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Found 93 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!!"
  4. I wish I'd gotten a chance to see the great Mariano Rivera more than I had - for me living in the DC Suburbs, he was always "that guy up in New York who never loses." Some people that have really studied his cutter say it may be the single greatest pitch in MLB history.
  5. 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
  6. Brooks Robinson plays Ding Dong Ditch: Nov 27, 2012 - "Marvin Miller Spoke Truth to Power, Changed Sports Forever" by Thomas Boswell on washingtonpost.com
  7. Eddie Gaedal is one of the few players in MLB history with a 1.000 OBP, having walked in his only major-league at-bat. A slash line of .300/.400/.500 (Batting Average / On-Base Percentage (OBP) / Slugging Percentage) represents a superb season; an OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) of 1.000 represents a Hall of Fame-caliber season. Gaedal had both an OBP of 1.000, and an OPS of 1.000, both Hall of Fame-level numbers, had he been able to maintain them for a career. He also holds (or shares) the all-time Walks / Appearances mark of 1.000, and I believe him to be a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate.
  8. I was getting ready to make an argument that Len Barker pitched the single-greatest game in Major League history: On May 15, 1981, Barker pitched a Perfect Game - one of 23 in Major League history; one of 21 since the "modern era" of 1900. So what made me think Barker's was *The* Greatest ever pitched? Two things - two *huge* things: 1) Not once did a batter have more than 2 Balls in the pitching count. Think about that - not once! 2) All 10 of Barker's strikeouts were swinging strikeouts! Holy hell! But there's a problem with deifying Barker's game: * Don Larsen did it in a World Series (while only allowing one batter to obtain three Balls), and ... There's this "myth," that a "Perfect Game" is "no runs, no hits, no walks, no errors," which is completely untrue. It's the "no errors" part that's untrue - if an error is committed while the ball isn't in play (dropping a pop-up in foul territory, or, worse, making a Wild Pitch), it doesn't affect the Perfect Game. Did Barker throw any Wild Pitches? I don't know. But I do know that about 50% of all Perfect Games since Don Larsen's in the 1956 World Series have involved one-or-more errors - not only did Larsen throw a Perfect Game in the World Series, he did it with ZERO errors. In fact, I found two Perfect Games thrown - including Barker's - that had 3 errors in the box score (this might account for Barker's 10 strikeouts-while-swinging). So, who threw the greatest game in baseball history? I have no idea I remember that, in 2017, people here were saying Max Scherzer had the best 1-2 games in MLB history, and I could see why they were saying so - I don't remember the specifics, but they were *ridiculous*. Heck, why *not* throw that into the mix? It's all for the lore of baseball.
  9. ESPN SportsCentury Documentary on Stan "The Man" Musial - the legendary hitter from "way out west" in St. Louis - perennially underrated due to his distal locale, but beloved by connoisseurs of the game as one of the all-time greats. Stan Musial: superstar, role model. In case anyone notices the discrepancy between the duration of Musial's Career (22 years) and that he's a 24-time All-Star, it's because from 1959-1962, MLB played two All-Star Games a year. "Stan Musial is geographically challenged - had he played his career in New York, we would have called him Lou Gehrig." -- John Thorn
  10. Carl Hubbell! I know his name well, and have never once seen a film clip of him - famous for his screwball. His 1933-1937 seasons were extraordinary (note also in that link the #1 pitcher in "Similarity" to Hubbell). I vaguely recall "hearing" (and I mean, I can still hear it in my mind) in a documentary, an extremely gravelly voiced, older man saying "Carl Hubbell" when talking about the best pitchers ever - was that Red Barber in the Burns video? From Wikipedia, it says he set the major league record for consecutive wins with 24, and reminds us that he struck out Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin, in order, during the 1934 All Star Game - stories like that are what legends are made of.
  11. "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.
  12. 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
  13. This may sound ridiculous, given that he's 16-years older than I am, but Jim Palmer was actually somewhat *after* my time as a baseball fanatic (at ages 7-12, I knew more about baseball than I know now, and I was something of a prodigy) - Palmer really didn't hit his stride until halfway through "my prime." I had always thought that he was something of a prima donna, but after watching the video I'm going to present to you, I think I was wrong - he had a very difficult childhood, having been adopted at birth, having lost his beloved adoptive father, Mo Wiesen, at age 9, and having gone from being named Jim Wiesen to Jim Palmer when his beloved mother, Polly Wiesen, married actor Max Palmer in 1956 - this child had three fathers by the time he was eleven! And he had legitimate, career-threatening injury problems from 1967 through 1969 - I always thought he was just a self-pampering person, but I was dead wrong - if you watch this video, you'll see just how much he loved his three parents, both adoptive-, and step-; he never knew his biological parents, but he isn't affected by that in the video (titled, "Jim Palmer - The Making of a Hall of Famer,," and narrated by legendary Orioles broadcaster, Chuck Thompson). He was an All-State athlete in three sports, and yes, he is somewhat cocky, and maybe even a bit "self-aware" when it comes to his athletic talent (and his looks don't exactly hurt), but given the gifts he had, he comes across, primarily, as a loving, devoted son to me - I never knew! In Game 2 of the 1966 World Series, Jim Palmer pitched a four-hit shutout against Sandy Koufax, in what was to be Koufax's final game ever. In the process, the 20-year-old Palmer became the youngest person ever to pitch a shutout in a World Series game - a record which stands to this very day. On Aug 13, 1969, a day after I turned 8-years old, Palmer pitched his only no-hitter: an "ugly" game, as he puts it, with 11 strikeouts and *9* walks! But it was good enough for a no-no against the expansion Kansas City Royals (one of four expansion teams in 1969, the very first year of the League Championship Series (the Royals would exact their revenge in the 2014 ALCS)). Palmer is also the only pitcher ever to win a World Series game in three different decades, and he did it the hard way - beginning in 1966, and ending in 1983. I'm so glad I watched this video - I always respected Palmer; now, I really, really like him as well.
  14. 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
  15. Who has a better career W-L record, Mike Mussina, or Tom Seaver? <--- These are links to their stats. Surprise! Every pitcher who has over 100 more victories than losses is in the Hall of Fame ... except for Mike Mussina. I know, I know: "Most overrated statistic there is." I don't buy it. Expect Moose to be inducted this decade, preferably with an Orioles' cap. We miss you, Mike. Even here in Northern Virginia, we miss you. New York is a bigger audience, but between Baltimore and Atlanta, you were *it*.
  16. 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
  17. It about kills me to put this video up here, but the one person in the world I'll do it for is the great Roberto Clemente, killed in an airplane crash while making a humanitarian visit to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old, and was still arguably the best right fielder in baseball at the time - it's hard to believe he was a year *older* than Frank Robinson, a pretty darned good right fielder himself, and whom you can see scoring the winning run here, the game before, off a Brooks Robinson sacrifice "fly" (if you want to call that a fly). This video is Clemente's second World Series championship, and his interview begins just after 2:06:30 (I have it set to this). Shortly after one year later, he was gone - I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but I'm glad for both him, and his mom and dad, that he won this World Series. Other than perhaps Jackie Robinson, can you name a greater human being who ever put on a mitt?
  18. Don, feel feee to delete if this isn’t appropriate, but we are looking for partners interested in splitting a share of 2 season tickets to the Nats in an established pool. 2 members had to drop out, leaving 2 openings. Right now we have 2 quarter share options available (can be combined into a 1/2 share too) in an established pool. 22 games. The cost of a quarter share is approximately $3200 for two seats and includes great perks like dedicated security/entry line, first dibs on post season games, and points that can be used toward parking and stuff. Awesome seats in section 213 row G seats 17 and 18 on the aisle in the Norfolk Southern Club, out of rain and sun, right behind home plate.
  19. Would someone who knows more than I do please explain how Curt Flood fit in to challengng the reserve clause, vis-a-vis Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith contributing to the same thing a few-years later? Even just pointing to an informative article would be very helpful - I've never quite understood the background (which, apparently, had existed since the 1800s), the pioneers and what they did, and the aftermath with free agency. Also, how is the reserve clause any different (in theory or principle) than designating someone as a franchise player in the NFL?
  20. 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? 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 plays third base like he came down from a higher league." - Umpire Ed Hurley "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 "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 "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 "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 experts on baseball. "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 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."
  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
  22. Skip directly to Part 1 Game 5 Announcing Game 5 - and this video is in color! - with thanks to YouTube user MLBClassics - again in Memorial Stadium, are Gowdy and Kubek from NBC, along with Thompson from the Orioles. Tony Kubek interviews Cincinnati Reds' manager, Sparky Anderson. Video of the interview. Tony Kubek interviews Baltimore Orioles' manager, Earl Weaver. Video of the interview. "And the rockets' red glare ..." - The 1st Army Band from Fort George G. Meade, MD: "Brooks Robinson at 3rd ... " Top of the 1st, no score, 2 out, runner on 2nd, Johnny Bench up, 0-1 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - I'm including this because it's a rare chance to see a play involving three all-time greats: Pete Rose (on 2nd), Johnny Bench (at bat), and Frank Robinson (playing RF). Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 2nd, Reds leading 3-2, none out, none on, Brooks Robinson up, 1-2 count, Jim Merritt pitching - "Batting 6th, playing 3rd base, number 5, Brooks Robinson" - Gowdy: "Brooks has the most hits of any batter in this series - 8 hits, 16 times up, he's batting .500. - perfect day yesterday, 4-for-4 ... The last man to get 4-for-4 in a World Series was Lou Brock, for the Cardinals against the Tigers in the first game of the '67 Series ... Prior to Brooks Robinson, the last American League player to have a 4-for-4 game was Bill Dickey in 1938. Robinson hits a deep line-out to left-fielder Hal McRae. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Washington Senators' owner, Bob Short, and son of President Eisenhower, David Eisenhower: Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 3rd, Orioles leading 4-3, none out, runner on 2nd, Merv Rettenmund up, 1-1 count, Wayne Granger relieving Jim Merritt - This is a small detail, but Brooks Robinson, in the on-deck circle, plays "traffic cop," signaling for Boog Powell - rounding third on Rettenmund's single - to hit the dirt on his way home. Certainly you expect this from every professional, but it does show that Robinson was engaged in the moment. Video of the play. --- Bottom of the 3rd, Orioles leading 5-3, none out, runner on 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 1-1 count, Wayne Granger pitching - Gowdy: "Against Minnesota [in the ALCS], he had 7 hits in 12-times up; in the World Series, he's 8-for-17 - 15 hits in his last 29 times at-bat, a nine-game batting streak. He's been just as hot with his glove." Robinson laces a line drive to 2nd-baseman Tommy Helms, who bobbles the ball, but Robinson hit it so hard (and he ran so slowly) that he was still thrown out at first - this was very close to being a base hit, and was a fine, heads-up recovery by Helms - that's one thing you must do as an infielder: block the ball any way you can, so you can have a second chance to throw the runner out. Rettenmund, on 2nd base, advanced to 3rd on the ground out. Gowdy [on Robinson going to the opposite field]: "Those are things that never show up in the box score, but the good players do them, and help their team. Rettenmund now at 3rd, and the Reds have to bring the infield in with one out." Rettunmund would score on the next at-bat, as Davey Johnson hit a line-drive single to left-field; had Rettunmund remained at 2nd base, he wouldn't have made it home, and it was all set up by Robinson hitting to the opposite field - what you'd call a "productive out." Gowdy: "And Brooks Robinson, getting that man over to 3rd, set up the run." Video of the play --- Tony Kubek interviews MLB Commissioner, Bowie Kuhn Video of the interview. --- Top of the 4th, Orioles leading 6-3, none out, none on, Lee May up, 2-2 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - Gowdy: "Lee May is the only hitter who has hit safely in every game, including today. Brooks Robinson and Bobby Tolan still have their chance to do so. They asked May if he's altered his swing to keep the ball from getting away to [sic: "from"] Brooks Robinson - he said, "No." May has had seven hits, and twice, he's been robbed of hits by Robinson at 3rd. They have a shift on for him now ... first time we've seen them shift - Robinson, Belanger, and Davey Johnson all on the left side of the infield." Once again, May rips a line shot down the 3rd-base line - Robinson spears it in foul territory, and notices that May had fallen down near home plate, so despite a good stop, Robinson was able to simply jog towards 1st base, and lob an easy throw over to Powell. If May hadn't have fallen, this would have been another memorable one, but alas, he did. Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Chairman of the Board of the Baltimore Orioles, Jerry Hoffberger Kubek [after exchanging some plesantries]: "Well, you've put on a fine performance, and that guy you've got at 3rd is unreal." Hoffberger: "Come back and see him *next* year, Tony." Hoffberger knew - he had seen it for eleven years, and he would see it for five more. Video of the Interview. --- Bottom of the 5th, Orioles leading 7-3, 1 out, none on 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 1-1 count, Tony Cloninger relieving Milt Wilcox - When it rains, it pours, I guess - Robinson got jammed by Cloninger, and popped the ball up to short-center. But the ball had eyes, and landed in between three converging Reds for a lucky single - this is one that shouldn't have happened, as Cloninger made a perfectly fine pitch; no complaints were heard from Baltimore fans, however. Robinson fell rounding first, perhaps because he felt guilty about this.Thompson: "But that's now the 9th hit in the 1970 World Series for Brooks Robinson, tying a record that Curt Gowdy mentioned earlier- the last one to do it: Bobby Richardson (it must be noted that Paul Blair also got 9 hits in this Series, batting .474, and tying the 5-game record which has happened a dozen times; interestingly, Babe Ruth got *10* hits in a 4-game series, besting all of them!) In the next at-bat, Davey Johnson would drill a double down the left-field line (which Robinson almost surely would have caught), but Robinson was held up at 3rd base, and eventually thrown out at home on a bunt attempt by Mike Cuellar - both occurrences indicating Robinson's slow running speed. Video of the play. Bottom of the 6th, Orioles leading 7-3, 2 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, Brooks Robinson up, 0-0 count, Tony Cloninger pitching - Robinson sure is hitting a lot of ground-outs to Perez at third - here, Perez makes the easy force-out on Powell running to 2nd, and Robinson strands runners on 1st and 3rd. Again, he jumped on the first pitch.Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews Connie Robinson, Brooks' wife. Kubek: "With me down on the field, one of the all-time great 3rd-baseman's wives, Mrs. Brooks Robinson. Connie, I think you're going to be driving a new Dodge around after this World Series - it looks like he's heading for that MVP." Robinson [smiling]: "Maybe, I don't know." Kubek: "He's having a heck of a Series - is he always that easy-going, as he is on the field?" Robinson: "Always, always." Kubek: "Never hollers at the kids or you?" Robinson: "Not too often." Kubek: "Nice talking to you, Connie - a real pleasure." Video of the interview --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles leading 7-3, 1 out, none on, Paul Blair up, 2-2 count, Ray Washburn relieving Tony Cloninger - It's important to include this, Paul Blair's 9th hit of the Series, because it shows the difference between a "great 3rd baseman," and "the best 3rd baseman who has ever lived." Blair hits a hard grounder between 3rd and short - Perez lunges for it and misses, leaving Concepcion to wait an extra split-second, and having to fire a rifle towards 1st base, with Blair beating out the infield single. Robinson cuts off this ground ball 19 out of 20 times, and that's yet another thing that doesn't show up on a stat sheet (if you're skeptical, read my summary post, which will be immediately following this one, and hopefully, you'll see). Video of the play --- Bottom of the 7th, Orioles leading 7-3, 1 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Boog Powell up, 0-0 count, Ray Washburn pitching - This was fabulous baseball by two players, neither of whom was the hitter, or the fielder. Powell slapped a hard grounder to a handcuffed Lee May, who fell down and dropped the ball. However, an alert Tommy Helms had the presence-of-mind to run over, barehand the ball, and flip it to Washburn covering 1st base, getting Powell out. Perhaps even more impressive: Blair raced around from 2nd base, and was somehow able to score on the play - just sensational playing by both Helms and Blair, this play was pure pandemonium: Baseball at its finest and most entertaining. (Pssst ... Powell was safe at 1st - take a close look at the replay.) Video of the play. --- Tony Kubek interviews American League President Joe Cronin. Video of the interview. --- Bottom of the 8th, Orioles leading 8-3, 1 out, runners on 1st and 2nd, Brooks Robinson up, 0-0 count, Clay Carroll relieving Ray Washburn - The Orioles' fans knew this would be the last time they'd see their World Series MVP at-bat. Thompson: "A standing ovation for Brooks Robinson." Had Robinson gotten a hit here, he'd still, in 2018, stand alone as having the most hits in a five-game World Series. Alas, Mighty Casey has struck out for the second time in the Series. Thompson: "As he heads to the Baltimore dugout, they're getting up behind the dugout, and this most-popular of all to wear the uniform of a Baltimore Oriole ... if the Series ends today, you can use all the superlatives you can think of, and it would describe his play in this Series." Video of the play. (PS - You didn't *really* think Robinson would end this Series on a strikeout, did you? If there's such a thing as Fatalism, it's on full display here.) --- Top of the 9th, Orioles leading 9-3, none out, none on, Johnny Bench up, 1-2 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - Yes, he caught it. He could have let it go foul, but he knew he could catch it, so ... why not? Robinson was also keenly aware of what Bench had done precisely three pitches before this blazing line drive. Gowdy: "That's a ... OHHHHHHH !!! ROBINSON DOES IT AGAIN !!! Brooks Robinson! Making another phenomenal play at 3rd!" Video of the play. --- Gowdy: "And Robinson has already been named the winner of the 16th-annual Sport Magazine World Series Award as the outstanding player in the 70 Series. No question about it." --- Top of the 9th, Orioles leading 9-3, 2 out, none on, Pat Corrales up, 0-0 count, Mike Cuellar pitching - The same play that Robinson committed an error on in Game 1, ended the World Series - this time, the throw wasn't high. Somewhere in the middle of that mob is Brooks Robinson. Video of the play. --- Here is Chuck Thompson with the locker-room interviews - I'm not going to comment, other than to say that there are some important interviews here, and hopefully you can see what good people were involved with this team, and what a nice, humble guy Brooks Robinson is - also, a special mention to Sparky Anderson for his classy gesture. Video of the interviews. --- Final Score: Orioles 9, Reds 3 - Box Score Brooks Robinson's Cumulative Statistics: Slash Line: .429 / .429 / .810, OPS: 1.239, Hits: 9, Doubles: 2, HRs: 2, RBIs: 6, Runs: 4 Total Chances: 24, Putouts: 9, Assists: 14, Errors: 1, Double-Plays: 2, Fielding Percentage: .958 Continue with Part 7
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