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Monthly archives: September 2002

 

Orwellian: Shades of '84, 1884
2002-09-29 13:00
by Mike Carminati

Orwellian: Shades of '84, 1884 that is

With one day left in the season a lot of things are finally set. The Giants secured the final playoff spot with a 5-2 win against Houston yesterday, but found out that an Arizona drubbing of San Diego (17-8) denied them any chance at the NL West division title. The first round will be, in the NL, San Francisco vs. Atlanta and St. Louis vs. Arizona. In the AL Anaheim plays New York and Minnesota plays Oakland. The top seed in the AL is still up for grabs between the Yankees and the A's. Should the Yankees finish one-half game behind the A's (if the A's win today and the Yanks lose), they will be required to play a make-up game against the Devil Rays and a win will clinch home-field throughout the playoffs. The second seed in the NL is still to be decided between Arizona and St. Louis with the D-Backs one game in front. Should they end in a tie (i.e., D-Back loss and Cardinal win today), the Cardinals will get home-field advantage in their series.

Looking at the standings, I still marvel at the polarization of the team records. There will be three teams with at least 105 losses (Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Milwaukee). That has never happened before. The previous most was two (in 1909, '11,'15, '39, '63, '64, '69, '79, and '88) and only twice before (1969 & '79) were there two 105+ losers in the same league (the AL has Detroit and Tampa Bay). However, by using wins and loses as the media do, we limit ourselves to mostly teams playing with an 162-game schedule. If instead we use the .352 percent cutoff (i.e., highest possible winning percentage with 105 losses), then we see that the 3-league year of 1884 weighs in with the highest total, 12 teams. Next are two National Association years with six (1872 and '75), and finally three years with 4 (1873-NA, 1890-three leagues, 1893-12-team NL).

There are also a great deal of teams doing very well in 2002. There are three teams (Atlanta, New York Yankees, and Oakland) who will end the year with 100 wins. That has only occurred three other times 1942 (first WWII year), 1977 (expansion year), and 1998 (ditto). Again if we remove the 162-game bias from the investigation and instead use a .617 winning percentage as our lower threshold, we find that 1884 had 10 teams qualify. There was one year with 5 (1886), and five years with 4.

2002 has a good number of teams winning 90 games (11), in fact so many that three will not make the playoffs. Those three teams with 90+ wins (Los Angeles, Boston, and Seattle) that will not make the playoffs have garnered a good deal of the press that ranges from an isn't-that-odd slant to claims that the agreed-upon Collective Barganing Agreement did not go far enough to right baseball's ship. The previous high was 9 in 1977 and '99. Next were 1978, 2000, and 2001 with 8. Removing the 162-game bias (i.e., instead use .555 win percent as cutoff), returns two 3-league years as the leaders, 1884 (with 15) and 1890 (with 11). Also, the strike-shortened 1994 season had 9 teams fit the criterion.

This year has seven teams with 90 losses. That is not the highest total. 1999 had 9. There were eight 90-loss teams in 1969, '72, '78, '93, 2000, and 2001. Checking without the 162-game bias (using .445 upper threshold), returns 1884 with 15.

So what's the deal with 1884 you ask? Well, in 1884 there were three leagues: today's National League, the 1882-91 American Association, and the one-year Union Association. The Union Association is widely acknowledged to be the weakest major league since the National Association. The Union Association had 12 teams according to official standings, but many of those teams were short-lived and the league never had more than 8 clubs at one time. The league finally expired as its best team and the only one to complete its entire schedule, the St. Louis Maroons, joined the NL for 1885.

One would expect that the adding in the loosely organized UA is what would cause such a polarized season in 1884. The 12-team UA had 3 of its teams finish with what would translate into 100 wins in 162 games (and therefore three 90 wins). They also had 6 with 90 losses and five with 105. They also had three with .451, .532, and .552 winning percentages. However, the two existing leagues were even more polarized than the UA. The AA's entire roster either won the equivalent of 90 games (7) or lost 90 (6). 5 had 100-win comparable season, and 4 had 105-loss seasons. The senior circuit faired only slightly better: all of its teams had either 90-win (5) or 90-loss (3) equivalent seasons. Two NL clubs had a 100-win equivalent season and 3 had a 105-loss equivalent one. The UA, as uneven as its talent was, was the only one of the three leagues to field mediocre (between 72 and 90 equivalent wins).

In 1885, the UA folded, the NL had only 2 of 8 teams in the 90-win-equivalent category but 4 in the 80-loss. The AA's equanimity was more easily re-established: only 2 90-win-equivalent teams and no 90-loss-equivalent ones.

With all of the comparisons between 2002 and the highly polarized 2002 season, it makes one wonder if the doom-and-gloom predictions of the owners have any validity. Then when the fact that 1884 was the only year with 30+ teams (33) and that there have only been a handful of 30-team years (1998 to 2002), it is apparent that there is too little data to draw any conclusion. Clearly the probability of having more 90-win or 90-loss teams increases as the number of teams increases, but whether this highly polarized season was due to dumb luck or some endemic competitive balance problem in MLB remains to be seen.


Hey Joe Morgan Chat Day,
2002-09-28 02:12
by Mike Carminati

Hey Joe Morgan Chat Day, Where You Going With That Gun in Your Hand?

I have finally figured Joe out. But now for something completely different, the intro...Here at Mike's Baseball Rants, we love-well, not in the Biblical sense-Joe Morgan. Joe can make a brilliant insight or say something so ludicrous that you feel embarrassed to have yelled at the screen for so long that there are little spittle rainbows on the screen. Most often it's in confluence of these two events that Joe has reached perfection.

So now back to what makes Joe click. Joe is in actuality just an adherent to Reductio ad Absurdum. Reductio ad Absurdum is, of course, is a means to prove a given point by taking its reverse to an absurd conclusion. C'mon you use it everyday. Remember when you first said, "If Miguel Tejada is the MVP, then I'm a monkey's uncle." Well, start developing an appetite for bananas and flinging fecal matter.

The only reason that Joe is juxtaposing brilliant insights with inane tripe is to demonstrate to us mere mortals all the more the sagaciousness of said insight. The more he proffers preposterous pap, Batman, the more intelligent he really is. It's sheer brilliance. By espousing a baseball philosophy awash in ancient, hackneyed saws, he is actually trying to rid the baseball discussion once and for all of all such tripe. You are a brave man of conviction, Joe Morgan. And we salute you along with those about to rock (Fire!).

Joe even uses all three forms of Reductio ad Absurdum to keep the material fresh and to make it enjoyable for himself. He uses ad absurdum when he contradicts himself and then amusingly acts as if the two statements are consistent. He continually makes seeming knowingly false statements just to exercise his ad impossibile muscles. But his pies de resistance is when he unpacks his ad ridiculum to present something that is so implausible that it's laughable as if it were a known fact and what are you some kind of moron, anyway?-though Joe's too much of gentleman to say that.

Joe may have overdone it a bit today. He's so ridiculous that he's brilliant. Joe, stop toying with us. His erudition may be too great for a peon such as myself to properly capture. But like the slaves of ancient Rome who rode beside Caesar in triumph through cheering throngs while holding a laurel above his head whispering "Thou art mortal"-good work if you can get it, beats a haberdasher-try I must:

The Good

Kirk (Roseville): Hi Joe. What are your feelings about the Milwaukee Brewers/Jose Hernandez situation? Jerry Royster says the media/fabs [fans-I don't think he means the Beatles] are making a mockery of the game because they are watching the strikeout record? I think the mockery is that we have professional baseball players striking out at an astronomical rate! What is your opinion?
Joe Morgan: It's a story. We follow them when they do positive things. We should do the same when there are negative things. You have to mention both. We followed the home run record. We should follow this too. Holding him out is a joke.

[Mike: Joe wanted to have an entire Reductio ad Absurdum chat session, but this cheese was a bit too easy to hit out of the ballpark. Of course, sitting Hernandez is a joke, Jerry Royster is a joke, the whole damn Milwaukee Brewer team is a joke. "Libertad! Libertad Libertad!" Sorry, Tony Montana was just trying to escape from a Miami detention center.]

The Bad

Utek (LA): Hi Joe. A point about Barry Bonds. Pitchers don't pitch to him the way pitchers used to pitch to guys like Mays and Aaron. Maybe that's because Barry gets to stand on top of the plate with impunity wearing body armor, so pitchers don't feel they have a chance any more. In the past, a pitcher could knock a guy off the plate to establish the outside corner. Today if you knock a guy down you're liable to be ejected. I think if body armor were banned from baseball, and the rules about throwing at batters were loosened, Barry would end up with more pitches to hit, because pitchers would feel more comfortable challenging him. Any thoughts?

Joe Morgan: I agree 100 percent. But that works for all the hitters, and Barry is the only hitter hitting .360. And yes, it wasn't that way for Mays, Aaron and Ruth. And make no mistake, when you get knocked down enough, it does change your approach. The numbers would suffer if they could pitch to Barry the same way the pitchers did against Mays and so one, but that would be the case for other hitters too.

[Mike: Say, I went to Utek, too. What year were you? Anyway, just plain old "it was better in my day" or "it was better in my grandfather's day" bluster. Exhibit A) Bonds does have the highest average in baseball, but it's .371 not .360. So Bonds doesn't get plunked as often as the other greats mentioned, huh? Exhibit B) Check out this comparison of career hit by a pitch, strikeout, walks, intentional bases on balls and their percentage of the player's total plate appearances among the four greatest home run hitters all-time (sorry, Sadaharu Oh):

Name        HBP  %    SO     %   IBB   %    BB    %
HANK AARON  32 0.23% 1383 10.02% 293 2.12% 1402 11.34%
BARRY BONDS 74 0.72% 1328 12.87% 420 4.07% 1918 23.03%
WILLIE MAYS 44 0.36% 1526 12.32% 192 1.55% 1464 13.45%
BABE RUTH   43 0.41% 1330 12.66% N/A       2062 24.55%

Notice that Bonds has almost twice the hit-by-pitch rate of the rest? Maybe he's not getting knocked down as much as those players were and maybe he does wear armor on his elbow, but he has taken his lumps. Note as well that his walk and intentional walk rates are almost twice Aaron's and May's (Ruth's intentional walk total is unavailable), but that his strikeout ratio is about equal to the others (though Aaron is a bit better than the group). His strikeout rate is even more impressive when you consider that it comes in a time of high strikeout rates. Joe is right, Bonds is not pitched the same as these other greats. He is demonstrably more feared by pitchers and gets pitched around more. (He just got his 67 IBB of the year.)]

Jason (Jefferson City): Joe, with all that the Cardinals had to overcome this season, did you ever imagine they would be were they are at today? Do you think Pujols has a legitmate shot at MVP?

Joe Morgan: Pujols is the most underrated guy and the Cardinals MVP. But it's unfortunate he is playing in an era with Bonds. He will probably finish second or third, but Bonds wil win. The great thing about baseball once you are between the white lines it demands so much concentration that you don't let other things bother you. It allowed a chance for the Cardinals to escape their sadness on the field.

[Mike: I know that Pujols has those RBI numbers that you love and he is having a great year, but why is he a clear-cut winner in the Cardinals MVP race over Jim Edmonds? They have about the same batting average, and slugging average, but Edmonds' on-base percentage is about 25 points higher and he plays a tougher defensive position. I'm not saying that Edmonds had a substantially better year. All I am saying is it's not that cut-and-dried. By the way, Pujols is 10th in the NL in OPS, but I bet Joe is right: he'll probably finish in the top 3.]

Reductio ad Absurdum

Jake (ATL): Hey Joe, love your commentating. My question which milestone is the greater accomplishment. Sosa hitting 500 HRs or Vlady and Soriano getting 40-40?

Joe Morgan: The 500 home runs. You can have one good year and have 40-40. It takes 15-20 years to hit 500 home runs.

[Mike: For those keeping score, a 6-3 ad ridiculum. 1) Sosa has only played 12 complete seasons (including 2 strike shortened ones) and parts of two others. 2) Isn't Joe the one who talks down home run hitting today as being too easy and wouldn't Sosa be his textbook example? 3) There have been 17 (soon to be 18) men to have hit 500 home runs. There have only been three 40-40 men with two more possibles this year. 40-40 appears easier. What do you mean by "greater"?]

Brian, Cedar Grove NJ: Hey Joe. Big fan of Sunday night baseball. How do you think the Yankees and A's would match up? Who do you think has the edge?

Joe Morgan: It would be the A's pitching vs. the Yankees good hitting, and the Yankees have good pitching too. It would be a great series. And I think home field would matter.

[Mike: I score it ad absurdum, but the official scorer gave him a hit, that homer. Why does Joe insist on taking the 5th on this lob pitch? Fine, Joe, give us your analysis, but commit to someone. I'm 66.7% sure he's saying Yankees, but my certainty has a plus/minus of 238.2%. I hope that helps.]

Jake (ATL): Joe, who do you see as the favorites for the World Series? With the Braves bullpen, and having been able to rest people, they would seem to be the NL Favorite and the Yanks are defending AL Champs so they have to be faves.

Joe Morgan: The Braves have been favorites for me for 11 straight years, and they have only won one title. The great thing they have is Sheffield, but he is not healthy. And the other guys can be pitched to with good pitching. This year they are better. They have a chance, but they aren't the favorite. They have to prove they can beat the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. In the AL, I won't bet against the Yankees, but the A's can beat anybody.

[Mike: Jake, how's the Fatman? And I don't mean dubage. I'm saying ad ridiculum. The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife. "The Braves have been favorites for me for 11 straight years, and they have only won one title."-Do you see a connection? Can they be pitched to or are they better? Besides he never says who the favorites for the Series are: that was the question.]

Cameron (Oxford): Is this the year that the Yankees finally get taken down in the American League?

Joe Morgan: Cameron, I wouldn't bet on it. I thought last year the A's or Seattle would beat the Yankees. Neither one did. In a short series, their veterans will be critical. They can all turn it up a notch. I won't be surprised to see them in the World Series again.

[Mike: Cameron, how's Ferris? Ok, enough. That's ad impossibile right over the plate. Everyone keeps saying that the Yankee veterans step up in the postseason. Well, that may have been true, but a lot of those veterans are no longer with the team (Brosius, Martinez, O'Neill). There is not much in the way of evidence that the current Yankees do especially well on the offensive side.

Williams is batting .158 (with a .655 OPS) in the World Series, .266 (.860) in the postseason in general. Jeter is batting .291 (.787) in the WS and .304 (.820) in the postseason-both below his career regular-season norm. Posada is batting .224 (.717) in the WS, and .226 (.739) in the postseason. Soriano had only one postseason with New York and batted .276 (.802). Giambi has done well in the postseason batting .323 (.929 OPS), but that was in only two postseason series neither of which was with the Yankees. Ventura, White, Luis Rivera, Mondesi, Vander Wal, and Johnson have yet to go through a postseason yet with New York.

Their pitchers fare better but not a whole lot. Pettite is 2-3 with a 5.07 ERA in the Series and 10-7 4.34 in the postseason. Mussina has had only one postseason with the Yanks but was 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA. Clemens is 3-0, 1.56 in the WS and 6-0, 3.33 in the postseason (even though his career ERA is 3.10). Wells is 1-0, 3.98 in the WS and 8-1, 2.74 in postseason (career ERA 4.08). Hernandez (2-1 2.28 ERA in WS; 9-2, 2.48 postseason; 4.13 career) and Mariano Rivera (2-1, 1.67 WS; 6-1, 0.91 postseason; 2.58 career) are much better than their career numbers. On the whole I would say this group turns it down not up in the postseason. That may be a little unfair because we are comparing a different level of competition so career numbers may not apply, but there is not a whole lot of evidence to support the turn-it-up theory.]

Andrew G (NY, NY): Obviously Tejada is everyone's favorite pick to win the MVP now, but why is he necessarily more valuable than Soriano? Soriano has almost 40 homers, 100 RBIs, and 40+ SB out of the leadoff spot for the Yankees. Do you think they'd be in the position they are right now if he wasn't setting the table for them all year?

Joe Morgan: I agree that Soriano deserves a lot of accolades, but he has more help than Tejada. Four guys on that team will drive in 100 runs -- Soriano, Giambi, Williams and Posada. He has more guys hitting well around him. Other than Chavez, Tejada hasn't had much help. He is the only player on the A's who has been consistent.

I'm a big fan of Soriano's.

[Mike: Well, Joe, that's ad ridiculum and ad absurdum. You're a big fan of Alfonso Miguel non sequitur? Anyway, the Yanks have more guys who have driven in 100 runs, but each team has five players with an OPS of .800 or better (Williams, Posada, Giambi, Soriano, and Ventura for the Yankees; Tejada, Chavez, Hatteberg, the Jeremy Giambi/John Mabry tandem, and midseason pickup Ray Durham). By the way the A's play in a worse hitters park (according to Baseball Prospectus 4% worse on offenses in 2001). I'm not saying the A's are as good, but it's not as lopsided as you are lead to believe.]

Brad S. (St. Louis): Of the playoff teams..Which player needs to elevate his game the most to help his team advance in the post-season?

Joe Morgan: All the players on all the teams. You can't play the game the way you did in the regular season. All the star players have to elevate their games.

[Mike: That's ad absurdum unassisted. Logically if all the players elevated their games, wouldn't they just cancel each other out.?]

Wilson (Detroit): Joe, I know you like A-Rod for MVP, but isn't the real MVP valuable = winning, Tejada hands down.

Joe Morgan: First of all, you aren't listening to me or reading my columns. I agree Tejada is the MVP. But the rules don't say the MVP on a winning team. There are instances when guys have won on a last-place team. I believe winning should be a tiebreaker. It should sway in a player's favor. I have been picking Tejada for the last month.
[Mike: He's hitting for the cycle here. Talk about raising your game down the stretch. Two statements: "the rules don't say the MVP on a winning team" and "winning should be a tiebreaker". Right, good. So how do you get to Tejada from that particular dialectic? It's got to be full form Reductio ad Absurdum. That's the only explanation.

Dan, Ankeny (IA): Joe, Since the Twins have struggled this season against lefthanders, do they have any chance to beat the A's, who could throw Zito and Mulder in four of the five games?

Joe Morgan: Yes. Anybody in the playoffs has a chance to get to the World Series. They have struggled against lefties, but in a short series players can get hot. The Twins' big problem is more that they are playing the A's with their exceptional left-handed pitching, but don't count the Twins out.

[Mike: Wait for it.]

Mike(Chicago): Do you think Barry Bonds will be walked every time up in the playoffs?

Joe Morgan: Not in the playoffs, because he has to prove to people he can hit in the playoffs. He has never hit well in the playoffs. He has to prove he's different in playoff pressure. If he starts out well, they will walk him. But he has to prove it first. The Giants also have to get into the playoffs first. It's not over yet.

[Mike: Wow, How does he do it. That's like a doubleheader of two perfect games in the Reductio ad Absurdum world. The Twins can do anything in a short series but Barry Bonds and the Giants need to prove that they can do something. In Bonds' case we are talking about 97 at-bats spread over 11 years. How is it relevant especially if the Twins' problems with lefties this season is not? By the way, the Twins are fifth in the majors in runs produced against lefties, not conclusive, but interesting.]

[Mike: That's all the time we have left. I wil be busy revering the heroes I grew up with who are in college ball now. Also, I will be giving a symposium on how you can play baseball prior to being conceived. Oh and remember, the bunt is good and today's ballplayer bad. ]


Any Relation to Tito? I
2002-09-27 21:55
by Mike Carminati

Any Relation to Tito?

I had a chance last night to see this kid that the Rockies are using out of the bullpen, Brian Fuentes. He has the oddest delivery since Gene Garber. He rotates like a revolving door and throws some sort of nasty pitch (Is it a slider or is it just a fastball with an odd delivery?) that breaks way in on the righties-he's a lefty by trade. Fuentes seems to have a release point at around his waist-like he's shooting from the hip. He flings it up to the plate at around 92 MPH, but it looks even faster. His herky-jerky motion seems to add to the batters' bafflement. But if he had played with my friends when I was a kid, they would have said that he throws like a girl.

He had been up earlier in the year and got rocked (an ERA of 13.50 at one point) but changed his mechanics-or so they say-and now looks almost unhittable. Check at his stats before and after the demotion:

Fuentes   IP    H  R ER HR BB SO GB FB PIT  BF  ERA  WHIP   K/BB   K/IP PIT/BF
1st Stint  8   12  7  7  1  7 13  7 10 198  45 7.88  2.375  1.857 1.625 4.400
2nd Stint 16.2  9  3  3  1  5 25 11 13 260  62 1.62  0.840  5.000 1.500 4.194
Totals    24.2 21 10 10  2 12 38 18 23 458 107 3.65  1.338  3.167 1.541 4.280


Obviously, his hits, runs, and walks allowed are all down but that doesn't tell the full story. He cut his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) by almost two-thirds. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has almost trebled even though his strikeouts-to-innings pitched went down ever so slightly. He also is dispensing with batters more quickly (slightly fewer pitches per batters faced).

Even odder are his lefty/righty splits:

Right/Left AB R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB HBP SO SB CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
vs. Right  53 10  8  1  0  0   6  7   0 25  0  0 .151 .242 .170 .412
vs. Left   37  0 13  1  0  2   7  5   3 13  0  0 .351 .467 .541 1.007


He's destroying righthanded batters (.170 slugging percentage!), but lefties are doing fairly well against him (OPS over one?). Remember that he is a lefty. I cannot determine if this is just a product of his Jeckle-and-Hyde season or if lefties may be able to hit him better. Maybe they can pick up his release point better because of the angle.

One last thing to consider: he has a 3.31 ERA in 18 games at Coors. He seems like a worthwhile candidate for the Rockie bullpen (no pun intended) in 2003. If he can harness that delivery for both lefties and righties, he may be the eventual replacement for current closer Jose Jimenez (didn't he used to be a Mel Blanc character). If not, he will have to be the Rockie short man against righties, perhaps a first for a lefty. Check him out at a Rockies game near you.


Brain Tied in Knots Last
2002-09-27 21:14
by Mike Carminati

Brain Tied in Knots

Last night I said that the Giants could have clinched a playoff spot with a Dodger loss becasue of the head-to-head tiebreaker. It was a ludicrous thing to say/write. My only excuse is that I was tired and had been pouring over tiebreaker possibilities and everyone knows how dangerous that is. Of course, I could respond like Neifi Perez or Tony Montana and say, "I was only kidding." But who wants to emulate them, one snorted a jewelry box-ful of coke before being drilled with more holes than Sponge Bob by the entire Columbian army and the other ended up even worse, as a Kansas City Royal.


Jerry-Mandering Milwaukee manager Jerry Royster,
2002-09-27 08:18
by Mike Carminati

Jerry-Mandering

Milwaukee manager Jerry Royster, a man who once as a player was called for interference for getting down on his hands and knees and blowing a bunt attempt foul, is saying that the media attention that has attended Jose Hernandez's unintended run at the single-season strikeout record, "is kind of making a mockery of it'' and that his player "won't be laughed at.''

Royster pulled Hernandez from yesterday's lineup. He seems to be hinting that that will continue if the media do not behave:

"To be honest with you, I don't care if he played another game,'' Royster said. "I can tell you one thing -- there's no need for him to play. I don't have a plan to sit him the rest of the season, and I don't have plans to play him. If we need him, he will play.''

Look, Jerry, you're lucky if the world is only laughing at your shortstop not your whole pathetic team. Besides Hernandez just went three games without a K, tying his longest streak of the year.


Halo-Lelujah [Sorry, this post got
2002-09-27 08:04
by Mike Carminati

Halo-Lelujah

[Sorry, this post got eaten by Blogger last night.]

The Angels beat the Rangers, 10-5, to finally clinch the final AL playoff birth. Then they found out that Oakland won the AL West title after beating the just-eliminated Mariners 5-3 in 10 innings. Oakland only leads by 3 games with 3 left to play but given that the tiebreaker is head-to-head and Oakland won the season series 11-9, the Angels are mathematically eliminated.

The pairings are set for the first round: Anaheim vs. New York (homefield advantage: Yankees) and Minnesota vs. Oakland (homefield advantage: A's). They Yankees and A's are still battling for homefield througghout the playoffs. Since the wild card cannot play the team from its own division, they have to play the Yankees.

The only thing we don't know is who will have homefield advantage in the LCS. The Yankees now lead by half a game due to their postponement tonight. Should the Yankees finish the weekend with a better record than Oakland, they will have home field due to their edge in head-to-head competition (5-4). If Oakland leads by one-half game, the Yankees will be forced to make up tonight's game on Monday. If the win, they get homefield. If they lose, Oakland gets it. Either way, they would have to play an extra game. At least it would be at Yankees Stadium though.

In the NL, San Francisco has the night off but just might clinch a playoff spot. The Dodgers are losing 2-0. If they lose, they fall 3.5 games behind the Giants for the wild card. They each would have three left, but San Francisco could have a makeup game with the Braves if it is necessary. Even if the makeup were played and the Dodgers were able to tie, they would lose based on San Fran's 11-8 edge in the season series.

St Louis and Arizona will probably remain tied for the second in the league. St. Louis beat the Brewers 9-1. The D-Backs lead Colorado 4-2. Arizona could also extends its lead over the Giants by 2.5 games. Think about this scenario though: the Giants sweep the Astros and D-Backs and Cardinals lose their last three games. The Giants would be a half-game up on Arizona. There would be no need to make up their tie game with the Braves to determine the division champ: San Francisco has an 11-8 edge in the division series. But the Giants would lead the Cardinals by only one-half game as well for the second seed in the NL. The Cardinals own the head-to-head edge 4-2 against the Giants. Therefore, the Giants would be forced to fly from San Francisco to Atlanta on Monday to make up the game with the Braves to determine the number 2 seed. If they win, they would have to fly back to San Francisco to host the Cardinals. If they lose they would fly to St. Louis to play the Cardinals. Either way, they play the Cardinals. The Braves would be slightly inconvenienced since they would be hosting a playoff game on Tuesday but would prefer to have Monday off. For all concerned, let's hope that scenario does not play out.

By the way, I will be having a Mariner postmortem as well as my weekly Joe Morgan Chat Day review tomorrow.


Site Sightings Cited Dan Lewis
2002-09-26 21:21
by Mike Carminati

Site Sightings Cited

Dan Lewis has been tracking Barry Bonds' conescutive game walk streak. He reports that yesterday:

[I]n the first inning, Clay Condrey of the San Diego Padres put Bonds on first. That is the sixteenth consecutive game in which Bonds
has walked, tying the NL record. It is also held by Jack Clark, who originally
set the mark in 1987 with the Cardinals.

With four games (after this one) left, Bonds can't break the MLB record until next season. That's held by Roy Cullenbine -- 22 games.

Check out his Bonds Tracker and his notes about the new, shared NL record.

John J Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters announces that he has just had his 10,000th visitor. Go check him out and help him get to 20K.

@ The Ballpark has an article about what he feels contributes to success in the playoffs.


The Hunt for Red Sox
2002-09-26 16:11
by Mike Carminati

The Hunt for Red Sox in October

Boston lost 7-2 to the White Sox yesterday to be officially eliminated from the wild card race. Seattle who started the day tied with the Red Sox and whose postseason hopes were in similarly dire straits, came from behind in the bottom of the eighth to beat Oakland 3-2 and keep their playoff hopes alive. That both of these teams will probably not make the playoffs seemed highly improbably after the first half. At the All-Star break, the Mariners were in first in the AL West and were up by three games on the Angels and five on the A's. The Red Sox were trailing the Yankees by two games but had a 1.5 game lead in the wild card race. The Sox are 39-34 since, a .534 winning percentage, which was good but not good enough to fend off surging Oakland and Anaheim. The Red Sox have won 91 games, more than some past World Series winners.

More remarkably, the Sox started June as the hottest team in baseball. On June 6, Boston was in first place in the AL East with a 40-17 record and a .702 winning percentage. Over an 162-game schedule that projects out to 114 wins, only two short of the all-time record. They led the Yankees by 3.5 games. No other team in baseball had more than 37 wins. The Red Sox had a 15-8 record to that point against playoff-caliber teams (7-3 vs. the Yankees, 3-3 vs. Seattle, and 5-1 vs. Oakland). Then the wheels came off.

Much has been made of the Angels' 6-14 start to the season and how they overcame it. The Red Sox had a stretch starting on June 7 and extending until the end of the month in which they were 6-14. During that period they played 12 games with playoff caliber teams and won only one. They were swept in a three-game series by the D-Backs, the Dodgers, and the Braves and lost 2 of 3 in another series with the Braves.

They have since gone 45-36, a .556 winning percentage. Indeed their winning percentage for the year excluding their June 7 to 30 debacle is .616.

There were some warning signs. The Red Sox had rolled up their great record by beating up on the dregs of the Al East. They were 18-4 in games with Toronto, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay played before June 6. Also, their record against playoff caliber teams does not look as good when you realize that Oakland was in the middle of a 3-14 run when they played the Sox. When Boston's best offensive player, Manny Ramirez, broke his finger and went on the DL on May14. His fill-in, Rickey Henderson, ran into a wall on June 2 and missed 12 games. Brian Daubach replaced Henderson and did miserably (.149 batting average and .529 OPS for June).

When their weak starting rotation (beyond Martinez and Lowe) started to misfire, it took the Red Sox far too long to come up with any solutions. It is doubly perplexing given that the solutions that they found were within their own organization (Tim Wakefield and Casey Fossum).

What exactly went wrong? The Sox entered the season with three subpar players in their lineup and allowed these players to stay in the lineup most of the year after being dazzled by their tremendous start. First baseman Tony Clark was signed in the offseason to a one-year, $5-million contract. He was approaching thirty, had just come of a year in which his OPS, slugging percentage, and home runs had dropped severely from his established levels, which were just acceptable for a first baseman. Clark started off hitting .171 in April (with a .473 OPS). He ended the year a .210 batting average, 3 home runs, 29 RBI, and a .562 OPS in 272 wasted at-bats.

Coming into the season, Jose Offerman had just severed through 2 subpar seasons, had turned 33, and was to be their part-time DH and first baseman. His numbers had dropped off not surprising after the Red Sox signed him coming off his 1998 career year with the Royals. His batting average dropped 50 points and his on-base percentage and slugging percentage by 60 points. He went from 45 steals in 1998 to 5 in 2001, 13 triples to 3, 102 runs to 76, and though his at-bats dropped by 83, his strikeout stayed about the same. In 2002, his batting average dropped another 35 points to .232 and his OPS 66 points to .650. He was mercifully taken off their hands by the Mariners in August but not before the Sox devoted 237 miserable at-bats to him. He started off with a .286 batting average and .830 OPS as a part-time player in April. Instead of realizing that his stock was as high as it would ever be and trading him, the Sox kept him in the lineup. Not only did they continue to play him but they upgraded him to starter to the tune of a .227 batting average (.691 OPS) in May and a .148 batting average (and .406 OPS) in June.

34-year-old shortstop Rey Sanchez was signed to a one-year, minor-league contract in the offseason and assigned to be the Sox' starting second baseman. It was a poorly conceived experiment from the start: Sanchez batted .264 with a .599 OPS in April. He got very hot in May (.382 batting average, .931 OPS), but came crashing back down to earth and never got back up (.283 batting average but .657 OPS).

In the rotation, the first problem was Darren Oliver who after being acquired from Texas for Carl Everett was 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA in April, allowing shrewd rotisserians across the country to their dupe unsuspecting colleagues. He won one more game before being sent down to Triple-A and subsequently released. Rolando Arrojo and Sun-Woo Kim were in turn enlisted to replace Oliver and ended up with a 5.26 and 7.27 ERA respectively.

John Burkett was signed to a two-year, $11-million contract after resurrecting his career in Atlanta in 2001. He started off the year 7-0 with a 3.86 ERA. He then refused to go to the All-Star game because it was in commissioner Bud Selig's hometown, Milwaukee. Thanks, Bobby Sands, but no one was asking. He finished 12-8 with a 4.69 ERA but was 5-5 with a 5.65 ERA in the second half.

Frank Castillo started out OK in April and May but ended up 5-15 with a 5.12 ERA. It wasn't until the second half that the Red Sox turned to Tim Wakefield and Casey Fossum, two members of their bullpen to plug the starting rotation holes. Wakefield, who began the year as a starter and was pulled after two so-so starts, is now fourth in the league in ERA behind teammates Pedro Martines and Derek Lowe. His ERA as a starter is actually better than both of theirs. Fossum has been respectable with a 3.38 ERA in 11 starts.

The Red Sox basically started the season as a weak team in the three offensive positions and three rotation positions (if you count first-year starter Derek Lowe). Their early success masked the fact that almost all of these weaknesses still existed. When Ramirez was hurt in May and the rotation started to falter, it caused a chain reaction where the weaker players were enlisted more and their weakness paired with falsely high expectation induced by the hot start began their crash in June. No new players were acquired except for Cliff Floyd at the trade deadline.

So what happens to the 2003 edition of the Red Sox? First and foremost, they must re-sign Floyd. Free agents Clark, Henderson, Sanchez, and Castillo should be wished a hearty Bon Voyage. Closer Ugueth Urbina who had a severe drop-off in the second half should be-resigned, and Tim Wakefield's option should be picked up. A new second baseman (maybe rookie Bryan Nelson) should be sought. It must be decided if three-quarter-timer Brian Daubach can be a full-time major-league first baseman. His .796 OPS and his age (30) would answer, "No, " but the Boston budget may decide otherwise. The rotation now seems set for 2003 with Martinez, Lowe, Wakefield, Fossum, and Burkett. The Sox need to commit to the mercurial Wakefield as a starter, something they have not been able in his last 4 years there. A backup for Burkett if he falters should be acquired. The club should but probably won't eat the second year of his contract. The bullpen beyond Urbina and lefty Allan Embree (also a free agent) is a mess.

The Red Sox should be able to reach the playoffs in 2003 with just a few well-directed alterations after three disappointing seasons. Of course, this is Boston and melodrama, whether real or imagined, is the word. Whatever does happen in 2003 for the Sox, it's sure to be entertaining.


Cy of Relief Two of
2002-09-26 00:15
by Mike Carminati

Cy of Relief

Two of today's performances may have sealed the fate of the Cy Young also-rans in each league. As I said earlier, Johnson will now almost certainly win the award in the NL with Schilling's performance today driving that home.

Derek Lowe lost tonight to the White Sox, 7-2. Lowe gave up 5 earned runs in seven innings. He also lost his bid to tie Barry Zito for a league-best 22 wins. With a very good but not great second half (when compared to Zito and Martinez), Lowe is sure to finish third in the voting. He may also take away votes from his teammate Martinez. Given Pedro's willingness to shut down for the year after winning 20 games while his team was still, in theory, in a pennant race, I would bet that Zito edges Martinez in the voting. Zito also has one scheduled start remaining. If he wins his 23rd in a well pitched game, voters will pick the higher win total for Zito over the lower ERA for Martinez.


Rolen Rolen Rolen The Cards
2002-09-25 23:00
by Mike Carminati

Rolen Rolen Rolen

The Cards completed a sweep of the Diamondbacks today, 6-1, on the strength of a 3-run homer by Scott Rolen. The sweep puts the Cardinals in a tie with Arizona for the second seed in the league-the tiebreaker for which they now win on their strength of their better head-to-head record-, this with the Cardinals management seemingly barely trying.

St. Louis starter Garret Stephenson had not gotten past the fourth since May 24 and was 1-5 with a 6.08 ERA as the game began. He pitched five innings of one-hit ball. He was wild (5 walks) but the D-Backs didn't capitalize on it. Stephenson started according to Tony LaRussa expressly because the Diamondbacks would not see him in the postseason or rather so that they wouldn't see a starter that they would face in the postseason.

Meanwhile, Arizona started 23-game winner Curt Schilling. Schilling pitched a complete game and allowed only 6 hits (and one walk) while striking out 12. However, two of those hits were two-out, three-run home runs (to Rolen in the 4th and J.D. Drew in the 8th). Since winning his 21st on August 21, Schilling is 2-3 with two no-decisions in seven starts. He has also raised his ERA nearly .5 runs, from 2.68 to 3.14, over that time, nearly assuring teammate Randy Johnson of his fifth Cy Young award.

The D-Backs collected four hits, only 1 in their top four spots in the order (and that by a pinch-hitter). They have been outscored 22-4 in what may be-if the D-Backs hang on to win their division-a preview of one of the NL Division Series. Arizona has now lost 6 straight and could have their lead cut to two games should the Giants win tonight. After their last win, September 19, the D-Backs led the Giants by 7.5 games. They have also lost Luis Gonzalez and Brian Anderson for the season during the losing streak. They now play host to the Rockies who swept them last weekend at Coors. The Cardinals play host to the reeling Brewers who just changed their team management and whose biggest story is Jose Hernandez's strikeout record "chase".

Speaking of Scotty Rolen, the Cardinals reportedly are about to sign the third baseman to an 8-year, $90-million contract. Given that Rolen is 27, this deal would basically make him a Cardinal for life. It is basically the same deal, give or take a year, that he turned down a year before becoming a pariah in Philadelphia as well as sportswriter Bill Conlin's favorite whipping boy (the Phillies did up it to $140M for 10 years after it was clear that Rolen was souring). He actually would have made more per season with the Phillies' initial 7-year deal and much more in their final offer-so much for Rolen's being a self-interested "cancer." Rolen has returned to his established levels after leaving the difficult situation in Philadelphia behind. He has also hit 30 home runs for the second time in his career. The Cardinals are 35-20 since Rolen joined the team. Rolen had said that his refusal to the Phillies was more about winning than money. I hope that this proves it to the Philly faithful so that when the Cardinals next appear in town they can instead return to booing J.D. Drew, anything but skewering the team's management that treats one of the largest fan bases in the country like it's Milwaukee.


Les Expos to Become Los
2002-09-25 22:08
by Mike Carminati

Les Expos to Become Los Expos?

ESPN reports that there is a group that wants to move the Expos to San Juan, Puerto Rico. As I indicated in my Expos relocation study, Les Exits, San Juan is the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. or Canada without a major-league team (slightly larger than Portland, though it has about a million people fewer than Montreal).

Although Puerto Rico has supported a winter league and a series last year to open the major-league season, it has not had a team in organized ball since the one-year Inter-American League in 1979. The stadium only holds 20,000 people. Its businesses and population are not thought to be extremely affluent. I would doubt that they could get a great cable deal. All of this adds up to a big goose huevo for San Juan, but it is an interesting idea. Maybe proving themselves with a minor-league team that is successful for 5-10 years would help.


Nepotism Only Goes So Far
2002-09-25 21:42
by Mike Carminati

Nepotism Only Goes So Far

Just how bad have the Brewers been this year? So bad that the team president and closet Brewers owner Bud Selig's daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, has been relieved of her key to the executive wash room. GM Dean Taylor will also turn in his wings in the housecleaning. Taylor reportedly will be replaced by former Rangers GM Doug Melvin. Selig-Prieb will remain with the club in some other capacity, that is, she gets to keep the second half of her former title, team president and Bud Selig's daughter.

Ulice Payne, the managing partner of the Milwaukee law office of Foley & Lardner, will take over as president. Evidently Payne worked on a Milwaukee committee that helped the Brew Crew get a new stadium. So now it's payback time. By the way, Payne is an African-American, something that is not mentioned in the article but is apparent from his picture. He will be the first African-American to run a major-league ballclub that I'm aware of. I have to applaud Selig for making that move. Baseball still takes its lumps, deservedly, for minority hiring. Bud is putting someone who happens to be in a minority group in control of a club. I would be the first person in line to criticize Bud Selig. Hell, I would I would get back in line for seconds, but I have to pay him his props here.

And yes, by the way, Selig still does run the club and will while Payne is the president, but it's still an important move.

Melvin was the GM in texas from 1994 to 2001. Every division title that the Ranger franchise has ever won was while Melvin was the GM. They also fell to last for his last two years. Melvin worked for the president, George W. Bush, if you didn't know, when he was the Texas owner. Melvin's first trade was Jose Canseco for Otis Nixon and Luis Ortiz. Canseco went on to play 7 more years (2 in Boston) and hit 186 more home runs (52 in Boston). Nixon lasted one year in Texas before free agency beckoned, and Ortiz had only 45 at-bast left in his Texas, and major-league, career. Melvin did improve however. He was the major league executive of the year in 1996. He rebuilt the depleted Ranger minor leagues. But when the now-austere Tom Hicks took over the team, he wanted to make a splash and spent money freely, thinking it would make the team winners. When the opposite occurred, Melvin took the fall. The Brewers could have done worse.


Just Say No-rfolk The Mets
2002-09-25 15:02
by Mike Carminati

Just Say No-rfolk

The Mets held a celebration of their future hopefuls and none passed out. But rookie third baseman Jeff Spicoli had a pizza delivered that Bobby Valentine made him share with the rest of the team.


Kay-OK Jose Hernandez seems like
2002-09-25 11:29
by Mike Carminati

Kay-OK

Jose Hernandez seems like a man possessed. He's hacking away like Richie Hebner. He has not struck out in two games and remains stuck one strikeout behind the record of 189 set by Bobby Bonds.

But rest assured that it cannot last. He has not gone longer than 3 games in a row without a strikeout all year. It may not happen today, but the record will fall unless they pull Hernandez out of the lineup again.


Stay Alive, the Survival Game
2002-09-25 09:39
by Mike Carminati

Stay Alive, the Survival Game

The Red Sox and the Mariners both won to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Casey "Playin'" Fossum pitched a good game only giving up two solo home runs. He made a great play on a Willie Harris bunt attempt witha man on first with none out in the first. The ball was popped up on the line. Fossum dove to catch the ball and then trotted to first to double up the runner. That's one you don't score everyday DP-1U. Where was the runners head--Fosum had time to pick himself up and lope over to first, and this was the lead-off hitter, D'Angelo Jimenez. Typically, the next batter, Frank Thomas, hit a home run. I give you the bunt, ladies and gentlemen, the best way to kill a rally, especially in the first.

Seattle rallied from a 7-2 deficit in the middle of the seventh to win 8-7 over the A's. The A's got a bit cocky pulled starter Barry Zito, after building up a lead, and got a dose of their own late-inning rally medicine. Would Joe Morgan look at the 8-7 loss and say that Zito pitched just well enough to lose or that the bullpen blew the game?

Shades of Donnie Moore in Arlington: The Angels lost 2-1 to Joaquin Benoit and the Rangers. The Angels continued their 3-game slide and remain three games in back of the A's with only five left. Of course, they need to get that final win to ensure a postseason appearance and should not worry about the A's.

They go again today: Ortiz (Ana) vs. Rogers (Tex), Hudson (Oak) vs. Moyer (Sea), and Lowe (Bos) vs. Biddle (Sox). If Lowe wins today, he will tie Zito for the AL lead. Martinez has 20 wins and has shut down for the season, but if the Sox are still in it on Thursday (his next scheduled start), can he refuse to pitch?


I Wanna Be Your Backdoor
2002-09-25 08:44
by Mike Carminati

I Wanna Be Your Backdoor Man

Forget my screed of last night, the Dodgers lost securing a playoff spot of some sort for the D-Backs. Good luck to them on repeating as World Champions.

One question: has any team seemed less like World Champs the year after than the Diamondbacks have this year? Well, yes, the '98 Florida Marlins. Anyone else? And they are probably going to win their division.

No offense to Phoenix, but maybe it's because they play in a second-rate sports town and to some degree acknowledge it by using the "Arizona" and not "Phoenix" name. There's no Missouri Cardinals. Maybe it's the disgraceful purple uniforms. Maybe it's Bob Brenly's ugly mug and demeanor. Maybe it's because they will be "losing" $40-50 million this year due in large part to outrageous spending: $8 million to Jay Bell, $8 million for Todd Stottlemyre, over $5.3 to BrianAnderson, over $2.8 million to Greg Swindell, etc.

By the way, Brenly is considering taking two lefties in the bullpen in anticipation of playing the Cardinals in the first round according to the Arizona Republic. First, I have to say that he is taking the Giants far too lightly if he's taking the division crown for granted. Second, those two lefties are Mike "Halloween" Myers and Greg Swindell, despite their 4.67 and 6.27, respectively, ERAs. At least Myers is effective against lefties--they're batting .230 against him this year. Lefties are batting .339 against Swindell in 2002 with a 1.028 OPS. Ouch! He had hld lefties to a .206 batting average a .578 OPS for the past three years and had 0.82 ERA vs. St. Louis in that span, but that's old news. Of course, if they had Brain Anderson available... (though lefties batted .302 against him this year) How about Mark Grace?

Again, I wish them well.


Notes from the St. Louis
2002-09-25 01:19
by Mike Carminati

Notes from the St. Louis Underground

I watched the Cardinals-D-Backs game tonight thanks to the wonderful world of digital cable. I get 10 pay-per-view baseball channels and Fox will televise on one nightly for free. It's great because you tap into the local broadcasts with the local announcers pandering to local fans. The St. Louis game had a more Cardinal-centric Joe Buck paired with, I believe, Al Hrabosky for color. The second game featured the great Vin Scully-what a great voice-announcing the Dodgers-Rockies game.

Anyway, here is a running list of game notes that I had while watching the game:

- First, Luis Gonzalez is out for the year with the shoulder separation that he suffeed last night. The D-Backs started David Dellucci who apparently will spell Gonzalez in left throughout the playoffs. Erubiel Durazo had an unexpected start in right. Maybe Brenly is auditioning both of these guys at once. I think he should settle on one and that one should be Durazo, with McCracken in right. The only problem in moving Durazo is that it weakens the D-Backs at first where no one seems to notice that Mark Grace has started to become an albatross. Platooning Grace with righty Greg Colbrunn for the playoffs would help, though it would deplete their bench. Then again there always is that promising rookie first baseman, Jay Bell.

- The best "homer" announcer interchange that I have ever heard:

Joe Buck: mike Matheny has three home runs on the year, the last coming April 26.
[Pause]
Al Hrabosky: Boy, he got off to a hot start, didn't he?
These guys make the YES! crew seem like turncoats. After reliever Rick White surrendered one run to cut the Cardinal lead in half in his one inning of work., they said something to the effect, "Nice job, Rick White!"

- Roster issues: I caught the end of a conversation in which the announcers stated that the playoff roster is the August 31 roster. Therefore, Matt Morris, who was on the DL on Aug. 31, and Jason Simontacchi, who was mysteriously in the minors on August 31, are not eligible. I do not believe, at least in Morris' case that this is true.

- They had a special report between innings about how great the Cardinals infield is (citing the lone statistic errors throughout) and how it's the best infield the team has ever had. For the record, Bill James' Win Shares, the best tool for evaluating talent that I know of, rates Martinez an A+ at first, Vina an A at second, Rolen a B+ at third, and Renteria a C at short. That's not bad, but what about what about the Ozzie Smith (A+) at short, Terry Pendleton (A-) at third, Tommy Herr (C+) at second, and Jack Clark (rated as OF) at first. I would rather hide my weaknesses at second and first than short.

- Bad plays abounded:


o Mark Grace allowed himself to get hit by a David Dellucci grounder that was scored a fielder's choice and a hit.

o Dellucci held on a 3-2 pitch that resulted in a double on which he ended up at third (and didn't score).

o Dellucci broke for home on contact with the pitcher up and was easily tagged out. Why did he go on contact?

o Dellucci did a little excuse-me non-slide at home. Why didn't Delucci slide or at least run back up the line to allow the trailing runner to move up to scoring position?

o Miguel Cairo was doubled off of second base to end the fifth on a line drive caught by Dellucci in left.

o Mantei replaced Patterson and his second pitch was a high not-so-fastball to J.D. Drew. He also lobbed one in right over the plate to Cruz, which he he lined for a single.

o Dellucci had a pathetic throw to the plate when the second Cardinal run scored in the seventh. There was nothing on it. It was way up the line. And the batter moved up to second on the throw (though he did not end up scoring).

o Dellucci did draw a walk with the D-Backs trailing 2-1 in the ninth with two outs. But If I were Brenly that would be the end of his audition.


- Nice plays:

o Vina made a great play on a ball far to his right.

o In the ninth, Colbrunn hit a ball up the middle that Renteria knocked down and attempted to get Mark Little going home. Despite the nice throw Little avoided the tag and scored the tying run.

o So Taguchi stole his first base in the majors in the bottom of the ninth. He overslid the bag but hooked his toes on it so that his momentum would carry his body over it and he would stop. He then scored the winning run on Renteria's two-out single.

By the way, I would now bet on John Patterson replacing Brian Anderson on the playoff roster. Also, if the Cardinals win tomorrow, they would tie the D-Backs for second place in the NL and gain homefield due to the head-to-head record with the D-Backs. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks still have not clinched a darn thing.


Mr. 15 x 15 I
2002-09-24 16:38
by Mike Carminati

Mr. 15 x 15

I heard a stat yesterday, oh boy, and my first reaction was to sneer at it like I usually do to most end-of-year pseudo records, like Fred McGriff's being the first player to hit 30 home runs for five different teams. That's a dubious distinction, not a record.

The stat to which I refer is Greg Maddux being the first person since the late, great Cy Young to win at least 15 games in 15 straight years. My first reaction was that if this is now we have got to measure the greatness of Greg Maddux, then we've got more troubles than I thought.

Of course Maddux is a great pitcher and one already well-deserving of his waiting plaque in Cooperstown. But wins alone have never been the way to evaluate him, apologies to Joe Morgan. Maddux has only won 20 games twice in his career (and 19 five times), though he was on track for 20 wins in both the strike-shortened seasons (1994-95).

Jim Caple states that Maddux's greatness is easy to overlook because he never struck out 300 in a year or 20 in a game. Maddux is all about control. He is-and I'm becoming Bob Costas as I write this-the thinking man's pitcher. Witness his domination of the Yankees in the 4-0 shutout in the 1996 World Series. He never allowed a ball out of the infield the entire game. Maddux is about placement and movement and speed changes to keep the batter off balance. In controlling these aspects of his pitching game he has induced hundreds of batters to ground out meekly 6-3, 4-3, and especially 1-3 over the course of his career.

So how could this "record" have any bearing on his greatness? Well, I tried to reconsider. Given the unpredictability of even great pitchers year to year, maybe 15 in a row was significant. What do 15 wins represent? In the last few decades, 15 wins mean a solid season for a starting pitcher. Not necessarily anything flashy but rarely do you see a so-so pitcher collect 15 wins (Aaron Sele aside). There are pitchers who have good season that don't win 15 games. I'll use my favorite example: Nolan Ryan went 8-16 in 1986 while leading the league with a 2.76 ERA (42% better than the park-adjusted average).

For Maddux, having 15 wins for 15 seasons means that he has been a consistently solid pitcher for 15 of his 16 seasons. Is that good compared to the greatest pitchers of all time? One thing that impressed me more about Maddux is that he has also has a park-adjusted ERA (Thanks Baseball-Reference.com) at least 10% better than the league average for the past 15 years as well. Is that a particularly compelling argument for his superior abilities?

Let's take a look at Hall of Fame starting pitchers to determine how unusual the feat is. I'll list each pitcher, the number of times he won 15 in a row, the number of times he won 15 in total, the number of times in a row he had an adjusted ERA at least 10% better than league average (110+ ERA+), and the total number of 110+ ERA+ seasons, his total number of seasons, and the percentage of 15-win and 110+ERA+ seasons. I have included Babe Ruth and Monte Ward as Hall of Fame pitchers. I also added a few of Maddux's contemporaries for perspective:

Name              15 W 110+ ERA+   %15W  %110+ ERA+
                 RowTotRowTot  #Yrs
Greg  Maddux      15 15 15 15   17 88.24% 88.24%
Randy Johnson      6  8 10 11   15 53.33% 73.33%
Roger Clemens      7 11  8 15   19 57.89% 78.95%
Tom  Glavine       3  9  4 10   16 56.25% 62.50%
Pedro Martinez     4  6 11 11   11 54.55% 100.00%
Curt Schilling     3  6  8 10   15 40.00% 66.67%
Nolan Ryan         3  8  3 13   27 29.63% 48.15%
Don Sutton         8 12  3 11   23 52.17% 47.83%
Phil Niekro        7 13  9 15   24 54.17% 62.50%
Jim Bunning        4  8  4 10   17 47.06% 58.82%
Vic Willis         4  9  2  7   13 69.23% 53.85%
Steve Carlton      7 11  4 15   24 45.83% 62.50%
Tom Seaver         7 13 13 15   20 65.00% 75.00%
Hal  Newhouser     7  7  8  9   17 41.18% 52.94%
Gaylord Perry     13 13 14 15   22 59.09% 68.18%
Fergie Jenkins     6 10  8 13   19 52.63% 68.42%
Jim Palmer         5 12  5 11   19 63.16% 57.89%
Catfish Hunter     7  7  2  5   15 46.67% 33.33%
Don Drysdale       4  7  7 11   14 50.00% 78.57%
Juan Marichal      5  8  8 10   16 50.00% 62.50%
Bob Gibson         5 10 10 13   17 58.82% 76.47%
Addie  Joss        4  6  9  9    9 66.67% 100.00%
Amos Rusie         8  8  8  8   10 80.00% 80.00%
Robin  Roberts     8 10  6 11   19 52.63% 57.89%
Bob Lemon          9  9  3  8   13 69.23% 61.54%
Whitey Ford        5 10 13 15   16 62.50% 93.75%
Warren  Spahn     11 16 11 16   21 76.19% 76.19%
Mickey Welch       8 10  4  8   13 76.92% 61.54%
Sandy Koufax       6  6  6  7   12 50.00% 58.33%
Early Wynn         7 10  3 11   23 43.48% 47.83%
Lefty  Gomez       4  7  3  7   14 50.00% 50.00%
Rube  Marquad      3  5  3  6   18 27.78% 33.33%
Jesse Haines       2  4  3 10   19 21.05% 52.63%
Stan  Coveleski    7  9  7 10   14 64.29% 71.43%
Waite  Hoyt        4  8  5 10   21 38.10% 47.62%
Red  Ruffing       8 12  7 10   22 54.55% 45.45%
Pud Galvin        11 11  1  8   15 73.33% 53.33%
Red  Faber         3  7  4 13   20 35.00% 65.00%
Burleigh Grimes    5 11  3  7   19 57.89% 36.84%
Tim Keefe         10 11  9 11   14 78.57% 78.57%
Monte Ward         6  6  2  4    7 85.71% 57.14%
John Clarkson      9  9  6 10   12 75.00% 83.33%
Eppa Rixey         5  8  5 12   21 38.10% 57.14%
Bob Feller         6 10 10 13   18 55.56% 72.22%
Ted Lyons          4  6  7 13   21 28.57% 61.90%
Dazzy Vance        4  7  5  9   16 43.75% 56.25%
Dizzy Dean         5  5  9  9   12 41.67% 75.00%
Chief Bender       3  9  8  9   16 56.25% 56.25%
Three Finger Brown 8  9 11 12   14 64.29% 85.71%
Kid Nichols       10 12 13 13   15 80.00% 86.67%
Herb Pennock       6  8  3  7   22 36.36% 31.82%
Carl Hubbell       6  8 12 12   16 50.00% 75.00%
Lefty  Grove       7 11  8 14   17 64.71% 82.35%
Jack Chesbro       7  7  5  6   11 63.64% 54.55%
Joe McGinnity      9  9  3  6   10 90.00% 60.00%
Eddie Plank        8 15 12 15   17 88.24% 88.24%
Rube  Waddell      7  7  7 10   13 53.85% 76.92%
Ed Walsh           7  7  9 11   14 50.00% 78.57%
Old Hoss Radbourne 7  9  4  6   11 81.82% 54.55%
Pete Alexander     7 15 19 19   20 75.00% 95.00%
Cy Young          16 19 15 18   22 86.36% 81.82%
Babe Ruth          4  4  4  5   10 40.00% 50.00%
Christy Mathewson 12 13  7 12   17 76.47% 70.59%
Walter Johnson    10 16 13 17   21 76.19% 80.95%
Total               602   691 1064 56.58% 64.94%
Average            6.66  7.19   16.25


Well, Maddux is also the first pitcher since Grover Cleveland Alexander to have 15 seasons in a row with an adjusted ERA at least 10% better than the league. Cy Young is the only other to do it. 65% of the HoFers years had 110+ ERA+ while about 10% fewer had 15 wins. The average HoFer (or future HoFer) had an extra half-year in their longest 110+ ERA+ streak than in their longest 15 W streak. On the basis of this I would say my B.S. stat is better than their 15-win streak B.S. stat. So there.


O No, Red Sox! II
2002-09-24 01:05
by Mike Carminati

O No, Red Sox! II

By the way, the Red Sox won in 15th on a wild pitch to stave off elimination for at least one more day.


We're Number Two! II:
2002-09-24 01:01
by Mike Carminati

We're Number Two! II: the 1964 Edition

So much for a pitchers' duel: the Cardinals scored 10 runs in the seventh en route to a 13-1 win. The line of the night belongs to Greg Swindell-what was I saying about the stiffs in the D-Backs bullpen-zero innings pitched, 6 batters faced, 6 hits, 5 runs (all earned), 2 doubles, and no home runs, walks, or strikeouts. He did, however, throw 12 of 18 pitches for strikes. 18 pitches to six batters? It sounds like batting practice.

All tolled in the seventh, the Cardinals had 10 runs on 10 hits, including 2 doubles and four straight infield singles (!).

Perhaps the only thing worse for the Diamondbacks than being dominated by Jamey Wright is the loss of Luis Gonzalez on a collision with Tony Womack on a shallow fly ball. Gonzalez separated his shoulder and it is not readily apparent how long he will be out.


Double Double On Sunday, the
2002-09-24 00:49
by Mike Carminati

Double Double

On Sunday, the Red Sox Pedro Martinez won his 20th game. Teammate Derek Lowe has already won 21. In Arizona, both Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson have won 23, both eclipsing the magical 20 mark two years in a row.

One-or at least I-would think that two sets of teammates besting the 20-win mark would be a somewhat rare occurrence, but it's not. Prior to 5-man rotations, the 20-win mark was not as rare a phenomenon as today, so that certain combinations of 20-game winners were easier to find. For example, in 1906 six teams had two sets of 20 game winners (both Chicago teams, both New York teams, Cleveland with three, and Pittsburgh). That year there were 15 20-game winners in baseball. Even as late as 1969, four teams in the majors produced twin 20-game winners, when there were again 15 20-game winners.

I did find, however, that in the last 29 years, when five-man rotations became standard, the majors had only one other season in which two sets of teammates won twenty. Not only that-those teams were involved in what has been called the last real pennant race, with the division being decided by a playoff game. They are the 1993 Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants of course. The players were Tom Glavine (22 wins) and Greg Maddux (20) for the Braves and Billy Swift (21) and John Burkett (22) for the Giants. By the way, Black Jack McDowell was the only other 20-game winner that year (22 with the White Sox).


Break Up the Devil Rays
2002-09-23 22:04
by Mike Carminati

Break Up the Devil Rays

Tampa Bay just beat the Yankees in the start of their four-game series at Yankees Stadium, 3-2. This comes just a few days after the D-Rays took two of three from New York at home.

The Yankees missed a golden opportunity to tie idle Oakland for the league's best record. They are now a full game back with six to go.


We're Number Two! The D-Backs
2002-09-23 22:00
by Mike Carminati

We're Number Two!

The D-Backs and Cardinals meet starting tonight in a three-game in St. Louis. The Cardinals, who have already clinched the NL Central crown, are three games behind the D-Backs, who have yet to clinch a darn thing-well, does a tie for the wild card count? They are currently tied 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth in a Rick Helling-Jamey Wright pitchers' duel-swear to God. The D-Backs have lost three straight and now lead the Giants by only 4.5.

Should St. Louis sweep the series and finish ahead or tied with Arizona at the end of the year, they would take the second seed based on a 4-2 head-to-head record. That would give them home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


O No, Red Sox! The
2002-09-23 21:51
by Mike Carminati

O No, Red Sox!

The Orioles just scored a run in the bottom of the ninth on a Jay Gibbons solo shot-his second of the game-to send their game with Boston into extra innings. The Red Sox failed to score in the tenth, and the Orioles are now up. If the Red Sox lose they are officially eliminated from the playoffs.


John Henry Said to His
2002-09-23 21:36
by Mike Carminati

John Henry Said to His Captain... II

The umps are evidently not bluffing on the umpire rating system. They have filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board.


Of Playoff Rosters and Men
2002-09-23 21:32
by Mike Carminati

Of Playoff Rosters and Men II

Vince Femenella asked a highly topical question about playoff rosters. It turns out that Brian Anderson of the (likely) playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks broke a bone in his foot the very next day and is probably out for the year.

Anderson would likely be the D-Backs fifth starter behind Johnson, Schilling, Batiste, and Helling, if they carried him on the playoff roster at all. He was 6-11 with a 4.79 ERA after all. He did improve slightly in the second half (4.39 ERA). Last year he was 4-9 with a 5.20 ERA and again a fifth starter, and the D-Backs took him to the playoffs as a long reliever-he even won a game in the NLCS.

I would think that Brenly would probably have taken him again given the stiffs in the bullpen and his left-handedness. If so, they Diamondbacks have an open roster spot. The only other starters used this year are rookie John Patterson and Todd Stottlemyre, who is out for the season. Patterson was not on the roster on August 31 but was recalled in September and has pitched a little. The may be allowed to Patterson in lieu of Anderson. Given that Arizona's bullpen is filled out with a bunch of stiffs, it's hard to tell if they would prefer the rookie over the washed-up veterans (Morgan, Swindell, Myers, and Mantei, at least two of whom will presumably go anyway to accompany Kim, Koplove, and Fetters). Patterson has only pitched in 5 games and is a righty, which hurts his chances. But it would be interesting to see if a) they are allowed to add him-technically Anderson has not been placed on the 60-day DL and besides got hurt after the trade deadline-and b) they would add him. Since the playoff rosters are seemingly sealed until the playoffs begin, we may have to wait a week anyway.


Love That Dirty Water Pedro
2002-09-23 16:40
by Mike Carminati

Love That Dirty Water

Pedro Martinez won his 20th game of the season on Sunday, a 13-2 victory over Baltimore. Pedro promptly called it a season saying, "This is it. I'm done. To ask for a little more would be greedy. I'm going to let (Josh) Hancock show what he has, to see if he can be of any help to us next year. I don't have anything else to prove." He has one scheduled start remaining but does not want to take it fearing injury.

The suddenly ever-fragile Martinez has not gotten beyond the sixth in any of his four starts this month. He had pitch 7 or more innings in each of his August starts but developed a hip injury and missed a turn against the Yankees at the beginning of September.

Manager Grady Little says that he is still mulling over Martinez's "request". For the second year in a row, the Red Sox and Martinez are at odds over his finishing out the season. Last year, with the Red Sox facing elimination early, they forced Martinez back into the rotation after almost two months on the DL for three more starts, including two against the Yankees in early September. His 2001 season ended on September 7 with a three-run, three-inning outing against the Yanks that the Sox lost 3-2. Boston was 11 behind the Yankees at the time. The Sox were desperately trying to make the playoffs in an effort to save a number of front-office jobs with a team sale pending. They failed on both accounts.

Martinez had claimed that he was diagnosed with a minor rotator cuff tear. Boston claimed the injury was a mere thinning of the rotator cuff. After cajoling him into pitching interim manager Joe Kerrigan claimed, "He pitched because he wanted to pitch, he's healthy enough to pitch and we're still in the race." Whatever. The team was risking injury to a valuable and costly commodity for games that no longer mattered in the standings and luckily for all involved did not continue to do further damage.

Pedro also fired another salvo at the Red Sox broadside Saturday. He announced that if the Red Sox do not soon offer him a multi-year extension on his contract that ends next season, he will play out that contract and the option year for 2004 and then test the free agent waters. After the acrimonious departures of Roger Clemens and Mo Vaughn as free agents in recent years, it had taken the Sox a couple of years to rehabilitate their image. Another high-profile departure, or rather the impending threat thereof, after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs, is the last thing the Red Sox need. But in Boston at least it's always entertaining.


Mystery Meat The Atlanta Braves
2002-09-23 14:56
by Mike Carminati

Mystery Meat

The Atlanta Braves have not lost their division since 1991, inclusive. Three players on that '91 Braves team are on the roster today. Two are pitchers John Smoltz and Tom Glavine. The third is not coach Terry Pedleton, who played third on the '91 team. And of course, manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone were there, but I'm talking about the active roster. If anyone can name the player without looking it up, I will officially be impressed.


Mighty Like a Rose This
2002-09-23 14:21
by Mike Carminati

Mighty Like a Rose

This weekend Riverfront (or whatever they're now calling it) held its last major-league game with the Reds losing to the Phils, 4-3. The Reds held a ceremony to celebrate and grieve its passing with many former players in attendance. Peter Edward Rose, Sr. was not one of them.

Cincinnati had requested from the Lords of Baseball to invite Rose, who had the first hit in the stadium and among whose many feats there, established the hits record in Riverfront. The request was denied. Fans chanted "Pete!" and former Red Tom Browning spray-painted Rose's number 14 on the mound after the game.

Personally, I don't care if Pete was there. I won't mourn for Riverfront. It was an ugly tin can of a stadium and it witnessed the ass-kicking of many a Phillies club. So many that their final victory there in a disappointing year only proves that Riverfront had a sardonic wit and a flair for the ironic.

That said, in all fairness Rose should have been there for a number of reasons. First, the Reds wanted him there, and it should be their celebration. Second, though Rose is banned from every aspect of baseball including stadium appearances, MLB has broken this rules before for the marketing-heavy naming of the All-Century Team. Rose also had to put up with an interview with a surly Jim Gray after the celebration. If they broke the rules for their celebration, why not for the Reds'?

Third, baseball has screwed Rose enough already. How is that you ask? Baseball never was able to prove that Rose bet on baseball. Their case is based on hearsay from the felons that constituted Rose's peer group and a few scraps of paper with supposedly Rose's chicken scratchings that one of the lowlifes pilfered from him. They supposedly contained were dates on which Rose bet on baseball games with the teams and the amounts. If they were from Rose, he evidently didn't know his team's schedule because the citations don't match any games in the years that he managed (there were dates without years on the papers).

Bart Giamatti knew that the case was weak and made a deal to suspend Rose. Rose agreed as long as the charge of his betting on baseball was not raised. Rose knew that this would hinder his Hall-of-Fame chances. MLB agreed to this proviso and then announced that he had indeed bet on baseball and suspended him. Giamatti then died shortly after, and the ban has stood ever since.

To doubly screw Rose, baseball changed the Hall-of-Fame voting rules to eliminate anyone currently banned from the game. This was a fine decision in general, but it was made the year that Rose became eligible to voters for the precise reason of barring the doors of Cooperstown against him.

If I were Rose, I would have my lawyer add the recent snubbing to a file that can be used to his advantage in the future to either force by legal means lifting of his ban or to sue for, say, defamation of character.

However Rose reacts, I am glad that MLB baseball didn't act to bar him from a celebrity softball game today in Riverfront with many former Reds. At least they aren't so deluded as to think that they control every game played in America in which a ball and a bat are involved.


In the Clinch As we
2002-09-23 13:33
by Mike Carminati

In the Clinch

As we come into the last week of the season, four of the six division titles are now decided. It seems that a flotilla-full of contenders and pretenders has been eliminated in the last week or so. Over the weekend, the Cardinals and Yankees clinched their divisions and the A's clinched a playoff spot.

The Astros were eliminated from the NL Central race on Friday and the NL wild-card race on Sunday. Seattle and Boston are still (just barely) holding on-if they win all of their games and Anaheim loses all of theirs then they can force a tie for the wild-card.

Anaheim and Arizona need only to win one more game to clinch a playoff birth but have failed to do that in their last two and three, respectively, ballgames. The Yankees and the A's are vying for the number one seed in the AL. The Braves now hold a three game lead over the D-Backs for the NL's best record. The A's are now three games up on Anaheim and seem a good bet to win the division. San Francisco leads LA by two games and appears to have enough of a lead in their foot race to win going away.

I just that now was the appropriate time to write the epitaph for the expired or expiring teams. Let's start with the Astros. Houston started off cold in the first half and got hot in the second but never really hot enough to challenge the Cardinals. They never really had a stretch drive. When the going got tough, the Astros got cold going 4-7 since September 11. This is a disappointing year for Houston who had the number one seed in the NL last year and then lost in the first round of the playoffs. Even though the 2001 team improved 18 games over the previous year and five games over their expected record, and the Astros defeated the Cardinals 2-of-3 in a playoff-like atmosphere to win the division-not to mention garnering four division titles in five years (but only 2 games won in four playoff appearances)-, management felt that the team had underachieved and manager Larry Dierker was fired.

Expectations remained high for this season. Jimmy Williams was hired to replace Dierker. Aging Moises Alou, Pedro Astacio, and Vinny Castilla were allowed to leave as free agents and were replaced by younger players. Darryle Ward was assigned to replace Alou. A pair of righthanders (Morgan Ensberg and Geoff Blum) formed a rotation at third, but Ensberg was found lacking and sent packing to New Orleans in May. Rookie pitcher Carlos Hernandez joined the young starting rotation.

Also in the offseason, the Astros finally divested themselves and their park of the Enron name, a name that had become anathema to Houston fans.

So what went wrong. First, the Astros has a good number of injuries especially to the starting rotation. Of the original rotation only Roy Oswalt avoided a stint on the Disabled List. Veteran starting pitcher Shane Reynolds was lost for the season June 8 with back problems. Hernandez missed a month and one-half with shoulder problems (always encouraging in a young pitcher). Dave Mlicki missed two months with a muscle pull and was largely ineffective. Wade Miller missed a month and one half early in the year with a pinched nerve in his neck. 2001 draftee Kirk Saarloos was rushed to the majors to fill in and proved ineffective (5.96 ERA in 16 starts) as did 2001 part-time starter Tim Redding. Peter Munro, already a journeyman at 27, faired better (3.24 ERA). Bullpen pitcher and winter signee T. J. Mathews was released at the end of July after a DL stint posting a 3.44 ERA (?).

The Astros also lost two starting position players for most of the year. Young shortstop Julio Lugo was hit by a Kerry Wood fastball and lost for the season with a broken wrist August 12. Richard Hidalgo missed a number of games in late July due to injury, proved ineffective when he returned, and finally succumbed to the DL with a hip strain. He return a few weeks later but has only drawn pinch-hitting duties (and that only twice) since his return. Of course, Jeff Bagwell has labored all year with a sore shoulder.

Second there was a problem with underachieving or perhaps an overestimation of talent: Ensberg disappointed and was sent down. Their corner outfielders, Daryle Ward and Richard Hidalgo, continued a two-year slide (both have a .734 OPS). Hidalgo's problems were due in part to injury, but Ward's slide should be particularly concerning. Aging B's: Craig Biggio's OPS dropped nearly ninety points and Bagwell's is his lowest since 1995 (but still .924). Vinny Castilla's homers at third proved hard to replace (though his many replacements have a collective OPS that is higher).

Third, their sub-.500 first half put them in a hole that even a great second half couldn't clean-and-jerk them out of. At the break the Astros stood in 3rd with a 41-45 record, 6.5 games behind first-place St. Louis and 4.5 behind the Reds. The Astros are 41-29 since the All-Star break while St. Louis has gone 44-26 and Cincinnati 29-40. Actually, Houston's rebirth started a little before the break. On June 19, they had just lost three straight to Milwaukee and stood at 30-40. Since then they are 52-34. On August 30, they were 2.5 behind St. Louis but lost three straight and stayed luke-warm while St. Louis got hot in September. On September 10 the Astros still appeared to be in striking distance of the Cardinals, 5.5 games out with seven of their next 11 games with St. Louis. Unfortunately the Astros went 4-7 (3-4 vs. St. Louis) over that period while St. Louis went 8-3, which left them 9.5 behind the leader.

The Astros' record by month shows just what kind of Jeckle-and-Hyde kind of team they have been:

Month      W  L  PCT
April     11 14 .440
May       13 15 .464
June      12 14 .462
July      18  9 .667
August    18 11 .621
September 10 11 .476
Overall   82 74 .526


For July and August they played at a .643 clip (36-20). For the rest of the season they played at a .460 clip (46-54). That second percentage would put them solidly between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the Central or in last place in the NL East.

There were some positives. Lance Berkman continues to be one of the best players in the league. Bagwell played well despite injury. Oswalt became a premier pitcher. Their pitching though often injured and extremely young has held together well, dropping their starter's ERA by nearly 60 point from last year. Some of the young replacements were a disappointment and Dave Mlicki stunk up the field, but neither of those two things could be called unexpected. Their relievers pitched well again this year.

So where do the Astros go next year? First. Jeff Bagwell will have surgery for the second straight offseason. Dave Mlicki, Tom Gordon, Mark Loretta, and Shane Reynolds (whose option should not be picked up by Houston) should all leave as free agents. Weak-hitting Brad Ausmus' option will probably be mercifully picked up. Lugo and Hidalgo will return. An upgrade at third would be nice but may be difficult to find. The free agent and trade waters should be plumbed for a replacement for Daryle Ward (or at least a righty to platoon with him-he has a .442 OPS vs. lefthanded pitching). The rotation will probably good and young with Oswalt, Miller, Hernandez, Munro, and Saarlos (though they may hold on to Reynolds if they feel Saarlos is not yet ready depending on the money involved). They should have a good team but just how good will depend on the rapid maturation of their young players and the slow maturation of their veterans. After three disappointing seasons (at least according to perception), this team needs to have a breakout year.


Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots for a
2002-09-23 12:51
by Mike Carminati

Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots for a New Generation

McDonald's has a new promotion, bobblehead dolls in the image of Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. In fact they are wearing the same mocked up uniform (I guess Mickey D's could afford the players and the major-league logos), and are featured on New York area posters happily posing together, the dolls that is.

If you plan on getting both (since a good number of New York fans jump on whichever bandwagon is hot), after seeing Chuckie, Talking Tina on the Twilight Zone, and that tiki doll in Trilogy of Terror, I would recommend keeping them as far apart as possible.


Exponential Each time I hear
2002-09-22 02:53
by Mike Carminati

Exponential

Each time I hear about the Expos 2003 season, the more variegated their future seems. Just the other day Jayson Stark wrote that there were five options to consider for next season: stay in Montreal, move to Washington, play temporarily in a minor-league city (like Buffalo), playing as orphaned team as Rob Neyer earlier suggested, or make them a traveling team on the moon or some such nonsense. And then there are the myriad other cities wooing the franchise (Portland, Charlotte, Las Vegas).

The one insurmountable issue with these plans is than Washington is the only location with a stadium currently capable of supporting major-league baseball in 2003. RFK is very old (40 years) but has supported MLB in the past. Much has been said about playing temporarily elsewhere-Stark offers Buffalo.

The one problem with this is a facility. The largest minor-league facility in organized ball is in Omaha, Nebraska, off the major-league radar screen, with a seating capacity of 24,000. Buffalo's is the next largest at 21,050. But there are no others over 15K.

MLB cannot seriously think that any of these minor-league facilities could support baseball at the major-league level in their current configurations. Some could possibly be expanded to support the larger crowds. It has been done in past relocations/expansions. But it is not practical for a temporary host for the Expos. It is even less practical should multiple cities be involved. Besides, these cities support minor-league teams that would also have to be relocated in a domino-like fashion should the Expos move into town.

It's becoming obvious that Washington is the only practical home for this club, and MLB should recognize this and move to ensure that all is made ready for next season. They should canvass responsible ownership, buy off Orioles owner Peter Angelos, refurbish RFK, and market the heck out of the new Washingtonians. Then they will prepare to finagle usurial expansion fees from the Montreal locals when they become baseball hungry in 5-10 years.


Bobby Hamlet's Ghost? Barry Bonds
2002-09-22 02:27
by Mike Carminati

Bobby Hamlet's Ghost?

Barry Bonds has struck out 5 times (including once tonight) and hit only one home run. This pushes his strikeout total two ahead of his homer total (46 to 44), imperiling his stake in being the first since George Brett in 1980 to have more home runs than strikeouts (with over 10 four-baggers).

This comes as his father's single-season strikeout record is being usurped by Jose Hernandez (if he ever plays again). If you want to know if the two are related in any way...read the book!


K as in King Jose
2002-09-22 02:19
by Mike Carminati

K as in King

Jose Hernandez is about to set the single-season strikeout record. He is one behind Bobby Bonds' 1970 record of 189, and has eight games left on the Brewers miserable season-they just lost their 100th game tonight.

Hernandez has not played in the last three games after striking out twice in Wednesday's game to pull within one strikeout of the record. He no longer appears to be a lock to break 200 K's for the first time ever.

Given this imminent historic moment, I thought a review of the record itself was in order, just like was popular in the last few years when the home run record fell. The single-season strikeout crown changed hands eight times before it rested on the head of the first man to strikeout 100 times in a season Boston Beaneater Sam Wise, who had 104 in 1884, eclipsing the old record by 25. He would never exceed 66 K's in his eight remaining big-league years. 1884 was the year that pitchers were finally allowed to deliver a pitch with his hand above the hip, though still no higher than his shoulder. Five other NL players surpassed the previous high that year (the rival American Association and Union Association kept no record of strikeouts for individual batters).

Wise's record stood until 1914, aided by the NL's 15-year interruption in keeping the stat in the batting records. In that year, Gus Williams of the Browns whiffed 120 times to set the record and was out of baseball in a year. This coming one year after Danny Moeller of the Senators fell one short of the record but became the second man to collect a 100 in a season (103 in 1913).

The next man to strike out 100 times would not come until 1932, and the record would stand until 1938. Between 1934 and 1941 the major-league leader had 100 strikeouts each year, possibly due the home run craze that followed Babe Ruth. Jimmie Foxx came with one of Williams record. The record fell to Vince DiMaggio of the Boston Bees (still referred to as Braves by the fans) in his second year. For Vince, the weakest player of the three DiMaggio brothers, this was the second straight 100+ strikeout year, though he would only do it twice more in his remaining eight seasons.

In 1949 Duke Snider became the last player to lead the majors in strikeout with fewer than 100 (92). DiMaggio's record stood until Washington Senator Jim Lemon broke it by four in 1956 (with 138). It was Lemon's first full season. He would play five more and break 100 twice.

With the expansion of the 1960s, the record changed hands a few times. This could be due to the, at least perceived, dilution of batting talent after the 1960s draft. It was felt-quite the reverse of today-that having the extra teams and their attendant rosters aided the pitchers. In 1961 Tiger rookie Jake Wood struck out 141 times, and though he played six more seasons never started again. Free-swinging Hall-of-Fame Twin Harmon Killebrew surpassed that total by one the next year. This was Killebrew's career best, er, worst. In 1963 the White Sox Dave Nicholson crushed that tally with 175. Nicholson would play 4 more seasons, but never started again (though he did strike out 126 times in 294 at-bats in 1964).

Nicholson would hold on to this albatross of a distinction until Bobby Bonds eclipsed him in 1969 with 187. Bonds outdid himself the next year with 189, the record that has stood until this day. Strikeouts have continued to be on the rise in the last few years. Eleven of the top 25 single-season strikeout victims have come since 1997 (12 if you count Hernandez this year).

I find this records history very edifying. After a maturation process, the record was in the hands of four men for over 75 years. Then it went through a period of frequent transition and change, and three men held in exactly three years. Then only one other man has held the record until now. Well, until Hernandez's next game this year. Given the volatility of the single-season home run record in the last few years, it's gratifying to hear that a record can have a short period of volatility and then go back to pattern of changing hands only every 25-40 years. We'll just have to see if this holds true for home runs.


They Say It's Your Birth-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day-Happy
2002-09-21 02:29
by Mike Carminati

They Say It's Your Birth-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day-Happy Birth-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day To You

Yesterday was Joe Morgan's 59th birthday-Can that be true? Tomorrow is the 39th anniversary of his debut with the Houston Colt .45's. But most importantly: today is Joe Morgan Chat Day or JMCD as we call it here at Mike's Baseball Rants or MBR, not to be confused with MGD or TGIF or ESPN or LMAOROTFPIMP (which of course every emailer knows is "Laughed my ass off, rolling on the floor, peeing in my pants"-oh, it's great fun having our own little language like those idiot savant twins in that story).

Here at MBR we love JMCD. Joe obviously studied under the great philosopher Ludwig Weittgenstein. How do I know? Well, first Wittgenstein batted lefty. Second, Ludwig was always spouting off on his little theories in chunk just about the size of a chat session response that definitely were seminal in Joe's baseball analyst development. Witness: "For a large class of cases--though not for all--in which we employ the word "meaning" it can be defined thus: the meaning of a word is its use in the language." Sound like Joe? Of course, there are exceptions:

"the word "is" is used with two different meanings (as the copula and as the sign of equality)" but that its meaning is not its use. That is to say, "is" has not one complex use (including both "Water is clear" and "Water is H2O") and therefore one complex meaning, but two quite distinct uses and meanings. It is an accident that the same word has these two uses. It is not an accident that we use the word "car" to refer to both Fords and Hondas. But what is accidental and what is essential to a concept depends on us, on how we use it.

That's Joe all over. We have rules that we will spew about except when we don't, cause we don't. That's why we love him so. Happy Birthday, Joe!

Of course, the Wittgenstein/baseball parallels run even deeper. He had a Brown Book and a Blue Book. Baseball has a Blue Book as well and if you mix the NL Green Book and the AL Red Book together, you get brown. Then there's Jason Robards' character in Max Dugan Returns who calls himself Wittgenstein to hide his identity from his grandson, played by a teen-aged Mathew Broderick. Robards then hires Charlie Lau (really) to teach the weak-hitting Broderick to hit, and Broderick then, to the surprise of everyone who has never seen a movie, hits the game-winning homer in his high school baseball game. As he rounds the bases, a jubilant Broderick declared, "That one's for you, Wittgenstein!" Of course, the grandfather's dead by this point (sorry) and Broderick knows his real identity, so it's kind of pointless, but it was the '80s, the era of John Hughes, and that's what you did.

Now on to the chat:

The Good

Theo (Cincinnati): Why can't the Tigers pull it together? What are they lacking and what positives do they have to build on?

Joe Morgan: They are lacking talent. They have some young players to build on .. Pena and some pitchers. Other than that, they just don't enough talent.

[Mike: Don't sugarcoat it, Joe. Tell us how you really feel.]

Mike, New Brunswick, NJ: How dangerous do you feel the Twins really are in a short 5 game series? It seems as if they are being looked over and might upset either Oakland or Anaheim who will be focusing on getting past the Yanks.

Joe Morgan: It's pretty much the same answer as before.. when you are in a short series, anyone can get hot and anyone can win. When you get a group of good teams together, it's just a matter of who gets hot.

[Mike: Right.]

Alex (Somerville, MA): I know the Mets season is lost. However, is it possible we could still have the nucleus for a good team next year, especially if we get help with the starting pitching? Piazza, Alomar, Burnitz, Vaughn, and Cedeno all seemingly had off-years at the same time. Is it merely an impossible hope that at least some of them will return to form next year and make a playoff run?

Joe Morgan: That's true .. you can't blame the pitching though. They didn't get much run support. All those guys have to bounce back for them to have a good year. Some of them have good track records, but I'm not sure about all of them bouncing back. And I'm not sure Vaughn will be the Vaughn he was before.

[Mike: Hey, why is someone from Slummervile a Met's fan? Anyway, Joe's right, the Mets lineup has let down an acceptable, if not great, pitching staff. They are ninth currently in ERA in the majors. The bullpen is 10th in Adjusted Runs Prevented with 26.7 (Baseball Prospectus). The Support Neutral Value Added stat for the starter is -3.5, which is 19th in the majors, but everything else is at least better than average. They are 23rd in runs scored, 26th in OPS. And according to BP are outperforming expectations by 26 runs.

Suraj (Tokyo): Your article on Cy Young awards today states that the award has nothing to do with the pennant race, but rather to do with individual stats, then you suggest Zito over Pedro or Lowe because of his contribution to the A's playoff chances. I agree that Zito has been more valuable than the two Sox, but has he truly been better? If Pedro and Lowe played for the Angels, whom would you choose?

Joe Morgan: First, you need to read the article again. I said there is not as much importance placed on a team's success as in the MVP award. I never said it has nothing to do with it. I explain everything you just asked about. Zito has the edge over those two guys. Read it again .. slowly.

[Mike: Ouch! The man's right. Joe's correct about what he says in the article (not that I agree with it necessarily), but is this our usual cordial Joe? It seems that Evil Joe has made an appearance again. If you don't believe me, read again... slowly.]

The Bad

Jake (WV): Hey Joe, What do you think about Bobby Cox getting his 1800th win as a manager. The win put him 400 games above .500 for his career as a manager. AMAZIN!

Joe Morgan: The amazing thing is I don't think he has ever won Manager of the Year! He is always overlooked but I think he might get it this year.

[Mike: Bobby Cox won the award in 1985 with Toronto (the last year in which one award was given out in the majors) and in 1991, 1993, and 1999 with Atlanta. As a matter of fact, he has won it more times (4) than any other person, and the award dates back to 1936. Sorry, Joe.]

James (NC): Joe, Why are the Red Sox so bad? They have the talent to be as good as the Yankees (if you ask me, but I'm asking you)

Joe Morgan: That's a difficult question to answer in a short time. A lot has to do with the makeup of the Yankees and Torre and his staff.

[Mike: How about talent and injuries? This team has had no legitimate first baseman for a good part of the year (Clark and Offerman?). They never had a decent second baseman (Sanchez and Merloni?) They spent most of the year with two-fifths of a rotation (though Fossum and Wakefield have done well in the second half as the team unraveled). Ramirez and Pedro lost some time to injuries.

Tim (Chicago): After a very disappointing year, how do you think the Red Sox will finish next year?

Rob Neyer: Not like I want to make anybody in the Bronx mad at me, but I think the Red Sox are going to win next year. The Yankees have some real problems with their rotation, Jeter seems to be sliding, and the Red Sox have an owner who's taking steps to bring the organization into the 21st century.

[Mike: Yes, a special cameo appearance. This is one of the most unfortunate things that I've read from Neyer. He has really gotten way into John Henry. Great, he plays APBA, but he still needs a pitching staff. They have a question mark at each spot in the rotation: Can Pedro be healthy for an entire season? Is Lowe for real? Is Fossum a reliable major-league starter? Is Wakefield even a starter and if so can he keep it up? Do I have a fifth starter on my roster? They have no second-baseman, Hillebrand and Nixon may've had fluke years, Damon had a bad second-half, do they keep Cliff Floyd, etc. The Yankees are not perfect, but they can fill every hole, and they can get someone else if they cannot do it internally. Besides, it's September of the previous season. How do you even know who will be on the team come April? Let alone what obstacles (they're always there in Boston) they will face.]

Craig (Washington DC): Dont want to take up to much of your time. One question, real easy: Giants or Dodgers?

Joe Morgan: The Giants because the Dodgers starting pitching is what has got them this far and they are injured right now.

[Mike: I'm sick of his saying this. Why are the Dodgers worse off than the Angels-they both in essence lost one starter. Kevin Brown came off the DL, started one game, and was done. And yet he'll say that the Angels rotation is a plus when Mickey Calloway's in it. By the way, Joe. I don't want to take up too much of your valuable. Pardon me while I read the preamble to the Constitution before asking my inane, banal question.]

Jim Thome (Cleveland): What should I do now?

Joe Morgan: I don't have enough facts ... can't answer that!

[Mike: It's nice that Jim Thome told us his home is Cleveland. Of course, he was in KC today, But that wouldn;t have gone well with the gag. ]

This One's For You, Wittgenstein!

Tom (Troy, NY): What's the status of the Expos? Will they stay or will they go now?

Joe Morgan: I'm not sure what will happen.. I know they wont go to D.C. this year. I have heard talk about playing somewhere temporarily but I see them staying in Montreal for another year.

[Mike: How does Joe know this? The commissioner's office has ruled nothing out. The RFK authority has said that they can get the stadium ready even if they are given the go-ahead as late as mid-February. Oh, this is one of those Wittgensteinian semantic things. When Joe says "know" he means he heard some guy say it on SportCenter. Same thing. By the way, I tend to agree with him though-how scary is that?]

John St Louis: How are you Joe, i'm a big fan of yours my question is how well do you think the cardinals will fair in the playoffs. we all know they can play defense and score runs, but do they have the starting pitching and bullpen to match up with a team like the d'backs or braves. thanks for the time

Joe Morgan: Everyone thought they would love to the Dbacks last year and they did but it was 5 tough games. They can produce runs it will just depend on how healthy their pitching is. Anytime you get to the playoffs, you have a chance to win it all, you just have to get some breaks.

[Mike: Everyone thought they'd do what to the Dbacks last year? I bet it was 5 tough games with all of those pressures on you. You don't know if the other team even likes you. Your skin keeps breaking out. And you can't find a dress for the prom. Besides what if the Dbacks don't ask you anyway? Can you go solo or maybe ask that nice, fat team in Triple-A to go along with you as a friend. Decision. Decision. Pay me lawyer's salary.]

The rest of the ugliness is devoted to Joe's Cy Young column:

Joe Morgan: A team's placement in the standings is more important in the MVP voting than it is in the Cy Young voting. The Cy Young is more of an individual award than one tied to team performance.

[Mike: Why? Is there some sort of definition that makes the awards different? Why isn't most valuable just the best player? It used to be before pundits like you changed the connotation to mean best player on a playoff team that is hot in September. Then, you'll turn around and tell us that the ones in April mean just as much when the Angels lose the division because of their 6-14 start.]

Joe Morgan: Statistically, wins mean the most to me. After victories, I look at innings pitched, ERA and strikeouts -- in that order. While wins are the most important, I will use the other three statistics in a tiebreaker situation between two pitchers.

[Mike: I start with Turn-Ons and then move on to quality starts. Look, no one statistic will tell you everything about a player. There are important ones like wins. Yes, you don't want to give the Cy Young to a starting pitcher with only 9 wins, but does a 22-game winner really mean that much more to you than a 20-game winner? Besides that's how a Lamarrrrrr Hoyt ends up with the award. Innings are important, but it's basically a threshold to ensure that he didn't miss to many starts or get bailed out continually by his bullpen. ERA is by far the most important conventional stat for a starting pitcher. It measures how many (earned) runs the pitcher allowed. Runs are how we score the games. He can scoff at WHIPs and strikeout-to-walk ratios, but ERA?]

Joe Morgan: If a pitcher has a low ERA and consistently loses low-scoring games, like 2-1 or 3-2, it means the opposing pitchers are outpitching him. That is not a criticism; the pitcher may be pitching great. But he is pitching well enough to lose, not to win.

[Mike: It just gets worse. OK, let's look at this logically. When a manager is arranging his rotation, he tries to get favorable pairings if possible, right? His number one on the opposition's number one, #2 on #2, etc. if he can to minimize his exposure. So if your #1 loses to theirs 2-1, can you possibly be upset with him? He gave your team an opportunity to win-that's all he can do. If you look at it this way, every pitcher will get outpitched over the course of the season. Would you rather have him be outpitched 3-2 or 12-4? If he is outpitched consistently as Joe says he will not even be considered. Is Lowe outpitched consistently and that's why Ziti has two more wins than him? Besides with today's rotations a pitcher may leave in the sixth or seventh even in a close, well-pitched game. Can that pitcher be held responsible for a bullpen who cannot hold a lead or keep a game close?]

Joe Morgan: Everything in baseball is about production, not percentages. I view pitching statistics in the context of a hitter. ERA and batting average are percentages that don't help a team win. However, wins and innings pitched are productive numbers for a pitcher just as RBIs and runs scored are for a hitter.

[Mike: Just plain wrong. ERA measures runs qualified by the "earned" label. Preventing runs helps a team win. Batting average measures hits per at-bat which is not directly associated with runs. So it therefore has no direct connection to winning. Just because they are both percentages doesn't mean they do the same thing. Return on Investment and percent of orders fulfilled may be two metrics that a company looks at, but the former will tell them a whole lot more about its own strengths.]

Joe Morgan: There have been worthy exceptions among closers. When Mike Marshall (1974), Sparky Lyle (1977), Bruce Sutter (1979), Rollie Fingers (1981) and Willie Hernandez (1984) won Cy Young awards, all three pitched a lot of innings and sometimes closed games having to pitch the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Without a single start, Marshall pitched 208 1/3 innings in 1974, more than all but 14 pitchers that season.

[Mike: If you judge candidates by wins how do you view these five relievers as positive when they won a total of 49 games among them. That's less than 10 wins per season. Well, we'll let you off the hook on that one.

But were these pitchers the best in the leagues for their Cy Young year. For that we will use the best tool that I know of, Bill James' Win Shares. Marshall had 21 Win Shares in '74 (second among the Dodgers pitchers) and trailed Phil Niekro by 7 WS. Lyle had 20 WS in '77, 9 behind league leader Jim Palmer. Sutter had 22 WS in '79, 2 behind league-leader Niekro (again). Fingers had 17, 1 behind Steve McCatty (curse you, Billy Martin). Hernandez had 24, 1 behind Dave Steib. OK, most of those were decent choices (not Lyle or Marshall), but none were the best.

Why is that? Because the closer was a new concept. No one knew how to evaluate them. They were cool. Fingers had a funny mustache. Hrabosky psyched himself up. They were flaky. They had a lot of personality. The press liked them and gave them a lot of coverage. But their jobs had just really started to evolve.

Marshall was 15-12 with 208-1/3 innings in 106 appearances. He was basically a long reliever at the end of the game. The role evolved into a shorter stint and the other four individuals won a Cy Young. They had fewer saves but pitched more innings that today. Today, a closer does not usually pitch more than one inning and pitches less frequently-mostly in save situations. But that is just how the role evolved. The role from Marshall's day is now covered by the bulk of the bullpen. The rest of the Cy Young-winning relievers had the role of setup and closer for the most part.

Should players be penalized because the game has evolved? Well, yes, because their role is less important. The Cy Young is based on merit and opportunity. By being a closer or short reliever, your role limits your opportunity. And though your inning is more important than the starter's, say, third inning, it's not that much more important. Jesse Orosco can face every lefthander, one per game, that the Dodgers face, strike each out, and never approach the worth of Eric Milton. Early on the closer was a novelty and therefore drew more attention. Now, the pendulum has gone back the other way. Will it ever change back? Possibly, if the demands of the game outweigh the money that closers get paid. But don't bet on it.]


How About Getting Rid of
2002-09-21 00:36
by Mike Carminati

How About Getting Rid of the Diamondback Unis Altogether?

A month ago the sports press was caught up in the maelstrom that were the baseball labor negotiations. We heard that if the players struck, it could be the end of the sport as we know it. If the owners didn't stick to their guns and get the deal that they needed, it could cause financial ruin for the small-revenue clubs. This is what MLB was promulgating only a month ago.

Now what are they concerned with? Baggy pants. In an effort to drain any last shred of character and marketability from the game, MLB is instituting new uniform standards, not for safety or to minimize distractions for opponents, merely since they are unsightly. That means that players who have developed a unique style like Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, and Manny Ramirez will lose that bit of their identity come next season.

ESPN so sayeth:

MLB does have uniform regulations already in the basic rulebook. Rule 1.11 prohibits everything from glass buttons to "ragged, frayed or slit" sleeves, although no sanctions for violators are listed. Two years ago, MLB also set restrictions on the sizes for protective elbow pads, like the ones Bonds and Biggio wear. However, players can go over the size limit if they prove a prior injury exists (as Bonds has done).

Well, here's the rule in its entirety:
1.11
(a) (1) All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players uniforms shall include minimal six inch numbers on their backs. (2) Any part of an undershirt exposed to view shall be of a uniform solid color for all players on a team. Any player other than the pitcher may have numbers, letters, insignia attached to the sleeve of the undershirt. (3) No player whose uniform does not conform to that of his teammates shall be permitted to participate in a game. (b) A league may provide that (1) each team shall wear a distinctive uniform at all times, or (2) that each team shall have two sets of uniforms, white for home games and a different color for road games. (c) (1) Sleeve lengths may vary for individual players, but the sleeves of each individual player shall be approximately the same length. (2) No player shall wear ragged, frayed or slit sleeves. (d) No player shall attach to his uniform tape or other material of a different color from his uniform. (e) No part of the uniform shall include a pattern that imitates or suggests the shape of a baseball. (f) Glass buttons and polished metal shall not be used on a uniform. (g) No player shall attach anything to the heel or toe of his shoe other than the ordinary shoe plate or toe plate. Shoes with pointed spikes similar to golf or track shoes shall not be worn. (h) No part of the uniform shall include patches or designs relating to commercial advertisements. (i) A league may provide that the uniforms of its member teams include the names of its players on their backs. Any name other than the last name of the player must be approved by the League President. If adopted, all uniforms for a team must have the names of its players.

The intention of the rule is to ensure that uniform standards are enforced to identify players and to reduce any distraction or obstruction caused by non-uniformity (therefore, the name) on the part of, usually, the pitcher. It's like an extension of the balk rule. The rules were not developed so that Bud could institute a dress code. They claim that some shirts are worn to be baggy to induce a hit-by-a-pitch call. If so, that aspect may be addressed, but who cares if Barry feels that he is making a fashion statement with pants down to his toenails.
Here is some history on each aspect of the rule from Rich Marazzi's The Rules and Lore of Baseball:
- 1.11 (a)(1): Umpire Bill Hailer laid rule 1.11(a) on Vida Blue on April 16, 1977. Hailer forced Blue to remove the old, discolored cap that he had worn for some time. Blue superstitiously looked at his hat as his "lucky" cap. Vida said, "I'm going to wear it next time or I won't pitch." The Oakland pitcher had a change of heart the next day and proceeded to burn his cap in front of his teammates.

[Note: John Wetteland had a hoary, sweat-discolored hat when he closed for the Yankees. He wore the some one all year until they won the World Seies. Steve Kline's Cardinal hat tonight didn't look much better: it was a more maroon than his teammates' and the white "STL" had become pink from sweat.]

- I. 11(c):The basic reason for the rule is that it is a distraction to the batter to have to face a pitcher with ragged sleeves.
On the night of May 5, 1972, the Athletics hosted the Yankees at Oakland. Going into the bottom of the third inning with Oakland batting and the Yankees leading 1-0, umpire Bill Kunkel went out to the mound to check pitcher Fritz Peterson's shirt. It appeared that shirt Peterson wore under his uniform shirt was slightly slit or frayed. Umpire Kunkel ordered Fritz to the clubhouse to change his shirt. The Yankee southpaw followed the umpire's order, and the game went on.

Frayed sleeves have been a baseball no-no for a longtime. On June 7, 1938, the Indians and Red Sox played at Fenway Park. Umpire Bill McGowan ordered Cleveland chucker Johnny Allen to cut off part of his sweat shirt sleeve which dangled when he pitched. McGowan viewed this as a distraction to the batters.

Allen emphatically refused to cut his sleeve. The stubborn hurler refused to pitch and angrily walked off the mound. He was fined $250.00 for his obstinate actions. Allen's ragged shirt was eventually sent to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y.

-1.11 (e):Joe Adcock protested the 1967 season opener when he managed the Indians in a game against the Athletics. The Athletics were not wearing a baseball shaped pattern on any part of their uniform, but they were wearing white shoes, which Adcock thought were deceptive and tended to confuse the hitter.

Adcock protested the game as soon as A's pitcher Jim Nash threw the first pitch to Vie Davalillo. The protest was rejected by A.L. President Joe Cronin.

Billy Martin was involved in a protest concerning the uniform when the White Sox made their first visit to the new Yankee Stadium early in the 1976 season. The White Sox invaded the stadium wearing their new uniforms, navy blue pants and blouses, clamdiggers, white hats, white lettering, and white undershirts.

Martin thought there must be something in the rules against white undershirts, especially if worn by a pitcher. Umpire Marty Spring- stead agreed but wasn't sure. Since it was too late to check with the league office, the umpire ordered Sox pitcher Bart Johnson to remove the white-sleeve shirt. The shirt was snipped with a scissors, and Johnson conducted his pitching chores. Relief pitcher Clay Carroll replaced his white shirt with a blue one. White Sox manager Paul Richards protested the game, which the Yankees won, 5-4. American League president Lee MacPhail ruled the white shirts were acceptable but disallowed the protest lodged by the White Sox.

- 1.11 (f): Umpire Ed Runge ordered Indian pitcher Dean Chance to remove a tiny flag pin from his cap on July 3, 1970, when the Indians met the Red Sox at Boston. Glass buttons and metal objects can cause a glare for the batter and therefore are illegal.


Cardinal's In St. Louis won
2002-09-20 23:52
by Mike Carminati

Cardinal's In

St. Louis won the NL Central flag tonight with a 9-3 win over Houston at home. The game ended with a spectacular leaping catch by Scot Rolen, who also homered. The team celebrated on the field as Albert Pujols carried the late Darryl Kile's jersey in his left hand and gave high-fives with his right amid his jubilant teammates. Manager Tony LaRussa did not participate in the on-field celebration, but rather stood at the top of the dugout steps and peered out at his team like a proud and relieved father.

After the tragedies that they have endured all season, I would bet that everyone in baseball (well, maybe not the Astros) feels pleased by their clinching.


Reefer Madness Apparently, Mr. Met
2002-09-20 22:46
by Mike Carminati

Reefer Madness

Apparently, Mr. Met is being replaced by Mr. T. if you believe the reports from Newsday. They have a picture of relief pitcher Grant Roberts toking from a hooka in 1999. It's actually one in a series: Roberts smoking from a homemade bong constructed from an empty honey container in the shape of a bear and tin foil, Roberts eating at McDonalds at 2 AM, etc. You get the picture.

Baseball is so conservative. It's as if the 1960s never happened for baseball. So a 22-year-old was smoking pot recreationally a few years ago? Is this earth-shattering news? I would have to think that it would be extremely difficult to have a pot problem and be a major-league ballplayer, even a Met. The attendant lethargy would kind of be a problem being an athlete and all. Would this be a big story if they players were alcoholics given that alcohol would probably more damaging to a player's career?

Look, there is a drug problem in this country, especially with America's youth. Athletes are young, traveling, not necessarily the bookish type, and have little to do a good portion of the time. Some probably do drugs socially and drugs a whole lot worse than pot. In June supposedly pitcher Mark Corey was hospitalized after a marijuana-induced seizure. I have never heard of marijuana causing a seizure.

Bobby Valentine who seems that he is on drugs of a more serious nature had this to say, "When I was playing, smoking marijuana was not the thing that you did when you were playing baseball." C'mon, he sounds high right there. Bobby, you should have taken pot when you played. At least you would have had an excuse.

If the Mets had just responded to this story with "Who cares? It's a non-issue," everyone would have been better off.


Bay Area 5-La La Land
2002-09-20 15:49
by Mike Carminati

Bay Area 5-La La Land 3

So the A's and the Giants end their respective series up by one game and both look good going into the final sprint for the playoffs. Just a few notes:

The Dodgers won a must-win game. And Odalis Perez, who has been very impressive this year, pitched like a big-game pitcher. The Giants' weaknesses were all too apparent: Livan Hernandez's inconsistency and their offensive weakness beyond Bonds, Kent, and Aurlia (David Bell and his .328 on-base percentage led off while Kenny Lofton's lefty bat was taken out of the lineup-by the way, Lofton's 2002 on-base percentage vs. lefties is .319 almost as high as Bell's and at least he can run). The Giants have to know that they could have knocked the Dodgers out and didn't. However, the Giants leave town having held their own in LA (2-2) and now control their own destiny. The schedule would seem to favor LA (9 games, 6 at home & 3 away-3@ San Diego, 2 vs. Colorado, 4 vs. San Diego) over SF (8 games, 5 at home & 3 on the reoad-3 @ Milwaukee, 2 vs. San Diego, and 3 vs. Houston), but San Diego always seems to give the Dodgers fits and Houston will likely be eliminated from the playoffs by their series with the Giants. (Note: the Giants have that tie sgame from August 15 at Atlanta that they will have to make up if it matters.)

The A's took three of four and seemed to have a different hero in each game, even though that was supposed to be the Angels' strength. In the last game the last four positions in the batting order carried the offense (the top five collected 1 hit in total). Their bullpen (except for game 2) was held the Angels scoreless. Their starters pitched well. Now the schedule favors Oakland (9 games, 3 home & 6 road-3 vs. Texas, 3 @ Seattle, 3 @ Texas) over Anaheim (9 games, 3 home & 6 road-3 @Seattle, 3@Texas, 3 vs. Seattle). The press likes to point to the injuries in LA devastating the Dodgers while the so-so Aaron Sele's loss has been just as devastating to the Angels (Mickey Calloway just doesn't cut it). Oh, and the A's now have the head-to-head lead (11-9) which would act as the tie breaker (right before a coin toss) should they end up tied for the division lead, with the loser inheriting the wild card.


Of Playoff Rosters and Men
2002-09-20 13:56
by Mike Carminati

Of Playoff Rosters and Men

Vince Femenella asks:

I have a question about playoff eligibility. I believe that only players on the 25 man roster and those on the DL are eligible for the playoffs. Are these truly the only players available for postseason play. If someone gets injured in September, from what pool of players does the team get to choose a replacement.

I found the answer at a great site that I never found before: Baseball Roster Central

And here it is:

The Transactions Glossary

Playoff Rosters: Playoff rosters must be set at 25, not including disabled players, on August 31. For each player on the 60-day DL, teams may add players to the eligible list during the playoffs at the same position, provided that they were in the organization on August 31. This is why some teams will bring up injured minor-league players and put them on the 60-day DL. Teams must choose 25 players from their playoff eligible list before each round of the playoffs.

Disabled List: The disabled list is restricted to players who have been given a medical diagnosis by an authorized doctor. There are two types of major-league disabled lists, the regular or 15-day disabled list and the emergency or 60-day disabled list. Players who are placed on the disabled list are inactive for a minimum of 15 or 60 days depending on the list. Players on the 15-day DL can be moved the 60-day DL at any time. Players on the 60-day DL cannot be moved to the 15-day DL. Players on the 60-day DL do not count against the 40-Man Roster. Often a player is moved to the 60-day DL to add a non-roster player to the roster. For every player on the 60-day DL, another name may be added to the playoff eligible list at same position as the player on the 60-day DL on August 31. A player may be placed on the DL retroactive to any date after the last date he appeared in game, up to 10 days before the date of placement on the DL. If a player spends an entire season on the 60-day DL, it does not count against rookie eligibility. All players must be removed from the disabled list by the end of the free agent filing period (15 days after the conclusion of the World Series).

Trading Deadline: There are two trading deadlines in baseball, July 31 and August 31. July 31 (at 4 PM EDT) is the last day teams can make a trade without having to pass a player through waivers until 5 PM on the day after the scheduled end of the regular season. This results in most of the biggest trades being made at that time. On August 31, teams must set their playoff rosters. By this time, most teams know whether or not they have a shot at the playoffs. Teams who are out of the race will put some of their more expensive players on the block sometimes and offer them in trades. Role players often get moved so they can be pinch-runners, pinch-hitters, or utility players for playoff teams.

The DL issue is the part that complicates things. I believe that someone on the 60-day-DL was replaced by a position player that was in the minors until September (or at least not on the original playoff roster) a few years ago. If I remember correctly it was Ricky Ledee for the Yankees replacing Chili Davis or Darryl Strawberry in 1998. It is hard to know how or of this affects anything this year since, to my knowledge, the postseason rosters are not published until the playoffs begin.

Anyway, here are the likely playoff teams and their players on the 60-day DL:

Angels: Steve Green, P
Twins: mike Duvall, P
Yankees: Christian Parker (P) and Randy Keisler (P)
D-Backs: Todd Stottlemyre (P)
Braves: Dave Martinez (OF), Cory Aldridge (OF), B.J. Surhoff (OF)
Dodgers: Tim Crabtree (P), Darren Dreifort (P)
Giants: Jason Christianson (P)
Cardinals: Rick Ankiel (P)


John Henry Said to
2002-09-20 12:27
by Mike Carminati

John Henry Said to His Captain...

The Umpires' union is upset because the company that MLB has commissioned to create its electronic umpire evaluation system, QuesTec Inc., has been found guilty of fraud. Its former president has been barred in two countries (permanently from the American stock exchange and for 8 years by the Canucks), and it was fined for doing his dirty work.

Sandy Alderson, who has gone from a bright spot in the Commissioner's office to almost non-existent, does not see this as a problem. The umps disagree: "It is time to throw out the Commissioner's gimmick! Baseball is a game between men, not a game of man against the machine. " (Wouldn't it be cool if it were though?) They complain that the evaluation of the product is biased since non-baseball people are conducting it.

Of course, MLB has no problem with ties to corrupt companies-baseball execs themselves have been shown to be not too squeaky clean themselves (remember the Bud Selig-Carl Pohlad "loan"). Maybe the umps' union can win in this thumb-wrestling battle with MLB, but given how the players' union capitulated on the CBA last month and the weakened state of the union since Richie Phillips' Jim Jones impersonation, I am not sanguine. In other words, don't bet on it. I've written on why the system won't work at length before, but given the desire of the men in charge to get it done, much like the recommendations of the hand-picked, so-called Blue Ribbon Panel, it shall be done on earth as it is in the Commissioner's office.


Match Bartolo's 20 According to
2002-09-20 01:12
by Mike Carminati

Match Bartolo's 20

According to ESPN, Bartolo Colon became the second man to win 10 games in each league (Hank Borrowy in 1945 being the other), winning his 20th overall tonight. Of course, there is more to it than that. There were three other men who won 10 in two different major leagues in the same year. All of the others involve the one-year Union Association of 1884 (when there were three major leagues). Here are all five:

Bartolo Colon, 2002, 20-7 in total-10-4 with Cleveland (AL), 10-3 with Montreal (NL)

Hank Borrowy, 1945, 21-7 in total-11-2 with Chicago (NL), 10-5 with New York (AL)

Jim McCormick, 1884, 40-25 in total-19-22 with Cleveland (NL), 21-3 with Cincinnati (UA)

Charlie Sweeney, 1884, 41-15 in total-17-8 with Providence (NL), 24-7 with St. Louis (UA)

Billy Taylor, 1884, 43-16 in total-18-12 with Philadelphia (AA), 25-4 with St. Louis (UA)

Oddly, there has only been one player who has won 10 games for different teams in the same league in one year: Elton Chamberlain in 1888 was 25-11 pitching for Louisville (AA-14-9) and St. Louis (AA-11-2, known today as the Cardinals).

Here is a list of all the players who have won 20 in one year while pitching for two different clubs (excluding above):

Al Atkinson, 1884, 20-16 with Baltimore (UA-3-5), Chicago/Pittsburgh (UA-6-10), and Philadelphia (AA-11-11)

Red Barrett, 1945, 23-12 with Boston (NL-2-3) and St. Louis (NL-21-9)

John Clarkson, 1892, 25-16 with Boston (NL-8-6) and Cleveland (NL-17-10)

Hugh Daily, 1884, 28-28 with Chicago/Pittsburgh (UA-27-27) and Washington (UA-1-1)

Frank Dwyer, 1892, 21-18 with Cincinnati (NL-19-10) and St. Louis (NL-2-8)

Patsy Flaherty, 1904, 20-11 with Chicago (AL-1-2) and Pittsburgh (NL-19-9)

Jim McCormick (2nd appearance), 1885, 21-7 with Chicago (NL-20-4) and Providence (NL-1-3)

Willie McGill, 1891, 21-15 with Cincinnati (AA-2-5 later the NL Reds) and St. Louis (AA-19-10 later the Cardinals)

Iron Joe McGinnity, 1902, 21-18 with old Baltimore Orioles (AL-13-10) and the New York Giants (8-8)

Sadie McMahon, 1890, 36-21 with Baltimore (AA-7-3) and Philadelphia (AA-29-18)

Bobo Newsom, 1939, 20-11 with Detroit Tigers (17-10) and the St. Louis Browns (3-1)

Tom Terrific Seaver, 1977, 21-6 with New York Mets (7-3) and Cincinnati Reds (14-3)

Dupree Shaw, 1884, 30-33 with Boston (UA-21-15) and Detroit (NL-9-18)

Harry Staley, 1891, 24-13 with Boston (NL-20-8) and Pittsburg (NL-4-5, not a typo: the city had no "h" at the end yet)

Rick Sutcliffe, 1984, 20-6 (and an NL Cy Young award) with Chicago Cubs (16-1) and Cleveland Indians (4-5)

Jack Taylor, 1906, 20-12 Chicago (NL-12-3) and St. Louis (NL-8-9)

Virgil Trucks, 1953, 20-10 with Chicago White Sox (15-6) and St. Louis Browns (5-4)

Bob Wicker, 1903, 20-9 with St. Louis (NL-0-0) and Chicago (NL-20-9)



Ruth or Aaron? Epilogue I
2002-09-19 23:52
by Mike Carminati

Ruth or Aaron? Epilogue

I had written a few weeks ago on the similarity between the Aaron Myette ejection that almost lead to a no-hitter and the 1917 Babe Ruth ejection that lead to what was once called a perfect game by Ernie Shore (until MLB changed its criteria). Jon Fifer wrote to me and pointed out that the circumstances surrounding Ruth's ejection were slightly more involved:

On the subject of the game in which Babe Ruth started, walked the first batter, got tossed, and Ernie Shore came in, picked off the man on first, and then set down 26 straight, Ruth wasn't ejected because he simply "argued balls and strikes". He also punched the umpire, knocking him out, and had to
be corralled into the dugout by his entire team.

I was always curious about this game, first seeing it described as Ruth being ejected, then ejected for arguing balls and strikes, then for hitting the ump, finally for knocking the ump out. Robert Cramer kind of glosses over this in his biography, "Babe", but I think I first got the complete story from Bill James, and have seen it since elsewhere.


He was absolutely correct. I was writing extemporaneously-don't try this at home; it's dangerous-and had left out those details. I wanted to investigate further, and then got caught up in other things. That's why I'm just getting to it now-my apologies to Jon and my thanks for his patience.

I found a few sources with similar stories, but since they come from very interesting source and I myself am incredibly verbose, I thought I would let those sources speak for themselves at length.

We start with BaseballLibrary.com which has a good overview of the story in its current format: Ernie Shore's Near-Perfect Game.

Next, Here are a number of accounts from the greatest sports biography yet, Robert W. Creamer's Babe: The Legend Comes to Life regarding Shore. Creamer actually has more about the incident than expected. Shore played with Ruth on the minor-league Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox (they were sold there together), and eventually the Yankees. Creamer is a bit of a homer when it comes to Ruth, but a great storyteller. Here is an account of Shore's feelings on Ruth (and allusion to the perfect game-don't worry, there's more later):

[When asked what kind of man Ruth was,] I told him about Ernie Shore and Bob Shawkey, neither of whom had any reason to be particularly fond of Ruth. Shore pitched in the minor leagues with him at Baltimore and was a better pitcher then than the Babe; yet Ruth was adulated far more than Shore. When the two of them were sold together to the Boston Red Sox, newspaper comment of the day said that the transaction could not help but be a good one for the Red Sox because of Ruth. But with Boston it was Shore who moved right in as a starting pitcher, while Ruth faltered and was sent back to the minor leagues again for a time. A year later, after the Red Sox had won the pennant, Shore pitched the opening game of the World Series against Grover Cleveland Alexander and started and won a second game; Ruth did not play at all, except to pinch-hit once. In 1917 Shore pitched a perfect game, one of the rarest feats in baseball. The Babe started that game and was thrown out of it by the plate umpire before getting anyone out. Shore, sent hurriedly to the mound in Ruth's place, did not allow anyone to reach first base in the nine full innings that followed and was credited with a perfect game. Baseball fans are more aware of that game because of Ruth than because of Shore. Even then, on his biggest day in baseball, Shore's solid accomplishment was overshadowed by the Babe's personality. Shore was a college man who later became a sheriff in his native North Carolina; Ruth was a reform school product. They roomed together in Boston, and the story is told that the Babe used Shore's toothbrush to brush his own teeth, and that Shore went to the manager of the ball club and insisted on being given a new roommate. Shore went into the armed forces in 1918 during World War I, but Ruth, who was married by then, did not; Shore was not the same pitcher after the war, and by 1921 his big league career was all over, just as Ruth was moving into the big, big money.
If ever a man had reason to be disenchanted by the Hero Ruth, it would appear to be Ernie Shore. Yet he too chuckled when he was asked about the Babe. He said the unhappy roommate story was not true. It wasn't a toothbrush at all, it was a shaving brush. The Babe didn't wash it out after he had used it, that was all. "Hell, I roomed with him in 1920 when we were both with the Yankees," Shore said. "I was the only one he would listen to." Asked what Ruth was like in those early days in Baltimore and Boston and New York, Shore replied with fervor, if not originality, "He was the best-hearted fellow who ever lived. He'd give you the shirt off his back."

Cremer on their sale to the Red Sox and Ruth's first trip to Boston:

Ruth was now in the major leagues, the world he was made for. He and the others left the train at Back Bay Station in Boston that Saturday morning, walked over to a hotel to check in and then went to Lander's coffee shop for breakfast. The Babe by now was much more his naturally garrulous and gregarious self than he had been through the early months with the Orioles, and with his deep rich voice ringing out he flirted cheerfully with the pretty waitress who served them that first morning. Her name, it turned out, was Helen Woodford. She was from South Boston and was not only pretty but a nice girl too (the oldtimers who knew her stressed that, recalling perhaps some of the other ladies Ruth met from time to time). She was only sixteen, not much more than a child herself, and the youthful Ruth fell in love with her, courting her each morning thereafter over cups of coffee and platters of bacon and eggs.
Later that first day Ruth, Shore and Egan went to Fenway Park and reported to Carrigan, the Red Sox manager. The three sixfooters (Short was six feet four) towered over the five-foot, nineinch manager, but there was no question of which of the four was in control. Carrigan, a powerfully built catcher in his early thirties, had a pleasantly tough face and with it an indisputable aura of command. He was a decent well-mannered man from a quiet middle-class background, but on the ballfield he was hard and aggressive and in the dugout and clubhouse tremendously sure of himself. Among ballplayers he was known as Rough Carrigan, for the way he played. As a manager he was demanding, but he treated his players with affection and respect. He was profane, as most ballplayers are, but unlike John McGraw, the prototype of the harsh, bullying leader, Carrigan never cursed a player or publicly humiliated one. Apparently he did not have to. Shore, who had played briefly for McGraw and despised him, made a particular point of this. Even the undisciplined Ruth was impressed by his quiet authority. In Babe's later years in the major leagues he played under Ed Barrow, Miller Huggins, Joe McCarthy and Bill McKechnie, all of whom were eventually elected to baseball's Hall of Fame, but he always maintained that Carrigan was the best manager he ever played for. Shore went further; he said Carrigan was the best manager who ever lived.

Creamer on the incident and Ruth's inability to control himself leading up to the incident:

...As a married man he would be exempt from military service.
Despite his pleasant situation vis--vis the draft, Ruth's disposition grew increasingly cranky. The blissfulness of his marriage was beginning to erode under the pressure of the fun and girls he sought and found in various towns around the league, and in Boston too. He was well aware of his status as the premier lefthander in the league, and he found it difficult to accept the occasional bad luck that besets all players and umpires' decisions that went against him. His second loss of the season, in June, was particularly galling. Guy Morton of Cleveland pitched a one-hit shutout to beat him, 3-0, but Ruth himself had a one-hitter going into the ninth and it was his own single in the eighth that broke up Morton's no-hitter. Most aggravating was the way Cleveland scored its runs. In the fourth inning Ruth walked Ray Chapman, who stole second while Ruth retired the next two batters. Then Babe struck out Bobby Roth, which should have ended the inning, but the third strike got away from the catcher and Roth was safe at first as Chapman moved to third. The two pulled a double steal, and Chapman slid safely home with the first run of the game. A bad throw on the play let Roth go all the way around to third. Then Roth stole home too, for the fourth stolen base of the inning and the second run. In the sixth inning the lone base hit Ruth allowed drove in a third run. He was pretty sore after losing that game.
His bad temper reached a memorable high later in the month, on June 23. He was the starting pitcher against Washington in a game played at home in Boston. He completed his warm-up pitches and faced the first batter, Ray Morgan, the Senators' second baseman. The plate umpire was Brick Owens, not a notably even-tempered man himself. Owens called Ruth's first pitch a ball, and Babe complained. He pitched again. Ball two. Ruth shouted something, and the umpire angrily motioned for him to desist. Babe threw again. Ball three.
"Open your eyes!" Ruth yelled. "Open your eyes!"
"It's too early for you to kick," the umpire yelled back. "Get in there and pitch!"
Ruth stomped around the mound angrily, wound up and threw again.
"Ball four!" Owens snapped.
Ruth ran in toward the plate. "Why don't you open your goddamned eyes ?" he screamed.
"Get back out there and pitch," Owens shouted, "or I'll run you out of the game.
"You run me out of the game, and I'll bust you one on the nose." Owens stepped across the plate and waved his arm. "Get the hell out of here!" he cried. "You're through."
Ruth rushed him. Chester Thomas, the catcher, got between the angry pitcher and the umpire, but Ruth swung anyway, over the catcher's shoulder. He missed with a right, but a left caught Owens on the back of the neck. Ruth was in a frenzy, and Thomas and Jack Barry, who came running to the plate, had to pull him away from the umpire. A policeman came down from the stands and led the still fuming Ruth off the field.
When things settled down, Barry turned to the bench and waved Ernie Shore into the game. The new pitcher was allowed exactly eight warm-up pitches, the legal limit, and then the game resumed. As Shore threw his first pitch, Morgan, the base runner Ruth had walked, broke for second in a surprise attempt to steal, but Thomas, who had a superb arm, cut him down. One out. Shore got the next two men and went on to retire twenty-six batters in a row, every man he faced in the game. It was a perfect no-hit, no-run game for Shore, the fourth ever to be pitched in the majors. It was so entered in the record books, although purists still quibble about it. If a Washington runner reached first base, they argue, it~ was not a perfect game; and if it was not a perfect game, how can the pitcher be credited with one? Never mind. As far as Ernie Shoee was concerned, it was perfect.
Ruth was in uniform the next day and worked out, but during the game he sat in the stands in civilian clothes because Ban Johnson had suspended him indefinitely. A heavy fine and a long suspension were predicted, but Frazee hurried to smooth-talk Johnson. The league president listened, and after ten days ended the suspension and let Ruth return to action. Johnson explained that he had lifted the suspension because of the closeness of the pennant race. As for the anticipated heavy fine, it was set at $100, the amount Ruth owed to a man named Charley Deal, with whom he was having a dispute over the purchase of an automobile. Frazee sent a check for $100 to Garry Herrmann of the National Commission, but Ruth in the meantime settled the Deal affair himself, and Herrmann returned Frazee's check.

Creamer on an incident involving Shore and Ruth on the Yankees:
In Jacksonville, whose chamber of commerce had advertised Ruth and the Yankees throughout Florida like a circus, he played golf with Bob Shawkey and Del Pratt and on one hole mis-hit the ball so badly he broke the head off his club. In early practice sessions at the ballpark he worked out at third base and surprised the other players with his lefthanded agility. His winter of golf and baseball in California had left him in pretty good shape. His weight was just about 200. He quickly became an accepted member of the team and enjoyed himself hugely clowning about in practice. One day when the chunky five-foot, eight-inch, 195-pound Bodie cut in front of him to take a grounder away, Ruth yelled in mock anger, grabbed Bodie, turned him upside down, dropped him on the grass and sat on him. He and Bodie got along well. They were roommates and often ate together. Bodie had been considered the biggest eater on the club before Ruth came along, but now he admitted defeat. "Anybody who eats three pounds of steak and a bottle of chili sauce for a starter has got me," he said. Not everything was jovial. Ruth got fed up with the biting jibes of a spectator one afternoon and went into the stands after him. The man stood his ground and pulled a knife. Ernie Shore, then with the Yankees, pulled Ruth away, and the fan left quietly.

I love that stuff.

Next, we check out Marshal Smelser's The Life that Ruth Built: A Biography. This is on Ruth's promotion to the majors:

He has come up really fast for a kid. Kept his confidence. Didn't get beat too often when he first came up. You got to have that early success in order to develop fast in this league.
-Jim Brosnan, Pennant Race

Babe Ruth became an Oriole while wearing faded denim bib-overalls in the yard of St. Mary's Industrial School in Baltimore on February 14, 1914. On July 11, 147 days later, he was scuffing the clay in front of the pitching rubber in Fenway Park, Boston, getting ready to pitch to Jack Graney, the first batter in the Cleveland lineup. The nineteen-year-old left-hander with the swelling shoulders pitched well against the Cleveland Naps that day, though he had ridden a train all the previous night, and "the night before" is a nervous night for most rookie pitchers. Jack Graney later said of the game, "I remember it well. I was the lead-off man . . . and the first man to face Ruth in his debut with the Red Sox. . . . I had two hits that day." Graneyl- singled to open the game, but did not shake Ruth, who threw him out in a double play as he later tried to score.

RUTH LEADS RED SOX TO VICTORY

Southpaw Displays High Class In Game Against Cleveland
-Boston Globe, July 12, 1914

Other tones of voices in other news rooms:

Ruth Batted Out By The Naps
-New York Times, July 12, 1914

Ruth held Cleveland to five scattered hits and one run in the first six innings, while the Red Sox scored three times. In the seventh, Cleveland hit three singles which brought in two runs to tie the score. Duffy Lewis batted for Ruth in the seventh, which meant, of course, that Ruth left the game. Luckily for him, Tris Speaker drove in Everett Scott with the lead run in the last of the seventh. Dutch Leonard finished the game, saving the victory for Ruth, score 4-3. Tim Murnane, an able writer for the Globe-former player, former manager, former minor-league president-predicted a good future for the new left-hander, "a natural ball player" who "went through his act like a veteran" and who "will undoubtedly be a fine pitcher
Thus, on July 11, 1914, Babe Ruth pitched and won the first big-league game he ever saw. The events of the previous weeks explain how he found himself pitching for the home club at Fenway Park.
Jack Dunn, the owner-manager of the near-bankrupt Baltimore Orioles, offered pitchers Babe Ruth and Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan to Connie Mack in June 1914. The great Athletics were in the process of losing $65,000 that year. Mack was planning to sell, not to buy. Joseph Lannin, owner of the Red Sox, had joined with Mack in helping Dunn to meet his spring payroll. Feeling obligated to deal with Mack and Lannin first (although John McGraw was also interested), Dunn offered Ruth and Shore to the Red Sox for twenty-five thousand dollars. Lannin countered with the figure of fifteen thousand. Dunn added Egan to the list and suggested nineteen thousand plus cancelation of Dunn's debt of thirty-five hundred to Lannin, and another loan from Lannin, the amount unknown. (This bargaining was done by telephone, a method novel enough to intrigue people in 1914.) Dunn's package was acceptable to Lannin, if the players suited his manager, Bill Carrigan.

On July 3 Dunn went to see Lannin and Carrigan in Washington. Freddie Parent, a retired shortstop who played for the Red Sox in Carrigan's first year, now worked for Dunn; Dunn took him along as a witness Carrigan would trust. Carrigan listened to Dunn's offer and asked Parent what he thought. Parent said Shore was surely ready for the major leagues now, and though Ruth lacked finish, 'he can't miss with a little more experience." We know that Carrigan had great pitching in 1914, but no manager is likely to turn down good pitchers his owner will buy for cash. And because of the Federal League troubles there was no player limit that summer; in this Oriole deal Carrigan could not hurt the Red Sox. Dunn's offer, Lannin's money, Parent's advice, Carrigan's acceptance-and the deal was closed. Nothing remained but for Dunn, Ruth, and Lannin to pose for the standard photograph of player signing contract, an American conventional art form which has been well received for decades.

3 MORE ORIOLES SOLD

Ruth, Shore and Egan Purchased

By The Boston Red Sox
THEY LEAVE THE NEST TONIGHT

More Than $25000 Said To Be Involved-Players Should Be Big Help To Carrigan's Club
-Baltimore Sun, July 10, 1914


Of the three players in the deal, Shore was most wanted by Boston, Ruth next, and Egan not at all. The Red Sox dealt Egan, Ruth's first professional tutor, to Cleveland almost as soon as he got off at South Station in Boston. Ruth was not a necessary part of a deal for Shore; the Red Sox would have been glad to get Shore alone. Shore was a very good pitcher, but his career ended before he was thirty.

Smelser on the incident:

Aggression thus may lead to success in sports, a successful business career, a one-way trip to San Quentin, or frequent trips to a psychiatrist.
-Arnold R. Beisser

Umpires are most vigorous when defending their miscalls.
-Jim Brosnan

The summer of 1917 saw the only outright unseemly act Ruth had yet committed on a baseball field. It brought him his second New York headline: SLUGS UMPIRE, INDEFINITELY SUSPENDED. What Ruth did was also the overture to a pitching performance now listed in the most respected group of entries in the record book.
Clarence B. Owen, a Chicago florist, better remembered as Brick Owen, the American League umpire, was behind the plate in the first game of a double-header between the Red Sox and Senators at Boston On June 23. Ruth started for Boston and walked the first batter on four pitches, three of which he thought should have been called strikes. After the fourth ball the Baltimore waterfront slob took over from Xaverian Brother George and loudly advised Owen to sleep more at night in order to be awake during the day. Owen recommended silence, or he (Owen) would put him (Ruth) out of the game. Ruth said that if Owen put him out, he'd slug him. Owen then ordered Ruth off the field and half turned away so that Ruth's fist, aimed for the jaw, caught him behind the ear. Barry and other players swarmed over Ruth and led him off the field. Ban Johnson, president of the American League, fined Ruth a hundred dollars and suspended him for ten days.
A typical pitcher believes four out of five good pitches should lead to outs. Here, in Ruth's opinion, were three good pitches called balls.
Umpire-phobia is worse in the early innings of a game because a bad call then can divert the whole course of events disastrously. On the other hand, as Clyde King said when he was pitching coach of the Reds, "The worst thing a pitcher can do is to get mad, at himself or anything else. It ruins his concentration." Nevertheless, pitchers (and other players, of course) often do explode. They can't help being what is called temperamental. No soprano ever had to work under the conditions facing a visiting pitcher who loads the bases in the bottom of the ninth, nor do crowds often shout for the failure of the pianist in a concert hail. All things considered, ballplayers discipline themselves pretty well. Before the First World War a single run seemed more valuable than it does now; a single ruling leading to a single run might well decide a game. We still see umpire baiting with ten-run leads, but that is cultural lag.

The umpire, to be sure, takes a different view. Several are said to be the author of the remark that the job requires the umpire to be perfect on the first day and to improve thereafter. And the plate umpire has a very tiring job, being liable for over two hundred quick judgments in nine innings (but Brick Owen had only to make four calls to shake down the thunder).
A few years before Ruth's outburst a player had been fined and suspended for the remainder of the season after striking an umpire. Just two weeks earlier John McGraw struck umpire Bill (Lord) Byron while leaving the field after a game. John K. Tener, president of the National League, fined McGraw five hundred dollars and suspended him for sixteen days. McGraw added oral aggravation and Tener, after another hearing, added another thousand to the fine. In two later cases, players who struck umpires received one-year suspensions. Ruth got off lightly.
For the Red Sox, and for Ernie Shore in particular, Ruth's flare-up ended happily. Shore replaced Ruth. The runner on first was thrown out trying to steal, and Shore allowed no one else to reach first base, thus forever enshrining himself in the list of eleven pitchers who have pitched perfect games, from Lee Richmond in 1880 to Catfish Hunter in 1968.
After his brief suspension Ruth's sharpness was still there. On July 11. he pitched a one-hitter against Detroit, winning 1-0 and putting Boston into first place; he also had two hits in three times at bat, one a triple. He walked four and struck out eight, getting five of the strikeouts when runners were in scoring position on second base.
By this time Ruth was such a confident pitcher that he did not care to go down the list of opposing batters before a game to sketch his proposed tactics. Instead he would give random answers with a solemn face until the inquirer realized it was a put-on.
Boston fell short of the pennant in 1917, finishing second, nine games behind the White Sox. The Red Sox again led the league in fielding and of all teams allowed their opponents the fewest runs. The pitching was great, with Ruth 24-13 and Mays 22-9 but the White Sox pitchers were greater. Ruth was first in complete games, second in games won, third in innings pitched and in fewest hits per nine innings. An entirely creditable record it was, and well worth his five-thousand-dollar salary.
There was no systematic selection of the outstanding players at the time, but the secretary of the Giants, who was also custodian of the official records, annually chose an all-star team. For 1917 he picked Eddie Cicotte as American League pitcher, because of his earned-run average of 1.53. (Ruth ranked ninth with 2.01.)


I hope that covers it.


Weirdest Thing In Chicago Since
2002-09-19 23:24
by Mike Carminati

Weirdest Thing In Chicago Since Disco Night

ESPN just showed a clip that was one of the oddest things I've ever seen in a baseball game. The clip started with a great catch by White Sox rookie Mike Porzio one an extremely high bunt attempt (I originally said one-hopper) to the first base side of the mound. I thought the clip was just that catch, but all of a sudden the camera angle changed to show two-there is no other word for it-hooligans kicking and hitting the Kansas City first base coach, Tom Gamboa, who was lying on the ground in the coach's box. Gamboa does not look like your player-who-just-retired variety of coaches. He's more the Don Zimmer, ready-to-retire-for-good type. It looked like two thugs taking a purse from an old lady. The entire Royals bench cleared and the shirtless urchins were swept up in a wave of powder blue. That's all that they had on Baseball Tonight. Just plain weird.


Manny Splendored Thing Sean McAdam
2002-09-19 14:37
by Mike Carminati

Manny Splendored Thing

Sean McAdam writes that the Red Sox are disappointed with Manny Ramirez's performance since signing an 8-year, $160 M contract with them two years ago. McAdam calls the contract untradeable, even more so with the new CBA, and quotes a baseball exec:

I can't think of a single team that would take him off their hands. It looks like their stuck.

So what exactly have the Red Sox been stuck with? Ramirez leads the AL in batting average (by 1 point over Mike Sweeney), slugging (by a fraction of a point over Jim Thome), On-base percentage, and OPS (both by 6 points over Thome). He is 7th in Home runs and 11th in RBI while having lost 100 at-bats to injury.

Well, that's pretty good, but maybe the Red Sox expected more. Maybe he is not living up to expectations. Well, his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS are all way above his career averages. But Boston signed him on the strength of two fantastic years with Cleveland in 1999 and 2000, how is he doing as compared to those two years. Below is a chart of his stats for the last two years with Cleveland, the two years with Boston, and his career average based on a 2-year period:

            G  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI  BB  SO SB CS SF HBP  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS  *OPS+
1999-2000 265 961 223 328 68  5 82 287 182 248  3  5 13  16 .341 .449 .678 1.127  180
2001-2002 253 937 172 302 60  2 74 226 149 228  0  1  3  15 .322 .422 .628 1.050  174
2-yr avg  244 881 167 278 59  3 62 206 138 202  6  5 10  10 .315 .410 .599 1.009  153


Well, he has had a drop-off. When the Red Sox signed him he was arguably the best hitter in the AL. Since the signing he is just among the best hitters in the AL. His numbers in general are down but so are numbers all around the league. Note that his league- and park-adjusted OPS (*OPS+ from Baseball-Reference.com-I used last year's ballpark factors to compute his *OPS+ this year) has dropped off slightly but it is still 74% above the league average. Also, according to this stat, his numbers are his career best (186 as compared to 2000's 185). There are other issues: his speed is down, he has played fewer games, etc. But they are mostly quibbling.

The Red Sox signed a player who was one of the best in baseball. They have gotten as much as could be expected from Raimirez. Could he have produced much better numbers? Yes, but not much better. Did he miss a few games due to injury? Yes, but did the Red Sox expect him never to miss a game in 8 years? Does he sometimes not run out plays? Yeah, but who cares?

Boston's new ownership is probably not overjoyed to be saddled with a long-term contract now that the Collective Bargaining Agreement may start reigning in salaries and limits the trade markets for large contracts. The Red Sox may have made a mistake signing a 28-year-old to an 8-year contract for a lot of money, but no one could have expected more from that player than Ramirez has delivered. This may be the typical finger pointing that occurs at the end of each unsuccessful Red Sox season. It's nice to see the new management upholding tradition.


Pete Seeger Would Be Proud
2002-09-19 13:17
by Mike Carminati

Pete Seeger Would Be Proud

Last night Jeff Weaver replaced David Wells, who was scratched due to a stomach ailment, probably due to ingesting too many hot dogs, a la his hero Babe Ruth, and pitched 7-2/3 strong innings against Tampa Bay. I'm surprised that the lanky Weaver did not cause himself an injury with the food that he reportedly consumed prior to the game: "Finally, he ate more than he usually does before a game, scarfing broccoli and cheese soup, a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and several bananas."[from the NY Post]

This is his third strong outing in a row, each one against a different member of the AL East also-ran club. He also pitched two strong outings against Oakland and Anaheim in early August (his last two starts prior to the three mentioned) and has had a strong August and September. He has a 2.20 ERA in 45 innings over that span and if you take out a 4-run relief appearance on August 21, he has had a 1.47 ERA in 43 innings.

Now, there are suggestions that Weaver may replace El Duque Hernandez or Mike Mussina in the playoff rotation. The chances are nil. Hernandez has not pitched well in a month and is said to be in the dog house for brawling with his catcher, Jorge Posada. Mussina had been growing less effective as the season wore on but has just reeled a few effective, if losing, efforts. Everything points to a rotation of Clemens, Wells, Pettite, and Mussina in the playoffs with Hernandez, Weaver, and possibly Hitchcock used as spot starters and emergency long-relievers. Hernandez may re-ingratiate himself to Torre or Mussina may return to his abysmal ways flip-flopping them in the above scheme, but the Yankees will be content with Weaver if he remains a useful part of their staff through the playoffs after his horrendous July.

One further note, the Yankees are now a half-game up for home-field throughout the playoffs. With series agianst the D-Rays, Tigers, and Orioles remaining, they should be able to maintain their lead while the A's and Angels battle. Should they have the league-best record at the end of the year, they will play host to the AL West loser whereas if they fall behind the West winner, they would host the suddenly so-so Twins. Kind of ironic, don't you think?


A Night at the Opera:
2002-09-19 12:12
by Mike Carminati

A Night at the Opera: Seven To Four

The A's and Giants both won 7-4 in basically the only two games that mattered in the baseball world yesterday (I'm sorry a Yankee victory over the D-Rays doesn't cut it). 1974 was of course the year that the first Oakland dynasty won its third straight World Series. It was also the last year that Bobby Bonds, Barry's dad, played for the Giants. Barry Bonds turned ten in 1974 and ticked off his first reporter. Lastly, Butch Metzger pitched his first major-league game with the Giants in '74. Some memorable events in the Bay Area in good ol' '74.

In Oakland, for the second consecutive start Mickey Calloway got knocked around by the A's hitters. The last time, the Angels' batter later rescued him, but not yesterday. Calloway's combined numbers for the two games: 7 innings pitched, 10 hits, 10 runs, 9 earned runs, 3 home runs, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts, and 141 pitches. That's an 11.57 ERA for the two starts.

And yet Calloway seemed to be cruising through the first three innings. Mark Ellis had homered off of Calloway in the second-a nice line drive to left-, but the A's had just two other baserunners and trailed 2-1 through three. A's Barry Zito was the one that seemed extremely hittable in the early going. He continually went to breaking stuff evincing no confidence in his fastball (as Joe Morgan kept pointing out). His first out of the game was a sac fly by Salmon to score the first Angels run. Zito struck out the last two hitters of the inning (on 11 pitches) to apparently settle down. But the second was more of the same for Zito-he escaped further harm after Scott Speizio was thrown out at home on a close play after a nice relay throw by Mark Ellis. After Ellis' homer tied it, Zito allowed a bloop single by Erstad on a very slow breaking curve. Then allowed him, by not pitching out the stretch, to take second without drawing a throw-generously scored a stolen base by the official scorer. Erstad then scored on a Tim Salmon single. The top of fourth was especially ugly for Zito: walk, double (run scored), bunt, questionable hit batsman (it looked like Eckstein leaned into it), single (second run scored), deep fly out, and finally fly out. It looked like he was done, and I went to sleep missing the rest of the excitement (until this morning's SportCenter).

Eric Chavez and Jermaine Dye hit back-to-back monster home runs to dead center field with one out in the fourth to tie it. Calloway got rattled, walked Mabry on 7 pitches, and then went 2-0 on Mark Ellis, evened the count, and then plunked Ellis, thereby drawing the curtain on his outing. Dennis Cook came in to face the lefthanded Terrence Long and Greg Myers and to turn Ray Durham around at the plate. Terrence Long who bats almost equally well (or poorly depending on your point of view) against lefties singled and the Durham, four of whose 15 home runs have come from the right side, homered to left-center. The A's somewhat erratic bullpen shut down the Angels the rest of the way, and now the AL West is all knotted up again. Amid all the talks of the superior Angels lineup by Joe Morgan, one that could not be shut down, the four through seven hitters went a collective 0-for-13 with 4 strikeouts, three walks, and one run scored.

I am left wondering why Scioscia did not move Kevin Appier and Ramon Ortiz up to finish the series pitching on three days' rest like he did with great success with Jarrod Washburn. Or why not insert Scott Schoeneweis, who has at least had reasonable success against Oakland (2-3 with 5.06 ERA in 7 starts and 9 relief appearances in last 4 years; 1.95 ERA in 4-2/3 this year), into the rotation for the series. Much has been made of the Angels' great staff but without a reasonable replacement for the injured Aaron Sele, the Angels' have some trouble. Much like the Dodgers, having a strong rotation (seven starters all year) limits the Angels' options once a starter goes down.

In LA, Kevin Beirne took his lumps giving up three runs, 5 hits, and six walks through 4 but did not figure in the decision. Robert Ellis was used in long relief as I advised Tracy to do yesterday to allow pitcher Russ Ortiz' home run (the fourth of his career) and collect the loss. They Giants built up a 7-3 lead in the ninth. Robb Nen came in to close out the ninth in a non-save opportunity, and in typical fashion allowed a run. One might be impressed that the official scorer did not rewarding Nen's ineffectiveness (2 walks, a single, and a deep fly-out by Green) with a save. That was my though when I first glanced at the box score, but Nen was never eligible for a save. Even though the criteria for a save were met (the man on deck was the tying run), the situation was of Nen's doing and undeserving of a save:

SAVES FOR RELIEF PITCHERS
10.20
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions: (1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and (2) He is not the winning pitcher; and (3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions: (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces); or (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings.

Nen does qualify under 10.20 (1) and (2) but not under (3). He entered with a four-run lead ((A) does not apply), the tying run was not on deck until he pitched him there (so (B) does not apply), and he pitched only one inning (so (C) does not apply). The scorer can be commended for not rewarding Dave Roberts with a stolen base when he took second to an indifferent Giant reaction.

So now what? Both series finish up today: 14-game winners Appier vs. Hudson in Oakland and Hernandez vs. Perez in LA. The Dodgers need a well-pitched game from Perez, who has not made it past the sixth in his last three starts, to take the pressure of its tired and depleted relief corps. San Francisco would love to take 3 of 4 in Los Angeles and leave the Dodgers for dead. If the Dodgers win, they would then trail by one game and then face lowly San Diego (who has caused LA trouble) in 7 of their last 9 games while the Giants still have a series with the Astros. In Oakland, Hudson looks to extend his seven-game personal win streak. Appier needs to return to his form earlier in the month when he completed a 5-game win streak. The winner here gets the lead in the final leg of the race. Anaheim then faces the suddenly hot Mariners (winners of four straight and still theoretically in the race) for 6 of their last 9. Oakland draws the suddenly cold Rangers (losers of six straight) for 6 of their last 9.

By the way, the Expos were officially eliminated from the postseason yesterday. If they do move away from Montreal after this season, then they just missed their last chance to bring home to Quebec a world championship, not that anyone cares.


A Day at the Races
2002-09-18 16:49
by Mike Carminati

A Day at the Races

The Giants and A's should have a big pitching advantage tonight. LA starts converted reliever Kevin Beirne (no, not Brown) in his second start f the season and the Angels start rookie Mickey Callaway, who got ripped by the A's in the Angels' 7-6 win in his last start. Both games are at 10:05 ET and both supposedly on ESPN. Hopefully that means ESPN and ESPN II. Thank god for picture-in-a-picture.


Feet First Slide The Cincinnati
2002-09-18 16:14
by Mike Carminati

Feet First Slide

The Cincinnati Reds officially bowed out of the playoff race yesterday (along with the Phillies) though it has seemed a fait accompli for some time. They went out in an 11-3 loss to lowly Pittsburgh on only seven hits (2 for home runs) while committing 5 errors. Of the five errors, two were by vituperative manager Bob Boone's son Aaron at third and two were by late-inning, left-field replacement Adam Dunn, each a two-base error.

The game epitomized the Reds' season. It was all there in microcosm. The Reds jumped out to an early lead, 2-0 on Russell Branyan's 13th home run in 73 games with Cincy (21st for the year) and catcher Jason LaRue's 12th. Branyan then doubled home Jose Guillen in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Meanwhile Brian Moehler was pitching well through the first three innings. He had allowed four hits and a walk and had thrown 51 pitches in three innings but had worked himself out of jams, not bad for his first outing in three weeks.

Then, like the Reds' season, the game all came apart. With one out, Adam Hyzdu reached first on Aaron Boone's first error after Moehler had worked a 3-0 count into a 3-2 one. Craig Wilson then drew a 7-pitch walk off of Moehler. Next up was the pitcher, Kris Benson, who bunted the 0-1 pitch right n front of the plate. LaRue pounced on the ball and threw to third to force the lead runner. The ball glanced off Boone's glove for his second error and traveled down the left field line. Remember that the runner at third was Adam Hyzdu who had reached on Boone's first error. Both runners scored and Benson advanced to second. Chris Reitsma was then summoned from the bullpen though I'm not sure that any of this besides the walk was Moehler's doing. These are the kind of decisions that the elder Boone makes as a manager.

Reitsma's second toss was a wild pitch; Benson to third. Reese singled on the next pitch (1-1 count) for the first hit of the inning and driving the third and tying run. Jack Wilson then reached on an error by ss Barry Larkin on a potential double-play ball, but the inning finished with no further incident.

In the fifth, Benson seemed to be laboring (15 pitches to retire the first two batters, a Walker first pitch single, and then a 4-pitch fly out by the moongazing Aaron Boone). Reitsma continued to struggle in the bottom of the fifth. After Aramis Ramirez kindly flied out on an 0-1 pitch, Rob Mackowiak received a 5-pitch walk and Adam Hyzdu stuck out on 4 pitches. Reitsma hit Craig Wilson on a 1-0 pitch and then walked the pinch-hitter for the pitcher on 4 pitches to load the bases. Again the former Red, Pokey Reese, came up with runners on and again he delivered the first hit of the inning to drive in some runs. He hit an 0-2 pitch to left to score 2 and the Pirates were ahead to stay.

The Reds then marched out a string of failed starters that they call a bullpen (Joey Hamilton, Bruce Chen, and Jose Silva). Chen came in in the eighth: Dunn dropped the ball in left on Chen's first pitch. Chen then walked two hitters on 9 combined pitches and called it a night (2 strikes in 10 pitches). All three later scored but were unearned because of the error. Jose Silva relieved Chen and induced the first batter to pop up, but then walked in a run on four pitches, allowed a first-pitch sac. fly (absolving Chen), and then walked a man on five pitches. Adrian Brown doubled on a 2-1 pitch for the first hit of the inning and driving in the third and fourth runs. Good night, Jose Silva. Again Pokey Reese was up with men on (first and third) and again the pitcher was up 1-2 to Reese, but he singled to center plating the fifth run and sixth runs of the inning. Dunn's second two-base error again on Jack Wilson was next but that was the end of the scoring.

In the ninth, the Reds went down quietly. The first two batters struck out on 6 total pitches (and yet Lloyd McClendon pulled Joe Beimel). Adam Dunn finished up with a weak 1-2 grounder to the first baseman.

Like this year's pennant race, the Reds jumped out to a lead, faltered allowing the opposition to tie things up, gave up the ghost while a slew of failed major-league starters were employed, and then quietly faded away. And still Boone cannot see the issues with the club. He'll probably blame Moehler just like he did Reitsma.

In a July 3 11-4 loss to Houston Retsma allowed 9 unearned runs (due to three errors, including one by Reitsma) for his 7th straight loss in eight starts. He shut out Milwaukee next, but then pitched poorly to get pulled from the rotation. Boone then used Reitsma as his own personal yo-yo: pitching him in the bullpen twice in short relief, allowing him to start once (5 earned runs in 5 innings), then pitching him in long relief once, then inserting him the rotation one last time (6 earned runs in 4.1), then using him for mop-up (Boone's version of the dog house), and finally inserting him into his current long-relief role. How is Reitsma supposed to succeed when he does not even know how he'll be used day-to-day.

So far, Boone has confirmed that Elmer Dessens is in his 2003 rotation, but the implication was that no one else is. That isn't fair to Jimmy Haynes who has pitched respectably and to Brian Moehler, Shawn Estes, and Ryan Dempster who pitched respectably before coming to the Reds and are being evaluated on part of a season. Also, why Chris Reitsma is not still in the rotation is beyond me-but his usefulness has unquestionably been reduced by Boone's approach with him.

Boone was a bit miffed after the game. Son Aaron said. "That was about as mad as I've ever seen him.'' Well, I don't blame him for being angry, but can he reasonably say that he has managed this team well enough to point fingers at this stage of the season? Why another major-league team with young talent (witness Dunn's two errors) would turn over the keys to Boone after his disastrous Royals tenure is something I cannot fathom.

Quoth Dunn:

"It's a long season," Dunn said. "But you've got to play for pride. You can't go out there and look like a Little League team."

Well, sorry Adam, you can.


Schrodinger's Red Sox II I
2002-09-18 11:45
by Mike Carminati

Schrodinger's Red Sox II

I received an email from John Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters, and he raised a very good point. He states that an inconsistent offense could cause a team's actual won-loss record not to reflect its expected. If you follow the link, you can read about it at his site.

I had touched on this subject as it concerns the Red Sox-Yankees race on August 5 ("Underachieving Red Sox"). I had noticed that 5 of the 7 game differential between their expected and actual standings could be accounted for by isolating 8 games that the Red Sox had been involved in, in which the margin of victory was 10 or more. I had left it out, perhaps disingenuously, so as not to complicate the issue. Thanks to John for keeping me honest.

I proposed to John that there is probably some standard deviation threshold for runs scored and/or allowed. Once a team surpasses it, the formula no longer holds. Perhaps some analysis can be done on the ratio of standard deviations in the runs for, runs against, and margin of victory to the differential between expected and actual record. Maybe a modified formula could be employed in these cases. One issue: standard deviations have limitations especially when dealing with populations of different sizes (this is a topic for another day). As Retrosheet makes more game scores available, these sorts of analyses will be possible.


Haddix Would Be Proud The
2002-09-18 08:17
by Mike Carminati

Haddix Would Be Proud

The A's and Angels hooked up in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel that ended with one of them new-fangled home runs in the 10th inning deals. Jarrod Washburn, pitching on three days' rest for the first time in the majors, and Mark Mulder locked horns for eight and nine shutout innings, respectively. Mulder had more strikeouts, but Washburn allowed fewer hits. Neither allowed a walk and neither figured in the game's decison, which is a shame.

Oakland closer Billy Koch, who has had his problems of late, allowed a one-out home run to Tim Salmon to left on a 7-pitch full count in the top of the 10th (notice a pattern for closers in non-save situations?).

The Angels now go up by a game in the AL West with two games left in the series. It's great to see these two teams pulling out all the stops to win the division even though the loser will win the wild card anyway.


For the Want of a
2002-09-18 08:03
by Mike Carminati

For the Want of a Nail II

The Giants ended up winning this game 6-4. The Dodgers chipped away on the 3-run lead until the score was 5-4. Then the Giants scored one in the top of the ninth off closer Eric Gagne, who was pitching in a non-save situation and failed to keep the one-run deficit. Three Dodger relievers held the Giants scoreless for 6-1/3, but the missed opportunity in the second might have been their death knell. We'll never know. But I bet Jim Tracy is kicking himself over it today.


For the Want of a
2002-09-18 00:17
by Mike Carminati

For the Want of a Nail

The Dodgers just missed an opportunity to get back into their game tonight with the Giants. San Francisco roared out to a 5-1 lead in the top of the second knocking starting pitcher Omar Daal out in the process. Giovanna Carrara replaced Daal on the mound and in the ninth position in the batting order.

In the bottom of the second, the Dodgers scored a run on three consecutive one-out singles. They had men at first and second with one out and the score 5-2 when Carrara stepped to the plate. Carrara bunted the first pitch straight back, the second pitch down the third base line, and the third nowhere-he whiffed miserably but did act ticked off about the K just like a major-league hitter. We were informed by the ESPN staff tha Carrara had not bunted successfully since 1997. That's a bit misleading given that he did not pitch in the majors at all in 1998 and '99 and that he only pitched 8 games in 2000. Oh, and he bunted successfully twice in four plate appearances over two games in 1997 (his only career bunts in 29 plate appearances). He did look rather pathetic though. Lead-off hitter Marquis "Player" Grissom flied out to extinguish the rally.

It is now the top of the fifth and the score remains 5-2 in favor of the Giants. The good news for the Dodgers is that Carrara has thrown 2-1/3 scoreless innings. The bad news is that since Tracy had no other long reliever in the bullpen that he could rely on and was set to go, Carrara had to bat, and a potential rally was lost. The reason that Kevin Beirne was not summoned was that he has now been pressed into starter duty due to injuries to Ishii and Brown. Quantrill and Orosco typically go less than an inning an outing. The rest of the staff was either not rested, not considered reliable, or too young to be put into the situation.

The Dodgers had better come up with a solution and fast because they need to exploit every possible opportunity and if that means pulling a long reliever in the second inning than it must be done. The Dodgers find themselves in a similar painted corner to the Yankees though their problems stemmed from a lost closer (Rivera) not two lost starters. Either way, the middle innings guys are being enlisted elsewhere and that spells trouble for the middle innings. Of course, the Yankees are about to clinch their division and have the luxury of sorting this out in the last two weeks. He dodgers must fight for their playoff lives.

Tracy will probably have to rely on a yet untested arm. The best bet may be Robert Ellis who pitched 19 games (17 starts) for the Diamondbacks last year: he has pitched a bit in the majors and knows most of the Giants hitters. Tracy's unpreparedness displayed in Carrara's inept bunt is ostensible in two major ways: 1) even with expanded rosters he does not have enough long relievers and 2) he never thought to get his relievers batting/bunting time (or at least not enough). I guess he really cannot be blamed for not doing a double-switch when he brought in Carrara but I wonder if he thought about it. That sort of poor preparation will not win the Dodgers the wild card and belies the great job that he has done with the team all year.


Neyer Do Well? Rob Neyer
2002-09-17 20:11
by Mike Carminati

Neyer Do Well?

Rob Neyer has an article today on why the Angels are competing for the AL West title after going 75-87 last year. If you want a little more depth read my analysis from about two months ago entitled Are the Angels for Real?.


Schrodinger's Red Sox The Red
2002-09-17 15:42
by Mike Carminati

Schrodinger's Red Sox

The Red Sox split a doubleheader with the Indians yesterday to remain 1.5 games ahead of the idle New York Yankees for the AL East crown. First, Pedro Martinez won his 21st game of the year, 6-1, for the Red Sox to go up 2 games on the Yankees. And then the Sox lost to Cleveland rookie Brian Tallet, 7-1, to fall back to 1.5 games ahead.

On September 1, Boston was 3.5 games ahead of the Yankees (83-51 to 80-55) and then lost two of three to the Yankees to allow them to pull within 2.5. The Yankees have continued to chip away at the lead going 9-3 since the series.

The good news is that Boston now has 12 games remaining with the Tampa Bay, Chicago, Cleveland, and Baltimore. The bad news is the Yankees face an even lowlier group in Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Baltimore for their last 13 games. Though, it will be difficult for New York to make up the difference in the games remaining.

This could be an article in a parallel universe. The Red Sox are in actuality 9.5 games out and fading quickly in the AL East race. They also trail by 9 games in the wild card race. But things could very easily have been much different for the Sox. At the All-Star break the Red Sox trailed the Yankees by only 2 games (55-32 to 52-33). They are 1 game over .500 since while the Yankees have gone 39-23 since the break.

You could chalk it up to a little bad luck and a bad second half, but there is a little more going on than that. If you use Bill James' Pythagorean win-loss formula [winning percentage equals Runs scored ^1.83/( Runs scored ^1.83 + Runs against ^1.83)], you come out with a story similar to the one above. Here are the standings according to the formula followed by the actual:

First Half
      W- L  PCT GB   RF-RA   Actual Diff
Bos  54-31 .638  0  448 329   52-33 -2
NYY  55-32 .628  0  499 375   55-32  0


According to the formula the two teams should have been in a virtual tie at the All-Star break as opposed to a 2-game Yankee lead., but the Red Sox won two fewer games than expected.

Second Half
      W- L  PCT  GB  RF-RA   Actual Diff
Bos  38-27 .581   0 347-290   33-32 -5
NYY  35-27 .571 1.5 342-292   39-23 +4


The second-half difference is even more remarkable. Instead of surging ahead by 1.5 in the second half the Red Sox have dropped to 9.5 out. Of course, that difference is made up by the 5-game difference between expected and actual Red Sox wins and the 4-game difference between expected and actual in the Yankees' favor, for an 11-game swing.

Here's how the standings could look today if both teams had a win-loss record that more accurately reflected expectations:

As of 9/17
      W- L  PCT  GB  RF-RA   Actual Diff
Bos  92-58 .612   0 795-619   85-65 -7
NYY  90-59 .604 1.5 841-667   94-55 +4


The Yankees now face the D-Rays and will probably clinch before the series is up (magic number of 4) and will proceed to the playoffs for the eighth straight time with their usual aplomb. The Red Sox will go home this winter without a playoff appearance for the third straight year, re-evaluate their club, and undoubtedly make some changes (perhaps even at manager again). But it could very easily have been a much different season for both clubs.


Rickey Time Rickey Henderson seems
2002-09-17 10:56
by Mike Carminati

Rickey Time

Rickey Henderson seems to be upset that he is not getting more playing time with the Red Sox. On some level his getting less playing time does make sense. The Red Sox picked up Cliff Floyd right before the trade deadline, and he, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon have deservedly been the starters in the outfield and designated hitter positions ever since. Floyd and Ramirez have OPS's over one since the All-Star break, Nixon's is a not too shabby .841, and Damon though struggling since the break (his OPS dropped 80 points in 2nd half and his batting average 50) is the only logical choice for center field.

Henderson's post-All-Star OPS is just .731. His slugging percentage is a paltry .340: only three of his 11 post-All-Star hits have been for extra bases (1double and 2 homers). Also, his main role as Manny Ramirez backup in left has been filled on occasion by Cliff Floyd (14 games) when he is not DH'ing. Henderson has been tried only 5 times in center and right field, and it appears that the Red Sox, probably correctly, feel that he is not a viable candidate for either position.

On the other hand his second-half on-base percentage is .391, third on the team behind Ramirez and Floyd. He has drawn 16 walks to go with his mere 53 post-All-Star at-bats-that's as much or more than half the starters who have been up four or five times as much. Given that Sox found more time at DH for players who are no more, and in some cases much less, deserving of such playing time-Carlos Baerga (102 ABs), Jose Offerman (81 ABs), Doug Mirabelli (5 ABs)-it is surprising that they could not find more for Rickey (4 ABs in three games). Baerga is batting an empty .302 (.333 OBP and .736 OPS), Offerman had a .650 OPS before he was sent packing, and Mirabelli is a backup catcher with a .707 OPS and a .296 on-base percentage. The overuse of Offerman is particularly egregious: Offerman has similar skills to Henderson or maybe similar deficiencies at this stage of their careers. They do not bat for a high average and have little power but got on base and still had decent speed. At least Offeman used to get on base-his on-base percentage dropped to .325 (the same as his slugging average), his average to .232, and his OPS to .650 but the Red Sox still managed to get Jose 237 at-bats mostly at first base in his partial season with them.

Does Rickey have a reason to complain? Not really, he is a 43-year-old backup outfielder, and he should accept that or retire. But could the Red Sox have used Rickey's positives (high on-base percentage and speed and experience on the basepaths) a little more to their advantage. The Sox knew what kind of player Henderson has become when they signed him-his current season ie not out of line with the past few seasons (low batting average and slugging average, high on-base percentage and lost of walks). It is one of their many shortcomings for the second half in which they are 33-32 and for this season that will now expire with, again, no playoff appearance by the Sox even after very high expectations in the off-season.


MVP! MVP! MVP! Start checking
2002-09-17 01:15
by Mike Carminati

MVP! MVP! MVP!

Start checking the engraver's spelling: Miguel Tejada singled in the winning run tonight as the A's beat the Angels 4-3. With the press already solidly behind Tejada, a decent series would just serve to solidify his stranglehold on the MVP votes.

The Angels had gone up 3-0 in the top of the first on a Troy Glaus 3-run home run. The Angels not only failed to score, they only had two hits for the final eight and two-thirds innings.

By the way, the rumors of my death yuddah yuddah...the A's bullpen recorded two perfect innings while the Angels' allowed two runs in three and one-third.

So now it's all tied up again with three games left in the series and 12 in the season. Tomorrow it's 18-game-winner Jarrod Washburn for the Angels against 17-gamer-winner Mark Mulder for the A's. In a move reminiscent of Wilbur Wood, ESPN has Washburn scheduled to pitch the next two games.


Year of the Closer With
2002-09-17 00:59
by Mike Carminati

Year of the Closer

With John Smoltz already at 51 saves and Eric Gagne at 48 (though his last save was September 6), the majors could have two closers record 50 saves for only the second time (the other being 1998 in which Trevor Hoffman recorded 53 and Rod Beck 51).

There are 6 major-league closers with 40 or more saves and four more that project out to 40 by the end of the year. The year with the most closers at 40 or more saves was 1993 with 10. Only four seasons have had six or more 40+ save performances (1993, 1998, 2000, 2001).

There are currently 18 closers with at least 30 saves and two more project to 30 (although one is the injured Mariano Rivera). There is only one other season in baseball history with 18 closers with 30+ saves, 1996.

There are currently 25 closers with at least 20 saves and three more project to 20. 1999 is the only season so far to have 28 closers record 20 saves or more.

I know that I have said that saves are, in themselves, a pretty pointless stat, and they are. But it makes me wonder what the use, or overuse, of the closer means to the game today. It's not as if this season is out of line with past performances, it just a bit more so-like turning the volume up to 11. The best explanation that I see is that staffs have finally started to settle down since the last two round of expansion (1993 and 1998) and each team has finally gotten themselves a pitcher whom they feel can close out a game for them. Whether or not that is in actuality the case, I will not debate here. Or maybe the appropriate people to fill out the other relief roles have been defined well enough that the closer is now basically what Greg Brady was to Johnny Bravo-they fill the suit.

One last puzzler is that the majors have recorded 1133 saves this year, which projects to 1228 for the season. That's still behind the 1265 recorded in 1998 so maybe this isn't the year of the save, but it apparently is the year of the closer.


Brown Out The Dodgers Just
2002-09-17 00:23
by Mike Carminati

Brown Out

The Dodgers Just announced tonight that Kevin Brown will not pitch again this season. With Kazuhisa Ishii also out for the season after getting hit by a Brian Hunter line drive last week, the Dodgers have just four experienced starters left for their stretch run: Odalis Perez, Hideo Nomo, Andy Ashby, and Omar Daal.

Reliever Kevin Beirne will be used at least for the time being as the fifth starter. He has started one game this year (a September 13th 5-4 loss in the just completed Colorado series in which the Dodgers lost 3 of 4) and two in his three-year career. No one else has pitched for the Dodgers all season.

There are other pitchers on the roster who have started in the past. The optimistically named Victor Alvarez is a 25-year-old rookie starter who has yet to start a major-league game. Recently recalled Robert Ellis started 17 for Arizona last year to the tune of a 5.77 ERA. Giovanni Carrara, just activated from the DL, started 3 games last year and has 17 starts in his career. Australian Jeff Williams had one start last year and has 4 in his major-league career. Darren Dreifort has started 103 games in his career but has been on the DL all year (and seemingly since he signed a big contract with LA). Among the relievers, Eric Gagne started 24 last season, but the prospect of re-converting their star closer to a starter is nil. Reliever Paul Quantrill last started in 1996, and lefty Methuselah Jesse Orosco last started a major-league game in 1982.

Kevin Brown started only one game himself since May 26 after a previous DL stint. That start was in a 5-2 loss to San Francisco, in which he allowed all five of the Giant runs in his 5 innings pitched. He had pitched 14-1/3 in seven relief outings since being activated August 15, but starting Brown unexpectedly against the team they are fighting for the wild card after losing Ishii, gave the impression of an act of desperation.

Now Brown is out and the Giants have a large advantage in the Wednesday game that Brown was set to start. Of course, the Dodgers are up 6-3 in the sixth inning of the first game in their big series with the Giants, so if that lead hold up and the Dodgers win the other two games, a loss Wednesday won't matter. Should they then fend off San Francisco, a fifth starter will not be needed in the playoffs anyway. You may notice that there are a good number of "if"s in that statement.


Goin' Back to Cali' The
2002-09-16 13:06
by Mike Carminati

Goin' Back to Cali'

The Dodgers and Giants and the A's and Angels begin their last head-to-head series this year. In what boils down to the last two races left, the home team in both is one game behind the away team in the four-game series. At least for the loser of the A's-Angels series, they still know that they are going to the playoffs (possibly to face off again with the winner of the series). The loser of the Dodgers-Giants series will probably stay home in the postseason. The Giants may have more pressure on them given that they do still have another playoff contender (Houston in the last series) to face; LA can breeze through with San Diego and Milwaukee. Oakland has one extra series with the M's which would have seemed a disadvantage a few weeks ago. Now, I'm not sure.


Benes Envy, Epilogue Jay Jaffe
2002-09-15 21:03
by Mike Carminati

Benes Envy, Epilogue

Jay Jaffe at Futility Infielder has completed the list of the seven sets of brothers who have faced each other in a major-league game (as well as some info on the late,great Doug McWeeney). They are:

Jesse and Virgil Barnes: May 3, 1927
Phil and Joe Niekro: July 4, 1967
Gaylord and Jim Perry: July 3, 1973 (the Indians won, but Gaylord didn't get the W)
Pat and Tom Underwood: May 31, 1979
Greg and Mike Maddux: September 29, 1986
Pedro and Ramon Martinez: August 29, 1996
Andy and Alan Benes: September 6, 2002


Eight Joe-Morgan-Chat-Days a Week So
2002-09-15 16:39
by Mike Carminati

Eight Joe-Morgan-Chat-Days a Week

So Joe ditched us last week. That's OK. He has more than made up for it with his new non sequitur style this week. It's an interesting choice, but the style seems to suit him. I wish him luck with it. It may cost him style points with the judges though.

What am I talking about? Joe Morgan Belated Chat Day is upon us again. We here at Mike's Baseball Rants love the Joe Morgan Chat Days (that "we" as in the royal we, not to be confused with the Royals we, which just depresses us). Joe Morgan is to baseball analysis what Plato's Cave was to perception. He proclaims on high:

"Behold ! , human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den [the TV]. Here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. ...[A]nd you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets."[He's talking about Jim Kaat, Rick Sutcliffe, Rob Dibble, and their ilk.]

He proclaims that we shall have this pap fed to us as if it were real baseball analysis and we will believe that Miguel Tejada is a better MVP candidate than Alex Rodriguez, and that bunting is good, and that batting average, home runs, and RBI are the only stats you need ever deal with. So Joe is basically admitting that he is a Mephistophelian, Machiavellian machinator. Oh my! But we can derail his plot of world domination through misleading, obfuscating, and inveigling baseball analysis. Last off we will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of us in the water, but we will see us in our own proper place, and not in another, and we will contemplate us as we are. OK, good plan? To the bat cave.

The Good

Jackie Mountain View, CA: Hello Mr. Morgan-- I am an A's fan here in the Bay Area and I have to say that the completed series with the Angels has me concerned. Of course, the A's had great pitching the first game but lost the next three in games they should have won. Specifically their bullpen has blown the lead in the last two games. Frankly, they don't seem like a team that will go anywhere if in fact they do make the playoffs with such a shaky bullpen. What are your thoughts? Thanks.

Joe Morgan: Everyone goes through spells. I don't hear about this when they won 20 in a row. Their bullpen is a concern, and even the closer. They are not as good as the Yankees of two years ago, but neither are the Yankees. None of the teams are perfect.

[Mike: The A's bullpen isn't great, but it's not a weakness either. Baseball Prospectus ranks them 15th over all with n Adjusted Runs Prevented score of +13.4. Anaheim, on the other hand, ranks 2nd with 60.2. Playoff contenders Boston and LA trail Oakland.]

David (New Orleans): Hey Joe, with all the talk lately about team chemistry and how important it is to a teams success, i am curious how close the old big red machine was during the 70's. did you guys socialize with one another off the field? thanks

Joe Morgan: Yes, we were very close. I don't say that team chemistry makes or breaks a team, but I do think everyone has to be on the same wave length trying to win, having the same goal in mind. That's the key more than anything else.

[Mike: Was that really Joe? More machinations I bet.]

billl atl: Smoltz is the man! I told you he could close! The Braves are going to be strong in the Post Season. What do you think?

Joe Morgan: Smoltz was the best starter the Braves ever had in postseason play. And they have to have a lead now to get to Smoltz. I would rather have him starting than closing. He's a great pitcher, whether he starts or closes. But in the playoffs, a starter is more important than a closer.

[Mike: No, I think he may have had a change of heart.]

Maureen Wells - Canton, Ohio: Goodmorning Joe: As a commentator I feel compelled to ask you this question. Why is it, that everytime I listen to ball games, reports, etc., All I hear is about AROD, Jeter, Nomar and Tejada? I realize that offense is the important thing in this day in age and I by no means want to take away from these players accomplishments. But why is "the best defensive player in the game and a good clutch hitter" never mentioned. Him being Omar Vizquel. He has 9 gold gloves and helps his team with his defensive abilities. He can hit as well, proving that with his homerun total he has now, which is a career high. I feel it is a slap in the face to Omar not to be mentioned in this group of fine players.

Joe Morgan: I agree 100 percent that defense is important, and Omar has been the best defensive shortstop in the AL for a long time. But if you were to start a team, you'd take one of the other shortstops and not Vizquel. The game is more about offense now than defense, although defense doesn't get the value placed on it as it should. As an Indians fan, you would trade Vizquel for A-Rod tomorrow.

[Mike: Now, I get it. Joe has been reading Bill James-James estimated that 52% of winning is based on offense and 48% is based on defense in Win Shares. He read it and had an epiphany.

By the way, I don't know if you could call Vizquel the best defensive shortstop in the AL, maybe most overrated. He ranks behind the following recent shortstops in Defensive Win Shares per 1000 innings (just under a year). He has 5.10 WS per 1000 inning:

Neifi Perez, 6.69
Ozzie Smith, 6.42
Rey Ordonez, 6.32
Greg Gagne, 6.26
Tony Fernandez, 6.22
Alex Gonzalez, 6.03
Barry Larkin, 6.01
John Valentin, 5.95
Cal Ripken, 5.69
Avaro Esoinoza, 5.60
Ozzie Guillen, 5.56
Rafael Santana, 5.54
Jose Valentin, 5.42
Jose Uribe, 5.34
Kevin Stocker, 5.31
Rich Aurilia, 5.20
Alfredo Griffin, 5.19
Jose Vizcaino, 5.18
Nomar Garciaparra, 5.16

By the way, the Big 3 plus 1 aren't that far behind Vizquel:

Nomar Garciaparra, 5.16
Miguel Tejada, 5.05
Alex Rodriguez, 4.77
Derek Jeter, 4.11

Finally, Vizquek per-1000-innings value is below average (5.72) for shortstop with 1000 innings in the field.

By the way, Miss Foley from English class would ask Maureen if she were a commentator given that she said, "As a commentator I feel compelled to ask you this question."]

The Bad
Curt, Atlanta: Joe, With the Dodgers pitching staff depleted, can they still make a run at the wild card?

Joe Morgan: The real problem is they don't have set rotation. But the Giants have one, and it's not doing that well either. Obviously, they are not where they would like to be. They don't have the same starting pitching that got them there. But I wouldn't count them out just yet.

[Mike: Well, Joe, the only real change is Kevin Brown returns to replace the injured Ishii. It's not really unsettling their rotation.]

Pran (Charleston): Giants or Dodgers?

Joe Morgan: Giants because the Dodgers rotation is in disarray, and that was the strength of their team earlier. That's just my pick right now, but it doesn't mean anything. When you have this many games left, anyone can win.

[Mike: Again, the Dodgers staff is in better shape than Joe would have you think. Ishii had a bad August and is now out for the rest of the season, but LA's for August was fourth in the majors in ERA and is currently 8th for September. The Giants staff is improving as the season wears on (it had to) and moved from 8th in August to 5th. Both are pitching respectably. The Dodgers' post-All-Star ERA is higher than the Giants, but that was due mostly to a poor (17th in majors) July without Kevin Brown. Their team OPS since the All-Star break is 14th in the NL and that is a much more disconcerting dropoff (they were 10th in the first half).]

Mike (Albany): Joe- Who would you want to face in the first round of the playoffs in you're the Yankees: Anaheim or Oakland?

Joe Morgan: The Angels because they don't have the experience of playing in the playoffs. The A's have experienced playoff pressure at Yankee Stadium; the Angels don't, and they would have to make an adjustment.

[Mike: Well, lack of experience didn't seem to hurt the Diamondbacks last year, the Padres in 1998, nor the Marlins in 1997. If it's just a Yankees thing, the A's almost toppled them in 2000 in their first playoff appearance in 8 years.]

Brian (Amarillo): Do the Astros still have a shot? Their schedule is much tougher than the Cards the rest of the way, but the Card rotation is having problems.

Joe Morgan: They are playing the Cardinals right now. They have to sweep for me to say they have a chance. All the things you say about their rotation is true, but St. Louis has been hot. The rotation can't be that bad. If the Astros don't sweep, the Cardinals will only have to win half of their games the rest of the way.

[Mike: But Joe, if they had swept they'd be a half-game up in first place (they have since lost two so it's moot). Therefore, that statement can't really be true.]

TUTO (NJ): What are the Chances of Garet Anderson WInning the AL MVP? His numbers are not like Tejada or Soriano or ARod. But he has the Angels in the Top of the League. That's Huge for Him.

Joe Morgan: Watch Sunday Night Baseball, because last week I talked about that. He's by far the most valuable Angel. You have to consider him.

[Mike: Well, the chances should be zero, but with writers so enamored of Anderson, anything is possible. Anderson's OPS is 13th in AL, behind teammate Tim Salmon, and over 200 points behind leader Jim Thome. Anderson hasn't hit that many homers 26, has only one more walk than HR (27), and plays a very undemanding defensive position (left field). He is batting over .300 and is having a career year (his OPS is 60 points higher than his previous full-season high).

That said, I wouldn't even call him the Angels MVP. He has the highest Equivalency Average (Baseball Prospectus) on the club, but Salmon and David Eckstein are right on his tail an play more demanding defensive positions.

My question is why players who rank among the leader in OPS (Jim Thome, Rafael Plameiro, Miek Sweeney, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Delgado, Raul Ibanez, and Paul Konerko to name a few) who happen not to be on playoff contenders get no mention. Even players on playoff teams are getting overlooked-Manny Ramirez, Bernie Williams, Tim Salmon, Eric Chavez, and John Olerud-while someone like Anderson garners a good del of press. I understand singling out Miguel Tejada and Alfonso Doriano because they are middle infielders, but a so-so left fielder?]

Tanya (Boston): How fun are the Angels to watch? Steals, squeezes, hit and runs, they just play fundemental baseball on a daily basis. I really enjoy watching this team play.

Joe Morgan: They remind me of the way the Yankees played the last three or four years -- they do everything. That's what you do in tight ballgames. A lot of teams are not able to manufacture runs like that. They are fun to watch, and I enjoy that type of baseball more than just the big-bang theory.

[Mike: Yeah, they are fun and it's a great story for baseball. The Angels have produced 14 runs above what one would expect so far this season according to Baseball Prospectus' equivalency runs placing them 5th in the majors in scoring. However, without those extra runs they still would be sixth, and those extra 14 runs translate into 1 run per every ten games-big deal!]

Kyle (Manchester, CT): Is Jeff Bagwell a Hall-of-fame caliber player?

Joe Morgan: He has played this season with his shoulder bothering him. If he has a few more good years, yes. Because numbers are easier to attain now, you have to do it for a longer period of time now. He just has to come back healthy and have a few more good years.

[Mike: I love old ballplayers running down the young ones for differences in the game that the player has no control over. Joe is an expert at this: "[N]umbers are easier to attain now." Bagwell is one hell of a player and should be a Hall-of-Famer (he is only 33 of course) irrespective of the era in which he plays. Bagwell has 318 Win Shares through 2001, which ties him for 133 all-time. Of his similar batters (Baseball-Reference.com) 2 of the 3 eligible for the Hall are in (Johnny Mize and Hank Greenberg). The third, Dick Allen, is a player that is often discussed as a candidate for enshrinement. Bagwell already has the credentials to be a HoFer according to Bill James tools. He ranks about an average HoFer for the Black Ink Test (2, avg HoFer is 27), Gray Ink Test (143 to 144), HOF standards (47 to 50), and HOF Monitor (134 whereas 100 indicates enshrinement is likely). Lest you think that his numbers are blotted by the HR-crazy era in which he plays, Bagwell's park- and league-adjusted OPS is almost 60% above the average player (157%). He has created 1356 runs in 7236 plate appearances with only 4465 outs, meaning that a team of Jeff Bagwell would produce about 8.2 runs per game. (All numbers through 2001.)

For comparison sake, let's check out Tony Perez, ex-teammate of Morgan's and now Hall-of-Famer. Tony scores a goose egg on the Black ink Test, 129 on the Gray Ink Test, 40.7 on the HOF Standard, and 81 on the HOF Monitor. Of Perez' similar players only teo (Billy Williams and Al Kaline) are in the Hall even though 7 are eligible (besides those two are not markedly similar). Besides Perez has ten years on Bagwell as he played until 44. Perez has 349 Win Shares-90th all-time-but he had 108 after 33, Bagwell's age in 2001. He had 241 as opposed to Bagwell's 318 at the same stage in their careers. His 122 park- and league-adjusted OPS is good but nowhere near Bagwell's (true, Bagwell's will probably drop as he ages). Perez created 1548 runs in 10861 plate appearances and 7462 outs, meaning that a team of Perezes would score 5.6 runs per game. I know it's different eras but still... If Joe doesn't think Bagwell is a HoFer, that's fine, but then he shouldn't back his old cronies like Perez and Dave Concepcion at the same time. His standards should be equally high for everyone.]

Bill (Tallahassee): Everytime you talk about the A's, you neglect to mention Eric Chavez's contributions. The nicest thing you've said is that he's having "a solid year". All he's done this year is firmly establish himself as the best 3rd baseman in the AL. Tejada has been the team MVP since the break, but Chavez is not far behind (Chavez actually has more RBI since August began, his horrid July being the difference in season totals). My point is that it's a two man show in the middle of the A's lineup, not one. Chavez deserves some props.

Joe Morgan: Read my article. Chavez is a good player. He has been streaky, and that's the difference between the two. People wonder why Tejada should be MVP and not Chavez, and that's because Chavez has been streaky. Tejada has been consistent.

[Mike: Tejada is better not because Chavez is streaky. Their OPS's are about the same (Chavez is currently 8 points ahead). But Tejada leads in Equivalent Runs (104.7 to 97.1). He is about 35 runs above the average shortstop. Chavez is 26.7 above average for a third baseman. Tejada also plays a more demanding defensive position (though Chavez is an excellent third sacker, better a third than Tejada is a short).

One other thing, I believe Bill James or Rob Neyer conducted a study of streaky hitters and found that they were as productive or more productive than hitters with similar stats who were more consistent throughout the year, something about the peaks helping more than the valleys hurt. I can't find the study just now though.]

Joe (CA): Joe, What one quality on a team is most important during the postseason? Starting pitching, bench, bullpen, etc.

Joe Morgan: It depends on the philosophy of the manager. I believed it was starting pitching. But if the manager uses a bullpen differently, then it could be the bullpen. The bullpen is most important if you have Mariano Rivera and you use him how Joe Torre does. But I think it's starting pitching.

In the playoffs, bullpens won't be able to protect five-run leads because the games will be closer, depending on the starting pitching.

[Mike: Just an aside, Morgan's Big Red Machine teams never had much starting pitching.]

Pat O'Donnell Vernon New Jersey: Joe between Nomar, Derek and Tejada who is the most complete player?

Joe Morgan: Athletically, it's Tejada. Mentally, Jeter. Nomar is the best hitter.

Also, Tejada is the most durable. He has the longest consecutive game streak in the majors right now.

[Mike: Woah, that's some hefty moniker you got there, Pat. Joe's is his usual decisive self in answering a direct question. I just want to add a few players he forgot: Deivi Cruz is the best to his mother, Rey Ordonez is best dressed, and Edgar Renteria is the easiest to forget a grudge. I hope that answers your question, Pat.]

eric, nyc: Does Soriano have to go 40/40 to win the AL MVP?

Joe Morgan: I would say it depends on what the A's and Tejada do the rest of the way. I think 40/40, it would be hard not to vote for him, especially if the Yankees end up with the best record in the AL.

[Mike: I'm sick of this. Does anyone remember that A-Rod was 40-40 once and did not get the damn award?]

Damon MO: If you had to pick one current starting pitcher to win one game for you, who would it be?

Joe Morgan: If he was healthy, it would be Pedro Martinez. At this moment, it would be Schilling or Johnson.

[Mike: Oh, and I forgot Lowe, Washburn, Oswalt, Zito, Wilbur Wood, Joe Cowley, and Mark Grace.]

Joe Morgan: Also on a final note, as a kid growing up and watching the NFL, I saw some great QBs in San Francisco -- Y.A. Tittle, John Brodie, Joe Montana and Steve Young -- but none of them excited me any more than Johnny Unitas, who was the greatest ever.

[Mike: Ah, Joe, Montana and Young are younger than you. You didn't watch them when you were a kid no more than you played baseball for free two years before you were born. Take your medication, and everything will be OK.]

Mike Mora: What is Jon Miller's best impersonation????

Joe Morgan: Probably Vin Scully as a Japanese announcer.

[Mike: Oh no. It's Evil Joe. Did you enjoy Marge Schott's minstrel shows as well. Schottzie II in black face, oh, that's great fun.]

The Ugly or the ludes kick in

Kyle, New Rochelle: First of all, I have to give you complete respect. I flip through the channels and see tremendous bias among announcers. But, you are the exact opposite (the way a broadcaster should be). Over the past 3 days, the A's got a reality check on how good the Angels are. Do you think the A's will hold their ground and get in the playoffs? or could the Mariners or even the Red sox steal the other playoff spot (Im pretty much convinced the Angels will get in now). Thanks

Joe Morgan: I agree it will be the Angels and the A's. I view my job as broadcasting for the fans, not just the teams that are playing. Not everybody is a fan of one team. I have to broadcast for everyone, including the fans of the two teams I'm seeing. I don't see it as the Yankees vs. the Twins, for example. I view it as a baseball game.

[Mike: Hey, it's Phil Rizzuto. Scooter, put the bottle down-you've just droned on for an inning and a half.]

scott, Flint: is A-rod going to be the best ever?

Joe Morgan: A few years ago we were talking about Griffey. Then it was Bonds. And now it's A-Rod. That means there are a lot of great players. A-Rod has a chance, but so does A-Rod. There are other guys who will have that chance too. A-Rod has a long way to go to reach that peak.

[Mike: "A-Rod has a chance, but so does A-Rod." Oh, and you forgot about A-Rod. Well, but he's not as good as A-Rod. Forget about A-Rod though the one in Accounting-I hate that dude.]

Jesse (Minneapolis): Do the Twins have the best chance to advance in the playoffs by playing the Yankees? I mean, Oakland's 1-2 punch with Zito and Mulder is so huge. And god knows the Twins have trouble against lefthanded pitching. It just seems like the Twins line-up and pitching might match up with the Yanks. Also, who do you think Gardenhire with go with in the Twins rotation?

Joe Morgan: I don't think anyone's best chance is against the Yankees. The A's would rather face the Twins than the Yankees. The Yankees have experience, and the Twins don't. The Angels don't have the experience and would probably be better off against another inexperienced teams. I don't know who Gardenhire will start. We'll see in the next few weeks. And it also depends on who they are playing, the Angels or the A's.

[Mike: No, not the A's, the Twins. Not the Angels-the question is about the Twins. Gardenhire will start Reed, Mays, Radke, and maybe Milton or Lohse-the same guys he's starting now. A couple of those guys were hurt for a while, but it's not like they came from nowhere.]

Tom(Secaucus): Joe, You don't think Soriano's fielding deficiencies will hurt him as an MVP candidate? If not, why not? I thought 2nd bse was a key defensive postion.

Joe Morgan: It is, but it hasn't kept the Yankees from winning the division. He isn't as bad as Soriano was. Giambi wasn't a great first baseman either when he won the MVP for the A's. But yes, defensive play should be included.

[Mike: Soriano isn't as bad as Soriano, but A-Rod is much worse than A-Rod. And the Twins would rather have the bear eat the lion. And look at the rainbow my hands make as I move them through the air. Look at the colors. Woo. (By the way, defense did not hurt Giambi because he's a first baseman. Defense good or bad should not affect one's evaluation of a first baseman much. Rico Brogna and J.T. Snow were good defensive first sackers, but when their offense no longer justified their name in the lineup, defense did not enter into the conversation. On the other hand, the reason that a second baseman gets more oohs and aahs with good offensive stats is because he plays a more demanding defensive position. If he does not play it well, it should affect your estimation of him.)]


20 Too Lowe for Cy
2002-09-15 02:56
by Mike Carminati

20 Too Lowe for Cy Young?

Derek Lowe and the Red Sox beat the Orioles today 6-4 to run Lowe's win total on the year to 20. I would have to believe that he is now back in the lead for the AL Cy Young. Pedro Martinez seemed to pass him after the All-Star break but his injury prevents him from competing further at least so far this season. Pedro's strikekouts and ERA are better, but Lowe has 20 and Martinez may not be able to get there. Barry Zito, the other man in this three-legged race, has 21 wins but is behind both Martinez and Low in ERA.

Baseball Prospectus rates Lowe the highest of the three in Support Neutral Wins Above Replacement. One other thing is that both Pedro and Zito have a higher number of uneraned runs record (Lowe has 2, Martinez 12, Zito 8.


Im-Perez-ive The Dodger won 16-3
2002-09-14 19:49
by Mike Carminati

Im-Perez-ive

The Dodger won 16-3 in Colorado today to pull within one half-game of the Giants in the wild card race. Starter Odalis Perez won his 14th ballgame. Over the last three starts for Peres, the Dodgers have averaged thirteen and a third runs. The start right before this stretch the Dodgers gave him one run to work with in his shut out of the D-Backs.


Sut's Soapbox In a particularly
2002-09-14 03:16
by Mike Carminati

Sut's Soapbox

In a particularly annoying segment during the Astros-Cardinals game tonight, during a non-break in the action, fans were regaled by Rick Sutcliffe's idiocy (replete with a Sut cartoon intro, if you haven't seen it) in a bit ESPN dubbed Sut's Soapbox. Maybe it would have worked better if his last name were Sudcliffe. Anyway, Sut extolled the offensive virtues of Mike Piazza and then went on to opine that the two catchers in the game, Mike Matheny and Brad Ausmus were both as important to their teams as Piazza is to his.

Mike Piazza despite missing 3 years in the early '90s is listed as the 18th best player of the decade in Win Shares with 206 for the decade and 255 overall. Ausmus has played as long as Piazza and Methany made it to the majors one year later. Neither is even listed in the top 262 players of the '90s. They are listed, however, under defensive Win Shares per catcher. Ausmus does extremely well at 6.71 WS per 1000 innings (basically one season), Matheny is next at 6.14, and Piazza trails 4.76. So these fine defensive catchers collect an addition 1.5 to 2 Win Shares per season on Piazza. He more than makes up for it with his bat, don't you think?


Astro Naught The Astros lost
2002-09-14 02:59
by Mike Carminati

Astro Naught

The Astros lost 3-2 to the Cardinals in Houston tonight to fall 6.5 games back in the Central race. Edgar Renteria drove in the winning run with a single in the top of the 10th with men on first and third and one out.

The loss means that Houston no longer controls its own destiny. Even if they sweep the remaining 5 games against St. Louis, they will still have 1.5 games to make up in their remaining 9 games against other opponents. They also close out the season with three games at playoff-contending San Francisco.


Meet the Mets! Meet the
2002-09-14 02:50
by Mike Carminati

Meet the Mets! Meet the Mets! Step Right Up and Beat The Mets!

The Mets started a new tradition tonight. Instead of a turning back the clock and wearing retro uniforms, they decided to play like a turn of the century team by committing six, count 'em six, errors in losing 11-8 in Monteal.

Robbie Alomar, who my friend Mike suggested the Mets have a promotional bobble glove doll for, collected three all by himself.

In a night of odd pitching lines, John Thomson may top them all: 4 innings, 9 hits, 8 runs, only 2 earned runs, 0 walks, 3 K's, 2 home runs (therefore the 2 earne runs), and 56 strikes in 72 pitches.


The Big Hurt Three playoff-bound
2002-09-14 02:40
by Mike Carminati

The Big Hurt

Three playoff-bound teams lost to opponents that scored in double-digits tonight. The Yankees lost 13-2 to Chicago in Yankees Stadium (and allowed 8 runs in the ninth). Minnesota was defeated 12-5 in Cleveland. And Florida scored six in the first inning off of Greg Maddux (his worst 1st inning ever) en route to a 13-3 trouncing of the Braves. Each game was painful for these teams in different, fundamental ways.

The Braves have been sailing of late, but they one thing that they do not need is a question mark in their rotation. Maddux lasted only two after being pulled for a pinch-hitter and allowed 7 runs, all earned. Maddux has been pitching well all year, but this calls into question his low innings-per-game numbers in the second half (under 6 per start). He had just completed a three-game stretch in which he had allowed only 1 run in 22 innings and which included a 9-inning (of shutout ball in the eventual 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh) and an 8-inning outing, his two longest of the second half. He topped out at 100 pitches in only one of these games, but it may be that he is tiring. The Braves should closely monitor him over the next few starts to get him ready for the playoffs.

The Yankees really need Mariano Rivera back now. They (surprisingly) failed to pick up a veteran reliever before the waiver deadline and now are stuck with their conglomeration for the playoffs. Ramiro Mendoza allowed five runs (4 earned) in 1-1/3 innings tonight. He may soon sputter out with the overuse that he has suffered: He has pitched in 7 of the last 15 Yankee games. That's not as bad as his being used in 8 of 11 games at the end of July and the beginning of August, but they need to get him some rest. Steve Karsay and Mike Stanton are overworked themselves, and the other available arms have not produced-besides Torre has no confidence in them. Did I mention that they need Rivera back?

If you think Greg Maddux' line is bad, check out the Twins' Eric Milton: 1-2/3 innings, 8 hits, 9 runs (all earned), 1 walk,1 K, and 3 home runs. That's a game score of 3, the lowest I can remember seeing. It is his third straight poor outing (no more than four innings) since returning from the DL. He may still be hurting. It's starting to seem that Rick Reed, Joe Mays, and Brad Radke, who are pitching well, will have to be their rotation in the playoffs.


A League of Their Own
2002-09-14 02:05
by Mike Carminati

A League of Their Own

Oakland and Anaheim both won tonight to remain in a tie for first in the AL West. Seattle's 5-0 loss to Oakland puts them 8 games back and very close to eliminated from both the division and the wild card races--it was a nice dynasty while it lasted.

It seems that thes two teams can only lose to each other. Imagine if Anaheim sweeps Texas and the A's sweep Seattle. They could both pass the Yankees for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs (they are only one game behind now). Won't that make the 4-game series in Oakland between them less interesting when it starts Monday? They could just be playing for the homefield advantage in the Division Series that would feature them anyway. It's ironic in the real, i.e., non-Alanis Morissette sense of the word. I don't know what to root for.

By the way, Barry Zito took a perfect game into the eighth versus Seattle. He settled for a two-hit shutout.


Javis and No La Tengos
2002-09-14 01:53
by Mike Carminati

Javis and No La Tengos

It took a look at the standings and noticed something odd today. There are an unusually high number of teams headed for 100-win seasons and a goodly number destined for 100-loss seasons. Right now no one has done either-win 100 or lose 100-but with 14 to 17 games remaining, depending on the club, there is a good chance that many will. So I took the standings 10:18 PM tonight from ESPN online and I projected them out for 162 games. Here are the results sorted by wins rounded to the closest integer:

              Current     Projected
               W  L   PCT   W   L
NY Yankees    93 53 0.637 103  59
Atlanta       92 53 0.634 103  59
Anaheim       91 55 0.623 101  61
Oakland       91 55 0.623 101  61
Arizona       90 56 0.616 100  62
Seattle       84 62 0.575  93  69
St. Louis     84 62 0.575  93  69
Minnesota     85 63 0.574  93  69
Boston        83 62 0.572  93  69
Los Angeles   83 63 0.568  92  70
San Francisco 83 63 0.568  92  70
Houston       79 68 0.537  87  75
Chicago Sox   72 75 0.490  79  83
Florida       72 75 0.490  79  83
Cincinnati    72 75 0.490  79  83
Montreal      72 76 0.486  79  83
Philadelphia  72 76 0.486  79  83
NY Mets       70 77 0.476  77  85
Texas         69 77 0.473  77  85
Toronto       67 80 0.456  74  88
Colorado      67 80 0.456  74  88
Cleveland     66 81 0.449  73  89
Pittsburgh    65 82 0.442  72  90
Baltimore     64 81 0.441  72  90
Chicago Cubs  63 85 0.426  69  93
San Diego     62 85 0.422  68  94
Kansas City   56 91 0.381  62 100
Detroit       53 94 0.361  58 104
Milwaukee     51 95 0.349  57 105
Tampa Bay     48 99 0.327  53 109


That would project to five teams with 100 wins and four with 100 losses. If you take the best- (or worst-) case scenario for both, three other teams could win 100 (Seattle, Boston, and St. Louis) and one other (San Diego) could lose 100.

In the history of baseball, the most teams that have won 100 games in a one season is three, done twice (1942 and 1998). Two teams have won 100 in a season only 13 times. It's possible that the total number this year could almost treble the previous high.

As far as the 100-game losers, the record is also three in a season, done three times (1908, 1912, and 1962). Two teams losing 100 has been done 17 times, most recently 1993. Also, there has not been a 100-game loser in the majors since 1998.

Additionally, there are 12 teams that project to win 90 and one more that doesn't project to 90 but still could do it (Houston). On the flip side, there are 8 clubs that project to 90 losses, and another 10 that could possibly do it.

The highest number of teams to win 90 in a season is 9 (1999-1977 was the only year with 8). The highest 90-loss-team total in a season is 8 (1969, 1993, 1999, and 2001). Both of those highs could be surpassed.

There are 13 of 30 teams in total that project to a .500 or better win-percentage. The lowest total as a percentage of total teams is 33.33% (in the first year, 1871, of the National Association). The highest since 1901 is 35.71%. That would translate into 10 or 11 teams, which is a possibility for this year.

In 2000, there was no hundred-game winner or loser, and we were discussing parity. With the labor negotiations and the talk of a lack of competitive balance, that they may have engendered, this season brings us the largest distinction between the haves and have-nots. Well, you may say that expansion has effected these numbers. There is one team in the projected 100-game winners (Arizona) and one in the project 100-games losers (Tampa Bay) that are a product of recent expansion. Without them the numbers still point to an all-time high.

All of this indicates that more study on competitive balance and how it's changed over the years needs to be conducted. As a matter of fact, I have a study mapped out. All I have to do is run the numbers. I will endeavor to do so over the next week.


The Pennant Race IV I
2002-09-13 16:35
by Mike Carminati

The Pennant Race IV

I guess you heard that the Angels pulled even with the A's with a 7-6 win last night. Scott Spiezio hit a first-pitch, two-out single with men at first and third to win it.

The A's now host Seattle and Texas visits the Angels. Until the last few weeks, it would have appeared that Oakland got the short end of the stick in that match-up. But the M's have lost 4 straight to Texas, and the Rangers have won 9 of their last 11. Next the Angels and A's meet up for four games in Oakland on Monday. Having a good pennant race in this rather intimate division is very interesting. Stay tuned.


The Pennant Race III Chavez
2002-09-13 01:16
by Mike Carminati

The Pennant Race III

Chavez homered in the ninth to tie it. Wow.


Pork: The Other Pennant Race
2002-09-13 01:15
by Mike Carminati

Pork: The Other Pennant Race

The Astros beat the Cardinals 6-3 tonight to pull within 5.5 of St. Louis in the NL Central. They also broke the Cardinals' 8-game win-streak, which had been quietly overlooked while the A's and Angels put up bigger wins. With 6 games between the two (3 at Malfeasance Field and 3 at Busch Stadium), the Astros can take the Central lead with a clean sweep. Of course, the Astros have a harder schedule drawing San Francisco at Pac Bell in the final weekend while the Cards host the nearly clinched D-Backs-besides that the play the equally dreadful Milwaukee and Colorado.

The Astros have looked like they can catch the Cardinals if they really want to. The pressure may be on the aging Killer B's, who may be soon be pushed aside by the Houston fandom that has a new NFL team (Oilers, right?) and the rookie center Ming Yao, who just added to the Rockets. Maybe we'll get another pennant race out of them.


The Pennant Race II The
2002-09-13 01:15
by Mike Carminati

The Pennant Race II

The Angels just took the lead 6-5 on an Orlando Palmeiro pinch-hit, RBI single in the eighth.


Kent B. True Baseball Prospectus
2002-09-13 01:10
by Mike Carminati

Kent B. True

Baseball Prospectus has a good article on ESPN regarding the MVP-caliber season Jeff Kent is having and the lack of respect he has gotten in the MVP debate.

Bill James, I believe, wrote something about this in Win Shares when he compared his Win Share MVPs against the real ones. He noticed that a player could have almost as good or an even slightly better season than his MVP one and get completely ignored. James thought it had something to do with expectation levels already having been set for the player. Unless the player far exceeds this level (e.g., Bonds last year), he fails to get the recognition he deserves. I guess that falls under the rubric of human nature. Damn humans.


Pitching Helmets II Another site
2002-09-13 01:05
by Mike Carminati

Pitching Helmets II

Another site criticized my idea of pitching helmets as overly protective and P.C. I could take the high road by quoting my idol (or is it idle?) Joe Morgan and simply say that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. But I won't. Instead I'll say that he's probably right.-it probably is a silly idea. I remember thinking when I wrote it that I had become the school marm who tells Ralphie that he'll shot his eye out if he gets a bee-bee gun as a present in A Christmas Story. Or that I was acting like a retiree who writes letters to network executives about the lurid content of their TV shows.

But then I recalled the replay of Ishii getting plunked so hard by a batted ball that it hit the backstop and allowed the cringing Brian Hunter, the batter, to advance to second. I thought of Bryce Florie and Norm Charlton and Bill Wagner and the legendary Herb Score. Herb Score is to the pitcher being plunked by a batted ball what Ray Chapman was to the batter being plunked by a pitched ball. Chapman, of course, died. Score's career died though he did enjoy a long second career as a broadcaster.

Herb Score came up in 1955 to join a strong but aging Cleveland staff that had won 111 games the previous year. It included future Hall-of-Famers Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn, and Hal Newhouser. He instantly became a star and was one of the dominant lefties of the day. He struck out over a man an inning but had only a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was the AL Rookie of the Year and was an All-Star in 1955 and 1956. He also led the AL in strikeouts his first two years. The veteran Newhouser said that he would trade his own past for Score's future-he looked that good. He did, however, have an unusual delivery that left him out of position (his range factor was about a third of the average pitcher).

On May 7, 1957, Score was hit in the eye by a Gil McDougal line drive. His season was over and concerns grew about his eyesight. When he did come back he still could strike men out but never pitched at his established level again. He was exactly one month short of his 24th birthday when he got hit. Here is a comparison between his pre- and post-injury stats:

      G GS CG SH   IP    H  ER  BB  SO  W  L SV ERA
pre  73 70 30  8 512.2 338 150 309 547 38 20  0 2.63
post 77 57 17  3 345.2 271 170 264 290 17 26  3 4.43


No batting-style helmet could have prevented Score's injury. His like Florie's was caused by being struck by a ball straight on, not in the head like Ishii's. I would have to think that anything that would protect the pitcher's face and eyes would be too cumbersome. Wearing any protective gear on a pitcher's head would be constrictive, wouldn't it? I guess. I don't really know though-I'm no expert.

Isn't it worthwhile for the owners or the union to fork over one or two hundred grand to some research lab to find out for sure? They invest in Blue Ribbon Panels that provide them with facts about their business that they already "know." Why not sink some money into finding out the available options given that they invest hundreds of millions in their pitching staffs? If they find out that nothing can be introduced that would effectively protect a pitcher while not inhibiting his motion with today's technology, then fine, at least we'll know for sure. Doesn't Ishii deserve that much after having fragments of his own skull surgically removed from his nasal passages? Now that Ishii is done for the year, how would the Dodgers feel if they fail to advance as far as they could because they hadn't thought to invest in some protective gear for their team?

It's probably a silly idea. Let's find out. But then again other silly ideas like the wild card, interleague play, and contraction are promulgated by the keepers of the game. It wouldn't be out of place.


The Pennant Race By the
2002-09-13 00:41
by Mike Carminati

The Pennant Race

By the way, the Angels just tied up their ballgame with the A's 5-5 on an Alex Ochoa home run in the bottom of the seventh.


Wild One in Cincinnati (No,
2002-09-13 00:11
by Mike Carminati

Wild One in Cincinnati (No, Not Brando)

The Reds beat the Cubs 17-12 tonight at Cinergy Field. They also outhit Chicago 22-17. Every starting position player on both teams got at least a hit. The two teams used a total of 14 pitchers (love those September call-ups) and 42 total players. The seventh sport in the batting order was particularly abused: Six different players were listed in the 7th spot for Chicago and 9 (!) for Cincinnati (imagine scoring that). Ruben Mateo ended up playing all three outfield positions.

Shawn Estes continued to pitch poorly since his acquisition from the Mets to help in the Reds' pennant chase. His line looked like this: 1 inning pitched, 5 hits, 6 runs (all earned),2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 39 pitches, and a 19 game score. He spotted the Cubs to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first but the Reds got him off the hook scoring 10 over their last three innings.

John Riedling picked up the win by striking out the only batter he faced (Hee Seop Choi) with men at first and third and two out in the eighth. Chicago had just scored three to take a 12-11 lead, but Kyle Farnsworth gave up 4 to the Reds in the bottom of the eighth to give them the lead to stay. Farnsworth intentionaly walked Ken Griffey Jr. to load the bases with one out and then struck out Jason LaRue but allowed the tying run to score on a wild pitch. After Reggie Taylor walked, Todd Walker had the big hit with a 2-out, bases loaded double to cap a 4-for-6 night. Too bad it doesn't mean anything with both teams out of the playoffs.


Sadaharu Cabrera Alex Cabrera is
2002-09-12 23:15
by Mike Carminati

Sadaharu Cabrera

Alex Cabrera is on a pace to break the Japanese Leagues home run record of 55, which is shared by Sadaharu Oh (1964) and ex-Cub Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes (2001). Rhodes you may remember hit three home runs on opening day in 1994 (to put my rotisserie team in a hole they never climbed out off) and four in four consecutive at-bats over the course of the first two games that year, though he only had 13 for his MLB career.

Like Tuffy Rhodes, Cabrera is guy who has talent but never put it together at the major-league level so turned instead to the Japanese Leagues. Japanese baseball has been littered with these types of players: Tom O'Malley, Roberto Petagine, the Day brothers, etc. Cabrera may even be an exception among this baseball side show.

Cabrera was signed by the Cubs in 1991 at the age of 19 as a first baseman/outfielder. He hit for power and moved up until 1994 when he hit 24 home runs and drove in 73 with a .273 batting average for Peoria of the Double-A Midwest League. It seemed like a breakthrough year, but Cabrera started the next year at the Florida State League instead of moving up a level as he had done the previous three. He hit an empty .294 while slugging only .388 and had 2 homers in 214 at-bats. Whether this was due to his apparent demotion (i.e., non-promotion) or some injury (he was not on the DL however) is difficult to say, but he played only 54 games. The next year he was demoted to the Single-A California League, hit .281 with a .470 slugging average, 15 home runs and 53 RBI. He was 25 and floundering in the Cubs organization when he was mercifully released at the end of 1996.

The next couple of seasons he spent in baseball's answer to purgatory, the Mexican League. He hit over .300 each year with a total of 44 home runs in two years. In 1998, the Devil Rays signed him but then loaned him back to the Mexico City Tigres for his second Mexican League season. They evidently were not impressed and let him become a free agent after 1998.

Cabrera went next to Taiwan and played for the China Trust hitting .317 with 21 home runs and a .580 slugging average. That got the Diamondbacks' attention, and they signed him for 2000. He sped through the Rookie League, Double-A, and Triple-A hitting .353, slugging .851, and collecting 39 home runs in 76 games. According to Bill James, the major-league equivalents for those numbers are 30 home runs, 73 RBI, .322 batting average, .366 on-base percentage, and .728 slugging average. He was named Howe Sportsdata Minor League Player of the Year.

Finally, at the age of 28, Cabrera made it to the majors. In his first at-bat June 26 he hit a home run off of Yorkis Perez and then hit a triple the first time up in his next game. Cabrera hit .571, 4 HR and 13 RBI in his first week with Arizona, but then got injured and spent two weeks on the DL in July. When he returned, he struggled (2-for-22) and was sent down. He returned when Erubiel Durazo got hurt but only hit one more home run and spent the rest of the year mostly on the bench.

In total, he played in 31 games with 80 at-bats and had 5 home runs. He batted .263 with a .500 slugging average. At the end of 2000, Arizona apparently disenchanted with Cabrera's slump after his hot first week sold him to the Seibu Lions where he toils today.

In total Cabrera has been in five organizations, has had equal parts of success and failure, and now stands at the brink of marginalized greatness. Baseball is funny.


Benes Envy IV Jay Jaffe
2002-09-12 16:38
by Mike Carminati

Benes Envy IV

Jay Jaffe has just informed me that the Niekros have been confirmed. That's #5:

Found this for Joe Niekro's entry at BaseballLibrary.com (http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/N/Niekro_Joe.stm):

"He was 5-4 head-to-head against Phil and homered off him in 1976." And down below, in the chronology section: "May 29, 1976: The only home run of Joe Niekro's 22-year career comes at the expense of brother Phil Niekro as the Astros tie the Braves in the 7th, then win 4-3. "

Checked similar pages for the brothers Perry, Forsch, Perez, and Dean, but found no mention of any of them facing each other. The search continues...


Benes Envy III Travis Nelson
2002-09-12 13:58
by Mike Carminati

Benes Envy III

Travis Nelson reports that he cannot verify via Retrosheet that Brothers Leiter ever faced each other. So we're back to four of the seven. I'm sure that the Perries, Forsches, and Niekros will bare fruit but have not had time to Retrosheet them. I will attempt to do so when possible.


The NL West: Praise the
2002-09-12 11:58
by Mike Carminati

The NL West: Praise the Wild Card

National League fans have had little in the way of division races all year. The Braves have reigned supreme all year in the East and have already clinched their umpteenth straight division title (and why are they not reviled like the Yankees?). The Cardinals fended off the Reds, who then proceeded to drop like a stone in the second half, as well as personal tragedy to lead the Central. The Astros have lay siege from afar (now 6.5 back) to the Central crown, but it's not like Stalingrad or Vicksburg. It's more like King Arthur and his knights getting cows dropped on them and being called "ka-nig-hits" while attacking a French garrison in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Meanwhile in the West a division race appeared at hand around the All-Star break, but the Diamondbacks took control of the lead very quickly, and the Dodgers and Giants have been duking it out for second ever since. That's why I come to praise not bury my newest and bestest buddy, the Wild Card. Without the wild card, the NL races would be all but done.

But the glorious wild card race is now knotted after San Francisco took two of three from LA at Pac Bell. The teams meet again on Monday for a four-game series in Chavez Ravine. The Dodgers and Giants each of 17 games remaining. The Astros here too have not been Patton in Sicily but are still in the running. This should be a good one with basically the winner of second place in the NL West taking it the playoff spot, and the loser getting to watch a lot of football.

As an NL fan, I thank you, O, Great and Mighty Wild Card! Now please can you give us an important game that ends before 1 AM on the East Coast (and I don't mean the Red Sox vs. the Devil Rays), or is that asking too much?


The AL West: Curse the
2002-09-12 10:16
by Mike Carminati

The AL West: Curse the Wild Card

The Angels came from behind to beat the A's 6-5 yesterday. They have now taken two straight in the series and are within one game of Oakland and first place in the AL West. They did it with 7 hits and 4 RBI from the bottom three hitters in the order. The bottom four spots in the Oakland lineup produced zero hits on the night. Even worse, Oakland starter Corey Lidle has returned to earth with 2 poor starts after a near-perfect August. Anaheim starter John Lackey was even worse but the A's couldn't touch the Angel relievers, who except for one hit batsmen were perfect for the final 4-2/3 innings.

They finish the series tonight in an apparent mismatch between the A's Mark Mulder and the Angels' rookie Mickey Callaway and then start another four-game series in Oakland on Monday. They also have identical schedules the rest of the way: each has 6 games with both Texas and Seattle, 3 at home and 3 away. It sounds like the perfect pennant race.

The only problem is that it's becoming more clear with each day that whoever loses will automatically get the wild card. Currently, the M's trail by 6 and the Red Sox 7.5 in the wild card hunt and neither team seems ready to mount a major offensive against the A's-Angels loser. The best-case scenario for Seattle's wild card bid would be for the A's to win all of their remaining games with Anaheim, allowing Seattle to gain up to 5 games in the wild card hunt, which could easily be made up by Seattle's head-to-head contests with the Angels. Of course, Seattle still has an outside chance to win the division if, say, Anaheim takes 3 of their 5 games with Oakland pulling to within a half-game and allowing Seattle to gain three, and then Seattle takes all or most of their head-to-head games with each team.

The M's last year could compete here, but it's becoming clear that this is not the same type of team. If Seattle and Boston continue their second half swoons, this great pennant race may be downgraded to merely obtaining division bragging rights. Damn the wild card to Hell.


Extra Smoltzy John Smoltz reached
2002-09-11 22:34
by Mike Carminati

Extra Smoltzy

John Smoltz reached the 50-save plateau tonight. Brian Rodriguez points out:

smoltz got #50 by retiring one batter with the tying run on deck. this
was
after his bullpen-mates gave up 3 runs to give him the "save"
opportunity.
what a joke.

Smoltz threw 4 pitches to the eminent Ty Wigginton. The first two were folued off, the third a ball, and the last a called strike. There was a man on second at the time with the score 8-5 (add in the batter and the man on-deck and you get a save).

The Braves had been cruising 6-1until the top of the eighth when Tim Spooneybarger gave up an Edgardo Alfonso home run. The Braves scored two more in the bottom of the eighth, but again the Atlanta bullpen did its best to get Smoltz that all-important 50th save. Kevin Gryboski hit scrub Jason Phillips on an 0-1 pitch and then allowed Roger Cedeno to bunt his way on. He did manage to strike out Timo Perez who had only stuck out 33 times all year. So Rafael Furcal had to come to Smoltz' aid by throwing away a ground ball to short scoring 1 run (8-3). Mike Remlinger got into the spirit, giving up a double to Piazza scoring 2 (8-5) and then a deep fly ball to Alfonzo (I guess Andruw Jones forgot to drop it). Then it was time for Smoltz' exciting backwards-K.
So what's so great about 50 saves beside only 7 guys have done it (there may be eight soon with Eric Gagne at 48)? Here is the lucky 7:

1. Bobby Thigpen 57 1990 R
2t Trevor Hoffman 53 1998 R
2t Randy Myers 53 1993 L
4t Rod Beck 51 1998 R
4t Dennis Eckersley 51 1992 R
6t Mariano Rivera 50 2001 R
6t John Smoltz, 50 20002 R

How meaningful is a statistic whose all-time season leaders have all played within the last 13 seasons?

- Bobby Thigpen earned 21 win shares for his 57 saves in 1990. That was good for third on the Pale Hose. It's the all-time record, but he was only 5th in MVP and 4th in Cy Young. His win share total is the highest of the group.

- Hoffman's 20 win shares tied him for 5th on the NL champion Padres. He was second in Cy Young to Tom Glavine and seventh in MVP voting.

- Randy Myers was tied (with Sammy Sosa) for third in win shares on the 1993 Cubs with 15. Myers was eighth in Cy Young.

- Rod Beck's 51 saves got him 13 win shares, tying him for 7th on the Cubbies. He was not in the top ten for Cy Young nor MVP voting. He never record more than 10 again.

- Eckersley's fabulous performance on the pathetic 1992 A's is only worth 9 win shares though it garnered him an MVP and a Cy Young.

- Rivera earned 19 win shares tied with Clemens for sixth on the 2001 Yankees. He was not in the top-10 in MVP nor Cy Young voting.
- Smoltz though he may break the record is no longer considered a decent MVP candidate. With Schilling, Johnson, and Oswalt in the league, he has no shot at the Cy Young. The greatest concern that the Braves should have is that the numbers in August indicate that some of his pen-mates who have been fabulous so far may be breaking down. The settled down in September prior to tonight, but John Smoltz is to the Atlanta bullpen what George Bush is to the presidency. If his supporting caste cannnot hold up, the Braves again will earn an early exit in the playoffs.


D.C. United? The New York
2002-09-11 17:10
by Mike Carminati

D.C. United?

The New York Times has an article on what is involved in getting Washington's 41-year-old RFK stadium ready for baseball. Of particular interest is the fact that the third-base dugout has been dismantled and parts are in the bleachers and in the basement (!). They say that they need six weeks to get ready for the season, meaning that baseball has until mid-February to make up their minds about the team's location for 2003. What do you think the odds are that they will decide before February 15?


Homer the Brave Andruw Jones
2002-09-11 14:21
by Mike Carminati

Homer the Brave

Andruw Jones hit two home runs yesterday in going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four RBI as the Braves suprefluously beat up on the Mets 12-6. He now has 31 home runs on the year and three straight years with 30 or more homers (also, 4 of last 5). But maybe the most interesting thing about his home runs is that they rounded out four straight at-bats with a home run dating back to September 7. In that game Jones hit two homers and then got plunked on the helmet by Expo Tomo Ohka, missed a game, and then missed another day because of the Braves' day off. So his four straight homer at-bats took four days to complete. Here are the others to do it thanks to CNN/SI:

One Game
2002 Mikeameron, SEA
1976 Mike Schmidt, PHI
1959 Rocky Colavito, CLE
1932 Lou Gehrig, NYY
1894 Robert Lowe, BOS
Two Games
2002 Andruw Jones, ATL
2002 Shawn Green, LA
2001 Barry Bonds, SF
1998 Manny Ramirez, CLE
1997 Bob Higginson, DET
1996 Benito Santiago, PHI
1994 Tuffy Rhodes, CHC
1990 Bo Jackson, KC
1982 Larry Herndon, DET
1979 Mike Schmidt, PHI
1975 Don Baylor, BAL
1971 Deron Johnson, PHI
1971 Mike Epstein, OAK
1970 Bobby Murcer, NYY
1966 Art Shamsky, CIN
1962 Stan Musial, STL
1962 Mickey Mantle, NYY
1961 Willie Kirkland, CLE
1959 Charlie Maxwell, DET
1949 Ralph Kiner, PIT
1947 Ralph Kiner, PIT
1944 Bill Nicholson, CHC
1938 Hank Greenberg, DET
1933 Jimmy Foxx, PHI
Three Games
1995 Jeff Manto, BAL
1961 Johnny Blanchard, NYY
Four Games
1957 Ted Williams, BOS

That's quite a list of names: Tuffy Rhodes and Ted Williams. Jeff Manto and Lou Gehrig. Wow.

Some notes:

- Jones is the third man to do it this year. Cameron and Green both had a 4-HR game in 2002, but Green's were not in consecutive at-bats. He did it three weeks later with two back-to-back bi-homer games.

- Mike Schmidt and Ralph Kiner are the only ones to have done it more than once.

- Bobby Lowe was the first to do it and the only one for nearly 4 decades. He did it in Congress Street Grounds, which was a 2-month (May 15 to July 19) transitional field between the old South End Grounds (number 2) and the new one (#3-as was routine back then with wooden grandstands #2 burnt down). It must have been some kind of 19th century Coors. The Beaneaters hit 103 dingers that year to lead the league playing part of the season in this park with a 250-foot left field wall. Their miserly pitching staff only allowed 51, second in the league. The staff ERA was at least half-run lower than the rest of the teams in the league though. The Colts (i.e., the Cubs) were second with 65. Boston had about one-sixth of the home runs in the NL that year. They had 65 in old South End Grounds the year before (still 2nd in the NL), and 54 the next year in new South End Grounds (4th in NL).

I had always heard that Lake Front Park was the 19th century homer dome. It's the place that Ned Williamson established a record 27 homers in 1884, which wasn't broken until Babe Ruth. Evidently a ball over their right-field wall prior to 1884 was a double, but in 1884 it became a home run. The White Stockings hit 142 homers while playing there in 1884. Chicago moved to a new stadium in 1885,and the team hit only 54 that year but still led the league.

By the way, Lowe was the last man in Braves' franchise history prior to Jones to accomplish this feat.

- I wondered why it took Ted Williams four games to get four at-bats. BaseballLibrary.com had the answer:

" September 22, 1957: Ted Williams hits his 4th consecutive HR, a grand slam, in 4 official at bats over 4 games, as he is walked 11 times. He ends his HR streak with a single.


SF Over LA Equals Wild
2002-09-11 11:54
by Mike Carminati

SF Over LA Equals Wild Card

I wasn't going to do anything today with the seriousness of the day. My silly scribblings did not seem appropriate. But I checked out the site, and some people were on. So I thought that in the spirit of getting back to normal as a form of defiance that Rudy Giuliani personified so well last year, I would conitinue. It may sound pompous for me to say anything, but I thought that by not saying anything at all about it I was still making a statement. So...

The Giants beat the Dodgers last night to take over sole possession of the wild card lead. It appears to be a two-team race with the Atros barely hanging on at 5.5 back. The Astros have had an odd year, approaching but not really being involved much in a pennant and a wild card race.

They finish their series tonight in Pac Bell with Reuter facing Nomo and also play a four-game series in LA so it should be interesting. Aside from playing each other, the Giants face the Padres (4 home, 2 away), Milwaukee (away 3), and finish up with Houston (3 at home). The Dodgers get Colorado (4 away, 2 at home) and San Diego (4 at home and 3 away). It seems that the Dodgers have an edge with an easier schedule, but that can be easily mitigated by a bunch of wins head-to-head.


Benes Envy II We now
2002-09-10 16:36
by Mike Carminati

Benes Envy II

We now have five of the seven brothers who have faced each other:

- Andy and Alan Benes did it the other day.

- In 1996 , Pedro (Montreal) and Ramon (Dodgers) Martinez faced each other.

- Vincent Paterno confirms the Madduxes:

I was at one brother vs. brother confrontation, at the Vet in September of 1986 -- I believe it was the Monday entering the final week of the season. Both were rookies, to boot -- Chicago's Greg vs. the Phillies' Mike. Greg won, of course, but the most memorable event of that game was when Glenn Wilson threw out Keith Moreland at first base. Shades of Carl Furillo!

- Travis Nelson confirms that the Leiter brothers have faced each other.

- Jay Jaffe of Futility Infielder offers the Underwood brothers, and as a Phillies fan, I am embarrassed to have not thought of them:

I read your post regarding brothers pitching against each other and one came to mind: Tom and Pat Underwood faced each other in 1979. Both pitched well, but Pat's Tigers scored the game's only run on a Jerry Morales HR in the eighth to beat Tom's Blue Jays 1-0. Poor Tom dropped to 0-7 with the loss.. Gotta love Retrosheet for stuff like that.

I will endeavor to find the other two.


Angels vs. A's: The Forty-Year
2002-09-10 15:18
by Mike Carminati

Angels vs. A's: The Forty-Year Rivalry That Never Was

[Note: this was written prior to the first game of the Angels-A's series.]

The A's and Angels opened up a big four-game series tonight in Anaheim with only two games separating them for first place in the AL West. Next Monday they do it all again with another four-game series, this time in Oakland. They are the two hottest teams in baseball: Oakland has won 22 of 23. The Angels have won 10 straight.

The oddest thing is that even though these two teams have been in direct competition for 42 years, this is only the second time that they have been in a pennant race at this time of year. Looking back at their collective history, it appears that they have been doing their best to avoid each other as much as possible for over forty years. When it comes to pennant races, they ain't the Dodgers and the Giants. It seems to me that they led their lives like a candle in the wind.

In 1961, the American League added a team in Los Angeles that took the name of the old Pacific Coast League team, the Angels. They played their first full season in the PCL Angels' old ballpark, Wrigley Field (not that one). The Angels did OK as an expansion team finishing eighth of ten teams at 70-91, 38.5 games out of first. They were 10 games ahead of last-place (tied) Kansas City. Of course, this KC team was not the Royals-they were the Fightin' Athletics.

In 1962, the Angels surged up to third with an 86-76 record but were still 10 games behind the Yanks. The A's were last again, 25.5 games back.

In 1963, the A's led the Angels by 2.5 games, the closes they have ever finished in the standings. However, they were in 8th and 9th place in the AL.

In 1966, the re-dubbed California Angels led the A's by 5 games-they were in fifth and sixth places respectively in the AL.

1967, California finished 7.5 behind the Red Sox in fifth place in a tight AL race. The A's finished last in their last season in KC.

1969, the AL is divided into East and West divisions. The Angels and A's moved into the West, where they reside to this day. The finished second (Oakland) and third (California) in the division. However, the A's are 9 games behind the Twins; the Angels 26.

1970, they finished in the same position as the previous year with only three games separating them. However, they are 9 and 12 games behind Minnesota.

1971, Oakland wins its first division title. California finished 25.5 games back in fourth.

In 1972, Oakland wins the division again. The Angels are fifth, 18 back.

1973, the A's win their third straight division title. The Angels finish fourth, 15 games back.

1974, the A's win again. The Angels are last (sixth), 29 games back.

1975, Oakland wins its fifth straight division title. The Angels are last again, 24.5 back.

1976, the A's finish in second, 2.5 games behind the Royals. The Angels rise to a fourth-place tie, 14 back.

1978, the Angels tie Texas for second, 5 behind KC. The A's are in sixth, 28 back.

1979, the Angels win their first division title. Oakland is seventh (last), 43 games back.

1980, the A's surge to second (14 behind the Royals); the Angels fall to sixth (31 out).
1981, Oakland wins the first half title in the strike asundered season and have the best record in the division for the year. The Angels are fifth overall, 20 games back. (In the first half, the Angels are fourth, 8.5 behind Oakland. In the second, they are last 8.5 behind KC-the A's are second, two back).

1982, the Angels roar into first; the A's snore into fifth, 29 back.

1983, they are four games apart-the A's are fourth, the Angels fifth.

1984, almost a pennant race-California ties the Twins for second, 3 behind the Royals. The A's are fourth, seven back, but 77-85 in a weak division.

1985, the Angels finish one game behind KC; the A's tie for fourth, 14 back.

1986, California wins its second division title. Oaklabd is tied for third, 16 back.

1987, the A's finish just two behind the Twins in third. The Angels are tied for last, 22 out.

1988, Oakland wins its first division title in 7 years. The Angels are 29 back, in fourth.

1989, their only pennant race: Oakland wins, but California is only eight out in third. On May 31, they co-lead the division with only percentage points separating them. On June 15, the Angels drop to four back in third. On June 30, they surge to a half-game back. At the All-Star beak, California leads Oakland by 1.5 games. The lead dwindles to a half-game by July 31. At the end of August, Oakland leads by 2.5. September 1, the Angels drop into third. On September 20, the Angels climb into second, 2.5 out but lose 7 of the last 9. A dreadful end for their only pennant race.

1990, Oakland is first; the Angels are 29 back (fourth).

1991, California is in seventh but only 14 behind the Twins with a n 81-81 record as the entire division finishes .500 or better. Oakland is fourth, three games ahead of the Angels.

1992, Oakland returns to the division lead. California is 24 back, tied for fifth.

1993, the Angels lead the A's by three in fifth and seventh places respectively.

1994 brings about the three-division AL (only four teams from now on in the AL West) and a strike-shortened season. The entire division finishes under .500 in the short year. The A's are one behind Texas in second; the Angels are 5.5 back in fourth.

1995, the Angels lead the division most of the year but fade to tie the Mariners and then lose a one-game playoff to Seattle. Oakland is 11.5 back, in fourth.

1997, the re-dubbed Anaheim Angels finish six behind Seattle in second. Oakland is last, 25 out.

1998, the Angels again finish second, three behind Texas. The A's are last, 14 out.

1999, Oakland is second, 8 games back. The Angels are last, 25 games out.

2000, Oakland wins the division. The Angels are 9.5 back in third. Oakland chases Seattle for most of the year and after three months in which they do not have sole control of first for one day, they take the division in the last weekend of the season as Seattle loses one of three to the Angels. Anaheim stays about 5 games back for all of July, drop to 9 out August 11, surge to 4 back (1.5 behind the A's for second) on August 30. They quickly drop like a stone to 9.5 back.

2001, the Angels are A's flip-flop for second and third place most of May and June. On July 1, they are tied for second but 21 behind the M's. By July 31, Oakland is three games ahead of Anaheim. By the end of August, they are 10 ahead and headed for the wild card. The Angels fade to 12 games below .500, 41 behind historic Seattle.

So where does this now leave us? If history holds true, one team will pull very quickly away from the other, and history does not seem to favor Anaheim. But what does history know? Here we are with three weeks left in the season, with a great pennant race between the only two teams in the AL to have had three names in the last 50 years (isn't that a killer stat?), so let's enjoy it while it lasts.


Not Futile I have added
2002-09-10 14:49
by Mike Carminati

Not Futile

I have added Jay Jaffe's Futility Infielder site to my links. Please go visit the fellow Phillies fan's site--we need all the help we can get.


The Blind Leading the Blinder
2002-09-10 14:42
by Mike Carminati

The Blind Leading the Blinder

Here's a great quote from my friend Mike that epitomizes the history of the Brewers under Bud Selig:

"I coached third base for Tampa Bay in 1998 and '99 and they got their tails kicked. But now, four years later, they've got an awfully nice looking team. That's the point we're going to get to. It's just going to take some patience."
--Greg Riddoch, Brewers farm director


Give Them the Damn Hardware
2002-09-10 14:38
by Mike Carminati

Give Them the Damn Hardware Already

Barry Bonds homered against Dodgers in the second inning yesterday at Pac Bell. The ball went over the heads of people waiting in the food line in the center field bleachers. The Giants won to pull even with the Dodgers for the wild card. Nothing against LA, but I hope that the Giants win the wild card just so that no one has any excuse not to give the best player in the league another MVP.

Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs to power the Rangers over the Mariners and break his record of one year for homers by a shortstop. The argument against Rodriguez is that the Rangers have not been in the playoff race since May. The Rangers finish the year against the three playoff contending teams in their division. What will the critics have to say if A-Rod dominates these teams down the stretch?


Orphans Exposed Over the weekend,
2002-09-10 01:44
by Mike Carminati

Orphans Exposed

Over the weekend, Rob Neyer had an interesting suggestion as far as what to do with the Expos. His idea is to make them a team with four homes in 2003, all vying for the right to call the Expos or, as Neyer suggests, Orphans their own. His cities are Portland, Las Vegas, Washington, and Charlotte. It's an interesting idea but unfortunately an impractical one and not just because it's "way too creative for Major League Baseball" as Neyer opines.

The problems are more of a practical bend. First, the three minor-league cities that he suggests have stadiums that hold under 20,000 people (Portland 19,810, Las Vegas 10,000 with an additional 2,000 standing, and Charlotte 10,002). All of these stadiums would have to be upgraded to accommodate major-league crowds unless MLB wants a repeat of the tiny Montreal crowds (at least they would be crowded in one area for the TV cameras though). It is impractical to upgrade all of those stadiums (even if it were possible to do so) in this off-season. Neyer acts as if you can just plop the team down in Las Vegas and say, "Play ball."

Secondly, even if we could upgrade these stadiums by next year, it would not be economical to do so. Portland's stadium dates back to 1926, and even though it was renovated in 1998, it is probably too old a structure to remodel as a major-league park. Las Vegas has a 20-year-old stadium, which seems ancient in the minors today. Charlotte's is no spring chicken either having been built in 1990.

Thirdly, what happens to the existing minor-league teams while each city is waiting to accommodate the roving Orphans. There would be three clubs that would either have to relocate for a year awaiting the winner of the Orphans lottery, relocate permanently, or relocate on a rotating basis like the Orphans themselves, maybe following them from town to town.

What happens if this team is in a pennant race, let's say tied for first, on the day they are set to move to a new park? How disruptive and ludicrously bush would that look? Baseball doesn't need another All-Star game-type fiasco.

Lastly, and this is trivial, the home-road statistics would be whacked.

Maybe a better solution would be to do something like the White Sox did in 1968-69. Each of those two years the Sox played nine games in Milwaukee, which helped prepare the ground for the Pilots move to the town. Baseball has featured a series in a neutral site a few times over the last few years. What if the Expos allowed prospective cities to court them for a 9- or 10-game series at a time, with their home base still in Montreal? This could be done in the minor-league cities when their teams are on the road. Of course, there still is the issue of major-league accommodations, but maybe for a short series that wouldn't be such an issue.

I still think that allowing the Expos to move to Washington over Peter Angelos' objection would make the most sense for everyone (actually, staying put is probably best, but I don't think MLB wants to pursue that scenario). If you look back at expansion/relocation history, it appears that 1969, the year ironically that the Expos were born, was the turning point. Up until then the expansions/relocations added large cities in areas not open to baseball in the past. In 1952, there were 16 teams in 10 cities, all of which were east or on the Mississippi River and North of the Mason-Dixon Line. Baseball went West and South from there and were usually greeted by bigger crowds wherever they went. In 1969, however, baseball added San Diego, a team that barely outdrew its minor-league counterpart; Seattle, a team that failed within a year and was moved to a small city (Milwaukee) that had already lost a franchise; Kansas City, again a small city that had already lost a franchise; and Montreal where some baseball people will tell you baseball never really asserted itself.

Since 1969 one team (Texas) has relocated. There have been three rounds of expansion, but 1977's expansion was necessitated by the fear of a lawsuit from Seattle. A second city was needed and Toronto, as the largest US/Canadian population without a team, was the logical choice. The 1993 expansion round was accomplished to placate the representatives in Colorado and Florida who were looking to remove MLB's antitrust exemption and force expansion on their own terms. Baseball got a taste for the exorbitant expansion fees and quickly and unwisely rushed the 1998 expansion round. The potential for a Tampa Bay lawsuit, as baseball blocked the sale of the Giants to a group there, was obviated by the expansion. Now baseball is much more concerned with discussing contraction than adding new markets through expansion or relocation.

Baseball still is weary of new places. The deplorable turnout in Montreal seems to be changing their minds but given that they are unwilling participants in this, they will probably botch the relocation of the Expos like everything else. MLB can't decide on one city for this team let alone four.


Electricity in Edison IV Oakland
2002-09-10 01:11
by Mike Carminati

Electricity in Edison IV

Oakland holds on to win 2-1 in a squeeker.


Electricity in Edison III Miguel
2002-09-10 00:26
by Mike Carminati

Electricity in Edison III

Miguel Tejada just set up a double play with a backhand flip to second on a ball far to his left with one on and none out in the seventh . I'm getting sick of all of the MVP talk for a player who is 15th in the AL in OPS, 210 points behind the leader, but that was one heck of a play. Rex Hudler who is calling the game has repeatedly said he is the leader for the award. I didn't know that they updated the MVP stats daily. Middle of the seventh still 2-1.


Electricity in Edison II Garret
2002-09-09 23:26
by Mike Carminati

Electricity in Edison II

Garret Anderson just lead off the bottom of the fifth with a home run. Poor Tim Hudson: he lost the perfect game, the no-hitter, and the shutout all within three outs.


Braves Are In The Mets
2002-09-09 23:24
by Mike Carminati

Braves Are In

The Mets beat the Phillies 6-4 to give idle Atlanta the division title. The second-place Phils are now just 1.5 games ahead of the last-place Mets. Who will get the second-place share of the playoff revenues? Read the book.


Electricity in Edison The Angels
2002-09-09 23:20
by Mike Carminati

Electricity in Edison

The Angels just got their first hit off of Tim Hudson. It was a one-out ground ball through the right side in the fourth by Darin Erstad. The A's have only had two hits off of Kevin Appier themselves, but two were home runs by Jermaine Dye and Terrence Long. They lead 2-0 in the middle of the fifth.


Pitching Helmets After the stories
2002-09-09 21:31
by Mike Carminati

Pitching Helmets

After the stories of Kazuhisa Ishii yesterday and Bryce Florie in 2000, two pitchers severely injured by a ball batted back at them, is it time that baseball did something about protecting the pitcher? Severe injuries to pitchers and even infielders are common in high school and college when aluminum bats, that reporting propel batted balls back at the pitcher up to 30 miles per hour faster, are the standard.

Florie's injury, caused by a ball batted back by Yankee Ryan Thompson, was particularly bloody and effectively ended his career at the age of 30. Ishii may be luckier, but his injury was no less gruesome: the batter, Brian Hunter, cringed and looked away as the batted ball ricocheted off of Ishii's forehead and hit the backstop--he didn't feel sufficiently moved to stop from stretching the hit to a double, however.

The option of requiring pitchers to wear helmet may be the solution. However, the main opponents to such equipment would undoubtedly be the pitchers that it would be designed to protect. The problem with such protection is that the visibility and mobility of the wearer would be negatively impacted should the devise prove sufficient protection. The eyes and face of the wearer must be shielded given that batted balls usually come straight back at the pitcher and the natural reaction of a ballplayer is to get in front of a batted ball and try to field it. The pitcher's reflexes are just not fast enough to prevent the ball from hitting him. This type of protection would prove unwieldy for a major-league pitcher.

Would a batting helmet by sufficient? The ball that hit Ishii could have been stopped by a batting helmet since it hit him on the forehead. On the other hand, in Bryce Florie's case, a football helmet with a birdcage-like face mask would have been required to stop the ball.

Baseball seems content to ignore this as a non-issue, but with pitchers throwing close to a 100 MPH and today's stronger batters stroking the ball back at probably 30 MPH faster, there is a chance that some hurler will become the pitching version of Ray Chapman. It's time for baseball to at least investigate the options.


The Granddaddy of All Win
2002-09-08 03:26
by Mike Carminati

The Granddaddy of All Win Streaks

The Anaheim Angels won their ninth-straight ballgame with an exciting 10th inning go-ahead hit by recently activated Tim Salmon. The Oakland A's whose historic 20-game consecutive win streak came to an end yesterday may have started a new one today with a 2-0 Mark Mulder-pitched shutout of the Twins today. With all this excitement, much has been made recently of the all-time streaks. Some saying that the all-time major-league record of 26 set by the New York Giants should not be counted because of a tie ballgame in the streak (unlike other sports, baseball does not count ties in the standings). Some have reported the all-time streaks while leaving out the nineteenth-century clubs that would qualify deeming them pre-modern.

With all the discussion of winning streaks, I am surprised to have heard nothing about the greatest streak in baseball history. And I am not talking about Morganna. The all-time win streak belongs to a team that no longer exists except in spirit, the team that was the first openly professional (not that there's anything wrong with it) club in baseball history, the 1869-70 Red Stocking club of Cincinnati.

In the 1860s baseball, though barely 20 years old as a codified sport, was generating a mania that spread from New York, the birthplace of the sport, through the rest of the country as far as the Pacific coast. The country itself was enjoying its new-found outdoors craze that boded well for an ample supply of both participants and spectators. Even the Civil War did little to dampen its spirits-rather it spread the game to new areas. New nines sprang up everywhere when the war was settled, and the membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), the first multi-team organization in the sport, went from 30 in 1864 to nearly 350 in 1868. The association had been formed in the Astor House in New York and was led by the first baseball team, the Knickerbockers of New York. Cricket, whose popularity eclipsed the younger sport's prior the war, was left behind as young men of an athletic bend, like Harry Wright of the St. George cricket club, turned to a game of base.

After playing for the original Knickerbockers in their twilight, 1858-60, Wright moved on to the Gotham club of New York in 1863-65 improving more each year offensively and playing most of the defensive positions including pitcher. Wright had gone to Cincinnati in November of 1865 as an instructor and player at $1200 a year for the Union Cricket Club. Aaron Chapman, the principle financial backer of a young Cincinnati baseball, had heard of Wright's past success in baseball and coaxed Wright into leaving this job in 1867 to become the pitcher and leader of a fledging base ball club inspiringly entitled the Cincinnati club of Cincinnati for the same pay (they had been 2-2 in after forming in July 1866 with very little fanfare, though they did win a November tournament against 4 local opponents including the rival Buckeye club). Champion made an inspired choice as the man the Cincinnati Enquirer said, "eats base-ball, breathes base-ball, thinks base-ball, dreams base-ball, and incorporates base-ball in his prayers." Wright led the club to a 16-1 record with over 51 runs per game playing mostly Midwest teams (except for the National of Washington) in their first year. It was also their first year playing on their legendary Union Grounds. Wright led them in scoring with 112 runs in only 17 games and 42 "hands lost" (i.e., outs). This translates into an average and over of 6 and 10 for runs and 2 and 9 for hands lost (i.e., 6 runs per 17 games with a remainder of 10. This is the first concept of batting average and given the statistics available at the time a rather inspired one based on runs and outs, kind of like a prehistoric runs created per 9 innings. By the way, Wright is shown atop the club's batting statistics in Beadle's 1869 Dime Base-Ball Player guide, the genesis of the baseball guide and of batting leaders).

Their only loss is described in Albert G. Spalding's classic America's National Game. The victors, the visiting Nationals of Washington, featured captain and shortstop George Wright and official scorer Henry Chadwick, both of which are now enshrined at Cooperstown:

After [a game with the Capital Club of Columbus, Ohio and] the customary banquet and other social functions common to the game in those days, the Nationals left for Cincinnati, where they arrived on the 14th, and on the 15th, after a full day's enjoyment of the hospitality of Cincinnati's players and people, they played the Cincinnatis, on the Union grounds, which had been opened on July 4th. As at Columbus, the Nationals were again victorious, this time by a score of 5~3 to 10 in a full game. For the Cincinnatis, the afterwards famous Harry Wright pitched, and the noted cricketer, Rogerson, caught.

I have already remarked that cricket is not Base Ball. It was not until Harry Wright put cricket in the background that he became noted as a Base Ball player and manager.

The following day the Nationals met the rivals of the Cincinnati Club, in the Buckeyes, also of the same city, and defeated them, 88 to 12, in a six innings game. On July 16th the Nationals left Cincinnati for Louisville, by the steamer "General Buell"...

The NABBP, growing unwieldy as a non-hierarchical organization, reorganized itself along state lines, and the Cincinnati club entered the Ohio Association on September 25, 1867. There were thirteen such organizations: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Oregon. In 1868 the Cincinnati club posted a 36-7 record while playing some of the finest teams of the day from cities as far away as Philadelphia, Washington, and New York. Wright was named captain and quickly enlisted first baseman Charles Gould from the rival Buckeye club of Cincinnati (the only local player to be on the Cincinnati club), pitcher and second baseman Asa Brainard of the National club of Washington, third baseman Fred Waterman of the Mutual Club of New York, and catcher Doug Allison. Though it is not reported anywhere that I can find, these players were undoubtedly played a sum to switch to the new club. Professionalism was still frowned on in the sport though "revolvers", players who would switch allegiances when offered more compensation, were becoming common. Paying players (either through a percentage of the gate or with a fictitious job) became so widespread that the conservative organization had official sanctioned it in their December 9, 1868 convention for the 1869 season, a decision that spelled the death knell for the association within two years. (Spalding remember it differently years later, "The leading Base Ball club of Cincinnati, seeing the inevitable, unwilling to be bound by rules which nobody respected or obeyed, holding in utter contempt an organization that had failed to uphold the dignity and integrity of a game of which it was the nominal executive head, threw down the gauntlet of defiance to the National Association of Base Ball Players-not by a flaming pronunciamento, but by manly declaration that henceforth it would be known as a professional organization.")

Harry Wright outdid himself in 1869 in latching on to the idea of creating the first openly all-professional team in baseball history-or as A.G. Spalding wrote, they were "actualized by the spirit that has characterized every pioneer movement in history." Wright reasoned that people will gladly pay "seventy-five cents to a dollar-fifty to go to the theater, and a number prefer base ball to theatricals. We must make the games worth witnessing, and there will be no fault found with the price. A good game is worth 50 cents; a poor one is dear at 25." Wright became the first national scout using Champion's money to fund the premier club in the country. The Cincinnati club (nicknamed the Red Stockings by fans-presaging the major league adoption of nicknames in the years to come) added Harry's brother and future Hall-of-Fame shortstop George from the Union of Morrisania (NY) club. Wright again pilfered from the Buckeye club to snatch second baseman Charlie Sweasy, leftfielder Andy Leonard, and substitute Dick Hurley. Rightfielder Cal McVey was procured from the Active club of Indianapolis. Harry Wright would play center and pitch, and Gould, Brainard, Waterman, and Allison were also retained from the 1868 club. The total team salary was $9300 from $1400 for George Wright to $600 for Hurley. (plus: Harry Wright ($1200), Brainard ($1100), Waterman ($1000), and $800 each for Sweasy, Gould, Allison, Leonard, and McVey. Alternates Fowler, Bradford and Taylor were also employed, but nothing more is known of them, and they never played). Wright also redesigned their uniforms with knickers meeting long stockings instead of the then-conventional long pants. With the pants shortened, the players' ruby hose became their calling card, and the nickname Red Stockings was born.

The club finished 57-0 for the season. After a five-game homestand, the Red Stockings took a twenty-two-game road trip unprecedented by a Western team at the time, with stops in Ft. Wayne, Mansfield (OH), Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Troy, Albany, Springfield (MA), Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Irvington (NJ), Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington in a little over a month (the tour was the first of this length by any club East or West according to Spalding). They had won their first 14 games with ease but needed two in ninth to slip past the Mutual club of New York on June 15. On August 26, they faced the Union club of Lansingburg (Troy, NY) and were tied 17-17 in the sixth inning. The Union catcher caught a ball off of McVey's bat apparently on the bounce. According to the New York Clipper, the earliest baseball journal, the umpire called "not out." The Unions left the field in protest, and the umpire ordered them to continue to no avail, called the call and awarded the victory to Cincinnati. Harold Seymour in the peerless Baseball:The Early Years reported that the Union club had left the field so that John Morrissey and the other New York gamblers who wagered high on the local club wouldn't loss their money. In the next game they pounded their recently pillaged city-mates, the Buckeyes, 103-8, their most lopsided victory of the season.

With their record 43-0, the Red Stockings rode the newly completed Union Pacific railroad to play the Eagle, Pacific, and Atlantic clubs of San Francisco with stops in St. Louis, Omaha, and Nebraska City along the way. With all of their traveling and the burden on the financial backers, their financial situation remains unclear: come reports have the wealthiest men of Cincinnati backing the club and others report them barely surviving until they met some of the more-established clubs (one even says that an avid fan donated his wife's $300 nest egg to see them through). Reportedly, their profit for the year was $1.39 (given the amount that the public's consciousness has been made aware of the somewhat unconventional accounting practices of corporations in the 21st century, I am not sure to what extent we can draw conclusions from this sum). While traveling the first reporter to accompany a team on a road trip, Cincinnati Commercial-Gazette writer Harry Millar telegraphed each games result back home.

With a 57-0 record against all teams and a 19-0 record against professional teams, the Red Stockings still were not considered champions. At the time, the first team to defeat the previous year's champion, like in a boxing match, took over their title, but apparently two wins were needed (I guess to allow the champion to re-prove their worth in the second game). The champions at the end of 1868 were the Mutuals of New York. The Eckfords of Brooklyn with a 47-8 had beaten the Mutuals 6-1 on June 5. Even though the Mutuals held the title on June 12 by pasting the Eckford 24-8 and the Red Stockings beat both clubs in their East Coast trip, the Eckfords took the title on the strength of a July 3rd, 31-5 drubbing of the Mutuals. The Red Stockings bested the Mutuals in their November 6th rematch (the final for Cincinnati that year), but the crown was no longer theirs to give. The Eckfords subsequently lost it to the Atlantics of Brooklyn (40-6-2 record and featuring future major-league star Lip Pike), who had beaten the Eckfords in for the second time in three trees on their last game on November 8th. Ironically, it was the Atlantics "record" of consecutive wins that the Red Stockings had broken. The Atlantics were 20-0-1 in 1864 and 18-0 in 1865 (the year that catching a ball on the bounce for an out was outlawed and that baseball endured its first gambling scandal, on the Mutuals).

Here is the account of their season in the Beadle's 1870 Dime Base Ball Player (think of "do" as a double quote continue symbol):

[The total distance that the Cincinnati club in] its various tours, traversed by rail and steamboat, 10,879 miles[Spalding reports 11,877 "without a serious accident of any kind"). Again, by estimating the run around the bases at four hundred feet, which is about the length of the circuit, the nine ran, in base running alone, one hundred and ninety-one and one-half miles. They have played before a total of 179,500 persons by a close computation. The largest audience was in their game with the Athletics of Philadelphia, on the grounds of the latter, it being fair to estimate that inside and around the grounds there were over fifteen thousand people.

Below we give the complete record of the games played by the "Red Stocking" nine during 1869.

The Granddaddy of All Win Streaks

The Anaheim Angels won their ninth-straight ballgame with an exciting 10th inning go-ahead hit by recently activated Tim Salmon.  The Oakland A's whose historic 20-game consecutive win streak came to an end yesterday may have started a new one today with a 2-0 Mark Mulder-pitched shutout of the Twins today.  With all this excitement, much has been made recently of the all-time streaks. Some saying that the all-time major-league record of 26 set by the New York Giants should not be counted because of a tie ballgame in the streak (unlike other sports, baseball does not count ties in the standings).  Some have reported the all-time streaks while leaving out the nineteenth-century clubs that would qualify deeming them pre-modern.

With all the discussion of winning streaks, I am surprised to have heard nothing about the greatest streak in baseball history.  And I am not talking about Morganna.  The all-time win streak belongs to a team that no longer exists except in spirit, the team that was the first openly professional (not that there's anything wrong with it) club in baseball history, the 1869-70 Red Stocking club of Cincinnati.  

In the 1860s baseball, though barely 20 years old as a codified sport, was generating a mania that spread from New York, the birthplace of the sport, through the rest of the country as far as the Pacific coast.  The country itself was enjoying its new-found outdoors craze that boded well for an ample supply of both participants and spectators.  Even the Civil War did little to dampen its spirits-rather it spread the game to new areas.  New nines sprang up everywhere when the war was settled, and the membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP), the first multi-team organization in the sport, went from 30 in 1864 to nearly 350 in 1868.  The association had been formed in the Astor House in New York and was led by the first baseball team, the Knickerbockers of New York.  Cricket, whose popularity eclipsed the younger sport's prior the war, was left behind as young men of an athletic bend, like Harry Wright of the St. George cricket club, turned to a game of base.

After playing for the original Knickerbockers in their twilight, 1858-60, Wright moved on to the Gotham club of New York in 1863-65 improving more each year offensively and playing most of the defensive positions including pitcher.  Wright had gone to Cincinnati in November of 1865 as an instructor and player at $1200 a year for the Union Cricket Club.  Aaron Chapman, the principle financial backer of a young Cincinnati baseball, had heard of Wright's past success in baseball and coaxed Wright into leaving this job in 1867 to become the pitcher and leader of a fledging base ball club inspiringly entitled the Cincinnati club of Cincinnati for the same pay (they had been 2-2 in after forming in July 1866 with very little fanfare, though they did win a November tournament against 4 local opponents including the rival Buckeye club).  Champion made an inspired choice as the man the Cincinnati Enquirer said, "eats base-ball, breathes base-ball, thinks base-ball, dreams base-ball, and incorporates base-ball in his prayers." Wright led the club to a 16-1 record with over 51 runs per game playing mostly Midwest teams (except for the National of Washington) in their first year. It was also their first year playing on their legendary Union Grounds. Wright led them in scoring with 112 runs in only 17 games and 42 "hands lost" (i.e., outs).  This translates into an average and over of 6 and 10 for runs and 2 and 9 for hands lost (i.e., 6 runs per 17 games with a remainder of 10.   This is the first concept of batting average and given the statistics available at the time a rather inspired one based on runs and outs, kind of like a prehistoric runs created per 9 innings. By the way, Wright is shown atop the club's batting statistics in Beadle's 1869 Dime Base-Ball Player guide, the genesis of the baseball guide and of batting leaders). 

Their only loss is described in Albert G. Spalding's classic America's National Game. The victors, the visiting Nationals of Washington, featured captain and shortstop George Wright and official scorer Henry Chadwick, both of which are now enshrined at Cooperstown:

After [a game with the Capital Club of Columbus, Ohio and] the customary banquet and other social functions common to the game in those days, the Nationals left for Cincinnati, where they arrived on the 14th, and on the 15th, after a full day's enjoyment of the hospitality of Cincinnati's players and people, they played the Cincinnatis, on the Union grounds, which had been opened on July 4th. As at Columbus, the Nationals were again victorious, this time by a score of 5~3 to 10 in a full game. For the Cincinnatis, the afterwards famous Harry Wright pitched, and the noted cricketer, Rogerson, caught. I have already remarked that cricket is not Base Ball. It was not until Harry Wright put cricket in the background that he became noted as a Base Ball player and manager. The following day the Nationals met the rivals of the Cincinnati Club, in the Buckeyes, also of the same city, and defeated them, 88 to 12, in a six innings game. On July 16th the Nationals left Cincinnati for Louisville, by the steamer "General Buell"...
The NABBP, growing unwieldy as a non-hierarchical organization, reorganized itself along state lines, and the Cincinnati club entered the Ohio Association on September 25, 1867. There were thirteen such organizations: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Oregon. In 1868 the Cincinnati club posted a 36-7 record while playing some of the finest teams of the day from cities as far away as Philadelphia, Washington, and New York. Wright was named captain and quickly enlisted first baseman Charles Gould from the rival Buckeye club of Cincinnati (the only local player to be on the Cincinnati club), pitcher and second baseman Asa Brainard of the National club of Washington, third baseman Fred Waterman of the Mutual Club of New York, and catcher Doug Allison. Though it is not reported anywhere that I can find, these players were undoubtedly played a sum to switch to the new club. Professionalism was still frowned on in the sport though "revolvers", players who would switch allegiances when offered more compensation, were becoming common. Paying players (either through a percentage of the gate or with a fictitious job) became so widespread that the conservative organization had official sanctioned it in their December 9, 1868 convention for the 1869 season, a decision that spelled the death knell for the association within two years. (Spalding remember it differently years later, "The leading Base Ball club of Cincinnati, seeing the inevitable, unwilling to be bound by rules which nobody respected or obeyed, holding in utter contempt an organization that had failed to uphold the dignity and integrity of a game of which it was the nominal executive head, threw down the gauntlet of defiance to the National Association of Base Ball Players-not by a flaming pronunciamento, but by manly declaration that henceforth it would be known as a professional organization.") Harry Wright outdid himself in 1869 in latching on to the idea of creating the first openly all-professional team in baseball history-or as A.G. Spalding wrote, they were "actualized by the spirit that has characterized every pioneer movement in history." Wright reasoned that people will gladly pay "seventy-five cents to a dollar-fifty to go to the theater, and a number prefer base ball to theatricals. We must make the games worth witnessing, and there will be no fault found with the price. A good game is worth 50 cents; a poor one is dear at 25." Wright became the first national scout using Champion's money to fund the premier club in the country. The Cincinnati club (nicknamed the Red Stockings by fans-presaging the major league adoption of nicknames in the years to come) added Harry's brother and future Hall-of-Fame shortstop George from the Union of Morrisania (NY) club. Wright again pilfered from the Buckeye club to snatch second baseman Charlie Sweasy, leftfielder Andy Leonard, and substitute Dick Hurley. Rightfielder Cal McVey was procured from the Active club of Indianapolis. Harry Wright would play center and pitch, and Gould, Brainard, Waterman, and Allison were also retained from the 1868 club. The total team salary was $9300 from $1400 for George Wright to $600 for Hurley. (plus: Harry Wright ($1200), Brainard ($1100), Waterman ($1000), and $800 each for Sweasy, Gould, Allison, Leonard, and McVey. Alternates Fowler, Bradford and Taylor were also employed, but nothing more is known of them, and they never played). Wright also redesigned their uniforms with knickers meeting long stockings instead of the then-conventional long pants. With the pants shortened, the players' ruby hose became their calling card, and the nickname Red Stockings was born. The club finished 57-0 for the season. After a five-game homestand, the Red Stockings took a twenty-two-game road trip unprecedented by a Western team at the time, with stops in Ft. Wayne, Mansfield (OH), Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Troy, Albany, Springfield (MA), Boston, New York, Brooklyn, Irvington (NJ), Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington in a little over a month (the tour was the first of this length by any club East or West according to Spalding). They had won their first 14 games with ease but needed two in ninth to slip past the Mutual club of New York on June 15. On August 26, they faced the Union club of Lansingburg (Troy, NY) and were tied 17-17 in the sixth inning. The Union catcher caught a ball off of McVey's bat apparently on the bounce. According to the New York Clipper, the earliest baseball journal, the umpire called "not out." The Unions left the field in protest, and the umpire ordered them to continue to no avail, called the call and awarded the victory to Cincinnati. Harold Seymour in the peerless Baseball:The Early Years reported that the Union club had left the field so that John Morrissey and the other New York gamblers who wagered high on the local club wouldn't loss their money. In the next game they pounded their recently pillaged city-mates, the Buckeyes, 103-8, their most lopsided victory of the season. With their record 43-0, the Red Stockings rode the newly completed Union Pacific railroad to play the Eagle, Pacific, and Atlantic clubs of San Francisco with stops in St. Louis, Omaha, and Nebraska City along the way. With all of their traveling and the burden on the financial backers, their financial situation remains unclear: come reports have the wealthiest men of Cincinnati backing the club and others report them barely surviving until they met some of the more-established clubs (one even says that an avid fan donated his wife's $300 nest egg to see them through). Reportedly, their profit for the year was $1.39 (given the amount that the public's consciousness has been made aware of the somewhat unconventional accounting practices of corporations in the 21st century, I am not sure to what extent we can draw conclusions from this sum). While traveling the first reporter to accompany a team on a road trip, Cincinnati Commercial-Gazette writer Harry Millar telegraphed each games result back home. With a 57-0 record against all teams and a 19-0 record against professional teams, the Red Stockings still were not considered champions. At the time, the first team to defeat the previous year's champion, like in a boxing match, took over their title, but apparently two wins were needed (I guess to allow the champion to re-prove their worth in the second game). The champions at the end of 1868 were the Mutuals of New York. The Eckfords of Brooklyn with a 47-8 had beaten the Mutuals 6-1 on June 5. Even though the Mutuals held the title on June 12 by pasting the Eckford 24-8 and the Red Stockings beat both clubs in their East Coast trip, the Eckfords took the title on the strength of a July 3rd, 31-5 drubbing of the Mutuals. The Red Stockings bested the Mutuals in their November 6th rematch (the final for Cincinnati that year), but the crown was no longer theirs to give. The Eckfords subsequently lost it to the Atlantics of Brooklyn (40-6-2 record and featuring future major-league star Lip Pike), who had beaten the Eckfords in for the second time in three trees on their last game on November 8th. Ironically, it was the Atlantics "record" of consecutive wins that the Red Stockings had broken. The Atlantics were 20-0-1 in 1864 and 18-0 in 1865 (the year that catching a ball on the bounce for an out was outlawed and that baseball endured its first gambling scandal, on the Mutuals). Here is the account of their season in the Beadle's 1870 Dime Base Ball Player (think of "do" as a double quote continue symbol):
[The total distance that the Cincinnati club in] its various tours, traversed by rail and steamboat, 10,879 miles[Spalding reports 11,877 "without a serious accident of any kind"). Again, by estimating the run around the bases at four hundred feet, which is about the length of the circuit, the nine ran, in base running alone, one hundred and ninety-one and one-half miles. They have played before a total of 179,500 persons by a close computation. The largest audience was in their game with the Athletics of Philadelphia, on the grounds of the latter, it being fair to estimate that inside and around the grounds there were over fifteen thousand people. Below we give the complete record of the games played by the "Red Stocking" nine during 1869.

G D
a a
m t Score
e e Opposing Club, Played At, Cin Opp
1 May 4, Great Western, Cincinnati. . . Cincinnati.. 45.. 9
2 do 10, Kekionga, Ft. Wayne, In...... do .. 86.. 8
3 do 15, Antioch, Yellow Springs, 0...[OH] do .. 41.. 7
4 do 22, Kekionga, Ft. Wayne, ...... . Ft. Wayne.. 41.. 7
5 June 1, Independent, Ohio Mansfield.. 48..14
6 do 2, Forest City, Cleveland, 0 Cleveland.. 25.. 6
7 do 3, Niagara., Buffalo, N. Y Buffalo.. 42.. 0
8 do 4, Alert, Rochester, do Rochester.. 18.. 9
9 do 7, Union, Lansingbirg, N. Y., Lansingburg.. 38..31
10 do 8, National, Albany, NY Albany.. 49.. 8
11 do 9, Mutual, Springfield, Mass. ... Springfield. .80.. 5
12 do 10, Lowell, Boston, Mass Boston.. 29.. 9
13 do 11, Tri-Mountain, Boston, Mass do .. 40..12
14 do 12, Harvard, Boston, Mass do .. 30. 11
15 do 15, Mutual, New York New York.. 4.. 2
16 do 16, Atlantic, Brooklyn Brooklyn.. 32..10
17 do 17, Eckford, New York New York.. 24.. 5
18 do 18, Irvington, Irvington, N. J Irvington.. 20.. 4
19 do 19, Olympic, Philadelphia ... . Philadelphia..22..11
20 do 21, Athletic, do .... do .. 27..18
21 do 22, Keystone, do .... do .. 43..30
22 do 24, Maryland, Baltimore, Md. .. Baltimore.. 47.. 7
23 do 23, National, Washington Washington.. 24.. 8
24 do 28, Olympic, do do .. 16.. 5
25 July 3, do do Cincinnati.. 25..14
26 do 5, do do do ..32..10
27 do 10, Forest City, Rockford, Ill Rockford.. 34..13
28 do 13, Olympic, Washington Cincinnati. . 19.. 7
29 do 22, Buckeye, Cincinnati do . . 71..15
30 do 24, Forest City, Rockford do . . 13..14
31 do 30, Cream City, Milwaukee Milwaukee.. 85.. 7
32 do 31, Forest City, Rockford Chicago.. 53..32
33 Aug. 2, do do Rockford.. 28.. 7
34 do 4, Central City, Syracuse, N.Y. Cincinnati.. 37.. 9
35 do 5, do do do do .. do .. 36..22
36 Aug.10, Forest City, Cleveland, 0... . Cincinnati.. 43..27
37 do 11, Riverside, Portsmouth, ... . Portsmouth.. 40.. 0
38 do 16, Eckford, New York Cincinnati.. 45..18
89 do 23, Southern, New Orleans, La do .. 35.. 3
40 do 26, Union, Lansingburg, N. Y do .. 17..17
41 do 31, Buckeye, Cincinnati, 0 do . . 103.. 8
42 Sept. 2, Alert, Rochester, N. Y do .. 32..19
43 do 9, Olympic, Pittsburg[h], Pa do .. 54.. 2
44 do 15, Union, St. Louis, Mo St. Louis.. 70.. 9
45 do 16, Empire, do do do .. 31..14
46 do 25, Eagle, San Francisco, Cal. San Francisco.35.. 4
47 do 27, do do do do.. 58.. 4
48 do 29, Pacific, do do do.. 66.. 4
49 do 30, do do do do.. 54.. 5
50 Oct. 1, Atlantic, do do do.. 76.. 5
51 do 11, Omaha. Omaha, Neb Omaha.. 65.. 1
52 do 12, Otoes, Nebraska City.... Nebraska City.56.. 3
53 do 13, Occidental, Quincy, Ill Quincy.. 51.. 7
54 do 15, Marion, Indianapolis, Ind.. Indianapolis..63.. 4
55 do 18, Athletic, Philadelphia, Pa.... Cincinnati.. 17..12
56 Nov. 3, Kentucky. Louisville, Ky Louisville.. 59.. 8
57 do 6, Mutual, Ncw York Cincinnati.. 17.. 8
Totals 2,395 574

In addition to the above, the club has played six
picked-nine games, scoring 282 63
An average of 47-0 for Cincinnati; 10-6 for the picked nine.

What Next, Bernie Near Beer
2002-09-07 23:50
by Mike Carminati

What Next, Bernie Near Beer Brewer?

In a move that with its triviality shows that the baseball world is definitely back to normal after the near-work stoppage, PETA is requesting that the Milwaukee Brewers add a veggy dog or "soysage" to its traditional, on-field, meat-costume race. In a related story, ARMPITS (All-Meat Products for the Incorruptible Treatment of Society) expressed its sorrow for both the meat combatants and the human spectators forced to watch. Meat-racer Colonel Corn was unavailable for comment.


"I'm shocked, shocked to find
2002-09-07 09:16
by Mike Carminati

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"-- "Your winnings, sir"

In a shocking turn of events, the early revenue sharing estimates for 2003 show the Milwaukee Brewers tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the largest increase and also the largest overall amount received.

Also, the report indicates that the Montreal Gazette article that stated the Expos would receive less money under the new plan was incorrect.


A's in the Hole The
2002-09-06 23:32
by Mike Carminati

A's in the Hole

The A's not only lost tonight, they were shut out by by Brad Radke. Well, all good things yudda yudda. Here's where the A's fall in the all-time consecutive win list:

Team                      Consec. Ws   W-L    PCT POS GB   Postseason
1916 New York Giants              26* 86-66  .566  4   7 
1880 Chicago White Stockings (NL) 21  67-17  .800  1 +15   No WS
1935 Chicago Cubs                 21 100-54  .649  1  +4   Lost WS
1884 Providence Grays (NL)        20  84-28  .750  1 +10.5 Won Temple Cup (WS)
1884 St. Louis Maroons (UA)       20  94-19  .832  1 +21   None (UA not involved in Temple Cup)
1906 A's                          20  ????? 
* = Plus one tie

The A's have now lost two games in the last 4 days to the Angels, who have an 8-game streak of their own and are only 2 games back. Yeah, we have a pennant race again.

By the way, Jayson Stark's article on whether or not the 1916 Giants qualify for the record given their tie game is academic. Baseball keeps the record including and excluding ties.


Benes Envy or My Dad
2002-09-06 23:21
by Mike Carminati

Benes Envy or My Dad Cannot Beat Up Your Dad-It's Physically Impossible

Brothers Andy and Alan Benes face off tonight in the Cards-Cubs game in St. Louis. It is believed to be the only the seventh time that siblings have pitched against each other in major-league baseball history. The last time was in 1996 when the Martinez brothers, Pedro (Montreal) and Ramon (Dodgers) faced each other.

The five other possibilities that I found follow (with the years each started a game in the same league, but no the same team, in brackets):

- Forsch (1974-'80)
- Perry (1972-'73, '75)
- Niekro (1967-'69, '74-'83, '86-'87)
- Dean (1938-'40)
- Coveleski (1916-'18)
- Stottlemyre (1990)
- Maddux ('93-'94, '96-'97)
- Leiter ('86-'92)

Does anyone know who the other five are?


Les Exits Now that MLB
2002-09-06 14:27
by Mike Carminati

Les Exits

Now that MLB has resolved its labor dispute for the foreseeable future (until 2006) and has taken contraction (what a surprise!) off the table, it can turn its attention to other matters. No, I'm not speaking of the various lawsuits on the docket dogging Bud Selig. What I mean is that they must decide what to do with the Montreal Expos, who though targeted for contraction by Selig and his cadre of owners-well, didn't they purchase the DNR on the franchise less than a year ago?-will now exist until 2006, in some form or another.

What is the best course of action for the club? There are two main issues: 1) Find ownership for a franchise that the owners took off now-Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's hands for $120 million just last February. 2) Find a new location for the franchise since MLB seems to have become disenchanted with Montreal and the fans of Montreal seem to have become disenchanted with MLB. The solution to both these problems may come in one fell swoop (or one swell foop) in the form of an ownership group in a new area. They may entertain offers as if the Expos were an expansion club, the only difference being that they come with their own 40-man roster-look, Ma! No expansion draft!-and farm system. Most experts point to a decision being made by the start of the 2004 season if not sooner (i.e., this off-season).

Of course, the Expos come with their fair share of baggage. First, there is the lawsuit pending against Bud Selig, Bob Dupuy, and former owner Loria for breaking the RICO statutes placed by the Expos former minority owners (and now minority owners in the Marlins). The owners also asked for injuctive relief should MLB try to contract or move the team. There is also the $30 million in projected losses for the season (if that is something more than just a paper loss). An article in the Montreal Gazette claims that the Expos will make less in revenue sharing under the new CBA, because it is a straight-pool system rather than a split-pool one. Also, they claim that the Expos are losing due to the conversion rate: their expenses are in U.S. dollars but their revenue is Canadian. Finally, there is expected to be a $20-million increase in the Expos salary just for keeping the current squad intact for next season.

Let's assume that all, or at least enough, of those issues will be worked out and the way will be paved for new ownership of the Expos. Who are their most viable candidate cities for relocation? Obviously, MLB will look for a candidate city to be as big of an improvement as possible over the situation in Montreal. I would like to quantify that improvement by examining various cities' population as well as their current support of the minor-league team that now represents them (are they a "baseball" town?). They should also have a serviceable baseball facility available though it need not be much better than serviceable since a new one could very easily be stipulated in the sale. There are other issues that I have no means to plumb: local and state politics, the inclination of each city's multi-millionaire and billionaire population and their connections within MLB, the various strengths-financial and otherwise-that the prospective groups from the candidate cities will possess, the perception within MLB of each city's baseball history and its viability for major-league baseball, etc. I will keep my study to population, fan support, and current stadium availability. Optimally, a city with a large population, a zealous fan base, and a state-of-the-art stadium will be sought, but compromises will be made along the way. For example, a large fan base is important but Montreal is a populous city that according to MLB's perception has never supported the team. Population will then be weighed against fan support.

Part I: Determining Candidate Cities by Population

The metropolitan population of Montreal is around 3.5 million (3,426,350 according to the 2001 Canadian census). There are 13 American cities and one Canadian city with a greater metropolitan population and all of them are represented by at least one major league team. Given that Milwaukee and Kansas City are slightly over 1.5 million inhabitants, let's caste a wider net and make our lower limit 1.5 million. It's not optimal but remember we are weighing population against fan support. That gives us 11 candidates. Here they are with their rank within the combined U.S./Canadian rankings, and their metropolitan area:

22 San Juan--Caguas--Arecibo, PR                 2,450,292
25 Portland--Salem, OR--WA                       2,265,223
26 Vancouver, B.C.                               1,986,965
28 Sacramento--Yolo, CA                          1,796,857
31 Orlando, FL                                   1,644,561
32 Indianapolis, IN                              1,607,486
33 San Antonio, TX                               1,592,383
34 Norfolk--Virginia Beach--Newport News, VA--NC 1,569,541
35 Las Vegas, NV--AZ                             1,563,282
36 Columbus, OH                                  1,540,157
37 Charlotte--Gastonia--Rock Hill, NC--SC        1,499,293


I also want to consider the resulting population base if the existing franchises had to share their metropolitan areas with a new team. This has been mentioned as a strong possibility in the future for the Baltimore-Washington and New York teams. If we take the population and share it among the existing team(s) and a relocated Expo franchise, would they be able to accommodate the new team without burdening the existing one(s)? Sixteen current major-league metropolitan areas would meet our 1.5 million population threshold (i.e., they would have at least 1.5 million per team if the Expos were added to their area-by the way, Montreal itself would meet the criterion). I will set it to three million so that a strong enough case could be made to overwhelm the existing franchise's territorial rights claim. Five areas, including New York and D.C.-Baltimore, meet the criterion.

Those would be (Rank is overall U.S. Rank):

Rk MSA                                                        Pop     # current tms  Pop. per teams + 1
1  New York--Northern New Jersey--Long Island, NY--NJ--CT--PA 21,199,865        2       7,066,622
2  Los Angeles--Riverside--Orange County, CA                  16,373,645        2       5,457,882
4  Washington--Baltimore, DC--MD--VA--WV                       7,608,070        1       3,804,035
6  Philadelphia--Wilmington--Atlantic City, PA--NJ--DE--MD     6,188,463        1       3,094,232
3  Chicago--Gary--Kenosha, IL--IN--WI                          9,157,540        2       3,052,513


That brings our candidate list to 16.

Part II: Ranking Candidate Cities by Fan Support

Now let's look at fan support for each candidate. Keep in mind that Montreal's average attendance per home game last year was 7,648 and are faring slightly better at 10,399 so far this season. Baseball would undoubtedly like to improve on those figures, but only two teams in the minors last year topped ten thousand fans (Sacramento and Memphis).

Obviously, minor-league attendance for a city and its projected major-league attendance are not the same thing. We will look at both the average per-game attendance of each candidate city along with a projection based on the past newly major-league cities. We will look at all of the cities to which teams relocated or into which MLB expanded in the last fifty years to determine how much of an increase in attendance can be expected when a city goes from the minors to the majors.

Cities with existing major league teams will be evaluated via their current major- and minor-league support to determine the viability of an additional major-league team.

Here is a table ranking the minor-league candidates by fan support expressed as the average attendance per game over the last five years. It is also expressed as the per-game attendance as a percent of the population. The minor league levels occupied are also given:

                                     Avg      Att. as
City                  2000 Pop  per-game att.   % Pop.  Levels (Yrs)
Indianapolis, IN     1,607,486     9,241        0.57%   AAA(5)
Sacramento, CA       1,796,857     8,781        0.49%   IND(1)-AAA(2)
Columbus, OH         1,540,157     8,401        0.55%   AAA(5)
Norfolk-Va Beach, VA 1,569,541     7,115        0.45%   AAA(5)
Portland, OR         2,265,223     5,265        0.23%   A(4)-AAA(1)
San Antonio, TX      1,592,383     4,981        0.31%   AA(2)
Charlotte, NC        1,499,293     4,858        0.32%   AAA(5)
Las Vegas, NV        1,563,282     4,644        0.30%   AAA(5)
Vancouver, B.C.      1,986,965     3,823        0.19%   AAA(3)-A(2)
Orlando, FL          1,644,561     1,621        0.10%   AA(5)
San Juan, PR         2,450,292         0        0.00%   None
Notes: Vancouver pop. According to 2001 Canadian census, Sacramento has only had a minor-league team the last 3 years.


The first thing that you will notice is that San Juan's almost 2 1/2 million inhabitants have been without a minor-league team for some time (since the one-year Inter-American League of 1979). They have to content themselves with being a hub for the Puerto Rican Winter League (2 of 6 clubs are located in San Juan). This does not bode well especially for a city that is on an island, is part of a U.S. territory, not a state, and that has no major-league presence in any sport.

The other thing you will notice is that there seems to be a clear dividing line in fan support between the top 4 teams and the rest. The average attendance expressed as a per-game figure and as a percentage of the metropolitan area's population both drop off after the fourth entry. Let's assume that that is our dividing line, that we will only consider those four (Indianapolis, Sacramento, Columbus, and Norfolk-Va. Beach) from this point forward.

Here's just a word on each now-eliminated city before we move on:

- Portland has a strong baseball tradition dating back to the old Pacific Coast League (and the prospect of a great nickname "Lucky Beavers"). However, they have just returned to the PCL after years in the Single-A Northwest League and may not be viewed as a strong enough baseball town consequently. Besides they only have one major-league franchise (the Trail Blazers-and an old USFL team).

- San Antonio may suffer from the same perception problem: It is in the Double-A Texas League and therefore may be seen as a second-tier city. Texas is well represented in MLB (2 teams), and they like to ensure a good bit of territory with new teams (e.g., Colorado, Arizona, and the Florida teams). They too have only an NBA team to their major-league credit (plus defunct USFL and CFL teams).

- Charlotte is no longer the hot area that is was in the late-'80s and early-'90s and has just lost its only major-league franchise to a smaller city (New Orleans).

- Las Vegas is an ever-growing city but MLB has never been that forward-looking in its expansion. Given that no other major sports league has opened the Las Vegas door. They'd rather not go out on the ice until someone else has checked how thin it is.

- Vancouver has a hockey and football (CFL) team, just lost a basketball team (to Memphis), and is a smaller Canadian city than Montreal. Need I say more?

- Orlando is getting terrible fan support in Double-AA, and would be a third Florida franchise with two weak teams representing the state already, though they do have a major league NBA team (and defunct USFL and CFL teams).

- Additionally, Buffalo and Memphis (not listed) get good fan support but are probably too small to be considered. Buffalo has been passed over in the last two expansion rounds.

Now let's pare down the major-league cities by fan support. There are two questions that we need to address: 1) Do the existing major-league teams for that city receive ample fan support and 2) do the metropolitan areas' teams receive sufficient support to justify the addition of a new team?

Below is a table detailing the major- and minor-league fan support for each of our 5 major-league cities. It contains the average attendance per game for the area's major league team(s) as well as the cumulative per-game attendance if its minor league teams. Finally, the aggregate average per-game attendance is derived from the major- and minor-league totals, which is divided by the number of current major leagues teams plus one for the relocated Expos-the table is sorted by this result:

                                 2001 Avg          2001 Avg Agg   Total Per-  Tot Att Per 
Rk City         2000 Pop. #tms     Att  # minors  minors Att     Game Att    teams + 1
1  New York    21,199,865   2    36,814   13       62,409        136,037     45,346
4  Wash.-Balt.  7,608,070   1    38,686    3       14,193         52,879     26,440
3  Chicago      9,157,540   2    28,630    5       18,110*        75,370     25,123
2  Los Angeles 16,373,645   2    30,978    5       11,076         73,032     24,344
6  Philadelphia 6,188,463   1    22,847    3       11,912         34,759     17,379
* = Joliet (Northern Lg) is new for 2002.  Their average for 2002 so far is used.  
    Also, Gary (Northern Lg) is a road team with no home games, therefore, no home attendance.


New York is in a class by itself-the metropolitan area's minor-league teams nearly match the attendance on a nightly basis of the two major-league teams. The next three cities are bunched, and then Philadelphia stands all alone. 17 thousand fans are far below what we would expect for our relocated team. Therefore, Philadelphia will be eliminated from the list of finalists. (Besides the Phillies only draw about 23 K a night and the perception since the A's left town is that it is not a two-team city).

Now to compare the minor-league finalists with the major-league finalists, we need to translate the minor-league attendance numbers to an expected major league level. That is the next step in our study.

[Note: Here are the minor-league teams by metropolitan area.

New York: New Haven (CT) (Eastern Lg), Norwich (CT) (EL), Trenton (NJ) (EL), Lakewood (NJ) (Carolina Lg), Brooklyn (NY-Penn Lg), Hudson Valley (Wappinger Falls) (NYPa), NJ (Augusta, NJ) (NYPa), Staten Island (NYPa), Bridgeport (CT) (Atlantic League-Independent), Long Island (Islip) (Atl), Newark (NJ) (Atl), Somerset (Bridgewater, NJ) (Atl), and NJ (Little Falls, NJ) (Northern Lg-Independent).

Los Angeles: San Bernardino (California Lg), Lake Elsinore (Cal), High Desert (Adelanto) (Cal), Lancaster (Cal), and Long Beach (Western Lg-Independent).

Washington-Baltimore: Frederick (Carolina Lg), Potomac (Woodbridge, Va) (Car), Bowie (Eastern Lg), and Hagerstown (Sally Lg).

Philadelphia: Wilmington (DE) (Carolina Lg), Atlantic City (NJ) (Atlantic League-Independent), and Camden (NJ) (Atl)

Chicago: Kane County (Geneva, IL) (Midwest Lg), Cook Cty (Crestwood) (Frontier Lg-Independent, Gary (IN - Road team) (Northern Lg-Independent), Joilet (No.), and Schaumburg (No.).]

Part III: Correlating Minor League Attendance to Expected Attendance at Major League Level

So now we are down to eight metropolitan areas, four currently occupied by minor-league teams and four by major-league teams. The question remains as to how to compare between major-league and minor-league areas to determine which will be best suited for our relocated team.

I propose that the franchise shifts and expansion teams of the past fifty years be used to determine the minor-to-major factor. The idea is to take the average per-game attendance for a minor-league area for the five years prior to acquiring a team and compare that to the average per-game attendance of the major-league team(s) for the next five years in the area. This will be the Major-to-minor ratio (or M2m to save me typing). Five-year periods will be used to ensure that A) the short-term excitement attendant with procuring a new team is mitigated and B) the attendance reflects the support that the area gives the team once it is in its (semi-)permanent home-a number of teams move into an available facility that meets the basic requirements with the understanding that a new stadium will be built within a few years.

Finally, the M2m ratio will be averaged for all areas to come up with our factor. This result will be used to equate our minor-league areas with the major-league ones to get the final results.

Here is our list of minor-to-major cities with the transitional year and the minor league level for the five years prior to the transition (sorted by 1st major-league season):

Area                 Year       Minor League Last 5 yrs
Milwaukee            1953       AA 1948-52
Baltimore            1954       IL 1949-53
Kansas City          1955       AA 1950-54
Los Angeles          1958 (NL), 
                     1961 (AL)  PCL 1953-57 & Hollywood, PCL 1953-57
San Francisco        1958       PCL 1953-57 & Oakland 1953-55
Minneapolis-St. Paul 1961       AA 1956-60 (2 teams, one per city)
Houston              1962       Tex 1957-58, AA 1959-61
Atlanta              1966       SA 1961, IL 1962-65
Oakland              1968       None (PCL until 1955)
San Diego            1969       PCL 1964-68
Montreal             1969       None (IL until 1960)
Seattle (1)          1969       PCL 1964-68
Dallas-Ft. Worth     1972       Tex 1967-71
Seattle (2)          1977       NWL 1972-76
Toronto              1977       None (IL until 1967)
Denver               1993       AA 1988-92
Miami                1993       FSL 1987-91 & Ft. Lauderdale 1987-93
Tampa-St. Petersburg 1998       FSL 1993-97
Phoenix              1998       PCL 1993-98


Note that three areas will drop out of our study because they did not have a minor-league team affiliated with their area for the five years prior to "going major". They are Oakland, Toronto, and Montrel (oddly). Also, Seattle appears twice since the city went back to the minors (Northwest Lg) between short-lived AL Pilots in 1969 and the Mariners in 1977.

The next thing that we need to do is gather the average per-game attendance for the last 5 years as a minor-league team and the first five years as a major-league team. Then the latter will be divided by the former, and quid pro quo, quod erat demonstrandum, que sera sera, we will have our so-called M2m Ratio. So without further ado, here they are:

Area                1st Yr Minor Major  M2m Ratio
Milwaukee             1953 3,186 26,366  827.51%
Baltimore             1954 2,716 12,056  443.91%
Kansas City           1955 2,674 13,518  505.50%
Los Angeles           1958 5,929 31,580  532.63%
San Francisco-Oakland 1958 3,713 19,159  515.97%
Minneapolis-St. Paul  1961 4,343 16,630  382.94%
Houston               1962 1,640 15,758  960.92%
Atlanta               1966 1,635 16,232  992.82%
San Diego             1969 2,647  7,354  277.80%
Seattle (1)           1969 1,956  8,268  422.61%
Dallas-Ft. Worth      1971 3,176 12,097  380.85%
Seattle (2)           1977   760 11,854 1560.05%
Denver                1993 5,613 51,209  912.29%
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale  1993 1,280 29,162 2278.03%
Phoenix               1998 3,715 38,356 1032.57%
Tampa-St. Petersburg  1998 2,948 19,542  662.91%
Avg M2m Ratio                            793.08%


Notes, caveats, and excuses:
- Minor-League estimates based on half of total games, number of home games not available.
- Arizona (Phoenix) and Tampa Bay (Tampa-St. Petersburg) totals reflect official per-game attendance for 2002 through September 4.
- Seattle (1) only includes major-league attendance for 1969 since Pilots moved subsequently to Milwaukee (or as Alice Copper would say. "Milli-wah-kay").
- Los Angeles includes Hollywood in minors and LA Angels (AL) 1961-62 in majors.
- San Francisco includes Oakland in minors, Miami includes Ft. Lauderdale, Minnesota includes both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and Tampa Bay includes both Tampa and St. Paul.
- Miami's 1993 major-league attendance includes minor-league Ft. Lauderdale average.
- The following major league teams opened new stadiums within 5 years: Houston in '65, LA in '62, San Francisco in '60, and Colorado (Denver) in '95. Their full five years were kept as acquiring new facilities is assumed to be part of the minor-to-major experience, though it may come not at the initial move.
- Lastly, Baltimore is included even though it had been yoked by the Census Bureau with Washington into one metropolitan area by 1950 and Washinton already had a major-league team, the Senators. Given that Baltimore M2m was in line with other city's and that the Senators attendance did not seem adversely affected by their move, I decided to include them as a separate entity. [Note that the Senators' attendance had been dropping steadily prior to the Browns move to Baltimore: After an all-time high of 13,516 per game, it dropped steadily until it hit 5,523 per game in 1955 and actually started to climb back up until they left in 1960 (9,655 per game). I decided that the drop-off was more the Senators' own doing than a siphoning off of fans by the Orioles, though the new team certainly didn't help.]

You see that the ratios run from under 3-fold increase (277.80%) for the Padres-I guess those PCL Padres were a pretty strong club or the NL version was weak-to an almost 23-fold increase in Miami (which may be a function of their moving from the Single-A Florida State League to the bigs).

On average, a minor-league area could expect about an 8-fold increase. So let's take that expected increase factor and plug it into our current list of minor-league areas. Taking are four finalist teams, these are our results:

City                       Current       Expected
                        per-game Att.  per-game Att.
Indianapolis, IN            9,241         73,291
Sacramento, CA              8,781         69,641
Columbus, OH                8,401         66,625
Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA  7,115         56,431


Teams At first blush these numbers are much higher than is reasonable to expect. Of course, comparing today's minor leagues with the post-World War II era engenders these sorts of results. That era was a spiraling nadir for the minors in which leagues and folded at record pace because of the expansion and relocation of major-league teams into established minor-league territory, the popularity of television and televised major-league games, the growth of suburbs and the downfall of small industrial towns, etc. This period lasted until the 1980s some would say.

So by comparing these artificial depressed minor-league attendance numbers of the past compared to their resultant major-league analogue, we get numbers that don't apply to today's era of rebirth and growth (at least with independent leagues) in minors. OK. I'll buy that. What if just compare against just the last two rounds of expansion in 1993 and 1998. The only problem with argument is that the expected increase in the most recent period is even larger than in the past, about a 12-fold increase from minor to major (1221.45%). Even if we remove the two Florida teams that geminated from the Single-A Florida State League and we look at the two teams (Colorado and Arizaona) begotten by Triple-A franchises, we get a higher increase (972.43%) than the overall average.

So where does that leave us? I will, for the time being, accept these results, compare them to the expectations for current major-league cities, and save the commentary for later. Here goes:

City                        Expected
                          per-game Att.
Indianapolis, IN             73,291
Sacramento, CA               69,641
Columbus, OH                 66,625
Norfolk-Virginia Beach, VA   56,431
New York, NY                 45,346
Washington, DC-Baltimore, MD 26,440
Chicago, IL                  25,123
Los Angeles, CA              24,344


So the winner appears to Indianapolis. That's all I am going to say now. There's a note on stadiums and then we'll get to my bloviation.

Part IV: On Stadia, Parks, Fields, One Ravine (Sometimes), and Seating Capacity

Before rushing to judgment on the various minor-league sites, I want to review the metropolitan areas that have gone from minor- to major-league in the past, specifically at the facilities in which they played. I want to see what the general trend is when the transition to the majors is made: Is a new stadium built right away? Does it come later? Are existing facilities used? Are they reconstructed for the majors? Etc.

Below are the facilities used by the minor-to-major cities of the last half-century for the last 5 years as a minor-league team and the first five years as a major-league team. Their seating capacities are listed as well:

Milwaukee:
- Minors - Borchert Field 10,000
- Majors - County Stadium ('53) 36,111, County Stadium ('54-'57) 43,394

Baltimore
- Minors - Babe Ruth (Municipal) Stadium ('49) 55,000, Memorial (1950-'53) 46,000
- Majors - Memorial Stadium 46,000

Kansas City Blues
- Minors - (Municipal) Stadium 16,000
- Majors - Municipal (Reconstructed) 35,020

Los Angeles
- Minors - Wrigley Field (LA Angels) 20,457, Gilmore Field (Hollywood Stars) 11,500
- Majors - LA Memorial Stadium ('58-61) 93,600, Wrigley Field (Angels-'61) 20,457, Dodgers Stadium/Chavez Ravine (both clubs- '62) 56,000

San Francisco
- Minors - Seals Stadium (SF Seals) 22,900, Oaks Park (Oakland Oaks) N/A
- Majors - Seals Stadium ('58-'59) 22,900, Candlestick Park ('60) 42,553, Candlestick Park ('61) 43,765

Minneapolis-St.Paul
- Minors - Metropolitan Stadium (Minn.Millers- first year 1956) 21,698, Lexington Park (St. Paul Saints-'56) N/A, Midway Stadium (St. P-'57-'60) N/A
- Majors - Metropolitan Stadium 45,919

Houston
- Minors - Buffalo Stadium 11,500
- Majors - Colt Stadium ('62-'64) 32,000, The Astrodome ('65) 45,011

Atlanta
- Minors - Ponce de Leon Park 14,500
- Majors - Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium 53,045

San Diego
- Minors - Westgate Park ('64-'67) 8,200, SD-Jack Murphy Stadium ('68) 47,634
- Majors - SD-Jack Murphy Stadium 47,634

Seattle (1)
- Minors - Sick's Stadium 15,000
- Majors - Sick's Stadium 25,420

Dallas-Ft. Worth
- Minors - Turnpike (Arlington) Stadium ('67-'69) 10,000, Turnpike (Arlington) Stadium('70) 20,000, Turnpike (Arlington) Stadium('71) 35,698
- Majors - Arlington Stadium (stadium renamed) 35,698

Seattle (2)
- Minors - Sick's Stadium 25,420
- Majors - Kingdome 59,438

Denver
- Minors - Mile High Stadium 75,123
- Majors - Mile High Stadium ('93-'94) 75,123, Coors Field ('95-'97) 50,200

Miami
- Minors - Miami Stadium 9,532 , Ft. Lauderdale Sports Complex 7,061
- Majors - Joe Robbie Stadium 47,662

Phoenix
- Minors - Phoenix Municipal Stadium 10,000
- Majors - Bank One Ballpark 48,569

Tampa-St.Petersburg
- Minors - Al Lopez Field (Tampa) 8,500, Al Lang Field (St. Petersburg) 8,200
- Majors - Tropicana Field 45,000

OK, what does this tell us besides I have a lot of free time? Of the 16 cities (including Seattle twice) that we are investigating, seven moved right away into a new facility (Milwaukee, Atlanta, San Diego -PCL team occupied stadium for one year-, Seattle (2), Miami, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay). Two teams occupied existing stadiums but were provided with new facilities within 5 years (San Francisco and Denver). Two teams were provided with one new facility right away and another within five years (Houston and LA -actually the Angels also played one year in an existing facility, Wrigley Field). Four cities used an existing facility but a great deal of reconstruction to increase the seating capacity (Kansas City, Minnesota, Seattle (1), and Dallas-Ft. Worth). Only one team kept the minor-league facility and used it for major-league baseball (Baltimore), and that team used a facility built for large crowds for its NFL team, not an option for any of the cities in our group.

The seating capacity for the cities in our study are as follows:

- Indianapolis: Victory Field, opened 1996, capacity 15,500.
- Sacramento: Raley Field, opened 2000, capacity 14,111.
- Columbus: Cooper Stadium, opened 1977, capacity 15,000.
- Norfolk-Va Beach: Harbor Field, opened 1993, capacity 12,069.

Obviously none of these facilities is up to major-league snuff. However, given that the average increase in the seating capacity effected in the four cities that reconfigured their stadiums for the majors was just under 20 thousand, all of these facilities are capable of becoming major-league ready, if just until a new facility is secured, within an off-season. The age of the Columbus stadium might make some hesitate, but the rest are less than ten years old.

As far as accommodating a relocated club in a city with an existing major-league team is concerned, they could occupy existing major-league facilities (this has been done before) until a more suitable facility is constructed. This may be an issue if the club is placed in Northern New Jersey. Newark's Riverfront Stadium is only 3 years old but holds only 6200 people. Staten Island's Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George (honest to god) is only a year old but seats only 4500. Perhaps one of these could be reconfigured or an existing stadium can be used until a newly constructed park is available. Washington would presumably use empty RFK Stadium until a new ballpark is made ready.

Part V: Epilogue (i.e., the Part After "Book'em, Dano")

This study has led me in directions that I had not anticipated. If I had been asked at the outset which location or locations would be the most logical, I would have said New York and Washington. Of the areas with existing clubs, those two were selected by the study as the leading candidates.

I would not have anticipated that the minor-league candidates would look as strong as they do. This is a special time in which minor-league teams are enjoying unprecedented success. There have been minor leagues that rival their major counterparts, the last being the "Open" Pacific Coast League in the 1950s. Perhaps this is an indication of the fans revolting against the majors themselves ("The peasants are revolting? You're telling me-they stink on ice.") But none have had the kind of success that we see here. Even if you use the smallest M2m ratio in the study (that of the Padres) and project a 2.75-fold increase, all four teams would still average 20 to 25 thousand fans a game. I think it is fair to say that there are a number of towns not currently thought of as major-league that could support a major-league club. That was not a result that I had anticipated.

Also, the two other cities with existing teams (Chicago and LA), the ones I did not anticipate getting a favorable review in the study and each have two existing franchises, are viable candidates for a third team each. No one ever mentions them as possibilities, but they are not far behind Baltimore-Washington in the per-game number of fans available.

Lastly, early on in this study I mentioned that the 13 metropolitan areas with a greater population than Montreal currently have at least one club. This is the strongest argument that I can find to keep the Expos in Montreal. The only reason that I do see to move the club is if MLB believes that the combination of the team, the fans, and the stadium, as things currently stand, is never going to gel and that they have to excise this team from the area, salt the earth, wait some time, and then let a new team grow to be successful. Otherwise, MLB should get that old Youppi fever.

The most probable result will be that the Expos will move to Washington and occupy RFK until a Northern Virginia Stadium is ready. The major hurdles that MLB will need to clear besides finding local ownership will be the former minority owners' lawsuit and the ire of Baltimore owner Peter Angelos over his territorial rights. The first will probably be taken care of with a little cash, something that baseball will have in spades once a local owner is found (therefore the suit). Angelos is a harder nut to crack: he may just be looking for compensation or he may try to directly oppose the move offering no quarter. In either case, Angelos should be reminded that the Orioles were allowed to move into the area with no real compensation to the Washington Senators (Bill Veeck reports that he sweetened the deal for Clark Griffith with $150K per year-though not the number of years-in Veeck-As in Wreck, but given that his 79% interest was sold for $2,475,000 million, that would not be excessive. The machinations used to move the club did cause the franchise to lose the estimable Veeck as owner, however).

Whatever is done, MLB has to market the franchise to the hilt-no more contraction talk. Sell its young stars to the public. Look how well the NFL and NBA recycle old areas into new markets (witness that Houston in the NFL and New Orleans in the NBA both have new/relocated franchises even though they lost a team in the past).

Of course, good intentions are never enough. A team was added to the majors in 1969 in a city that had had decent fan support in the minors (though no team in 8 years), it had a substantial population (about 1.2 million in the city and nearly that much in the expanding suburbs), it had a professional history in the sport dating back to 1890, it was the first place in organized ball that a black man was allowed to play since the turn of the century, it had numerous high-minor pennants, and the city had just refurbished a recreational park to accommodate 28,000 fans (from 3,000). This team was, of course, the Expos, and I'm sure things looked very favorable when the team first set sail. Let's just hope that the Expos pere fare a little better.

One thing is for certain, once the Expos move away if they do indeed do so, Montreal will have the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and Canada without a major-league team. With that large an untapped population base, it will not take MLB long to come courting the city again. Don't be surprised if a new franchise is granted in an expansion ten or so years down the line.

[Sources for the study:
U.S. and Canadian Census Online
Ballparks of North America (for Minor League ballpark data)
Encycolpedia of Minor League Baseball (for minor league attendance until 1997)
Baseball-Reference.com (for major league ballparks and attendance)
1998-2002 Baseball America Almanac and Directories (for minor-league attendance and ballpark info since 1997)]


A's Losing Ground While Winning
2002-09-05 23:21
by Mike Carminati

A's Losing Ground While Winning

The A's streak continues another night while the A's themselves have the night off. However, the Angels have a seven-game win streak of their own--they slaughtered Tampa Bay 10-1 tonight--and have gained a full game since September 3rd on Oakland. Well how about that!?!

Anaheim is just 3 games back. Meanwhile Seattle languishes 7 games behind Oakland and 4 behind the Angels in the wild card (Boston is now 7.5 back).


Let's Get Rid of the
2002-09-05 19:45
by Mike Carminati

Let's Get Rid of the MVP! (Flip Side to Let's Lynch the Landlord)

There is an argument a-brewing on ESPN's baseball regarding the AL Most Valuable Player. The argument basically boils down to this: A) Alex Rodriguez is the best player in the league. Everyone seems to agree to this. B) The pro-A-Rod-for-MVP side argues that he is the most valuable player because of argument A. He has no control on his team sucking. Give him the hardware...finally. C) The anti-A-Rod-for-MVP side agrees with A and B, but disagrees with the Pro's since in their world MVPs must come from not only a winning team but a contender. Some of the Anti's are against Barry Bonds getting the award since his team may not even qualify for the playoffs even though they have contended all year. Tony Gwynn proffered this opinion in the A's game last night. These are the same people who voted for Sammy Sosa over Mark McGwire in his historic 1998 campaign just because Sosa played on a team that got the wild card via a one-game playoff (with Bonds' Giants, and so it goes) and then were ceremoniously sacrificed to the Braves (4 runs in three games).

I do not agree with the Anti argument mostly because my live is too busy (hard to believe) to deal with picayune details like what an MVP award means. Look how valuable was Ichiro to the Mariners last year when they won by 14 games. Bill James set his year at 36 win shares. Each share is worth a third of a win. Ichiro was worth 12 wins to the M's over the season. Never mind that that is behind Jason Gimabi's 2001 total of 38. If the Mariners lose 12 games they are still in first. If the A's lost 13 games (Giambi's total), they, well, they'd still win the wild card, but you get my point.

Besides, the MVP did not have such a narrow definition some years back. Ernie Bank won it twice with a team that finished 6 out of 8 clubs. Is that worse than A-Rod's Rangers finishing 4th in a division of three playoff contenders? Who's prepared those particular hairs? Not me.

Mark Kreidler had this to often in summary on A-Rod's candidacy:

Isn't that what being a league MVP is significantly about, a player's ability to take a good team and by his own work elevate it to playoff level?

I've never understood the backlash against good players on winning teams, a kind of popular blowback for one's having the audacity to be part of an organization that doesn't stink. Can we really devalue Ichiro's excellence because the Mariners were winners before he came along? On that basis alone, whole rafts of Yankees -- Alfonso Soriano, Bernie Williams, Giambi -- are just wholesale ignored....

Still, you're likely to hear it aruged that Rodriguez's Triple Crown threat of a season should be rewarded by the American League MVP. In truth, the chance for a Triple Crown chase is the reward, because it comes along so rarely in the game's annals. They give out an MVP in each league every year. For Rodriguez, maybe next year.


How many years does A-Rod have to get shafted with this tripe?

I'm sick of it. They hardly ever get it right, especially in the AL. Let's get rid of the damn thing already. Let's have a new award called the Best Player award. You vote for the best player in the league and be done with it. If the Mark Kreidlers of the world define it as the best player on a playoff team, we change the name to The Best Player Irrespective of Team Performance Award. What the Hell, am I talking about? These nimrods will still vote for the Juan Gonzalezes of the world. "Ooh. look at the pretty RBIs." The best thing to do is just ignore it and wait for the real award, the Rolaids' Fireman of theYear award.


20-20 (with Baba Wawa) Twenty-One
2002-09-05 16:56
by Mike Carminati

20-20 (with Baba Wawa)

Twenty-One

As I'm sure you know by now the A's have set the AL consecutive win record with 20 after another dramatic ninth-inning rally to beat the Royals last night 12-11, their third straight walk-off victory. If you watched any of the game though you know that it was nowhere near this close at the beginning. Through the first few innings, it more closely resembled an industrial softball league game featuring the best team against the worst. The A's were slashing hits all of the place and the Royals were struggling just to keep up. It was very scary. Apparently, the Royals caught up while the A's were in the dugout getting oxygen after round the bases too many times.

Witness:

- Rey Durham led off the first with a slicing hit towards the ball in right on a 1-0 pitch. The ball bounded away from rightfielder Michael Tucker who slipped on the slick turf (you could see puddles on the warning track).

- John Mabry battled Royals starter Paul Byrd and finally on the sixth pitch (with a 2-2 count) hit a ball into center to score Durham.

- Miguel Tejada was hit by a 1-0 pitch. (MVP! MVP!)

- Eric Chavez hit the first pitch he saw the opposite way into left for an apparent single. Leftfielder Raul Ibanez did his best Billy Buckner impersonation, and when the dust cleared Chavez was a-hugging third and two runs had scored (3-0).

- Jermaine Dye hit a 1-2 pitch into deep rightfield. Tucker gave chase but couldn't catch up with the ball. Another triple, another run (4-0). Tucker already had a shellshocked look on his face (or is that how he always looks). He looked like the kid that elects to play right so that no one hits it his way, but then spends the day chasing down monster shots by the opposition's lefty power hitters.

- Byrd seemed to settle down striking out David Justice swinging on three pitches and running an 0-2 count on Mark Ellis. Then Ellis hit a deep fly ball to center scoring Dye (5-0). It was a long sac. fly-he didn't miss it by much.

- Terrence Long hit a 2-1 double to left.

- With the count 2-2, Ramon Hernandez drove a ball to deep right-center for a double scoring Long (6-0).

- Durham ended the inning with a deep fly ball to left that Ibanez ran down.

- That was it for Byrd. He was relieved by Darrell May, who was an African-American OF-DH when I was a kid. Go figure. He, like Joe-A Roa and Salomon Torres, is pitching for the first time this year since 1997. It's catching. Maybe Julio Franco and Felix Jose will come back, too. By the way, Byrd did not keep one ball (well, maybe the one that hit Tejada) in the infield and most of the outfield hits were over the outfielders' heads.

- Mabry homered and then May retired the side in the second without further incident.

- The third, however, was back to scoring for the A's: Double, single, walk, a second monster double by Hernanadez, and an infield single left the score 9-0 with the bases loaded. By the way, the infield hit by Durham was a short-hopper that ate thirdbase man Joe Randa up but didn't allow Long to score. It was the first ball hit in the infield all night by the A's. There was a grounder to first for the force at home. Then Tejada (MVP! MVP!) hit a fairly deep ball to left and the throw home got away from the catcher and went to the backstop. Even so, the thirdbase coach held a ticked-off Hernandez at third, the theory being that they did not want to rub it in. That mistake could have been costly given how the game ended up. (By the way the announcers producly stated that the A's are trying hard to pad Tejada's RBI totals-see not below regarding Byrd.) It was academic after Chavez brought two more runs in with a single to right (11-0).

- The Royals did score 5 in the fourth on the strength of one double, 4 singles, and one costly error by Tejada (MVP! MVP!) dropping the ball while trying to turn a routine double play.

- I have to say that I missed their 5-run eighth-I had to go to bed. Of course it's never interesting to the A's unless they get to win it in the ninth.

- ESPN2's (The Deuce, you say?) coverage featured Tony Gwynn "golly-gee"-ing through the night. He was extremely impressed that the A's were able to rough up 15-game winner Paul Byrd for 6 in the first. Well, Byrd has given 6 or more on 5 other occasions (3 in a row) this season and in 4 of 19 starts last year. Believe me, as a Phillies fan familiar with Byrd, he can throw a shutout and look hittable the entire time. That is part of the reason the Phillies got rid of him last year: He got hurt, was ineffective when he returned, got on Larry Bowa's last nerve, and finally got shipped out of town. Of course, his departure coincided with the Phillies' annual pitching staff youth movement as well. Gwynn was also very impressed by Tim Hudson hitting prowess in college in the SEC conference (He must have said SEC conference three times).

- By the way, the commentators almost congratulated the Royals for re-arranging their staff to give him a chance to get to 20 wins, like it was charity work or something. Why is it that players are reviled for padding their individual stats at the expense of the team, but when the team does it, it's a nice thing?

- One final note on ESPN2's coverage, it didn't start until the middle of the first. Those of us who tuned in at game time, 10:05, were greeted by the sight of the Team USA basketball team losing to Argentina, of all places. What, can you dribble with your feet in the international rules? I'd rather watch a preseason WNBA game than international basketball. People talk about baseball players being spoiled and lazy, but you don't see an All-Star team losing to La Argentina Gauchos in baseball. As it turned out, we only missed the Royals go down 1-2-3, but what if they had had a big inning that jeopardized the streak?

Twenty-Two Or Schilling and Johnson and Pray for Sidney Ponson

Randy Johnson won his 20th game of the season yesterday beating LA 7-1. He came within an out of the shutout, but Shawn Green broke it up with a home run. It is his third straight 20-win season in a row and his fourth for his career. He also passed the underrated Bert Blyleven in all-time strikeouts into fourth place (3705) with 8 on the night.

It wasn't all that long ago that we were debating whether or not he was a Hall-of-Famer. Does anyone doubt it know?


Major League Baseball and Other
2002-09-05 16:00
by Mike Carminati

Major League Baseball and Other Pyramid Schemes

George Carlin was wrong. I received an email today from MLB for a fantasy FOOTBALL league:

Subject: CBS SportsLine.com offers TWO Great Ways to Play Fantasy Football!

GET IN THE GAME....TWO WAYS TO PLAY!

1. PLAY FOR CASH PRIZES*

SportsLine.com's Fantasy Football 2002 game
allows you to join an existing league or start a new
one. The single game offers a high level of partici-
pation and competition, it's easier than ever to play,
we feature live scoring as well as statistics (web or
wireless).

http://lists.mlb.com/u/20199/5347951

$249.95 (additional teams $249.95)... $1,600 league prize
http://lists.mlb.com/u/20200/5347951

$99.95 (additional teams $79.95)... $600 league prize
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$29.95 (additional teams $19.95)... $150 league prize
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Pick your level of competition and get in the game!

OR

2. RUN YOUR OWN LEAGUE

SportsLine.com's Football Commissioner online league
management software puts you in charge! It's a great
football stats service that is updated live (web or
wireless). You get customizable scoring and rules and
you can invite all your friends to play.

http://lists.mlb.com/u/20203/5347951


There's something wrong with this: CBS, unlike ABC (Disney) and Fox, does not even own a team, and football? It's like Army selling tickets to Navy games. Or Quisp shilling for Quake. Or Roger Clemens pitching for the Yankees. What? Oh yeah. You get my point though.


BP Roundtable I just ran
2002-09-05 14:42
by Mike Carminati

BP Roundtable

I just ran across this very interesting round table that Baseball Prospectus held as the strike was being settled. It's like deja vu all over again. I felt most of the same things. At the end of the dsicussion, each person offers his or her prediction of what we have coming. We'll just have to see about those. Unfortunately, at the end of this little near-crisis we are not left with those convenient movie blurps as to what happens to the caste of characters in the future (E.g., "Senator and Mrs. John Blutarsky").


50% of Hindsight Is 90%
2002-09-05 13:55
by Mike Carminati

50% of Hindsight Is 90% 20-20

Rob Neyer writes about the great second halves that the Oakland A's have had the last few years. He points to Billy Beane's ability to get useful acquisations at the trade deadline as the key. This year's crop consists of Rey Durham, Ricardo Rincon, and John Mabry.

Now, Beane has done an exceptional job with the A's, but Neyer may be spreading it a bit thick.

No one, not even Beane, could have dreamed that a 32-year-old, journeyman, utility player such as Mabry would be a key ingredient in their success. He is doing things that are completely inconsist with his previous eight major-league seasons, not to mention his handful of games in Philly this year. By the way, Mabry was picked up on May 22 in the A's mass purge so I'm not sure that he qualifies for the discussion.

Rincon has pitched well before but has never had a combination like he has with the A's: low ERA, great strikeout-to-innings-pitched ratio, a great strikeout-to-walk ratio, and nearly a hit per every two innings picthed. Those are eye-popping numbers. His ERA dropped by 50% from his 1st half with Cleveland. I'll give him this one though. Maybe Beane saw something in 32-year-old, perennial prospect.

Durham is his usual self. Actually his numbers are slightly lower than his first half with the Pale Hose but still slightly better than his career numbers. He was just a good pick-up from a desperate non-contender.

Beane is a great GM, but he has also been extremely lucky with some marginal players contributing a great deal. Ah, what the Hell--it's a great story.


Did They Spell It Muenneapolis
2002-09-05 12:57
by Mike Carminati

Did They Spell It Muenneapolis When the Muellers Played There?

I forgot to mention that Bill Mueller was sent back to the Giants by the Cubs Tuesday for a minor-league pitcher. He is basically in San Fran as insurance down the stretch (he can't appear on their playoff roster). That's fine.

The thing that bothers me is that he is a free agent at the end of the year and is already intimating that he will return to Chicago:

"I don't know my future, but the door is definitely open that I may swing back this way. I'm going to miss playing here the last three weeks.''

The Cubs instigated the deal, which was consumated according to Ginats' GM Brian Sabean in 24 hours. The Cubs who are going nowhere pick up a decent Triple-A arm for what amounts to nothing. Doesn't something stink in all this?


We Get Stacks and Stacks
2002-09-05 12:35
by Mike Carminati

We Get Stacks and Stacks of Letters, Letters!

Reader Jeff Mayne (no relation to Brent) queries:

Hi,

I was persusing the internet looking for something and came on your site (and spent quite a few enjoyable minutes reading your comments instead of getting back to work. From your site, you sound like just the kind of person who can head me in the right direction to find out some obscure baseball numbers. Here they are. Maybe they will inspire you to look into them or maybe clue me in on some internet sites where I may find these things.

1. I saw the list of consecutive wins listed and it showed the 1916 Giants as "26 (1 tie)". Does that mean that the 26 in a row was in fact broken up by a tie game, meaning that it was not really 26 consecutive wins? I noticed that designation on one or two other of the win streaks. I have seen no mention of that little detail in any of the press about the Oakland streak.

2. I have been tracking Bonds this year and notice that he has ALMOST always gotten either a hit, a walk, or a HBP in games he has started (missing maybe 3-4 so far). Does anyone have records of % of games on base?

3. Finally, when I last looked he had 40 HR and 40 BB. Has anyone compared HR:K ratios? Has any player ever had as many HR as K's?

Hope some of these inspire you.

Thanks.

Jeff Mayne


My response:

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the email. By the way, do you mind if I post your question on my web site? I have some answers and some partial answers:

1. There were 26 straight wins with a tie mixed in for good measure. In other words there were 27 non-losses in a row broken up by a loss. Since ties, unlike football or hockey, don't count in baseball in the team standings (though they do in the player statistics), Major League Baseball doesn't recognize a win streak as ended until there is a bona fide loss.

The all-time win streaks without a tie are:

Team Consec. Ws W-L PCT POS GB Postseason
1880 Chicago White Stockings (NL) 21 67-17 .800 1 +15 No WS
1935 Chicago Cubs 21 100-54 .649 1 +4 Lost WS
1884 Providence Grays (NL) 20 84-28 .750 1 +10.5 Won Temple Cup (WS)
1884 St. Louis Maroons (UA) 20 94-19 .832 1 +21 None (UA not involved in Temple Cup)
1947 Yankees 19 97-57 .630 1 +12 Won WS
2002 A's 19 ????

2. Unfortunately, percentage of games that a player has reached base in a season is not an officially kept stat. Someone with a nutty database with all of the box score for the various seasons (maybe Elias has this) may be able to figure it out. I'm not even sure if they have all the box scores. I know that Retrosheet is trying to verify the information available-- last year they found two walks for Ted Williams. Somebody lost'em. Go figure.

Anyway, I can tell you that Gary Sheffield on July 26 had 52 straight games in which he reached base safely. The record at least since 1975, it was reported, was 62 by Mark McGwire 1995-96 according to Elias Sport Service (that's probably as far back as they have box scores loaded in their database).

As far as Bonds' streaks in 2002:

- He started the season with 17 consecutive games in which he reached base.

- 4/21 @Hou he went 0-for-3 with 1 K--did not reach base.

- 4/23 @Cubs he went 0-for-3 but with a HBP and a run scored.

- 4/25 @Cubs he went 0-for-4 with 1 K--did not reach base.

- 5/1 vs. Phil--played LF but no plate appearance (does this count? I'm assuming no)

- Had 29 games in a row in which he reached base safely.

- 6/1 vs. Col 0-for-1 as PH with 1 K--did not reach base.

- Had 29 games in a row in which he reached base safely (2nd time).

- 7/5 vs. Az 0-for-4 w/ 1 K --did not reach base.

- 7/22 vs. StL-- 0-for-1 as a PH with 1K--did not reach base.

- 8/1 @Phil --0-for-1 as a PH--did not reach base.

- Had 16 games in a row in which he reached base safely .

- 8/21 @NYM 0-for-4--did not reach base.

- 8/22 @ NYM 0-for-3, 1K, 1 RBI--did not reach base.

- Currently on a 10-game streak.

That makes 8 games this year in which he had a plate appearance and did not reach base safely. Not too shabby.

3. Here is a list of the man who hit 10 or more home runs in a season and have a one or greater HR to strikeout ratio. It is sorting by the HR:SO ratio in descending order. By the way there are 90 men in total and the only man to do it since 1958 since George Brett in 1980:

LastName FirstName Year HR SO HR:SO 
SEWELL JOE         1932 11  3 3.67 
HOLMES TOMMY       1945 28  9 3.11 
BERRA YOGI         1950 28 12 2.33 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1941 30 13 2.31 
BOUDREAU LOU       1948 18  9 2.00 
LOMBARDI ERNIE     1935 12  6 2.00 
CLEMENTS JACK      1895 13  7 1.86 
WILLIAMS KEN       1925 25 14 1.79 
LOMBARDI ERNIE     1945 19 11 1.73 
COCHRANE MICKEY    1927 12  7 1.71 
O'DOUL LEFTY       1929 32 19 1.68 
THOMPSON SAM       1895 18 11 1.64 
ANSON CAP          1884 21 13 1.62 
GEHRIG LOU         1934 49 31 1.58 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1938 32 21 1.52 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1939 30 20 1.50 
KLUSZEWSKI TED     1954 49 35 1.40 
DICKEY BILL        1936 22 16 1.38 
WILLIAMS TED       1941 37 27 1.37 
LOMBARDI ERNIE     1938 19 14 1.36 
BERRA YOGI         1951 27 20 1.35 
BERRA YOGI         1955 27 20 1.35 
BROUTHERS DAN      1887 12  9 1.33 
WILLIAMS TED       1950 28 21 1.33 
DICKEY BILL        1937 29 22 1.32 
MCCORMICK FRANK    1941 17 13 1.31 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1948 39 30 1.30 
WILLIAMS TED       1953 13 10 1.30 
DICKEY BILL        1935 14 11 1.27 
WILLIAMS KEN       1922 39 31 1.26 
BERRA YOGI         1952 30 24 1.25 
SMITH EARL         1921 10  8 1.25 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1937 46 37 1.24 
MUELLER DON        1951 16 13 1.23 
DICKEY BILL        1938 27 22 1.23 
SOUTHWORTH BILLY   1926 11  9 1.22 
TERRY BILL         1932 28 23 1.22 
MIZE JOHNNY        1947 51 42 1.21 
DUFFY HUGH         1894 18 15 1.20 
MARSHALL WILLARD   1947 36 30 1.20 
PAFKO ANDY         1951 12 10 1.20 
SKIZAS LOU         1957 18 15 1.20 
GEHRINGER CHARLIE  1935 19 16 1.19 
MEUSEL IRISH       1923 19 16 1.19 
HOLMES TOMMY       1944 13 11 1.18 
KLUSZEWSKI TED     1953 40 34 1.18 
MCCORMICK FRANK    1944 20 17 1.18 
KLUSZEWSKI TED     1955 47 40 1.18 
WILLIAMS TED       1955 28 24 1.17 
DICKEY BILL        1932 15 13 1.15 
GEHRINGER CHARLIE  1936 15 13 1.15 
MUSIAL STAN        1948 39 34 1.15 
HARPER GEORGE      1928 17 15 1.13 
SPEAKER TRIS       1923 17 15 1.13 
KLUSZEWSKI TED     1956 35 31 1.13 
MCCORMICK FRANK    1939 18 16 1.13 
PAFKO ANDY         1950 36 32 1.13 
O'BRIEN BILLY      1887 19 17 1.12 
MEUSEL IRISH       1925 21 19 1.11 
OTT MEL            1929 42 38 1.11 
BRETT GEORGE       1980 24 22 1.09 
POWER VIC          1958 12 11 1.09 
MIZE JOHNNY        1948 40 37 1.08 
GEHRIG LOU         1936 49 46 1.07 
SIMMONS AL         1930 36 34 1.06 
WILLIAMS KEN       1924 18 17 1.06 
VAUGHAN ARKY       1935 19 18 1.06 
LOMBARDI ERNIE     1939 20 19 1.05 
O'DOUL LEFTY       1932 21 20 1.05 
O'DOUL LEFTY       1930 22 21 1.05 
COCHRANE MICKEY    1932 23 22 1.05 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1946 25 24 1.04 
MIZE JOHNNY        1950 25 24 1.04 
BERRA YOGI         1956 30 29 1.03 
DIMAGGIO JOE       1940 31 30 1.03 
BERRA YOGI         1957 24 24 1.00 
COBB TY            1925 12 12 1.00 
COOPER WALKER      1951 18 18 1.00 
DICKEY BILL        1933 14 14 1.00 
FRISCH FRANKIE     1923 12 12 1.00 
FRISCH FRANKIE     1927 10 10 1.00 
GEHRINGER CHARLIE  1939 16 16 1.00 
HORNSBY ROGERS     1925 39 39 1.00 
LOMBARDI ERNIE     1940 14 14 1.00 
SISLER GEORGE      1920 19 19 1.00 
SPEAKER TRIS       1922 11 11 1.00 
SPEAKER TRIS       1925 12 12 1.00 
STENZEL JAKE       1894 13 13 1.00 
THOMPSON SAM       1894 13 13 1.00 
TOBIN JACK         1923 13 13 1.00 

I hope that helps.

Thanks,

Mike


I love doing these sorts of things because you run across names that you've never heard of before. Witness, Lou "The Nervous Greek" Skizas. His 1957 season was his only starting year. He was 25 and would be out of baseball in two years. He played the outfield and third base for the A's, and neither particularly well. He had been "sent down" to the A's after a cup-o'-coffeee with the Yankees when they basically used KC to develop their talent. After hitting .245 with a .297 on-base percentage in '57, Skizas was deemed unworthy by the Yanks and was jettisoned. He showed up with Detroit and the White Sox for a few games over the next two years. But '57 was basically his career. (Thanks to Baseball Reference for the stats.)

By the way, when in San Francisco visit Lefty O'Doul's. It features a menu that has not changed since 1955 and has made an appearance in Dante's Inferno on the fifth level of Hell. You can, however, get a nifty napkin with a caricature of O'Doul. I'm using mine as a bookmark in my MacMillan B-Ball Encyclopedia.


Blog Jam I had an
2002-09-05 11:41
by Mike Carminati

Blog Jam

I had an article on the double 20s, the A's and Randy Johnson, but blogger ate it. I will re-create it and re-post when possible. Sorry.


I Stand Corrected I was
2002-09-05 11:32
by Mike Carminati

I Stand Corrected

I was wrong the other day in using rule 10.19 (c) (1) since it stipulates that the starting pitcher must have a lead. The Rangers failed to score in the top of the 1st. The game was 0-0 when Myette was ejected. Reader Jeff Smith points this out:

Hi, Mike.

I originally thought the same thing you did about the Tuesday night
Texas/Baltimore game: The win should go to the most effective reliever,
which would have been Benoit.

Then I thought again. This is for when the starting pitcher leaves with the
lead, but with less than five innings pitched. Myette did not leave with the
lead. The winning run scored when Van Poppel was on the mound; as a
reliever, Van Poppel didn't have to pitch five innings. There was no choice,
no scorer's deliberation: the win had to go to Van Poppel.

As for Myette, come on, no pitcher "accidentally" throws two consecutive
balls behind a hitter.

All best,
Jeff Smith


My response:

Hi Jeff,

You're absolutely right. I should read what I write. The rule--at least that part--did not apply. Van Poppel becomes the pitcher of record once the Rangers take and keep the lead:

10.19 (c)(4) The winning relief pitcher shall be the one who is the pitcher of record when his team assumes the lead and maintains it to the finish of the game. EXCEPTION: Do not credit a victory to a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when a succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain the lead. In such cases, credit the succeeding relief pitcher with the victory.

Van Poppel clearly was effective in his two hitless innings, so he gets the win. It's a silly rule, given the 5-inning requirement for starters, but it's the rule.

Thanks for the letter,
Mike


I beat up on the official scorer for two calls that were not up to him/her. My apologies. But it is a silly rule. I wonder how often it is invoked.


Padres Do Not Have a
2002-09-05 11:07
by Mike Carminati

Padres Do Not Have a Base-A-Ball Jones

The San Diego Padres in a move of karmic lunacy have rid themselves of two Bobby Jones in three days. Bobby M. Jones was released on September 2. Bobby J. Jones on Sept 4. Former Sixer Bobby Jones "The Secretary of Defense" and former-golfer and still-dead Bobby Jones were not available for comment.

The Pod People continued with the lunacy giving into organizational spoiled brats Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko, by recalling former can't-miss third base prospect Sean Burroughs from the diasbled list in Elba to play mostly second the rest of the way.


That Felix Cat Has Nine
2002-09-04 17:02
by Mike Carminati

That Felix Cat Has Nine Lives (Guest Headline by Sammy Davis)

Felix Jose of all people is back in majors. He was recalled by the Diamondbacks from Triple-A. He has more comebacks than Aerosmith. Jose played for the Yankees in 2000 after being out of baseball since 1995.

He will fit perfectly into Arizona's youth movement. He can help all of their aging stars figure out their social security checks and I hear he's great at shuffleboard.


Dropped the Cannon Ball Reader
2002-09-04 16:36
by Mike Carminati

Dropped the Cannon Ball

Reader Vincent Paterno correctly points out that I forgot the Potomac (Daly City, Va) Cannons in my Adieu to Les Expos article. I double checked and this is the only minor-league team in a major-league metropolitan area that I missed. I will add them to the article as I complete the series.

He also points out that a great deal of the Trenton Thunder fan base comes from the Philadelphia metropolitan area--in Bucks County. This is probably true, but the census bereau lists Trenton as part of the New York metro area. Being a Phillies fan, I would love to throw a little support Philly's way (God knows they need it). I do know that a good deal--perhaps the bulk--of support for the Thunder comes from central Jersey, an area that affiliates itself more with New York than Philly and would be more likely to support a new New York team (perhaps in Northern Jersey) than a new Philadelphia one. Perhaps some ratio could be worked out; however, lacking the wisdom of Solomon or the stats to justify a division of the attendance per area, I will give the attendance undivided to New York. Besides at under 10K fans per season, I don't think that the Thunder cranks will put Phildelphia over the top. Their real problem for Philly metro in the study is the lack of support that the Phillies receive from a large fan base.


Koufax's Achilles Tendon CNN/SI has
2002-09-04 15:54
by Mike Carminati

Koufax's Achilles Tendon

CNN/SI has an excerpt from the Sandy Koufax biography, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy. The stories about the degenerative condition in his left elbow are unbelievable.


New Link I have added
2002-09-04 15:38
by Mike Carminati

New Link

I have added @TheBallPark to the link session. Go read his Veterans Committee Review.


Perecentage Triple Crown John Perricone
2002-09-04 15:19
by Mike Carminati

Perecentage Triple Crown

John Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters has a little debate brewing over a new Percentage Triple Crown label.

He asked for input on the idea, and here is my response:

Hi John,

Thanks for the tip on the article. I think that this is a very interesting idea. Clearly the percentages Triple Crown is superior to the conventional one in evaluating players. I have a few salient comments that I would like to express re. the idea:

- First, I do believe that Rob Neyer, back when he actually used to write articles, did a bit on this. It may have been a year or two ago.

- As you say, "The Triple Crown is an interesting accomplishment. Not really an award, or even a real title, it has long been a part of the baseball vernacular, an acknowledgement of a season of singular excellence." It is a label, like a .300 hitter. It is basically an anachronism now (given that no one has been so labeled in 35 years).

Baseball stats change over time. The question has always been how do you evaluate the players given the statistics available. Originally, (like 1850s and '60s) runs per game was the stat used to evaluate players. (And what ever happened to calling shutouts Chicago games?) The problem was they would list all players, so someone who played 2 games and scored 15 runs would win the "Batting Crown". (If that is what they called it--I have to check the Dime Guides.) It eventually morphed into run per at bat and then into hits for at bat (sometimes that even included walks sort of an early OBP). The idea of RBI was added to illustrate a players' ability to drive in runs. The conventional statistics became set in stone as baseball history and journalism matured. The idea of a Triple Crown winner formed at about the same time in the primordial slime, if you will, of baseball.

New stats have come around to better answer the questions for which the old statistics were designed. RBI has proved to be more a matter of where the batter fits into a lineup and who bats in front of him than actual production. Slugging percentage is a better gauge of production (or situational hitting stats).

But what does it boil down to? A label. People prefer to use the labels that they are used to even if there are better ones. In Ken Burns' baseball documentary, someone (probably banality mongers Costas or Will) said that a .300 hitter is always a .300 hitter. We know that this is not true over time and place, but people feel comfortable with it.

- A Park-adjusted, league-adjusted OPS is probably the best tool to evaluate a given player irrespective (as possible) of his park and his era. Some prefer Runs Created per 27 Outs or Offensive Win Shares. Take your pick. They are all better at evaluating talent than outmoded labels like Triple Crown winner (even if it is updated with better stats).

Why replace one outmoded label for another. Sabermetrics have progressed so rapidly that it is a pointless intermediate step. The Triple Crown remains as a sort of appendix, an organ that doesn't do much but you still carry around. You don't remove it unless it gets infected, and here the analogy breaks down. But you get the idea.

- By the way, and this is a minor point, you say that the triple crown stats "represent excellence in three fairly distinct categories." In either case, the stats are intertwined. In the conventional Triple Crown, a HR results in, at least, an RBI and it is a hit that affects your BA. In the percentages Triple Crown, a hit affects all three. So they are not entirely independent of each other.

- I do think that Kevin Reichard was a bit harsh in his review. So you can't isolate a player from his environment--"There is, of course, a great flaw in your argument: you can never negate the influence of teammates and opponents." So what? It's a team sport. All statistics are based on situations created by your team and the opponents' team. They are part and parcel of the statistical interpretation of baseball accomplishments. I do not believe that it diminishes your argument one iota.

Also, Bonds playing 16 fewer games clearly has less weight in the at bat differential between him and Berkman than the ludicrous number of walks he has received.

Keep up the good work,

Mike


Rocket to Red Sox? Can
2002-09-04 12:28
by Mike Carminati

Rocket to Red Sox? Can They Again Be a Happy Family?

My friend Mike directed me to this Dan Shaughnessy article on The Boston Globe Online, in which Shaughnessy proposes a return to Fenway for potential (if he loses his mind) free agent Roger Clemens. He points to the fact that Dan Duquette, the Clemens-hated Red Sox GM, is no longer in town, that Clemens remains tied with Cy Young franchise wins, and that his return would solidify the status of his cap (?) when he poses for his Hall-of-Fame plaque. All winning arguments (in Bizarro world), but Shaughnessy forgets that the rabid Red Sox fans were ready, undeservedly, to run Clemens out on a rail six years ago. Clemens hasn;t forgotten. Heseems to savor pitching against the Red Sox-he owns a 4-2 record against them as a Yankee (though he did get blown out by them on May 24 of this year).

Shaughnessy epitomizes the perfect Red Sox fan. First, blame everything that has ever happened to the team on a player trade-arguably the best player ever-that occurred over 80 years ago (Curse of the Bambino. Then grasp for every player that has become available since the Mookie ball passed under Buckner's derriere in an effort to find the one missing piece. The Red Sox fans are the greatest in the world because they are so pathetic-I mean that in the original sense:

Etymology: Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French pathetique, from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathEtikos capable of feeling, pathetic, from paschein (aorist pathein) to experience, suffer -- more at PATHOS

The Red Sox fan places him- or herself at the center of a great melodrama. My wife is a psychologist, and she would call them paranoid schizophrenics. There is another term for their approach to their team-pathetic fallacy: the ascription of human traits or feelings to inanimate nature (as in cruel sea). The Red Sox are some cruel torture established by God to torment Man, they wholeheartedly believe (Try being a Phillies fan).

They feel that if they can get good ol' Rocket to forgive them and mend fences with the Sox, all will be well with the world. Well, Rocket will be 41 next year, Pedro can't seem to complete an entire year, Lowe may be a one-year wonder, etc. The Red Sox have cobbled together a pitching staff and a lineup for too long. Even charity gifts from the commissioner (read Floyd) can't seem to turn it around for them. They've spent over $100 million a year on salary the past two years and have nothing to show for it. As long as they keep thinking that the arey one Jose Offerman away from winning the World Series, this team will be filed under the also-ran rubric.


Is There In Fact an
2002-09-04 09:39
by Mike Carminati

Is There In Fact an NL West Race?

The Dodgers beat the D-Backs in Ball One Ballpark, so called because it is the count to lead off each opposing hitter's at bat whenever Johnson and Schilling are not pitching (yeah, so it's a stretch), in a squeaker 3-2 last night. The game was made so close by the continued inability of the Dodgers bullpen to hold a lead. Paul Shuey remained execrable allowing a run on two hits in his one inning. And closer Eric "Don't Call Me Greg" Gagne continued in his symposium co-chaired by John Smoltz on why the save is an irrelevant stat. He allowed a double by the still-spry Mark Grace and a sac. fly to make it a one-run ballgame in the ninth before closing it out for his 47th save.

Arizona is now only 4 games up on LA and 6.5 on the Giants. They have lost four straight to the Dodgers and are 1-6 in their last seven games, all with San Fran and LA, their opponents for the next five games. The good news for the D-Backs is A) that Johnson and Schilling pitch the next two games and B) they do not face either team the rest of the season and only play one team over .500 (St. Louis) the rest of the way. Their season ends with Colorado at home. Should they survive the next week, the rest of the season should be easy sailing. The playoffs are another story, but they have already proved that they can win the Series with only two pitchers, so now it's up to the rest of baseball to prove that they can't do it twice.


19 Down, 8 To Go
2002-09-04 09:23
by Mike Carminati

19 Down, 8 To Go

The A's close out their current homestand against the Royals tonight, and if they win they will establish a new AL consecutive wins record with 20. They will still be 6 behind the all-time record set by the Giants in 1916, and will only tie the Union Association record. Here is their schedule for the next 8 games, the number of games required to break the all-time record:

Wed. 4 Kansas City, Hudson (12-9) vs. Byrd (15-10)
Fri. 6 at Minnesota, Lidle (8-9) vs. Radke (6-4)
Sat. 7 at Minnesota, Mulder (16-7) vs. Lohse (11-8)
Sun. 8 at Minnesota
Mon. 9 at Anaheim
Tue. 10 at Anaheim
Wed. 11 at Anaheim
Thu. 12 at Anaheim

If they do break the record, they will have done so over the course of two separate homestands and two separate road trips. They would also have to beat some pretty good teams and good pitching. Anaheim itself has won five in a row, and after gaining a half-game on idle Oakland last night, are just 3.5 back. They have pretty good incentive to play hard against the A's.


Ruth or Aaron? Part III
2002-09-04 08:57
by Mike Carminati

Ruth or Aaron? Part III

I erroneously reported that Aaron Myette was ejected for arguing pitches. He actually was ejected for throwing his first two pitches behind lead-off hitter Melvin Mora. Bad assumption on my part. Alex Rodriguez was hit in the top of the first, and the theory was that this was retaliation. Myette had this to say:

There's not much to talk about. I threw two pitches, and that was it for my outing. I pitch inside a lot, balls get away. I've never had perfect control.

I'll tell you, I believe him: He doesn't have the control to throw two pitches in a row to the same spot. Manager Jerry Narron argued the call--maybe he should have shown the ump Myette's stat sheet--to no avail. Myette was asked after the game if he was non-plussed by the call. He is still considering his response.

Basically, it was another example of the trigger-happy umps believing they are bigger than the game. It just happened to be that it worked out for the Rangers since it removed the worst pitcher in the stadium from the mound. "Thanks, Mark."

Also, Benoit, who was robbed of a win by the official scorer, recorded the longest outing that resulted in a save since the stat was first officially introduced in 1969. Maybe the Rangers should consider doing this more often--it was the best start of Benoit's season. Remember that Tony LaRussa move (I think it originated with Paul Richard) in which you start the game with one pitcher , usually a reliever, and then replace him after an inning or two with another pitcher who uses the opposite hand? This screws up the oppositions lineup and hilarity ensues. Maybe that was Narron's plan all along since it was by far the best pitched game all season in which Aaron Myette was the starter.


Ruth or Aaron? Part II
2002-09-03 22:08
by Mike Carminati

Ruth or Aaron? Part II

Jerry Hairston tripled to lead off the ninth. He then scored on a ground out by Chris Richard. The combined no-hitter and shutout are lost, but Benoit gets the save for his 7 innings of one-hit ball. Van Poppel, though he only pitched 2 innings, was awarded the win. It's up to the official scorer, which relief pitcher to be given the win:

10.19 (WINNING AND LOSING PITCHER):

c) When the starting pitcher cannot be credited with the victory because of the provisions of 10.19 (a) or (b) and more than one relief pitcher is used, the victory shall be awarded on the following basis: (1) When, during the tenure of the starting pitcher, the winning team assumes the lead and maintains it to the finish of the game, credit the victory to the relief pitcher judged by the scorer to have been the most effective

(a) Credit the starting pitcher with a game won only if he has pitched at least five complete innings and his team not only is in the lead when he is replaced but remains in the lead the remainder of the game.

(10.19 (b) does not apply because it is for shortened games.)


I would have given it to Benoit, but what can you do.

By the way, awarding the base on balls is not up to the official scorer, as i said earlier, it is spelled out in the rule book:

10.18 (EARNED RUNS): (1) If, when pitchers are changed, the count is 2 balls, no strike, 2 balls, 1 strike, 3 balls, no strike, 3 balls, 1 strike, 3 balls, 2 strikes, and the batter gets a base on balls, charge that batter and the base on balls to the preceding pitcher, not to the relief pitcher.


What's Spanish for Hobbs? Salomon
2002-09-03 21:54
by Mike Carminati

What's Spanish for Hobbs?

Salomon Torres who last pitched in the majors in 1997 is throwing a 3-hit shutout against the Braves in Atlanta through the first eight innings. Pittsburgh leads 3-0 on a pair of home runs by Aramis Ramirez and Craig Wilson, both off of potential loser Tom Glavine, who also walked 5 in his seven innings of work.

This brings the total of ballplayers who hadn't pitched since 1997 but are getting a chance this year to two, the Phillies' Joe Roa being the other one. Jose Rijo came back last year after missing five years. It makes one wonder how often this sort of thing occurs. Perhaps further investigation is required.


Ruth or Aaron? The Rangers'
2002-09-03 21:39
by Mike Carminati

Ruth or Aaron?

The Rangers' Aaron Myette started tonight against the Orioles in Baltimore. He ran a 2-0 count on Mevin Mora, the first man that he faced, and after arguing balls and strikes was thrown out by home plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck. Todd Van Poppel came in, proceded to throw two balls to Mora to complete the walk (charged to Myette--it's up to the official scorer's discretion if they split the balls), and then walked the next batter, Jerry Hairston, on five pitches. With men on first and second, he then struck out the side and threw a perfect second inning with two more K's. Joaquin Benoit came in in the third inning and worked two perfect innings. He hit a batter in the fifth and the seventh sandwiching a perfect 6th, but Baltimore has yet to get a hit off of him. Texas leads in the middle of the eighth 7-0.

It is reminiscent of the 1917 game in which Babe Ruth walked the first batter that he faced, argued balls and strikes, and got ejected. Ernie Shore relieved Ruth, picked the runner off of first and proceeded to pitch a perfect game (that was changed to a combined no-hitter in 1991).


One for the Team The
2002-09-03 18:46
by Mike Carminati

One for the Team

The line of the day yesterday belonged to Eddie Oropeso of the Diamondbacks:

1-2/3 innings pitched, 9 hits, 10 runs (all earned), 3 walks, 1 strikeout, and 2 HRs

His performance came in Arizona's 19-1 loss at home against the Dodgers. Oropeso relieved Mike Morgan in the top of the sixth with LA up 8-0. His first full inning wasn't so bad: 3 hits (all singles) and 2 runs, plus a walk and a passed ball on Damian Miller (who also struckout twice in an 0-for-4 night). The seventh featured five of the eight position players being swapped out as Bob Brenley decided he was playing APBA baseball--like in he past All-Star game. In his two-thirds of an inning, Oropeso allowed two home runs (back-to-back), a single, two doubles, 2 walks, and a hit batsman. When Oropeso was finally, mercifully pulled, the score was 16-0. The relief that Bret Prinz provided proved to be a misnomer, as he allowed a double to score two of the inherited runners and drive Oropeso's runs allowed to 10. Oropeso's ERA rose almost 50% during the outing (7.77 to 11.03). It figures that they would let the scab take the brunt of the scoring.

Oropeso's 10 runs allowed are high but nowhere near the record 35 allowed by David Rowe of the Cleveland Blues NL club on July 24, 1882. So there was a bright side.

Postscript: Mark Grace finished out the game pitching one inning of one-hit ball. That one hit happened to be a homer, however, the first of Dave Ross' career, on what Grace later described as a 65-MPH fastball.


Les Exits Now that MLB
2002-09-03 15:22
by Mike Carminati

Les Exits

Now that MLB has resolved its labor dispute for the foreseeable future (until 2006) and has taken contraction (what a surprise!) off the table, it can turn its attention to other matters. No, I'm not speaking of the various lawsuits on the docket dogging Bud Selig. What I mean is that they must decide what to do with the Montreal Expos, who though targeted for contraction by Selig and his cadre of owners-well, didn't they purchase the DNR on the franchise less than a year ago?-will now exist until 2006, in some form or another.

What is the best course of action for the club? There are two main issues: 1) Find ownership for a franchise that the owners took off now-Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's hands for $120 million just last February. 2) Find a new location for the franchise since MLB seems to have become disenchanted with Montreal and the fans of Montreal seem to have become disenchanted with MLB. The solution to both these problems may come in one fell swoop (or one swell foop) in the form of an ownership group in a new area. They may entertain offers as if the Expos were an expansion club, the only difference being that they come with their own 40-man roster-look, Ma! No expansion draft!-and farm system. Most experts point to a decision being made by the start of the 2004 season if not sooner (i.e., this off-season).

Of course, the Expos come with their fair share of baggage. First, there is the lawsuit pending against Bud Selig, Bob Dupuy, and former owner Loria for breaking the RICO statutes placed by the Expos former minority owners (and now minority owners in the Marlins). The owners also asked for injuctive relief should MLB try to contract or move the team. There is also the $30 million in projected losses for the season (if that is something more than just a paper loss). An article in the Montreal Gazette claims that the Expos will make less in revenue sharing under the new CBA, because it is a straight-pool system rather than a split-pool one. Also, they claim that the Expos are losing due to the conversion rate: their expenses are in U.S. dollars but their revenue is Canadian. Finally, there is expected to be a $20-million increase in the Expos salary just for keeping the current squad intact for next season.

Let's assume that all, or at least enough, of those issues will be worked out and the way will be paved for new ownership of the Expos. Who are their most viable candidate cities for relocation? Obviously, MLB will look for a candidate city to be as big of an improvement as possible over the situation in Montreal. I would like to quantify that improvement by examining various cities' population as well as their current support of the minor-league team that now represents them (are they a "baseball" town?). They should also have a serviceable baseball facility available though it need not be much better than serviceable since a new one could very easily be stipulated in the sale. There are other issues that I have no means to plumb: local and state politics, the inclination of each city's multi-millionaire and billionaire population and their connections within MLB, the various strengths-financial and otherwise-that the prospective groups from the candidate cities will possess, the perception within MLB of each city's baseball history and its viability for major-league baseball, etc. I will keep my study to population, fan support, and current stadium availability. Optimally, a city with a large population, a zealous fan base, and a state-of-the-art stadium will be sought, but compromises will be made along the way. For example, a large fan base is important but Montreal is a populous city that according to MLB's perception has never supported the team. Population will then be weighed against fan support.

Part I: Determining Candidate Cities by Population

The metropolitan population of Montreal is around 3.5 million (3,426,350 according to the 2001 Canadian census). There are 13 American cities and one Canadian city with a greater metropolitan population and all of them are represented by at least one major league team. Given that Milwaukee and Kansas City are slightly over 1.5 million inhabitants, let's caste a wider net and make our lower limit 1.5 million. It's not optimal but remember we are weighing population against fan support. That gives us 11 candidates. Here they are with their rank within the combined U.S./Canadian rankings, and their metropolitan area:

22 San Juan--Caguas--Arecibo, PR                 2,450,292
25 Portland--Salem, OR--WA                       2,265,223
26 Vancouver, B.C.                               1,986,965
28 Sacramento--Yolo, CA                          1,796,857
31 Orlando, FL                                   1,644,561
32 Indianapolis, IN                              1,607,486
33 San Antonio, TX                               1,592,383
34 Norfolk--Virginia Beach--Newport News, VA--NC 1,569,541
35 Las Vegas, NV--AZ                             1,563,282
36 Columbus, OH                                  1,540,157
37 Charlotte--Gastonia--Rock Hill, NC--SC        1,499,293


I also want to consider the resulting population base if the existing franchises had to share their metropolitan areas with a new team. This has been mentioned as a strong possibility in the future for the Baltimore-Washington and New York teams. If we take the population and share it among the existing team(s) and a relocated Expo franchise, would they be able to accommodate the new team without burdening the existing one(s)? Sixteen current major-league metropolitan areas would meet our 1.5 million population threshold (i.e., they would have at least 1.5 million per team if the Expos were added to their area-by the way, Montreal itself would meet the criterion). I will set it to three million so that a strong enough case could be made to overwhelm the existing franchise's territorial rights claim. Five areas, including New York and D.C.-Baltimore, meet the criterion.

Those would be (Rank is overall U.S. Rank):

Rk MSA                                                        Pop     # current tms  Pop. per teams + 1
1  New York--Northern New Jersey--Long Island, NY--NJ--CT--PA 21,199,865        2       7,066,622
2  Los Angeles--Riverside--Orange County, CA                  16,373,645        2       5,457,882
4  Washington--Baltimore, DC--MD--VA--WV                       7,608,070        1       3,804,035
6  Philadelphia--Wilmington--Atlantic City, PA--NJ--DE--MD     6,188,463        1       3,094,232
3  Chicago--Gary--Kenosha, IL--IN--WI                          9,157,540        2       3,052,513


That brings our candidate list to 16.

Part II: Ranking Candidate Cities by Fan Support

Now let's look at fan support for each candidate. Keep in mind that Montreal's average attendance per home game last year was 7,648 and are faring slightly better at 10,399 so far this season. Baseball would undoubtedly like to improve on those figures, but only two teams in the minors last year topped ten thousand fans (Sacramento and Memphis).

Obviously, minor-league attendance for a city and its projected major-league attendance are not the same thing. We will look at both the average per-game attendance of each candidate city along with a projection based on the past newly major-league cities. We will look at all of the cities to which teams relocated or into which MLB expanded in the last fifty years to determine how much of an increase in attendance can be expected when a city goes from the minors to the majors.

Cities with existing major league teams will be evaluated via their current major- and minor-league support to determine the viability of an additional major-league team.

Here is a table ranking the minor-league candidates by fan support expressed as the average attendance per game over the last five years. It is also expressed as the per-game attendance as a percent of the population. The minor league levels occupied are also given:

                                     Avg      Att. as
City                  2000 Pop  per-game att.   % Pop.  Levels (Yrs)
Indianapolis, IN     1,607,486     9,241        0.57%   AAA(5)
Sacramento, CA       1,796,857     8,781        0.49%   IND(1)-AAA(2)
Columbus, OH         1,540,157     8,401        0.55%   AAA(5)
Norfolk-Va Beach, VA 1,569,541     7,115        0.45%   AAA(5)
Portland, OR         2,265,223     5,265        0.23%   A(4)-AAA(1)
San Antonio, TX      1,592,383     4,981        0.31%   AA(2)
Charlotte, NC        1,499,293     4,858        0.32%   AAA(5)
Las Vegas, NV        1,563,282     4,644        0.30%   AAA(5)
Vancouver, B.C.      1,986,965     3,823        0.19%   AAA(3)-A(2)
Orlando, FL          1,644,561     1,621        0.10%   AA(5)
San Juan, PR         2,450,292         0        0.00%   None
Notes: Vancouver pop. According to 2001 Canadian census, Sacramento has only had a minor-league team the last 3 years.


The first thing that you will notice is that San Juan's almost 2 1/2 million inhabitants have been without a minor-league team for some time (since the one-year Inter-American League of 1979). They have to content themselves with being a hub for the Puerto Rican Winter League (2 of 6 clubs are located in San Juan). This does not bode well especially for a city that is on an island, is part of a U.S. territory, not a state, and that has no major-league presence in any sport.

The other thing you will notice is that there seems to be a clear dividing line in fan support between the top 4 teams and the rest. The average attendance expressed as a per-game figure and as a percentage of the metropolitan area's population both drop off after the fourth entry. Let's assume that that is our dividing line, that we will only consider those four (Indianapolis, Sacramento, Columbus, and Norfolk-Va. Beach) from this point forward.

Here's just a word on each now-eliminated city before we move on:

- Portland has a strong baseball tradition dating back to the old Pacific Coast League (and the prospect of a great nickname "Lucky Beavers"). However, they have just returned to the PCL after years in the Single-A Northwest League and may not be viewed as a strong enough baseball town consequently. Besides they only have one major-league franchise (the Trail Blazers-and an old USFL team).

- San Antonio may suffer from the same perception problem: It is in the Double-A Texas League and therefore may be seen as a second-tier city. Texas is well represented in MLB (2 teams), and they like to ensure a good bit of territory with new teams (e.g., Colorado, Arizona, and the Florida teams). They too have only an NBA team to their major-league credit (plus defunct USFL and CFL teams).

- Charlotte is no longer the hot area that is was in the late-'80s and early-'90s and has just lost its only major-league franchise to a smaller city (New Orleans).

- Las Vegas is an ever-growing city but MLB has never been that forward-looking in its expansion. Given that no other major sports league has opened the Las Vegas door. They'd rather not go out on the ice until someone else has checked how thin it is.

- Vancouver has a hockey and football (CFL) team, just lost a basketball team (to Memphis), and is a smaller Canadian city than Montreal. Need I say more?

- Orlando is getting terrible fan support in Double-AA, and would be a third Florida franchise with two weak teams representing the state already, though they do have a major league NBA team (and defunct USFL and CFL teams).

- Additionally, Buffalo and Memphis (not listed) get good fan support but are probably too small to be considered. Buffalo has been passed over in the last two expansion rounds.

Now let's pare down the major-league cities by fan support. There are two questions that we need to address: 1) Do the existing major-league teams for that city receive ample fan support and 2) do the metropolitan areas' teams receive sufficient support to justify the addition of a new team?

Below is a table detailing the major- and minor-league fan support for each of our 5 major-league cities. It contains the average attendance per game for the area's major league team(s) as well as the cumulative per-game attendance if its minor league teams. Finally, the aggregate average per-game attendance is derived from the major- and minor-league totals, which is divided by the number of current major leagues teams plus one for the relocated Expos-the table is sorted by this result:

                                 2001 Avg          2001 Avg Agg   Total Per-  Tot Att Per 
Rk City         2000 Pop. #tms     Att  # minors  minors Att     Game Att    teams + 1
1  New York    21,199,865   2    36,814   13       62,409        136,037     45,346
3  Chicago      9,157,540   2    28,630    5       18,110*        75,370     25,123
4  Wash.-Balt.  7,608,070   1    38,686    3       11,439         50,125     25,063
2  Los Angeles 16,373,645   2    30,978    5       11,076         73,032     24,344
6  Philadelphia 6,188,463   1    22,847    3       11,912         34,759     17,379
* = Joliet (Northern Lg) is new for 2002.  Their average for 2002 so far is used.  
    Also, Gary (Northern Lg) is a road team with no home games, therefore, no home attendance.


New York is in a class by itself-the metropolitan area's minor-league teams nearly match the attendance on a nightly basis of the two major-league teams. The next three cities are bunched, and then Philadelphia stands all alone. 17 thousand fans are far below what we would expect for our relocated team. Therefore, Philadelphia will be eliminated from the list of finalists. (Besides the Phillies only draw about 23 K a night and the perception since the A's left town is that it is not a two-team city).

Now to compare the minor-league finalists with the major-league finalists, we need to translate the minor-league attendance numbers to an expected major league level. That is the next step in our study.

[Note: Here are the minor-league teams by metropolitan area.

New York: New Haven (CT) (Eastern Lg), Norwich (CT) (EL), Trenton (NJ) (EL), Lakewood (NJ) (Carolina Lg), Brooklyn (NY-Penn Lg), Hudson Valley (Wappinger Falls) (NYPa), NJ (Augusta, NJ) (NYPa), Staten Island (NYPa), Bridgeport (CT) (Atlantic League-Independent), Long Island (Islip) (Atl), Newark (NJ) (Atl), Somerset (Bridgewater, NJ) (Atl), and NJ (Little Falls, NJ) (Northern Lg-Independent).

Los Angeles: San Bernardino (California Lg), Lake Elsinore (Cal), High Desert (Adelanto) (Cal), Lancaster (Cal), and Long Beach (Western Lg-Independent).

Washington-Baltimore: Frederick (Carolina Lg), Bowie (Eastern Lg), and Hagerstown (Sally Lg).

Philadelphia: Wilmington (DE) (Carolina Lg), Atlantic City (NJ) (Atlantic League-Independent), and Camden (NJ) (Atl)

Chicago: Kane County (Geneva, IL) (Midwest Lg), Cook Cty (Crestwood) (Frontier Lg-Independent, Gary (IN - Road team) (Northern Lg-Independent), Joilet (No.), and Schaumburg (No.).]

Part III: Correlating Minor League Attendance to Expected Attendance at Major League Level

To Be Continued...


Straight A's Another day, another
2002-09-03 09:24
by Mike Carminati

Straight A's

Another day, another come-from-behind (twice) victory for the A's and another walk-off hit for Miguel Tejada. The A's now have to spot the opposition 5 runs and four innings for the game to even hold their interest. They are now one of eight clubs to have ever won 19 games straight and have tied the AL record. Here are the other seven:

Team                      Consec. Ws   W-L    PCT POS GB   Postseason
1916 New York Giants              26* 86-66  .566  4   7 
1880 Chicago White Stockings (NL) 21  67-17  .800  1 +15   No WS
1935 Chicago Cubs                 21 100-54  .649  1  +4   Lost WS
1884 Providence Grays (NL)        20  84-28  .750  1 +10.5 Won Temple Cup (WS)
1884 St. Louis Maroons (UA)       20  94-19  .832  1 +21   None (UA not involved in Temple Cup)
1906 Chicago White Sox            19* 93-58  .616  1 +13   Won WS
1947 Yankees                      19  97-57  .630  1  +12  Won WS
Total                                621-299 .675
* = Plus one tie


A .675 winning percentage translates into a 109-53 record in 162 games. That's not bad considering that the record win total is 116. The A's are now 87-51 (.630 winning percentage) on pace for 102 wins. Even if they win all of their remaining games, they would still be 5 short of the record at 111. If-or should I say when-the A's break the record in eight games, they would be 95-51, .651, which translates into 105-57 over 162 games, not bad.

Think of the poor Angels and Mariners. On Aug. 13, the AL West stood as follows:

W-L   PCT  GB
Seattle  72-46 .610   -
Anaheim  70-48 .593   2
Oakland  68-51 .571   4.5

The Angels were the hot team. They were in the midst of a six-game win streak. Here are the standings now with the teams' records during the streak:

                         Since 8/13
          W- L  PCT  GB     W- L
Oakland  87-51 .630   -    19- 0
Anaheim  82-54 .603   4    12- 6
Seattle  81-57 .587   6     9-11

The Angels have won two-thirds of their games and are currently on another win streak (4 games), but have lost 6.5 games on Oakland. Seattle picked the wrong time to get tepid-they have lost 10.5 games on Oakland in 20 games played. Remember those '64 Phillies?


300K is A-OK Over the
2002-09-02 17:40
by Mike Carminati

300K is A-OK

Over the weekend the debate has raged as to whether the new Collective Bargaining Agreement did enough for competitive balance within MLB. Naysayers seem to be winning out when a prediction is made, but more often the wait-and-see attitude with a slightly negative spin-it's been the prevailing mood for so long, it's hard to shake-is expressed. It's largely a matter of 1) the average analyst feeling that revenue sharing numbers were not large enough and therefore will not be effective and 2) the fear that low-revenue teams will not invest the shared funds in their teams since no minimum team salary was included in the CBA. Of course, the argument that there is no real lack of competitive balance and that the issue was floated by the owners as an means to impose stricter controls on salary increases was not often voiced.

The feeling was generally that the owners won the negotiation battle but that they might lose the competitive balance war and the public relations war with the fans due to the negative publicity. That may be true. But reviewing the major points of the plan, seven points in the owners' favor, 1 in the players', 2 that are a mixed bag, and 3 pushes (basically no changes). The points that I term a mixed bag are contraction and club debt. That the owners agreed not to contract for the term of the CBA is a win for the players, but the owners get the players' grievance against contraction withdrawn and the right to eliminate 2 teams for 2007, as long as they notify the players, with no argument before the NLRB. As far as the club debt issue, the owners' ability to impose such a plan given that the old 60/40 plan had fallen into disuse (though Selig tried to revive this year) is a win for them. However, the terms favor the players more than the proposed 60/40 plan because long-term contracts are excluded from debt and a more reasonable ratio of ratio to debt is being used.

The sole clear win for the players is the minimum salary increase of fifty percent, from two to three hundred thousand dollars. $100,000 seems like a small increase when you are dealing in salaries that average 20-25 times that and the minimum salary issue seemed like a throwaway when the negotiators were discussing issues that involved hundred of millions of dollars. There are a few salient points to keep in mind, however. For one, both the percent increase and the amount increase are the largest such figure increases ever negotiated by the players' union.

Also, the average salary rose in 2002 rose about $250 K to $2.38 M, but the median salary in 2002 dropped from $950 K to $900 K and the number of salaries over one million dollars decreased. Ten team salaries decrease in 2002. This means that the salary increases were made at the higher end of the spectrum while more players in the lower and middle salary ranges were losing money. This should do a good deal to rectify that. But what will be the extent?

Let's assume that all players currently at the minimum salary will see a $100 K windfall next year. Also the players making between the 2002 minimum salary and the 2003 salary will probably see at least the same sort of increase. Players who make between the $300 K and $400 K will also see a residual increase. Let's say it's about half the other group ($50 K). You may say that are assumptions are off and that these players may be replaced by minor-leaguers by or during next season as they are largely fungible, but A) their replacements cannot make much less, B) the increases for the young players who will get merit increases will outweigh the loses, C) teams by and large do not rid themselves of a player because he makes slightly more than the minimum just to replace them with someone making the minimum-the amounts are too small to dictate the change, D) there will probably be a ripple effect up to around one-million-dollar salaries that we are not even trying to assess.

Given these assumptions, here is a table of the number of players making $200 K, making $201-$299 K, and making $300 - $400 for each team along with the 2002 team salary, 2002 team average, expected increase due to the minimum salary increase, and the expected team numbers for next season just due to the minimum salary increase (source is ESPN):

Team  200K 201    300     2002 PAYROLL 2002 AVG.   Expected       Expected     Expected
            -299K  -400K                           Increase       Payroll         AVG.
Ana     1    7       6    $61,721,667  $2,204,345  $1,100,000     $62,821,667  $2,282,916.43 
Az      0    5       3   $102,820,000  $3,115,758    $650,000    $103,470,000  $3,197,008.00 
Atl     6    5       1    $93,470,367  $3,015,173  $1,150,000     $94,620,367  $3,111,006.33 
Balt    5    9       4    $60,493,487  $1,890,421  $1,600,000     $62,093,487  $1,979,309.89 
Bos     1    5       2   $108,366,060  $3,612,202    $700,000    $109,066,060  $3,699,702.00 
ChiC    0    7       0    $75,690,833  $2,703,244    $700,000     $76,390,833  $2,803,244.00 
CWS     1   10       2    $57,052,833  $2,113,068  $1,200,000     $58,252,833  $2,205,375.69 
Cin     1    9       4    $45,050,390  $1,501,680  $1,200,000     $46,250,390  $1,587,394.29 
Clev    1    9       0    $78,909,448  $2,630,315  $1,000,000     $79,909,448  $2,730,315.00 
Col     0    8       1    $56,851,043  $2,105,594    $850,000     $57,701,043  $2,200,038.44 
Det     3    3       4    $55,048,000  $1,966,000    $800,000     $55,848,000  $2,046,000.00 
Fla     2    4       5    $41,979,917  $1,499,283    $850,000     $42,829,917  $1,576,555.73 
Hou     2    2       8    $63,448,417  $2,349,941    $800,000     $64,248,417  $2,416,607.67 
KC      2    7       4    $47,257,000  $1,629,552  $1,100,000     $48,357,000  $1,714,167.38 
LA      0    4       2    $94,850,952  $3,648,114    $500,000     $95,350,952  $3,731,447.33 
Milw    0    7       1    $50,287,833  $1,734,063    $750,000     $51,037,833  $1,827,813.00 
Minn    1   10       1    $40,225,000  $1,547,115  $1,150,000     $41,375,000  $1,642,948.33 
Mon     2    8       6    $38,670,500  $1,381,089  $1,300,000     $39,970,500  $1,462,339.00 
NYM     0    6       2    $94,633,593  $3,639,754    $700,000     $95,333,593  $3,727,254.00 
NYY     0    6       0   $125,928,583  $4,342,365    $600,000    $126,528,583  $4,442,365.00 
Oak     0    6       1    $39,679,746  $1,469,620    $650,000     $40,329,746  $1,562,477.14 
Phil    2    5       3    $57,955,000  $2,069,821    $850,000     $58,805,000  $2,154,821.00 
Pitt    1   10       1    $42,323,598  $1,459,434  $1,150,000     $43,473,598  $1,555,267.33 
StL     0    3       2    $74,098,267  $2,849,933    $400,000     $74,498,267  $2,929,933.00 
SD      1   11       3    $41,425,000  $1,428,448  $1,350,000     $42,775,000  $1,518,448.00 
SF      2    3       2    $78,299,835  $2,899,994    $600,000     $78,899,835  $2,985,708.29 
Sea     1    2       1    $80,282,668  $3,211,307    $350,000     $80,632,668  $3,298,807.00 
TB      4   12       1    $34,380,000  $1,227,857  $1,650,000     $36,030,000  $1,324,915.82 
Tex     3    2       1   $105,302,124  $3,631,108    $550,000    $105,852,124  $3,722,774.67 
Tor     4    9       0    $76,864,333  $2,650,494  $1,300,000     $78,164,333  $2,750,494.00 
Total  46  194      71 $2,023,366,494  $2,384,779 $27,550,000  $2,050,916,494  $2,473,364.21 
Per tm  1.5  6.5     2.4  $67,445,550                $918,333     $68,363,883  


The average team salary will increase by about a million due to the new minimum salary. The average player salary will increase about $90 K. This is a modest increase especially with the salary decreases expected from the luxury tax and revenue sharing. But for a union that has always been accused of trying to protect its millionaire constituents' salaries at the expense of its poorer members, this has to be seen as the single greatest direct boon to those poorer players since the beginning of collective bargaining.


19th Century Streaks (The B-Side
2002-09-01 23:44
by Mike Carminati

19th Century Streaks (The B-Side to 20th Century Boy)

The A's won again today, teasing the Twins by allowing them to take a lead and then taking it away. The A's were leading 2-0 until the top of sixth when the Twins tied it up on a Torii Hunter home run. The A's scored two in the bottom of the sixth. The Twins scored three in the top of the ninth on three solo home runs to take a 5-4 lead. The A's won the game in the bottom of the ninth a 3-run Miguel Tejada home run, his second of the game.

Their streak is now at 18 wins in a row. By all reports that would make them one of only 7 teams to accomplish this, the last being the 1953 Yankees. Right? Hold the phone. None of the media will ever acknowledge the 19th century game as if it never existed. My trusty 1977 TSN Baseball Record Book (sporting a spiffy-looking, be-afroed Randy Jones on the cover, by the way) lists all of the winning streaks 13 games and over. And there are a few 19th-century teams that get overlooked:

- 1880 Chicago White Stockings (NL), 21 straight, 67-17 overall, 1st place, +15 games in the standings

- 1884 Providence Grays (NL), 20, 84-28, 1st, +10.5 (Swept the NY Metropolitans in the Temple Cup, an early World Series between the NL and AA champs, the 1916 Giants thought that they established the record when they surpassed this team's streak-they were unaware of the 1880 record that was one game longer.)

- 1884 St. Louis Maroons (UA), 20, 94-19, 1st, +21 (this is the only team to survive the Union Assoc., moving into the NL in 1885 for two years.)

- 1885 Chicago White Stockings (NL), 18, 87-25, 1st, +2 (Cap Anson's White Stockings tied with Charles Commiskey's St. Louis Brown Stockings of the American Assoc. for the Temple Cup 3-3-1. St. Louis would soon join the NL and are now known as the Cardinals.)

- 1894 Baltimore Orioles (NL), 18, 89-39, 1st, +3 (The beginning of a three-dynasty for Ned Hanlon and the O's. They will be contracted 5 years later after falling to fourth and "only" 24 games over .500)

By the way, they are correct that the Mets have established a new NL consecutive home-game losing record. Next up are the Boston Pilgrims (AL), 19 straight in 1906 (49-105 overall, in last place) and the St. Louis Browns, 20 straight in 1953 (54-100 overall, in last place), their last season in St. Louis before becoming the Baltimore Orioles, both pretty dismal company. It's odd that the last time anyone matched either of these feats was 1953. What are the odds? By the way 46.5 games separated the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns that year. Their two streaks only account for 38 of those.


Nobody's Perfect II Boston's Tim
2002-09-01 14:37
by Mike Carminati

Nobody's Perfect II

Boston's Tim Wakefield has just lost a no-hit bid in the bottom of the fifth inning against Cleveland. Matt Lawton lead off for the Indians and worked a seven-pitch full count against Wakefield. The next pitch landed in the left-field bleachers for a home run. Lawton had walked his first time up and Jim Thome also had reached on an error by Nomar Garciaparra. Prior to Lawton's home run, the Red Sox had been leading 7-0 behind back-to-back homers by Manny Ramirez and Brian Daubach in the first.


Row, Row, Row On August
2002-09-01 02:43
by Mike Carminati

Row, Row, Row

On August 12, the Oakland A's lost a close ballgame to Toronto's Esteben Loaiza and his newly minted cut fastball, 2-1. The Blue Jays beat the A's for the fifth straight time and sixth in seven overall. The A's had lost 2 straight, and their third in five tries. Their record since the All-Star game was 18-13, alright. But the A's had fallen 2.5 behind the Angels in the AL wild card race and 4.5 behind the Mariners for the AL West lead. This was only a slight improvement for the A's since the break when they were 5 games behind the Mariners in the AL West and 3.5 games behind the Red Sox for (but only two behind the Angels) in the wild card. It seemed that no matter how well they played A) the Angels played better and B) Seattle had too far a lead.

As of today they are 3.5 games ahead of the Angels and 5 ahead of Seattle for the AL West lead. And all it took was 16 straight wins.

The A's have just scored 3 in the bottom of the eighth to break their tie with the Twins. Should the A's win and extend their winning streak to 17 games, they would be one of 10 major league teams to have won this many in a row (the 1916 Giants won 17 and 26 in a row) and would be the last since the 1953 Yankees to do so.

Does a streak as long as this guarantee, or at least correlate to, postseason success or even a first-place finish? I took the 14 teams that have won at least 16 consecutive games and checked out their fates. Here goes:

Team            Consec. Ws              W   L  PCT POS  GB  Postseason
1916 Giants     26 (plus one tie) & 17 86  66 .566  4    7 
1935 Cubs       21                    100  54 .649  1   +4  Lost WS
1906 White Sox  19 (plus one tie)      93  58 .616  1  +13  Won WS
1947 Yankees    19                     97  57 .630  1  +12  Won WS
1904 Giants     18                    106  47 .693  1  +12  No WS
1953 Yankees    18                     99  52 .656  1  +8.5 Won WS
1907 Giants     17                     82  71 .536  4 25.5 
1912 Senators   17                     91  61 .599  2 14 
1931 Athletics  17                    107  45 .704  1 +13.5 Lost WS
1909 Pirates    16                    110  42 .724  1  +6.5 Won WS
1912 Giants     16                    103  48 .682  1 +10   Lost WS
1926 Yankees    16                     91  63 .591  1  +3   Lost WS
1951 Giants     16                     98  59 .624  1  +1   Lost WS
1977 Royals     16                    102  60 .630  1  +8   Lost ALCS
Total                                1365 783 .635   
Per 162 games                         103  59 .635   


Of the 14 teams, eleven finished first, one second, and 2 fourth (both Giants teams). Their cumulative record projected to 162 games is 103-59. They finished an average of 4 games ahead of the competition-8.5 if you take into account just the teams that finished first-meaning that the streak did play some part in their finishing first. They won a total of just four World Series and lost 6 World Series (the 1904 Giants were left out as there was no World Series in 1904) and one League Championship Series. Four World Champions out of the list of 14 teams? Not so impressive.

Of these teams the 1916 New York Giants are by far the oddest. They have the longest streak and qualify for the list for two separate streaks, but they are one of two teams to be included that finished fourth. As a matter of fact half of their win total is derived from their two streaks. They would be 43-66 without those two streaks. So I investigated further.

First the 1916 Giants presaged the 1979 Pirates and any of a half-dozen or so teams today who have more than just the home and away jerseys. The Giants had four jerseys and three-well, I'll let Marc Okkonen from Baseball Unifoems of the 20th Century describe it-"provided the ultimate-an almost plaid effect with a crossing of multiple fine lines of purple" and purple hose. Wow, and you though the Diamondback unis were ugly. This sartorial trailblazing was abandoned after one season.

Their season is almost nearly as strange:

- On April 23 with a record of 1-5, the Giants are trailing 8-1 in the first inning of an exhibition game with the Long Branch Cubans at West Side Park, Jersey City, when rain ends the game sparing them embarrassment.

- They do not collect their second win until the 11th game of the season; their third win comes in their 16th game.

- They then proceed to win 16 more in a row for 17 in total. The streak starts May 9 and goes to May 29, inclusive. The 17 wins are all on the road. The Giants move from eighth (last), 8.5 games out, to second, 1.5 game out, during the streak.

- On June 22, they lose to the Braves at home, 3-1 in eleven innings for their third straight loss. They are 25-24 in third place, 5 games back. In the eleventh the Braves execute a triple steal with Johnny Evers the lead runner (the NL's only triple steal in extra innings)

- The Giants lose three of four games to the Dodgers in consecutive doubleheaders (June 24 and 26). The only win is for Christy Mathewson who relieves Bill Perritt, and it proves to be his last in the majors. Also, three fans are arrested in the game for not throwing back foul balls (see the Angels fans the other day just wanted to comply with the law). In the process the Giants fall into fourth place, 6.5 games out.

- The lose both ends of a doubleheader to the Phillies on June 29 and to the Dodgers on July 4, both at the Polo Grounds.

- On July 20 the Giants trade three future Hall of Famers in Christy Mathewson, Edd Roush, Bill McKechnie (Hall of Fame manager) for former Giants Buck Herzog and Red Killefer.

- On July 26, they lose to Cincinnati 4-2 at home for their third loss in a row. Their record is 39-43. They are in fifth, 9.5 games back.

- On July 31, New York beats Pittsburgh at the Polo Grounds in both ends of a doubleheader for the second time in a row to complete a six game winning streak. They are now 45-43 in fourth place, 8.5 games back.

- On August 14, the Phillies behind future Hall of Famers Peter Alexander and Eppa Rixey sweep both ends of a doubleheader from the Giants in the Baker Bowl. They are now 52-49, in fourth, 11 games out.

- On August 20, the Giants fall below .500 again (53-53, fourth place, 14 games behind) losing to the Cards in St. Louis, 5-0. They will remain below .500 until their next streak. They also trade Fred Merkle of "Merkle's Boner" fame to Brooklyn.

- On September 6, the Giants split a doubleheader with the Robins (soon to be Dodgers) at the Polo Grounds, with Rube Benton pitching both games. The Giants end the day 59-62, in fourth place, 13.5 games out and playing out a string. The Phillies, in the midst of an eight-game win streak, are in first, followed closely by the Robins half-game back and Braves, one game back. The next day, the Giants defeat the Robins 4-1 to start their 26-game win streak.

- September 9 Pol Perritt takes both ends of a doubleheader from the Philles, 3-1 and 3-0.

- September 13, they defeat the Reds in both games of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds. They are nine games out. The Phillies and Robins are tied for first (Philadelphia leads by percentage points) and the Braves are one game back.

- September 15, The Giants-Reds game is called in the fourth with the Reds winning 2-0.

- September 16, 18, and 19, they win five of six games from the Pirates in three sets of doubleheaders at the Polo Grounds. The second game on September 18 is called after eight innings tied 1-1.

- September 23 the Giants defeat the Cardinals 1-0 and 6-2 to extend their win streak to 21 games breaking the record set by Providence in 1884. They are now 80-62 in fourth, seven games out.

- September 28 the Giants take their fourth straight doubleheader defeating the Braves 2-0 and 6-0 at the Polo Grounds. They are 84-62, in fourth place, 4.5 games out with eight games left. Also, the Phillies defeat the Robins 8-4 behind Pete Alexander. The Phillies are now a half-game out of first behind the Robins. The Braves are 4 back and the Giants 5. The Giants can still win the pennant if all things go in their favor.

- September 30 is another doubleheader for the Giants again against the Braves. In game one Rube Benton takes another no-hitter into the eighth but then gives up the only Braves hit of the game to Ed Konetchy. The Giants score their third straight shut out of the Braves, 4-0. The Braves and Giants are in a virtual tie for third with Boston ahead by percentage points.

- They lose the second game 8-3 to end the streak. Oddly, this streak came all at home while the first was entirely on the road. They are now 85-63, in fourth place, 4.5 games out with six games left. The Robins and Phillies play a doubleheader at Ebbet's Field. Brooklyn takes the first game to go up by 1.5 games but lose the second to go up by just one half again. The Braves and Giants remain 4 and 5 games back respectively. The best that the Gainst can now hope for is a tie with the Robins, but the Giants will now finish the season in Brooklyn. The Phillies and Braves will duke it out in the Baker Bowl to end their years.

- In their next game October 2 against the Robins, they lose 2-0 to fall to 85-66, in fourth place, 5.5 games out. They are officially eliminated from the pennant race. The Braves and Phillies split. Brooklyn leads, the Phillies are one game back, the Braves 4.5, and the Giants 6. The Braves mathematically can still force a tie for the pennant.

- On October third, manager John McGraw leaves the bench after five innings in disgust. His Giants lose 9-6 and he is convinced that they did not put in their best effort in order to help the Robins, a team with many ex-Giants on their roster. When Boston sweeps Philadelphia, the Robins are said to clinch the pennant. (Mathematically, the Phillies could still have tied the Robins, but since they had lost some games to ties during the season, they were eliminated. If that happened today, the teams would be forced to re-play the tie games. I am not sure if that rule was in place in 1916. If so, the Robins did not in actuality clinch until the last day of the season.)

- October 5: The Giants are beaten by Brooklyn 7-5 to finish the season 86-66 in fourth, 5.5 behind the pennant-winning Robins. In the World Series the Robins lose to Babe Ruth and the Red Sox in five games. The Red Sox play their home games in Braves Field, preferring it to Fenway Park because of the additional seating.


This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
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