in the "bizarre" category, because from everything I see from the film, this is a standard ground out for Robinson, even though it was ruled a single. As to what might have happened, I can think of only one possibility, other than Robinson being human, which he surely cannot be: The ball hit a bad spot on the field, and either veered sideways or bounced low. If you watch the slow-motion replay *really* carefully (and you might need to watch it five times), the ball bounces right at the seam of the grass and the dirt. Even though the ball was behind Robinson when he reached out, I'm certain he thought he'd catch it - notice how he snapped his mitt together, as if he was expecting the ball to be in it, then pounds his mitt in disgust when the ball gets by him (on the slow-motion replay, which is a much better perspective). He could - and always did - dive for balls out of his reach, but in his mind, he thought sure he had this grounder, and it was at Memorial Stadium where he was familiar with every speck of dirt. This play is just downright odd - Robinson wasn't even fully extended, he wasn't moving at full-speed, and absent a bad bounce, I would have had no problem with them ruling this an error. Unless someone asks him what happened, nobody will ever know. Video of the play. --- Top of the 8th, Reds leading 6-5, 1 out, runner on 1st, Clay Carroll up, 0-0 count, Eddie Watt pitching - This is a very clever play by Carroll: He fakes "bunt" in such an early, obvious way that Robinson has almost reached home plate by the time the pitch arrived. But at the last moment, Carroll instead takes a half-swing, and tries to bounce a grounder over Robinson's head - it might have worked, had the ball not gone foul. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 8th, Reds leading 6-5, 2 out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 3-2 count, Clay Carroll pitching - Well, he did it again: Robinson lined a single to the right of the shortstop, giving him a 4-4 day at the plate. Gowdy: "Robinson has just tied a Series record, which has been done many times, of getting four hits in a Series game." Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Pittsburgh Pirates' manager, Danny Murtaugh (the Pirates would go on to defeat the Orioles in both the 1971 and 1979 World Series) - Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 9th, Reds leading 6-5, 2 out, none on, Merv Rettunmund up, 3-2 count, Clay Carroll pitching - Wow, this was a weird one: Rettunmund hit a routine grounder to Perez at 3rd base (who, by the way, has played a *fantastic* 3rd base in this Series, and his performance should not be forgotten). Perez threw wide, pulling May off of first, but he tagged Rettunmund out, ending the game. But wait a minute: the tag knocked the ball out of May's hand, and Rettunmund was safe after all, allowing the Orioles to maintain one, last gasp. Video of the play. --- Lee May, who has terrorized the baseball in all four games, hit the two-run homer that gave Cincinnati the 6-5 win. Robinson's best day at the plate simply wasn't enough to pull this one out. --- Final Score: Reds 6, Orioles 5 - Box Score Brooks Robinson's Cumulative Statistics: Slash Line: .500 / .500 / .938, OPS: 1.438, Hits: 8, Doubles: 2, HRs: 2, RBIs: 6, Runs: 4 Total Chances: 21, Putouts: 8, Assists: 12, Errors: 1, Double-Plays: 2, Fielding Percentage: .952
  7. When a team is purposefully tanking, rids itself of every Major League player they can, has to pull players from what has been one of the worst minor league program in baseball you tend to get plays like the following below, "Will There Be a Worse MLB Play this Season than this Orioles Blunder?" by Jason Owens on aol.com
  8. During a late lunch I was half watching today's day game: Orioles/Yankees game in NYC. The Orioles crushed the Yankees. Orioles hits everywhere; homers, doubles, everybody for the Orioles was torching the ball. It wasn't much of a contest as the Orioles went up early and kept adding runs. One play grabbed my attention. It also grabbed the attention of the writers for ESPN who added these sentences: It was NOT a scorching shot. It was a ground ball on the shortstop side of second base. Jeter moved to his left, dropped his glove but it was still to the 2nd base side and below him. My reaction to that play was curious as to Jeter's age and range. The reaction was in sync with the comment above from the article. I couldn't have asserted that others would have made that play or done so easily but it was beyond Jeter's reach. I assume the author above is more knowledgeable than I and he "answered" my unstated question. Jeter has been an exemplary athlete over his career. I hope he goes out in style.
  9. The Washington Nationals' webpage Season opener, 9-7 in 10 innings. Amazingly, the score after regulation was 5-5 - that is a tense tenth inning. A classic Earl Weaver game: "pitching, defense, and 3-run homers." Look: 1) The Nats struck out *18* batters today, and gave up only 3 walks. 2) Error-free the entire game. 3) Anthony Rendon hit a 3-run homer. Strasburg fanned 10, and his BAA (batting average against) was .238. It's remarkable that his ERA after this game is 6.00. We've got to watch giving up the long ball. Box Score on cnn.com
  10. I think Thomas Boswell is one of DC's greatest sportswriters - he is one of the people at the Post whom I look forward to reading whenever I can. Basically, I have nothing negative to say about him. One question, though: I remember back in 1997 when Mark McGwire was chasing Roger Maris, someone for the Post called McGwire "Our Babe Ruth." Shortly thereafter, the legendary Shirley Povich (1905-1998), sports editor since *1925*, took issue with the comment, saying something along the lines of: "Now hold on just a cotton-pickin' minute there!" etc. That's a little embellished, but the general tone is intact. Does anyone remember if this was in rebuttal to Boswell (as opposed to someone else), and what, if anything, was Boswell's response? It was a great little back-and-forth.
  11. Artificial turf first gained substantial attention 53 years ago in 1966, when it was installed in the year-old Astrodome. The specific product used was "ChemGrass", developed by Monsanto and rebranded as AstroTurf; this term since then became a generic trademark for any artificial turf throughout the late 20th century. AstroTurf remains a registered trademark but is no longer owned by Monsanto. Some comments about the second play: Here is Mike Schmidt's posture after the ball has been hit: Schmidt's posture after the first bounce (this is while the ball is coming up): Schmidt's posture after the second bounce - he had done a split-step, and just took a long, first stride with his right leg. After the second bounce, Schmidt prepares to field the ball - he still hasn't touched his left foot to the ground: Bobble (that's the baseball that popped out to his left). All because Schmidt didn't play the ball; he let the ball play him - this was in an All-Star game: You're welcome, Brooks.
  12. Can someone please explain this stat to me, and why it seems to be *THE* advanced metric of choice? How is dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) sewn into this? I have a feeling WAR grossly undervalues defense, and is extremely flawed, but until I see how it's derived, I can only speculate. dWAR seems very flawed to me, so if it's an ingredient in the WAR recipe, the dish is probably fundamentally wrong.
  13. "The Man They Love To Hate: Why Is It So Easy To Dislike Bryce Harper?" by Tom Verducci on si.com I have not read this article yet, and I don't consider myself to be a rabid Nats fan, but it's a very good question: Why *is* it so easy to dislike Bryce Harper? From what (little) I've seen, I think he's perfectly likable, or at least likable enough. What's the problem?
  14. Sadly, Tom Seaver has dementia. Tom Terrific, the Greatest Met ever, star pitcher of the '69 World Champion Mets, who surprised all of baseball with one of the most amazing upsets of all time, beating the Powerful Orioles in the '69 World Series, Seaver is usually described as one of the all time great pitchers in baseball. Yeah...so I was a Yankees fan growing up...but as the '69 Mets taught us--"Ya gotta believe"
  15. Cant help it folks. I'm a Yankee fan but I gotta get behind the Mets here. Finally looks like they got a good team. Until Wright comes back and spoils it of course.
  16. DonRocks

    Baseball Trivia

    Good luck answering this one ... In what year did we have two batting Triple Crown winners? It's not a trick question. Mouse your cursor over this for a hint (it's an amazing hint, but I still don't think anyone will get the answer): Same City!
  17. This Sports Illustrated article emphasizes the point I was trying to make above: Apr 6, 1992 - "Who's on Third?" by Tim Kurkjian on si.com
  18. Skip directly to Part 1 Bottom of the 9th In the Preambulum, I made a bold proclamation: I said I was going to all-but prove to you that Brooks Robinson was the greatest defensive player ever to play baseball, at any position. My attempt to do so was to use the 1970 World Series - the thing that everyone remembers - to demonstrate just how great Robinson was. As of right now, a certain percentage of readers probably think I did a pretty decent job, while another group probably thinks I didn't prove anything - okay, the guy had a great World Series ... so what? That doesn't make him "the greatest defensive player of all-time, you hyperbolic fan-boy!" I also mentioned Aristotle's recipe for persuasion, translated to Yogi Berrish: "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, and then tell 'em what you just told 'em." I have now written the first long-form piece of my entire life, spending dozens-upon-dozens of hours methodically attempting to convey to you the second part of that triptych. What I'm going to do right now is tell you what I just told you, but after five games of tossing you slow, hanging curveballs, it's now time for me to reach back, give it everything I've got, and deliver the heat, on this, my final pitch. I suspect I'll be the first person ever to say this, but I'm going to come right out and say it: Brooks Robinson had a sub-par defensive World Series, and all those "miraculous plays" you just saw were things he did as a matter of course. The difference between this World Series, and Robinson's 23-years playing 3rd base can be summed up by two things: 1) this was the first time he ever got true, national attention for something he did for his entire career, and 2) he had an offensive World Series that would have made Babe Ruth proud. *That* is why this is known as "The Brooks Robinson Series." Robinson had a .958 fielding percentage in this World Series, which for most people would have been excellent: Pie Traynor had a career fielding percentage of .947, and Mike Schmidt had a career fielding percentage of .951 - this would have been an outstanding five games for either of those two; for Robinson? It was below his usual standards. Robinson had a relatively high number of Chances-per-Game in this Series - more than his career average, but let's take a look at the 16 consecutive years in which he won his Gold Gloves (yes, he made all sorts of spectacular plays over that 16-year span, just like he did in this World Series - there was nothing new there): 1960 - .977 1961 - .972 1962 - .979 1963 - .976 1964 - .972 1965 - .967 1966 - .976 1967 - .980 1968 - .970 1969 - .976 1970 - .966 1971 - .968 1972 - .977 1973 - .970 1974 - .967 1975 - .979 Please look closely. In his *worst* year out of those 16 - ironically, 1970 - his season fielding percentage was .966: notably higher than his fielding percentage in this World Series. From 1955 through 1977 - 23 years - his career-average fielding percentage was .971. Brooks Robinson made 45% more Errors per Chance in this World Series than he averaged throughout his career - and this includes seasons when he was both 18- and 40-years-old. Not only that, but he got a chance to field only two bunts during the five games - one of which he let roll for a base hit, which he almost never did - and fielding bunts was one of his preternatural skills. He didn't tag a single runner, he had only one force-out on a double-play ball, and he could have easily been charged with a second error on Tommy Helms' infield single in Game 4. Robinson played in 9 post-season series, and this one ranks #7 in fielding percentage: 1966 WS - 1.000 1969 ALCS - 1.000 1969 WS - 1.000 1970 ALCS - 1.000 1970 WS - .958 1971 ALCS - 1.000 1971 WS - .920 1973 ALCS - .941 1974 ALCS - 1.000 Total - .972, just slightly higher than his career average. That one, seemingly innocuous, throw in Game 1, which was about three-inches too high, was so out-of-character for Robinson that it skewed his entire World Series down in terms of fielding percentage. The spectacular plays? He made those routinely - he made them *all the time* - they were not spectacular plays for Robinson, they were completely ordinary; it was his slightly errant throw that was the oddity. You've been groomed, over the decades, into thinking that Robinson had some sort of statistical anomaly in the 1970 World Series, but the numbers and films reveal otherwise: Robinson had a below-average World Series in terms of defense. In terms of offense? He was a tour-de-force (with due respect to Paul Blair, Lee May, and several others), and he pulled it off in front of the national eye. In 1970, left-handed pitchers Dave McNally (I have a friend who calls him "Dave McLucky") and Mike Cuellar each won 24 games. Both pitchers tended to throw sinking curves, low-and-inside to the 3rd-base side of home plate, forcing batters to hit ground balls to Brooks Robinson. In 1969, Mike Cuellar won 23 games with these slow, loping curveballs and screwballs, and he won the Cy Young Award: In 1971, the Orioles had 4 20-game winners. These pitchers' games - with the exception of the fantastic Jim Palmer - were molded to tempt hitters to direct the ball towards third base and shortstop (even Pat Dobson - formerly a power pitcher - had recently developed a slider with negligible lateral breakaway from right-handed batters, forcing ground balls to the left side of the infield). Regarding shortstop, In my analysis of Game 2, I referred you to a link which some of you may have glossed over. I need you to go there now, and really *read* it (here it is) - it will come very close to mathematically proving what type of range Robinson had, using Luis Aparicio as the constant, and different third basemen as the variable. Is it coincidence that during Robinson's tenure, the Orioles had two of the greatest defensive shortstops the game has ever known? Or was Robinson acting as a booster, rescuing both Belanger and Aparacio when they needed to go towards their right? The answer is pretty-well mapped out in the Aparicio analysis - please visit this link, read it carefully, and remember it well 2-3 paragraphs from now. In the crudest of terms, the baseball field can be broken into four quadrants: 1) the left-side of the infield 2) the right-side of the infield 3) the left side of the outfield, and 4) the right-side of the outfield. The Orioles were very fortunate to have Paul Blair in center-field, one of the greatest - if not *the* greatest - defensive center-fielder in history, because Brooks Robinson wasn't able to cover for the Orioles' outfielders. Likewise, how fortunate to have Davey Johnson at 2nd base, and the extremely underrated Boog Powell at 1st base - a man tailor-made to handle Robinson's bounce-throws to first, and who could stretch-catch as well as anyone I've ever seen, with his massive six-foot, five-inch frame - what a perfect combination this was. Back to the quadrants: In these terms, you could argue that Brooks Robinson was directly and indirectly responsible for fully 25% of the baseball field on defense, and he (with the help of two fantastic shortstops) changed the opponents' strategy, as he essentially removed that part of the field from consideration - the poor Reds had never experienced anything like this before, and even the best of scouting reports couldn't have prepared them for the hellish World Series they were forced to endure. Fifty years ago, there was scouting, but not advanced analytics dealing with shifts; yet somehow, Robinson was able - time-after-time - to be in the right spots, even when playing the line to protect against doubles, and the ball was often hit right to him - it's as if he had some type of sixth sense of where to be. Earlier on, I said that I loved Mike Schmidt, and I still do, but that was before I read this New York Times essay by baseball writer Tyler Kepner, which was published on Jan 25, 2018. In the article, Schmidt - who is inexplicably called "the greatest third baseman in major league history" - is quoted by Kepner as follows: "Don't let the hot corner concept fool you," Mike Schmidt, the greatest third baseman in major league history, said by phone on Thursday. "The third baseman's got his own little corner to protect, some down-the-line pop-ups and a couple of bunt plays here and there, but for the most part, a third baseman can go an entire game and never see any defensive action at all. The shortstop's got to be all over the place on the field. If you play shortstop, you can play anywhere on the field. Going from short to third, it's a walk in the park." It's a 3 AM walk in Central Park. Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Kepner need to be mindful that airline pilots can sit in the cockpit and play Scrabble while the plane flies itself on autopilot (until they're forced to land in the Hudson River); that policemen spend 99% of their time on patrol driving around, writing traffic tickets, responding to minor calls, and drinking coffee trying to stay awake while they're writing out an entire library's-worth of paperwork (and the other 1% making split-second, life-or-death decisions about whether someone needs to be saved, or killed, while the policeman's would-be executioner has planned out their malevolent course of action for days if not weeks); that soldiers overseas spend their days bored to tears in the desert, wiping sand off their burned, chafed skin (until a suicide bomb hidden in a vest comes walking their way in the form of an elderly lady seeking help). Have another look at the post-game interviews made by Tony Kubek after Game 5 - note in particular his interview with eight-time Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop, Mark Belanger - I only wish Belanger was still around so we could ask him what he thinks of Kepner's questionable descriptor (in an otherwise fine article), and Schmidt's humble and self-deprecating, but ultimately misguided, comments. And remember that over the course of the five-game, 1970 World Series, Brooks Robinson probably touched the baseball for less than 30-seconds, total. There's one more thing I can't reconcile about a third baseman 'going an entire game and never seeing any defensive action at all' - this doesn't mesh with the fact that in 23 seasons, Robinson played 2870 games at 3rd base, and had 9165 Chances - that averages out to over 3.1 chances per game. I apologize to my readers for bombarding them with the endless examples from the World Series, but hopefully it was a fun journey down memory lane, and it was the only means I had to demonstrate the greatness of Brooks Robinson - who is now 80-years old, and whose fans are, at this point, mostly deceased. I needed to show you extended examples of jaw-dropping footage from Robinson's five-game-long, third-base ballet in 1970, and then - and only then - remind you that this was nothing out of the ordinary, and that it went on for 23 years. How old were you 23 years ago, and what were you doing then? That's how long this sustained level of excellence lasted. Robinson won his final Gold Glove in 1975; the photograph up at the top is in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, and was taken by photographer Walter Kelleher, twelve years before this World Series - in 1958. To those who say, "Sure, great defense, but barely above-average offense," Brooks Robinson had more hits than anyone in the entire American League during the 1960s. Really. Look it up if you don't believe me. Robinson had more hits during the 1960s than Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, and Harmon Killebrew - and Robinson won a Gold Glove every single year during the 1960s, as well as being the AL MVP (1964) and All-Star MVP (1966). Were Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, or Ted Williams a Top 5 defensive player for an entire decade? If you value defense as much as offense, then Brooks Robinson was one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the sport - assuming you believe defense is equal to offense, I'll go so far as to say that Robinson was one of the Top 10 greatest baseball players in the history of the sport - how could he not be? His defense was better than Hank Aaron's offense, and his offense was better than Hank Aaron's defense. How could anyone not rate him higher than Sandy Koufax, who only had four dominant seasons, and contributed nothing on offense? If, one day in the future, defense is considered equal to offense, I'd like to make the immodest proposal that Brooks Robinson may have been the greatest baseball player ever to live. I can't take anything away from Babe Ruth's pitching records - coupled with his hitting, they're just absurd - but if you accept that Robinson was the greatest defensive player ever, can you name me five other players who have such a combination of defense and offense? Willie Mays, maybe? Who else? Robinson was not a truly great hitter - and he'll say exactly the same thing - but he was as good at offense as the all-time greats were at defense. He was - he just was. If Bill Russell in basketball, why not Brooks Robinson in baseball? Allow me to end this with some quotes about Brooks Robinson from his peers: "He was the best defensive player at any position. I used to stand in the outfield like a fan, and watch him make play-after-play. I used to think: 'WOW! I can't believe this!'" - Frank Robinson "I will become a left-handed hitter to keep the ball away from that guy." - Johnny Bench (NB - The definition of cruelty) "We kind of laughed at the fuss everyone made - we'd seen him make those kinds of plays for years." - Dick Hall "He charged everything. He reacted as the ball was coming off the bat, sometimes as it was coming to the bat!" - George Brett "He could throw his glove out there, and it would start ten double plays." - Sparky Anderson "If we had known he wanted a new car that badly, we all would have chipped in and bought him one." - Johnny Bench, on Robinson winning the 1970 World Series MVP Award "He plays third base like he came down from a higher league." - Umpire Ed Hurley (1955) "Brooks Robinson belongs in a higher league." - Pete Rose "Brooks never asked anyone to name a candy bar after him; in Baltimore, people named their kids after him." - Sportswriter Gordon Beard From John Eisenberg on baltimoresun.com, quoting catcher Elrod Hendricks, a rookie just up from the Mexican league, witnessing Robinson in 1968: "Early in the game, Oakland's fleet Bert Campaneris pushed a bunt between the mound and third as a runner on first sprinted for second": "Where I'd come from, that was a hit. Brooks was on it instantly, and without even looking, threw to second for a force. Then, there was a throw to first, double play, inning over, in half a second. I was sitting in the bullpen and my mouth fell open. I went, 'You've got to be kidding me! I don't believe what I just saw!'" - Elrod Hendricks "I once saw Robinson and crew turn a bunt into a double play. They practiced a play where Belanger would cover third as Robinson charged and threw to him for the force. Belanger then threw to first for the double play. I swear I saw this, probably in 1970 or 1971." - Baseball Fan Mike Hummel "Before every pitch for years and years, he was on his toes, ready to move, instantly alert. He always got ready as if he knew the ball was coming to him. Whenever a new guy would join the bullpen, he'd watch Brooks for a game or two and say, 'Holy cow! He's as good as they say!' We'd say, 'Just watch him. He treats every pitch like there are two outs in the ninth.' - Dick Hall "I used to collect baseball autographs in the '80s and '90s and would sometimes go to the Negro League reunions and ask the player to compare certain guys from the Negro League to guys from the MLB. They almost always ranked the Negro League players (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Ray Dandridge, Buck Leonard, etc.) above guys from the MLB. But when it came to Brooks Robinson, they almost unanimously conceded that there was no one in the Negro Leagues as good defensively as Robinson. That was a pretty strong testament to how good Brooks really was." - Baseball Fan and Autograph Collector Matthew Berkowitz "He was the best third baseman I ever saw or played with. The guy made exceptional plays every day. He made them so often you didn't get excited about it, because you came to expect them. I'm not talking about good plays. I'm talking about exceptional plays." - Frank Robinson "I'd like to be like Brooks, the guy who never said no to nobody, the ones that everybody loves because they deserve to be loved, those are my heroes." - Manager Earl Weaver, on why he tore-up his written speech, cried, and ad-libbed on "Brooks Robinson Day" in Baltimore "In, Out of Uniform, the Epitome of Grace" - Thomas Boswell, 1983 <--- You need to read this, because Thomas Boswell is still active, and is one of the foremost baseball experts in the world. Finally, from legendary sportscaster Dick Enberg, who left us in Dec, 2017, during his induction speech into the Baseball Hall of Fame: "I loved acknowledging the subtle arrogance of Hall of Famer Rod Carew's drag bunt. The sleight-of-hand of Brooks Robinson magically reducing a double into 5-3 putouts. The towering arc of a Ted Williams monster shot deposited in the bleachers high. The classic confrontation of the best hitter against the best pitcher, and the immaculately executed bullet of a double play." - Dick Enberg One day, Major League Baseball will make available films of numerous games, instead of the select few that are available now - hopefully they'll be colorized and digitized. Then, and perhaps only then, will people see just how immortal Brooks Robinson truly was, day in, day out, for 23 breathtaking years. and that there are things which simply cannot be derived from a stat sheet. Then, and only then, will everyone realize that there has never been, and can never be, another Brooks Robinson. This is probably the only long piece I'll ever write in my lifetime, and I've left my blood and guts all over it. Even if you don't agree with its basic premise, please at least be aware of this: "Baseball Great Brooks Robinson Sells Multi-Million Dollar Norman Rockwell for Charity." Watch also this Heritage video about Robinson donating 100% of the proceeds of his memorabilia auction to charity. To Mr. Robinson, should you ever see this, and wish to thank me: You already thanked me, fifty years ago. I respectfully ask Rawlings Corporation to consider renaming the "Rawlings Gold Glove Award," the "Rawlings Brooks Robinson Gold Glove Award."
  19. I remember reading about this as a kid, and just did a search on it - the internet is amazing.
  20. 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).
  21. 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
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