Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: January 2005


Larkining Back
2005-01-31 12:43
by Mike Carminati

Apparently, Barry Larkin, the soon-to-be forty-one-year-old, jilted Reds shortstop, is ready to pull a Jackie Robinson and hang 'em up rather than play for another team. Apparently, he's been offered backup mentor roles (Crash Davis to someone's Nuke LaLoosh), but he's leaning towards —"pretty close" to— retirement:

"I thought eventually I'd be able to say, yeah, I can do this. But I'm big on loyalty. I couldn't come to grips with making a 100-percent commitment (to another team)."

"I simply haven't made an announcement that I'm not going to play or retire because it's not that pressing of an issue. If it comes to the point that spring training starts and I'm not playing, then it will be obvious. I want no big fanfare, no major announcement."

That's kind of a shame, because, in my opinion, Larkin is a certifiable future Hall-of-Famer. Given the way his career wound down and not much to grab hold of except the one MVP award, I'm not sure that the voters will see it that way. I think his Hall of Fame candidacy faces the kind of uphill battle that, unexpectedly, Ryne Sandberg's did until he was elected last month.

Larkin may face more of a struggle since he played an extremely important defensive position and although he won three Gold Gloves in the mid-Nineties, he is hardly ever mentioned among the great defensive shortstops, either among the current crop or throughout history. The same could be said of Cal Ripken, but Ripken is remembered as one of the greatest offensive shortstops of all time. Larkin was a very good offensive player, especially for a shortstop, but his numbers may not excite the voters.

Larkin was a very, very good all around player, which was even more impressive because he played an extremely important and challenging defensive position very well. But I', afraid that he was a player, like Tim Raines, who did so many things so well but not one thing in particular, that he will be overlooked by the voters.

Larkin never led the league in any offensive categories (a zero in Bill James's Black Ink Test). He did make a number of appearances in the top ten (scoring a 66 in James's Gray Ink test, compared to 144 for an average Hall of Famer). The other James tests are more encouraging (a 46.9 on the Hall Standards test compared to 50 for an average HoFer and a 118.5 on the Hall monitor, meaning that his enshrinement is more than likely). Also, every similar batter to him except one (Sweet Lou Whitaker), who is already eligible to the Hall, is either in (Sandberg, Cronin, and Reese) or is on the ballot (Trammell). And a couple of the not-yet-eligible ones should have strong support (Alomar and Biggio).

I foresee the future voters comparing Larkin to two men, Cal Ripken for offense and Ozzie Smith for defense, and seeing him coming up short on both accounts. I hope they realize that a Hall of Famer doesn't have to have one facet of the game that defines him, but given the way that they have voted on expansion-era players, I'm not sanguine (look at Bert Blyleven).

So what is Larkin's place in the pantheon of shortstop greats? Let's look at it a couple of ways. First, here are the top shortstops by career Win Shares (min. 500 games at short):

Honus Wagner655513.9141.7189719171936
Cal Ripken Jr.427290.6136.519812001NA
Robin Yount423317.5103.2197419931999
John Ward409158.877.2187818941964
George Davis398296.8100.2189019091998
Bill Dahlen394248.9143.318911911
Luke Appling378268.3108.6193019501964
Arky Vaughan356275.680.4193219481985
Barry Larkin346247.999.719862004NA
Bobby Wallace345201.5114.1189419181953
Joe Cronin333235.497.6192619451956
Ernie Banks332265.067.0195319711977
Ozzie Smith325187.1139.8197819962002
Alan Trammell318224.992.719771996on Ballot
Pee Wee Reese314203.7111.2194019581984
Rabbit Maranville302158.9142.7191219351954
Luis Aparicio293170.7122.9195619731984
Toby Harrah287226.558.319691986
Alex Rodriguez281224.558.219942004NA
Tony Fernandez280179.099.319832001NA
Bert Campaneris280178.4101.219641983
Lou Boudreau277187.489.4193819521970
Joe Sewell277188.290.0192019331977
Lou Boudreau277187.489.419381952
Dave Bancroft269164.2103.4191519301971
Dave Concepcion269146.7124.319701988On Vets Ballot
Julio Franco268219.248.719822004NA
Vern Stephens265191.673.019411955
Herman Long265160.7104.818891904
Jack Glasscock261170.289.918791895
Jim Fregosi261198.461.619611978
Joe Tinker258144.9113.5190219161946
Maury Wills253168.282.419591972On Vets Ballot
Dick Bartell252156.69719271946
Jay Bell245168.378.519862003NA
Dick McAuliffe241179.460.819601975
Roger Peckinpaugh239131106.719101927
Donie Bush232154.87819081923
Phil Rizzuto231132.997.3194119561994
Alvin Dark226154.572.519461960
Dick Groat225126.696.719521967
Harvey Kuenn223179.343.619521966
Ed McKean221177.745.418871899
Derek Jeter219172.047.019952004NA
Art Fletcher218126.891.519091922
Tommy Corcoran21495.1118.818901907
Hughie Jennings214148.466.8189119181945
Travis Jackson211137.174.0192219361982

I included every Hall of Fame shortstop, down to the much reviled Travis Jackson. You'll note that besides Bill Dahlen, who along with Tony Mullane, is one of the most overlooked nineteenth-century players in Hall voting, everyone ahead of Larkin is either in the Hall or is a lock to go in when they become eligible.
Now, here are the top shortstops by Fielding and Batting Win Shares. You'll not that Larkin does better in the latter, though no better than in the overall standings:

Defense first:

Bill Dahlen394248.9143.318911911
Rabbit Maranville302158.9142.719121935
Honus Wagner655513.9141.718971917
Ozzie Smith325187.1139.819781996
Cal Ripken Jr.427290.6136.519812001
Dave Concepcion269146.7124.319701988
Luis Aparicio293170.7122.919561973
Tommy Corcoran21495.1118.818901907
Bobby Wallace345201.5114.118941918
Joe Tinker258144.9113.519021916
Pee Wee Reese314203.7111.219401958
Luke Appling378268.3108.619301950
Roger Peckinpaugh239131.0106.719101927
Herman Long265160.7104.818891904
Dave Bancroft269164.2103.419151930
Mark Belanger16258.2103.319651982
Robin Yount423317.5103.219741993
Mickey Doolan16158.0103.119051918
Germany Smith17573.2101.318841898
Bert Campaneris280178.4101.219641983
Roy McMillan17269.2100.919511966
George Davis398296.8100.218901909
Barry Larkin346247.999.719862004
Tony Fernandez280179.099.319832001
Everett Scott14242.699.119141926

Then offense:

Honus Wagner655513.9141.718971917
Robin Yount423317.5103.219741993
George Davis398296.8100.218901909
Cal Ripken Jr.427290.6136.519812001
Arky Vaughan356275.680.419321948
Luke Appling378268.3108.619301950
Ernie Banks332265.067.019531971
Bill Dahlen394248.9143.318911911
Barry Larkin346247.999.719862004
Joe Cronin333235.497.619261945
Toby Harrah287226.558.319691986
Alan Trammell318224.992.719771996
Alex Rodriguez281224.558.219942004
Julio Franco268219.248.719822004
Pee Wee Reese314203.7111.219401958
Bobby Wallace345201.5114.118941918
Jim Fregosi261198.461.619611978
Vern Stephens265191.673.019411955
Joe Sewell277188.290.019201933
Lou Boudreau277187.489.419381952
Ozzie Smith325187.1139.819781996
Dick McAuliffe241179.460.819601975
Harvey Kuenn223179.343.619521966
Tony Fernandez280179.099.319832001
Bert Campaneris280178.4101.219641983

My prediction is that Larkin will suffer through a campaign similar to Gary Carter's. He'll get in, I think, but it will take him more than a year or two to do it. That is, unless the voters start to develop a more well informed approach within the next five years or so. Yeah, like that'll ever happen.

Sammy S-O's-Eh?
2005-01-30 23:03
by Mike Carminati

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well

It were done quickly. If th' assassination

Could trammel up the consequence, and catch

With his surcease success—that but this blow

Might be the be-all and the end-all!—here,

But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,

We'd jump the life to come."

MacBeth, William "Author" Shakespeare.

So the other shoe dropped and the Cubs traded Sammy Sosa to Elba, er, Baltimore. They received one-time starting second baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. and a couple of prospects.

We're told that the Cubs came out ahead because the O's, desperate to fend off the new, nearby Nationals' good PR, gave up too much to get Sosa while not requiring the Cubs to take on any of his salary. Sosa is not the player he once was, but he should remain effective in Baltimore.

The ultimate reason for his untenability in Chicago was not directly due to his decline. His decline, however, did make the silliness that occurred in the final game of the season enough cause for the Cubs to feel they needed to dump him.

The O's get a marquee player to go along with Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez to help put fannies in seats. It's not as if Sammy will do much to help with the Orioles' biggest problem, pitching. Nor will he help them reach the summits that the Yanks and Red Sox will undoubtedly scale.

The Cubs trade a 500-homer, future Hall of Famer, and possibly one of the best players the franchise has had in its 135-year history. They apparently will fill his spot in right with Hairston, who was used by the O's in right 27 times last year and would be one of the worst-batting starting right fielders in the business. There are also rumors of the Cubs enlisting Jeromy Burnitz, but one most remember that they also lost their starting left fielder (Moises Alou). I just hope Sosa consults former Red Sox savior and current Cub shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra, before he leaves town.

Whatever happens to the Cubs, what is Sosa's place in the Cubbie pantheon? Here are the franchise leaders in career Win Shares. Sosa's eighth:

NameFirstLast#YrsWSBat WSField WSPitch WSWS per Yr
Cap Anson1876189722381338.140.60.717.3
Billy Williams1959197416350304.645.00.021.9
Ryne Sandberg1982199715346249.693.60.023.1
Ernie Banks1953197119332265.
Ron Santo1960197314321254.666.90.022.9
Gabby Hartnett1922194019319212.1107.80.016.8
Stan Hack1932194716316250.665.70.019.8
Sammy Sosa1992200413290255.334.90.022.3
Mark Grace1988200013269233.
Jimmy Ryan1885190015265213.743.87.317.7
Mordecai Brown19041916102371.80.0233.823.7
Frank Chance1898191215236213.422.10.015.7
Phil Cavarretta1934195320230204.625.00.011.5
Charley Root19261941162230.80.0220.713.9
Joe Tinker1902191612222122.699.40.018.5
Bill Hutchison1889189572203.70.0216.531.4
Johnny Evers1902191312218161.456.80.018.2
Billy Herman1931194010213150.461.20.021.3
Frank Schulte1904191512210172.335.90.017.5
Bill Nicholson1939194810202179.723.30.020.2

But Sosa had fewer seasons with the Cubs than any of the others ahead of him on the list. What if we look at Win Shares per season:

NameFirstLast#YrsWSBat WSField WSPitch WSWS per Yr
John Clarkson1884188741668.00.3158.241.5
Larry Corcoran18801884518510.60.7173.537.0
Terry Larkin187818792737.50.064.836.5
Jim McCormick188618861331.30.131.933.0
Bill Hutchison1889189572203.70.0216.531.4
Hack Wilson192619316165142.622.70.027.5
Topsy Hartsel1901190112724.
Fred Goldsmith1880188341059.00.795.126.3
Gus Krock188818881260.00.025.626.0
Tommy Leach1913191425140.
Jake Weimer190319053720.00.072.324.0
Mordecai Brown19041916102371.80.0233.823.7
Ryne Sandberg1982199715346249.693.60.023.1
Ron Santo1960197314321254.666.90.022.9
Bill Dahlen189118988183120.361.70.022.9
Jimmy Sheckard190619127160127.
Clark Griffith1893190081828.90.1173.422.8
Bill Madlock1974197636759.
Sammy Sosa1992200413290255.334.90.022.3
Billy Williams1959197416350304.645.00.021.9

Then, Sosa is 19th. Sammy's place in Cub history is assured though he probably was never as good as the hype (Chuck D was right) or as bad as the Cub fans now believe him to be.

One thing the trade seems to presage that neither club will make the playoffs this year. They will both be involved in very different division and wild card races but I would not be surprised to see them finish with the same record.

Stark Reality
2005-01-29 14:41
by Mike Carminati

MBBR got a mention in Jayson Stark's Top 10 Useless Info Nuggets of the Month. Actually, I got the number one slot with my Pass Me a Miller, Bud post:

1. And our grand-prize winner is a fellow named Mike Carminati, the author of the Mike's Rants column on the Web site. After Damian Miller signed with the Brewers, Carminati pounced all over the biggest subplot behind that signing -- namely, that there will now be a Miller playing nightly at Miller Park.

So who else, you ask, has ever played games in a home park with the same name as his last name? Carminati actually looked it up. Here goes:

Clark Griffith: Griffith Stadium in Washington, 1912-13-14

Bert Griffith: Griffith Stadium in Washington, 1924

Dan Murphy: Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, 1989

Kevin King: Kingdome in Seattle, 1993-94-95

Then there are the close-but-not-quites: Jim Hunt at the Huntingdon Avenue Grounds in Boston in 1910, and David Bell at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco in 2002.

We're disqualifying all the guys named Field and Park who played in a Field or a Park. Sorry. Too easy.

And we should disqualify Clark Griffith, too -- since he owned and managed the Senators. Not to mention that the stadium was named after him. Or that it was actually known as National Park when he played in it. For some reason, though, we're going to let him slide, trivia softies that we are.

I did say at the time that "Now, that is the height of triviality.

The Biggest Loser II
2005-01-28 19:49
by Mike Carminati

There was more activity on SABR-L regarding Pete Rose being on the most winning teams.

In any event, what is amazing is that Pete Rose came within just a few games, probably less than 10 wins (3500+ games played) from having a winning record for 24 straight years! Of course, someone could spin it that Pete was also one of the biggest losers, given that he probably lost 1500 games.

Re. Rose, his teams did have the most winning seasons recorded for a player all time, but he is just two seasons ahead of the likes of Doyle Alexander, Rick Dempsey, and Juan Pizzaro. Here are the ones with at least 18 winning seasons:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Pete Rose2521402201178184.00%.553
Cap Anson2720611544112175.93%.579
Willie Mays2320301978165986.96%.544
Eddie Collins2519512169159878.00%.576
Rick Dempsey2519512154181578.00%.543
Dennis Martinez2419322098165783.33%.559
Carlton Fisk2419502027179079.17%.531
Jim O'Rourke231940135591782.61%.596
Doyle Alexander2319401952170582.61%.534
Babe Ruth2219301957136986.36%.588
Enos Slaughter2219301914147186.36%.565
Rickey Henderson29181102382219562.07%.520
Steve Carlton2718812249206168.52%.522
Don Sutton2518702146184272.00%.538
Ty Cobb2418601949168675.00%.536
Tony Perez2318502011164678.26%.550
Juan Pizarro2218311885164084.09%.535
Dixie Walker2018201753131290.00%.572
Yogi Berra1918101786116894.74%.605
Jim Palmer1918101756124294.74%.586

As for Rose's teams losing 1500 games, they actually lost 281 more. Here are the most team wins and then most team losses for a player's career:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Rickey Henderson29181102382219562.07%.520
Jim Kaat28151032359208358.93%.531
Tommy John28171012341212862.50%.524
Steve Carlton2718812249206168.52%.522
Pete Rose2521402201178184.00%.553
Harold Baines27161102195205059.26%.517
Nolan Ryan27151202171214355.56%.503
Eddie Collins2519512169159878.00%.576
Hoyt Wilhelm2617902161195365.38%.525
Rick Dempsey2519512154181578.00%.543
Don Sutton2518702146184272.00%.538
Bobo Newsom29131602131231244.83%.480
Dennis Martinez2419322098165783.33%.559
Charlie Hough26161002093200361.54%.511
Jerry Reuss2516812083190366.00%.523
Jesse Orosco26131302082200550.00%.509
Waite Hoyt2516902077170764.00%.549
Dennis Eckersley2515912065185162.00%.527
Bill Buckner2514922059192060.00%.517
Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Bobo Newsom29131602131231244.83%.480
Deacon McGuire31102012003225933.87%.470
Rickey Henderson29181102382219562.07%.520
Nolan Ryan27151202171214355.56%.503
Tommy John28171012341212862.50%.524
Phil Niekro26131212037210451.92%.492
Jim Kaat28151032359208358.93%.531
Steve Carlton2718812249206168.52%.522
Harold Baines27161102195205059.26%.517
Rusty Staub2481601776204033.33%.465
Mike Morgan25111311941202146.00%.490
Elmer Valo2371601542200630.43%.435
Jesse Orosco26131302082200550.00%.509
Charlie Hough26161002093200361.54%.511
Danny Darwin25111401911199544.00%.489
Hoyt Wilhelm2617902161195365.38%.525
Joe Niekro2516812054193566.00%.515
Bobby Wallace25121301706193048.00%.469
Gaylord Perry25131202058192752.00%.516
The Biggest Loser
2005-01-27 18:01
by Mike Carminati

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation… But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

—Henry David Thoreau (even though Pink Floyd claim that it's the English way). The last sentence should be repeated ad nauseam to Paul DePodesta for the Derrek Lowe signing

There's an email trail going on in SABR-L, the mailing list for the members of the Society for American Baseball Research, trying to find the "biggest loser". That is, the player with the most seasons exclusively on losing teams. Here are the results (note, mine differ from SABR-L since I list by a player's team-seasons and I don't include .500 seasons as losing seasons—They count as half a winning season in the percentages):

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Bruce Bochte13013089311560.00%.436
Dan Meyer12012078910960.00%.419
John Bateman11011073510340.00%.415
Bobby Higginson1001006419590.00%.401
Hugh Mulcahy90904968800.00%.360
Case Patten90905138020.00%.390
Win Mercer90904857480.00%.393
Benny Frey90905678130.00%.411
Billy Bryan90906038480.00%.416
Pat Meares90906057850.00%.435
Keith Osik90906488080.00%.445
Jason Kendall90906498060.00%.446
Tim O'Rourke80804096510.00%.386
Johnny Hetki80804987320.00%.405
Charlie Puleo80805087230.00%.413
Ron Brand80805487470.00%.423
Bill Champion80805467420.00%.424
Brian Meadows80805557390.00%.429
Balor Moore80805547340.00%.430
Arnold Earley80805557300.00%.432
Jason Johnson80805677280.00%.438
Abraham Nunez80805767170.00%.445
Harry Perkowski80805526780.00%.449
Kevin Wickander80805806800.00%.460
Jeff D'Amico80806036900.00%.466

Kendall is a good bet to get off that list this year with the A's. Higginson is a good bet to break the "record". Win Mercer has to be the most ironic name in sport. By the way, that the Pirates, not the Marlins, Abraham Nunez, and the Brewers, not the Royals, Jeff D'Amico (though he was a "loser", too).

I included team winning percentage in the study to add depth to the loserdom. Here are the players that lag the farthest behind in that category (min. 5 seasons):

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Frank Selman505023860.00%.211
Tom Barlow5050511840.00%.217
Henry Kessler5050652100.00%.236
Bill Stearns50414411710.00%.273
Charlie Pabor6051711838.33%.280
Fred Warner60601242930.00%.297
Amos Booth514010624920.00%.299
John Kirby60602144840.00%.307
Jack Neagle514014933120.00%.310
Billy O'Brien60601793870.00%.316
George Keefe60602435240.00%.317
Pinky May50502445190.00%.320
George Creamer70701883970.00%.321
Ike Pearson60603006150.00%.328
Frank Fleet61508416816.67%.333
Eddie Booth70701062110.00%.334
Bill Atwood50502555060.00%.335
Stan Benjamin514025350120.00%.336
Al Mattern50502575070.00%.336
Lena Styles50502545010.00%.336
Charlie Gould62409919433.33%.338
Mel Mazzera50502595060.00%.339
Billy Barnie50501232380.00%.341
Dick Harley716033665014.29%.341
Crazy Schmit624028554733.33%.343

Barnie's luck improved somewhat (.438) as a manager. Charlie Gould was a member of the Cincinnati "Red Stockies" and enjoyed their winning streak for the better part of two seasons, 1869-70. I guess he "forgot" how to win. My friend Chris points out that Dick Harley and Crazy Schmidt were members of the team widely regarded as the worst in baseball history, the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

Next, I took a look at the biggest winners, the players who spent the most seasons on winning teams:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Bill Dickey1717001636966100.00%.629
Frankie Crosetti1717001622979100.00%.624
Tony Lazzeri1515001405888100.00%.613
Al Bumbry1414001254941100.00%.571
Bill Lee1414001222981100.00%.555
Ellie Hendricks1414001329910100.00%.594
Lefty Gomez1414001346793100.00%.629
Tom Burns131300937574100.00%.620
Phil Rizzuto1313001265734100.00%.633
Mickey Cochrane1313001212771100.00%.611
Joe DiMaggio1313001272724100.00%.637
Jim Davenport1313001151925100.00%.554
Johnny Murphy1313001259732100.00%.632
Ray Culp111100957816100.00%.540
Tommy Henrich1111001072617100.00%.635
Spud Chandler1111001045642100.00%.619
Art Jorgens1111001058620100.00%.631
Chipper Jones1111001081681100.00%.614
Duffy Lewis111100971693100.00%.584
Greg McMichael111100984733100.00%.573
Joe Gordon1111001040650100.00%.615
Red Rolfe101000978550100.00%.640
Rick Leach101000860706100.00%.549
Rich Dauer101000896661100.00%.575
Pinch Thomas101000906580100.00%.610
Roy Campanella101000935606100.00%.607
Billy Johnson101000921619100.00%.598
Floyd Robinson101000883729100.00%.548
Al Rosen101000928613100.00%.602
Bob Montgomery101000895714100.00%.556
Andy Pettitte101000957641100.00%.599
Derek Jeter101000966632100.00%.605
Don Buford101000948660100.00%.590
Pat Malone101000918611100.00%.600
Gil McDougald101000954583100.00%.621
Mariano Rivera101000966632100.00%.605
Joe Collins101000975562100.00%.634
Hugh Nicol101000729435100.00%.626
Jorge Posada101000966632100.00%.605
Jackie Robinson101000945596100.00%.613

You'll note that there are quite a few Yankees from the last decade or so. There are good number of Yankees and, unexpectedly, Orioles on the list. The active leader is the Braves' Chipper Jones. For those of you who don't remember Tom Burns, he was a long-time Cub—actually they were still known as the White Stockings back then—infielder from the nineteenth century.

Now here's the list by team winning percentage (min. of 5 team-seasons):

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Harry Wright7700306109100.00%.737
Harry Schafer8800347128100.00%.731
Al Spalding861133313781.25%.709
Tommy Beals63212159658.33%.691
Cal McVey981037417388.89%.684
Ross Barnes972038418977.78%.670
George Wright12102053627483.33%.662
Jack Pfiester8800800412100.00%.660
Al Reach550016586100.00%.657
Andy Leonard971136319283.33%.654
Marv Breuer5500496271100.00%.647
George Selkirk9900884491100.00%.643
Red Rolfe101000978550100.00%.640
Bill Shores6600583329100.00%.639
Joe Boley7700683386100.00%.639
Carl Lundgren871076143187.50%.638
Joe DiMaggio1313001272724100.00%.637
Jerry Coleman9900881502100.00%.637
Dick McBride6600204117100.00%.636
Ralph Houk8800781448100.00%.635
Tommy Henrich1111001072617100.00%.635
Joe Collins101000975562100.00%.634
Marius Russo6600583338100.00%.633
Phil Rizzuto1313001265734100.00%.633
Johnny Murphy1313001259732100.00%.632
Whitey Kurowski9900876511100.00%.632

The highest team winning percentage (min. 5 years) for an active player is (.618) Orlando Hernandez followed by three Braves: Chipper Jones (.614), Mark DeRosa (.610), and Andruw Jones (.609). By the way, the worst active is Jamie Walker (.383), Eric Munson (.389), and boatload of players who were on the Devil Rays over the last five years (.395).

Finally, if you are not yet sick of this, I re-ran the data solely for Hall of Famers (i.e., those selected as players).

Here are the best by percentage of winning seasons:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Bill Dickey1717001636966100.00%.629
Tony Lazzeri1515001405888100.00%.613
Lefty Gomez1414001346793100.00%.629
Joe DiMaggio1313001272724100.00%.637
Mickey Cochrane1313001212771100.00%.611
Phil Rizzuto1313001265734100.00%.633
Jackie Robinson101000945596100.00%.613
Roy Campanella101000935606100.00%.607
Jim Palmer1918101756124294.74%.586
Yogi Berra1918101786116894.74%.605
King Kelly181710124476194.44%.620
Lou Gehrig171610161698294.12%.622
Juan Marichal1615101407116493.75%.547
Pee Wee Reese161510148897893.75%.603
Larry Doby141310126289492.86%.585
John Clarkson13121098066292.31%.597
Earle Combs121110110972791.67%.604
Lefty Grove1715111497109291.18%.578
Ross Youngs1091087761190.00%.589
Frankie Frisch1917201679122089.47%.579
Bobby Doerr141211122192289.29%.570
Stan Coveleski141211119490989.29%.568
Bob Feller1816201569119388.89%.568
Duke Snider1816201602120088.89%.572
Eddie Mathews1816201558127988.89%.549

Now the worst:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Ralph Kiner1129071497918.18%.422
Chuck Klein1941501176172821.05%.405
George Sisler1641201102130925.00%.457
Ryne Sandberg1641201201128025.00%.484
Rick Ferrell2151511481172726.19%.462
Luke Appling2051411374167227.50%.451
Ted Lyons2161411473172930.95%.460
Ernie Banks1961301371163331.58%.456
Zack Wheat1961301395146931.58%.487
Richie Ashburn154921078123833.33%.465
Kirby Puckett1247192495337.50%.492
Red Faber2071211462156137.50%.484
Robin Roberts2171221570172038.10%.477
Dazzy Vance1871101342138438.89%.492
Ernie Lombardi1771001215138141.18%.468
Harmon Killebrew2291121722177345.45%.493
Jake Beckley2291121498156845.45%.489
Dave Winfield23101211783181845.65%.495
Rabbit Maranville23101211697178345.65%.488
Al Simmons21101101681152147.62%.525
Eppa Rixey21101101563163547.62%.489
Walter Johnson21101101559160947.62%.492
Bobby Wallace25121301706193048.00%.469
Billy Williams189901389149350.00%.482
George Kell199911426149350.00%.489

Here are the best by team winning percentage:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Joe DiMaggio1313001272724100.00%.637
Phil Rizzuto1313001265734100.00%.633
Lefty Gomez1414001346793100.00%.629
Bill Dickey1717001636966100.00%.629
Lou Gehrig171610161698294.12%.622
King Kelly181710124476194.44%.620
Jackie Robinson101000945596100.00%.613
Tony Lazzeri1515001405888100.00%.613
Mickey Cochrane1313001212771100.00%.611
Roy Campanella101000935606100.00%.607
Yogi Berra1918101786116894.74%.605
Earle Combs121110110972791.67%.604
Pee Wee Reese161510148897893.75%.603
Joe Tinker151230135291080.00%.598
John Clarkson13121098066292.31%.597
Jim O'Rourke231940135591782.61%.596
John Ward171520113476888.24%.596
Tommy McCarthy13112099667984.62%.595
Whitey Ford1613301486102781.25%.591
Johnny Evers1915311694117981.58%.590
Ross Youngs1091087761190.00%.589
Babe Ruth2219301957136986.36%.588
Mickey Mantle1815301664116583.33%.588
Jim Palmer1918101756124294.74%.586
Larry Doby141310126289492.86%.585
Frank Baker131030113480676.92%.585

And the worst:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Chuck Klein1941501176172821.05%.405
Ralph Kiner1129071497918.18%.422
Luke Appling2051411374167227.50%.451
Ernie Banks1961301371163331.58%.456
George Sisler1641201102130925.00%.457
Ted Lyons2161411473172930.95%.460
Rick Ferrell2151511481172726.19%.462
Richie Ashburn154921078123833.33%.465
Ernie Lombardi1771001215138141.18%.468
Bobby Wallace25121301706193048.00%.469
Robin Roberts2171221570172038.10%.477
Pud Galvin1798092299752.94%.480
Billy Williams189901389149350.00%.482
Rogers Hornsby24121201752188250.00%.482
Red Faber2071211462156137.50%.484
Ryne Sandberg1641201201128025.00%.484
Zack Wheat1961301395146931.58%.487
Rabbit Maranville23101211697178345.65%.488
George Kell199911426149350.00%.489
Jake Beckley2291121498156845.45%.489
Eppa Rixey21101101563163547.62%.489
Harry Heilmann1710701259131358.82%.490
Phil Niekro26131212037210451.92%.492
Jim Bottomley169701206124556.25%.492
Walter Johnson21101101559160947.62%.492
Kirby Puckett1247192495337.50%.492
Dazzy Vance1871101342138438.89%.492

Finally here is a comparison between the totals and average for Hall of Fame members and all players overall:

Name#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
Tot HoFers3,5672,4091,10355287,421249,59168.31%.535
Avg Hofer69.17%.538

By the way, the overall numbers are below .500 since losing teams tend to have more players. Therefore, it's not a zero-sum result.

So is team performance a criterion that influences Hall voters or just a happy byproduct of great individual performance? I ran a correlation between a Hall of Famer's wait, i.e., the time between retirement and his induction to the Hall (ignoring years prior to the first vote in 1936), and his team's performance. Do players on perennial winners gain entrance to the halcyon Hall more easily? Well, the correlation doesn't indicate it. Neither percentage of winning seasons nor team winning percentage had any relationship whatsoever to a short wait for induction.

Next, does longevity come from being on winning teams or vice versa?

#Tm YrsWinningLosing.500WL%Win SeasonsTm PCT
>=25 yrs 416.00 275.00 16.00 56,216.00 52,442.00 59.97%.517
20-24 yrs 2,480.00 1,686.00 97.00 335,989.00 318,892.00 59.31%.513
15-19 yrs 8,618.00 6,439.00 324.00 1,207,394.00 1,155,752.00 57.08%.511
10-14 yrs 12,587.00 11,083.00 486.00 1,862,714.00 1,836,736.00 53.11%.504
5-9 yrs 10,415.00 12,251.00 465.00 1,714,662.00 1,789,695.00 46.03%.489
0-4 yrs 7,070.00 10,944.00 327.00 1,284,935.00 1,438,802.00 39.44%.472

Well, you can't stick around if you don't perform, but it does flatten out rather quickly. Apparently, players who wash out rather quickly are not involved with the best organizations, however.

Larry Aid
2005-01-26 13:00
by Mike Carminati

Larry Mahnken over at The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog recently lost everything he owned in a fire. If you have ever enjoyed Larry's great analysis, please stop by a make a donation in his PayPal tip jar. Every little bit helps.

2005-01-26 12:59
by Mike Carminati

My Eagles finally made it to the Super Bowl, whipping the Falcons, 27-10, Sunday. That's the same score they lost in their last and only Super Bowl, XV to Oakland, twenty-four years ago. God that broke my young heart.

They'll meet the media darlings, Tom Brady and the New England Patsies, in Jacksonville on February for the Janet Jackson Boob Bowl. That got me to thinking about the other Super Bowls featuring two northeastern teams. The only two were these if you consider Baltimore to be in the Northeast (it’s borderline):

Super BowlDateScore
XXXVJan. 28, 2001Baltimore 34, N.Y. Giants 7
IIIJan. 12, 1969N.Y. Jets 16, Baltimore 7

Given that baseball has had so many championships with northeastern teams—Wasn't Ken Burn's baseball documentary based on it (I still have visions of Mario Cuomo)—it seemed odd that there were just three such Super Bowls of the 39 so far.

Here are all the northeast-only World Series in baseball history. Funny, there were no teams from the hamlet of Foxboro involved, however:

1884Providence Grays3New York Metropolitans00
1889New York Giants6Brooklyn Bridegrooms30
1905New York Giants4Philadelphia Athletics10
1911Philadelphia Athletics4New York Giants20
1912Boston Red Sox4New York Giants31
1913Philadelphia Athletics4New York Giants10
1914Boston Braves4Philadelphia Athletics00
1915Boston Red Sox4Philadelphia Phillies10
1916Boston Red Sox4Brooklyn Robins10
1921New York Giants5New York Yankees30
1922New York Giants4New York Yankees01
1923New York Yankees4New York Giants20
1924Washington Senators4New York Giants30
1933New York Giants4Washington Senators10
1936New York Yankees4New York Giants20
1937New York Yankees4New York Giants10
1941New York Yankees4Brooklyn Dodgers10
1947New York Yankees4Brooklyn Dodgers30
1949New York Yankees4Brooklyn Dodgers10
1950New York Yankees4Philadelphia Phillies00
1951New York Yankees4New York Giants20
1952New York Yankees4Brooklyn Dodgers30
1953New York Yankees4Brooklyn Dodgers20
1955Brooklyn Dodgers4New York Yankees30
1956New York Yankees4Brooklyn Dodgers30
1969New York Mets4Baltimore Orioles10
1983Baltimore Orioles4Philadelphia Phillies10
1986New York Mets4Boston Red Sox30
2000New York Yankees4New York Mets10

Look at how annual New York City series ended after the Fifties. I guess that's what happens with expansion, expansion to new cities by both existing and new teams. Baseball has only witnessed four such World Series since the inception of the NFL-AFL championship that somehow became the Super Bowl.

One last thing: I hope the demons of 1914-15, when Philly teams lost to Boston ones, have left town with the 1918 demon that allegedly held sway over the Red Sox until this past season.

Oh, and GO EAGLES!

Hilar Delgado
2005-01-26 12:58
by Mike Carminati

[That's "splitting hairs" in Spanish.]

The Carlos Delgado derby was won by the Marlins yesterday to the tune of four years and $52 M. Delgado is coming off his worst offensive season since 1997 and is 32, but even so I expect a big year from him—no reason, I just do. He'll be 37 when his contract ends, and I'll leave it to others to argue the merits of the contract length.

He's sure to be an upgrade over Jeff Conine, to whom the first base job fell after Hee Seop Choi was traded to the Dodgers. If Delgado matches his home run total for 2004 (32), a seven-year low that he accumulated while missing the entire month of June with injuries, he will establish a new high for Marlin left-handed batters, 31 set by Cliff Floyd in 2001.

Here are all the Marlins lefties to hit at least ten homers in a season:

Cliff Floyd312001
Cliff Floyd221998
Cliff Floyd222000
Cliff Floyd182002
Hee Seop Choi152004
Mark Kotsay122000
Cliff Floyd111999
Mark Kotsay111998

Also, here are their switch-hitters who matched the feat. I don’t have left/right splits for each:

Orestes Destrade201993
Bobby Bonilla171997
Devon White171996
Terry Pendleton141995

Some will say that this proves that a left-handed hitter cannot succeed in Pro Player. They point to Choi's eight homers at home last year.

Well, I think that's pure bunkum or maybe eyewash. Could be prattle. Choi hit just seven homers on the road and none in his last 31 games with the Dodgers. Besides, Floyd became an established player under the burden of Pro Player. In his two seasons since leaving the Marlins, it's not at as his home run totals went through the roof.

The Delgado signing, I think, goes a long way to making the NL East a four-team race, with no one team looking all that powerful going into 2005.

The Mets settled on Doug "Retirement Ball" Mientkiewicz after the lost the Delgado round robin. That's a rather large dropoff in talent. It may put the Mets behind the other three in many preseason picks. I think they will all end up in the 85- to 92-win range. If the Marlins can get their young starters to gel, they are the clear-cut favorites.

Iguchi To Bring Good Chi to Chisox?
2005-01-25 23:58
by Mike Carminati

The White Sox today signed Japanese second baseman Tadahito Iguchi to a two-year contract worth between four and five million dollars (with an option for a third).

The Sox say they imported him for defense and speed. I'm not so sure it's a wise decision. Iguchi does look like one of the better fielding second baseman in Japan, and even though he had just 18 stolen bases last season, he had 42 the season before and 44 in 2001. In 2004 he also had 24 homers, 89 runs batted in, a .333 batting average, a .394 on-base percentage, a .549 slugging average. His career highs in those categories are 30 home runs (2001), 109 RBI (2003), .340 BA (2003), .438 OBP (2003), and .573 Slug (2003). That all sounds pretty good, eh? 2003 was his breakout year, but 2004 is not that far off the pace.

However, consider that he had 90 strikeouts and just 47 walks in 574 plate appearances in 2004. He has eclipsed 100 Ks in three seasons with a career high of 121 (against just 28 walks) in 1998.

Also, Iguchi just turned 30 last month, so as he learns the American League over the next two years, his skills will probably start to atrophy.

Finally, after the failure of Little Matsui last season with the Mets should make everyone wary of middle infield imports from Japan. Compare Iguchi's stats to Matsui's in Japan and tell me who looks like the better bet. Actually, his career wasn't much different from another Japanese import, outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, who was an unqualified failure on this side of the Pacific and who returned to Japan last year after three remarkably sub-par seasons at the plate in the majors. And Shinjo was a year younger.

After acquiring A.J. Pierzynski, who according to this San Francisco Chronicle article takes things incredibly literally or is the most obnoxious player in the majors, the White Sox seem to be on a roll. I wonder why the Twins win this division each year.

The Excuse Me Double Play
2005-01-25 00:48
by Mike Carminati

The latest in's stultifying series on baseball best is up at, well, you know where. The latest senior superlative in the yearbook project has become is the best to break up a double play. And the Insipidy, er, ESPY goes to Scot Rolen. I'm fine with that assessment. My problem is within the article itself.

They quote Andy Van Slyke in his lamentation that "these young whippersnappers don't break up the double play like we used to." I'm paraphrasing, of course. Actually he said:

"I worked at it. I used to take notes to remind myself about which guys (second basemen, especially) went which way. But it's a different game now. There is no longer an emphasis on that extra out, it's no longer imperative. Now the game is played to hit the ball over the fence. That extra out doesn't mean as much.''

It's good old fashioned "it was better in my day"-ism. Let's take a look at a derived total for runners on first and double play groundouts over time:

DecadeLg Runners at 1B GIDP GIDP/runner at first
1940sAL 128,590 9,795 7.62%
1940sNL 125,495 8,968 7.15%
1950sAL 127,751 10,319 8.08%
1950sNL 121,509 9,800 8.07%
1960sAL 152,167 11,876 7.80%
1960sNL 148,379 11,487 7.74%
1970sAL 199,028 15,986 8.03%
1970sNL 190,119 14,600 7.68%
1980sAL 213,808 17,571 8.22%
1980sNL 179,637 13,325 7.42%
1990sAL 219,913 17,551 7.98%
1990sNL 208,398 15,265 7.32%
2000sAL 111,224 8,949 8.05%
2000sNL 125,398 10,076 8.04%
Total 2,251,416 175,568 7.80%

[Note: Runners at first are walks, hit by a pitch, and singles (H-2B-3B-HR)]. So did the AL collectively forget how to take out the shortstop in the Eighties? Yes, the totals have gone up since the Nineties, but that's meaningless.

Let's add in opportunities lost to stolen base attempts and see what happens:

DecadeLgUpdated GIDP%

Looking at it this way, this decade looks barely above average.

Now, keep in mind that Van Slyke was the man doubled off second when Mickey Morandini turned an unassisted triple play on September 20, 1992. Clearly, runners in the Eighties and Nineties were much less effective in stopping unassisted triple plays than they are today, right Andy?

Generalissimo John Franco is Still Pitching
2005-01-24 00:26
by Mike Carminati

The Astros signed 44-year-old John Franco today to a one-year contract to actually pitche for them next season. I guess the ineffectiveness of lefty Mike Gallo and the rest of his pen-mates in the playoffs last year were cause enough for Houston to sign a reliever who has not been effective since the last Bush's administration.

At least this forty-something pitcher did not cost them another $18 M, like 42-year-old Roger Clemens did. It made me wonder how many teams had multiple forty-year-olds on their roster. Here are the ones with the most:

Chicago White SoxAL19475
Philadelphia AthleticsAL19284
Philadelphia PhilliesNL19834
Brooklyn DodgersNL19444
Brooklyn DodgersNL19454
New York YankeesAL19454
New York YankeesAL19584
Pittsburgh PiratesNL19453
Cincinnati RedsNL19453
St. Louis CardinalsNL19963
New York YankeesAL19443
Pittsburgh PiratesNL19483
Boston BravesNL19353
St. Louis CardinalsNL19343
St. Louis CardinalsNL19633
Philadelphia AthleticsAL19303
New York YankeesAL20033
Philadelphia AthleticsAL19273
Oakland AthleticsAL19993
Chicago White SoxAL19463
Detroit TigersAL19063
Seattle MarinersAL20043
Seattle MarinersAL20033
Brooklyn DodgersNL19433
Brooklyn RobinsNL19313
Detroit TigersAL19123

The '47 White Sox had Luke Appling (40), Red Ruffing (42), Joe Kuhel (41), Thornton Lee (40), and Earl Caldwell (42). I can name the Wheez Kids ('82 Phils) by heart Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Ron Reed, and Bill Robinson. They also had a 39-year-old Joe Morgan.

As far as teams with multiple 40-year-olds on their pitching staffs, seven are tied with three:

Chicago White SoxAL19473
New York YankeesAL19583
New York YankeesAL20033
Cincinnati RedsNL19453
St. Louis CardinalsNL19343
Brooklyn RobinsNL19313
New York YankeesAL19453

The forty-something pitchers on the '03 Yankees staff were Roger Clemens, David Wells, and Jesse Orosco, for a time. There are another 38 with at least two 40-year-olds.

So it's not as rare as I thought, but when you add in a 39-year-old outfielder in Craig Biggio, a 35-year-old catcher (Brad Ausmus), a 36-year-old first baseman (Jeff Bagwell), a 36-year-old utility infielder who always ends up starting wherever he goes (Jose Vizcaino), and a 36-year-old bench player (Orlando Palmeiro). That makes seven potential key players on the Houston roster that are at least 35 years old.

The record for players who are at least 35 is 13 for the 2002 D-Backs, but with some luck the Astros can catch them:

Arizona DiamondbacksNL200213
New York YankeesAL200012
New York YankeesAL200412
Arizona DiamondbacksNL200412
Brooklyn DodgersNL194511
Philadelphia PhilliesNL194511
California AngelsAL198611
New York YankeesAL200310
Brooklyn DodgersNL194310
Chicago White SoxAL196110
Atlanta BravesNL200110
New York MetsNL200310
California AngelsAL198510
Seattle MarinersAL200410

Aside from two World War II teams, all these teams are expansion-era.

Rip You a New Van Winkle
2005-01-21 01:11
by Mike Carminati

The Red Sox are continuing to put pressure Doug Mientkiewicz to hand over the ball from the World Series-clinching win. But in an added twist the team is taking preventative measures:

[President Larry] Lucchino also said the team is working on a policy to avoid another fight over, say, the ball that clinches the first Red Sox World Series repeat since 1916.

Besides the hubris that this statement displays, and the lack of concern for Denis Leary losing his one remaining nut, underneath it all Lucchino is really expressing his altruistic concern for this guy.

For all the whining that the baseball gods were against the Sox and their fans, it turns out that they were just innocent bystanders in the gods' hatred for Steven Manganello, a Red Sox fan who spent most of the playoffs in a coma. His state was caused by being hit by a cab in Tokyo on October 1. Though Mangallo awake before the playoffs were over, he remembers none of it.

It kind of reminds me of the scene in "Good Will Hunting" in which Robin Williams' character describes in wildly emoting detail how he missed the Carlton Fisk World Series homer because of a date with a girl. It's a new spin on the ultimate loser scenario.

Or as Matt Damon would say, "How do you like them apples?"

The [Insert Your Name Here] Angels of Anaheim
2005-01-21 00:40
by Mike Carminati

The major-league sports franchise associated with Los Angeles was the 1926 LA Buccaneers in the NFL. The Bucs were a road franchise that finished 6-3-1 and disappeared into obscurity.

Oddly enough, the NFL had a one-year rival, the first AFL, and that league fielded a team nominally from LA as well, the Wildcats. The Los Angeles Wildcats was also road team. They finished 6-6-1.

Now the Angels are trying to follow in these illustrious teams footsteps, renaming themselves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim while staying in Anaheim. However, the city of Los Angeles does not want to be so honored.

They filed a brief yesterday to support Anaheim's lawsuit against the name change, claiming it violates their contract with the team. The brief calls the name change "improper", "misleading and confusing", and an "attempt to profit from the Los Angeles name they abandoned long ago." I guess, if 40 years is a long time. LA expects that its teams "play at home stadiums located within the…city limits." Silly LA.

Maybe the Angels will start shopping the location portion of their moniker around. How about Hollywood Angels of Anaheim? It sounds like the old Hollywood Stars, right? And maybe "Hollywood" since it's a section of LA is a name that can fly under the radar while be exploited.

Or maybe the Angels should follow the Japanese teams' lead and take on the name of their corporate sponsors. How about the Nippon Ham Angels of Anaheim?

Subsisting Saunders
2005-01-20 17:40
by Mike Carminati

It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire from sight and afterwards return again.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Retire me to my Milan, where

Every third thought shall be my grave.

—William "Author" Shakespeare , The Tempest, said by Prospero upon returning to Milan to resume his role as the duke. He never pitched in Tampa Bay though.

On May 26, 1999 Tony Saunders was just a 25-year-old Devil Ray lefty trying to rebound from a 6-15 season, one in which he went 16 straight starts without a win. He had combined for a one-hitter with two relievers on April 22, the only hit coming on a two-out Mike Bordick single, which sent Saunders to the showers. Saunders had had an up and down early season a lot of bad (9 runs to the White Sox in 4.1 IP in his start after the one-hitter, 6 runs in 3 IP to the Tigers in the next) and some good (the one-hitter and a three-hit, 7-K, 8-inning effort on May 15). On May 26, Saunders entered the third inning with a 3-0 lead against the Rangers at home, but as the inning ended the Rangers had tied the score (led by a leadoff homer to Roberto Kelly), and Saunders had left the game after breaking the humerus bone in his pitching arm.

Saunders was out for the season and was trying a comeback in 2000, when he broke the same bone again in minor-league game on August 24. He retired two days later saying, "It's so hard knowing you're done… I can't do it again."

Apparently, he can. Saunders signed to a minor-league contract with the Baltimore Orioles yesterday. Given the general quality of the Baltimore staff, I would say he has a decent shot of making the team.

Saunders has been out of baseball for five full seasons. This got me to thinking if he made the O's would it be such an unusual achievement. I mean, Salomon Torres and Joe Roa recently made it back to the majors after being away for four years. But then again, they were plying their trade in the minors, not retired. However, there's Jose Rijo, who was out of the game for five years and even received Hall of Fame votes but then returned briefly to the majors a few years back.

So I decided to look it up. I did a quick query and found that 359 men had five-year gaps in the major-league career but did make it back to the majors again. And they aren't all Minnie Minoso types: 151 were younger than Saunders will be if he does make it back (31).
Here are the ones from the last thirty years (with comeback year and age):

Jim Crowell200430
Damon Hollins200430
Marc Kroon200431
Carlos Pulido200331
Jose Rijo200136
Kip Gross199934
Larry Luebbers199929
Efrain Valdez199831
Brent Knackert199626
Ravelo Manzanillo199430
Chuck Jackson199431
Steve Fireovid199235
Donnie Scott199129
Warren Cromartie199137
Mike Norris199035
Danny Boone199036
Kevin Hickey198933
Ron Tingley198829
Jose Alvarez198832
Dan Firova198831
Mike Kinnunen198628
Phil Huffman198527
Vicente Romo198239
Alex Taveras198226
Milt Ramirez197929
Jim Breazeale197828
Jim Bouton197839
Chuck Hartenstein197735
Minnie Minoso197653
Rick Bladt197528

As far as Saunders being young to attempt such a comeback, consider that Piggy Ward made it back to the majors after a five-year hiatus at age 22. Ward was a journeyman second baseman, who finally became a major-league starter in 1894 at age 27, playing 98 games mostly at second for the old Washington Senators. Unfortunately, he played a poor second base (5.11 Range Factor compared to 5.71 league average) and never played in the majors again.

Here are the youngest to complete a Saunders-like comeback:

Piggy Ward188922
Taylor Shafer189023
Joe Nuxhall195223
Glenn Liebhardt193625
Joe Quest187825
Henry Luff188225
Rowdy Elliott191625
Jim Curry191825
Mike Lehane189025
Ron Tompkins197126
Lefty Stewart192726
Brent Knackert199626
Josh Clarke190526
Bobby Darwin196926
Bob Miller196226
Buck Freeman189826
Johnny Bassler192126
Bill Smiley188226
Alex Taveras198226
Paul Ratliff197026
Art Reinhart192526
Hack Eibel192026
Danny Murphy196926
Frank Leja196226
Con Murphy189026
George Borchers189526
George Yankowski194926
Tom Loftus188326
Jack Calvo192026
Jack Jenkins196926
Hi West191126
Charlie Blackburn192126

By the way, given that Saunders broke his arm on May 26, he's been out of the majors for almost six seasons. Only 220 men have come back after layoffs of that length.

To carry this out to its most picayune conclusions, here are the men with 10-year gaps:

Jim Baumer196130
John O'Connell190230
Al Epperly195032
Harry Smith188933
Jack McFetridge190333
Ken Penner192933
Chick Keating192634
Joe Cicero194534
Ralph Buxton194935
Roy Schalk194435
Ralph Winegarner194939
Rudy Sommers192639
Bobby Schang192740
Clay Touchstone194542
Lou Polli194442
Paul Schreiber194542
Clyde Sukeforth194543
Fred Lake191043
Fred Johnson193844
Gabby Street193148
Charley O'Leary193451
Jim O'Rourke190453
Minnie Minoso197653
Satchel Paige196558

Finally, here are the players who missed fifteen or more straight seasons before coming back to the majors:

Paul Schreiber19454221
Charley O'Leary19345120
Gabby Street19314818
Clay Touchstone19454215

Schreiber was the Yankees BP pitcher for many years who pitched in relief on September 4, 1945 in a blowout against Detroit's Dizzy Trout. He threw 3.1 innings of no-hit ball but the Yankees lost, 10-0.

Charley O'Leary was a Browns coach pressed into duty on the last day of the 1934 season at age 51 as a oinch-hitter. He singled and later scored.

Street was the Cardinal manager in 1931 and inserted himself as a catcher for the last three innings of one game, a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers, on September 20. He does throw out the only man who attempts to steal against him, Babe Herman. As a player, he was Walter Johnson batterymate and appeared in Strange But True Baseball Stories, one of my favorites as a child, catching a ball from the top of the Washington Monument.

The inappropriately named Clay Touchstone was a wartime replacement for the White Sox. That was also the year that Babe Herman made it back to majors, also at age 42. (On July 8, he pinch-hit twice and on one hit tripped over first.)

Between A Rocket and a Hard Place
2005-01-19 12:40
by Mike Carminati

Roger Clemens is asking for a record $22 M in arbitration and if he doesn't get it, he may retire as the reigning Cy Young winner in the NL and a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. The Astros are offering $13.5 M. Clemens earned $5 M last season ($3.5 deferred to 2006).

OK, you've heard all that, but what you may not have heard is that two more Astro starting pitchers, Tim Redding and Pete Munro, also were seeking arbitration money much higher than the team's offer (Redding: $1.4 M vs. $575 K; Munro: $1.1 M vs. $525 K). Redding made $395 K last season, went 5-7 with a 5.72 ERA (25% worse than the park-adjusted average), and was not used in the postseason. Munro was 4-7/5.15 (16% worse than average), but had one good start in two tries after being pressed into duty in the NLCS (his last available salary was $305 K in 2003).

The Astros' biggest problem in the playoffs was their thin starting rotation corps, something that has only gotten worse with Wade Miller leaving this offseason as a free agent. After Roy Oswalt (who asked $7.8 M in arbitration; the Astros offered $6 M) and Any Pettitte, there are a lot of question marks, and most of them a larger than which side, the player or the team, wins the outstanding arbitration cases.

Brandon Backe was just average during the regular season (5-3, 4.30 ERA—at the park adjusted league average) but looked great in the postseason: 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts. He'll be given every opportunity to garner a spot in the rotation.

That's three spots. Even if Clemens decides not to retire, that leaves them with one spot to be filled by Munro, Redding, Phils castoff Brandon Duckworth (1-2/6.86 in 2004), or Carlos Hernandez (1-3/6.43), none of whom inspire much confidence.

So where does that leave them? Oswalt has been a solid staff leader for four years, and even with a slight rise in his ERA last season (a career-high 3.49 23% better than average), he should remain so. Pettitte is rebounding from an injury but should be solid starter if healthy. The inexperience/lack of talent (depending on your point of view) at the tail-end of the rotation is a concern.

What of Rocket in 2005? Well, he is coming off his best season in the last six (even though I tabbed Randy Johnson for the Cy Young). I initially thought he was starting to lose it in the second half last year, but the numbers don't bear that out. He fell from awesome in the first few months to "just" very good in the second half, but even so, his strikeout numbers improved in the last two months of the season. Here are some of his more pertinent splits:

Pre-All Star2.6210318116.79.332.471.180.69
Post-All Star3.41811597.78.943.231.130.55

When a pitcher switches leagues, an adjustment of some sort, by either the league or the pitcher, is expected once the batters get to see the pitcher multiple times. However, Clemens gave no indication (or at most very slight indication) that the NL batters were starting to figure him out. He is 42, but he gives every indication that he still has gas left in the tank (witness his 21 Ks in 25 innings in the postseason).

Aside from the rotation issues (and a bullpen that often deserted them in the playoffs), the Astros have lost two regulars, CF Carlos Beltran and 2B Jeff Kent, to free agency. With Beltran gone, apparently Craig Biggio moves back to center and 28-year-old perennial prospect Jason Lane takes over in left (though there are rumors involving free agent CF Jeromy Burnitz). Jose Vizcaino, who took over for Adam Everett at short in the playoffs, now becomes the putative second baseman. With scant free agent remaining (Enrique Wilson, Rey Sanchez, and Ricky Gutierrez), he may be their best option. That's a big difference offensively at both spots.

Clearly, this team has some bigger issues than how many millions it will fork over to Roger Clemens in 2005.

Immortal Mortals
2005-01-17 00:40
by Mike Carminati

Immortal mortals, mortal immortals, one living the others’ death and dying the others’ life.


I don't want to be immortal through my work. I want to be immortal through not dying.

—Woody Allen

When I was in Florida a week or so ago I visited a local sports museum, the Sports Immortals Museum, and even though it housed an interesting collection of artifacts I was left thinking more about the museum itself than anything in the collection.

The quote that sprang to mind was Dickens' description of Scrooge's home in A Christmas Carol, that it was "where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again." It had the some disorienting effect.

Visitors are greeted by a bronze Babe Ruth toting a sheaf of bats as if he were approaching the plate:

The entranceway is strewn with hand-painted baseball shaped stones with the names of an assorted array of heroes and an awning supported by two immense bats, one baring Ruth's signature and the other Gehrig's (and yeah, unfortunately, that's me):

After that buildup, the interior (At least on the first floor) appears, oddly, to be nothing more than a memorabilia shop, except for the flying Michael Jordan overhead:

We visited on a weekday, so that may explain why we were the only ones there, besides MJ. The person behind the memorabilia counter switched to the museum register, and after collecting our $5 admission fee, he escorted us via elevator to the introductory film. He explained that the seats in the, dare I call it, auditorium (there were four or five rows of four or five seats) were from a number of old stadiums. We sat in the Ebbets Field row, and the tour guide put in the video and left us to our own devices.

Anyway, the film described in a John Facenda-esque voice and strangely slick presentation how the Sports Immortals Museum was a multi-media, interactive, state-of-the-art omni-sport experience. As the film prattled on about the museum and what it takes to be achieve greatness in sport, I wondered what parallel universe I had fallen into because the film's museum bore no resemblance to the actual museum in which the film aired. Then I realized that all this was an expensive sales brochure for someone's dream. And that someone was Joel Platt, whose memorabilia collection was the museum.

As the film continued, I looked about the room as I got my first taste for a collection that the film told me was worth $50 million. The ticket says that the collection consisted of "over 1 million mementos". So I guess they are worth, on average, fifty bucks, which is odd because the cheapest thing I could find in the memorabilia shop was a signed Al Barlick Hall of Fame plaque card for about that much.

In the corner of the video room was a large frame with signed solo albums by every member of the Beatles, great sportsmen all, thrown together with little figurines from early Beatlemania-dom. Then I realized that this was a fan's idiosyncratic collection, someone's basement, made available to the world.

Then I took a shot of the Willie Mays statue that, along with Mickey Mantle, stared at me as I watched the film. Note that there is a frame of Nolan Ryan and Pete Rose cards wedged between the statues case and the wall:

As the film ended we were left to room the display cases on the third floor of the museum. Each room had a theme of sorts, usually an individual sport. The boxing room, for instance, had a Mike Tyson mask in a case along side a Jack Johnson display including his signature, and then a Frito-Lay large stand-up display with a "Man without a Face"-era Elijah Wood mugging with Rod Woodson.

There were plenty of things of interest. First, a rare Honus Wagner card:

The Carl Mays/Ray Chapman ball, which was re-christened "The Death Ball":

There was Rickey Henderson's record-breaking stolen base (single season record):

Then there were also a number of souvenirs wrested from old stadiums. First were the two cornerstones from Pittsburgh's Forbes Field (I only shot one):

Next was one from the "Old" Yankee Stadium:

Then seats from Ebbets Field and Connie Mack Stadium (What, none from the Vet?):

Then there were plaques and chachkes that ran from the sublime to the ridiculous. Here's are the team pictures for the two teams who faced off in the 1903 World Series, the 1904 Boston AL and Pittsburg (not the missing "h") NL teams. Honus Wagner is in the upper left-hand corner of the Pirates photo. Fred Clarke is the big picture in the middle:

There was a collection of Negro League jerseys, each displaying the litany of players who were employed by the team, though it was impossible to tell if they were game-worn jerseys or just replicas and if they were game-worn who wore it. Here's the KC Monarchs jersey that reads, "Satchel Paige was one of the greatest pitchers of All, Monte Irvin, [unreadable]. Buck Leonard, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige were three of the greatest base ball [players] of all time."

There was an old time base ball game from 1888 that didn't look that much different from the games I played as a child at the Jersey shore (though it had no bat):

Various mementos from the Brooklyn Dodgers sole championship (for my father-in-law):

Then there was a display of various baseball-related heads, from likenesses of famous players to mascots:

Finally, the piece d'resistance was a scoop of dirt from Brandon Field, Joe Jackson's first field, displayed in a semi-opaque Tupperware container, ready for easy microwaving. Next to the dirt was the letter from the person who sent the dirt in. I'm sorry, it wouldn't fit in the picture. It reminded me of the stories I heard of old-world cathedrals claiming to have a splinter from the cross and a bone(s) from various popes, saints, and other religiousos:

After wondering around the display cases, we went back down to the ground floor to gape at the one-hundred- to two-hundred-dollar bats from the likes of Omar Moreno, Andy Van Slyke, and Mickey Tettleton. Oh, and there was the slightly-larger-than-life size statue of Shaquille O'Neal slamming a basket:

So if you're in Boca, it's definitely worth your time and the five-dollar admission price to check out the Sports Immortals Museum. For me, other than a few photos, I was left with a dissipated feeling. I enjoyed the mementos, but after seeing the sales video (did I mention Franco Harris was in it?), I couldn't help feeling a little sad for a place that dreamed to be more than it was and evidently didn't get there. They even have a display of signed copied of their Sports Immortals coffee table book, that had been reduced.

It's even sadder when I looked at the back if the ticket to read the "Sport Immortals 'Rules for Success'", which were:

1. Never lose sight of your dreams

2. Set Goals

3. Always give maximum effort

4. Never be afraid of failure

5. Learn from your mistakes

6. Keep physically fit

7. Avoid drugs

8. Be flexible and tolerant

9. Believe in yourself

10. Have faith

They beat Frank Lopez's two rules in "Scarface" ("Never underestimate the other guy's greed" and "Don't get high on your own supply"), but I'm not sure if they apply to everyone who's found success in sport (Terry Forster did many a "Hail Mary" over rule 6).

I hope I'm not being too hard on Sports Immortals. The overall effect was an endearing one if a bit sad. I do wish them luck.

Kill Save the (Now Extinct) Umpire/Player
2005-01-14 19:50
by Mike Carminati

Man is an organism with a wonderful and extraordinary past. He is distinguished from the other animals by virtue of the fact that he has elaborated what I have termed extensions of his organism. By developing his extensions, man has been able to improve or specialize various functions. The computer is an extension of part of the brain, the telephone extends the voice, the wheel extends the legs and feet. Language extends experience in time and space while writing extends language. Man has elaborated his extensions to such a degree that we are apt to forget that his humaneness is rooted in his animal nature.

—Edward T. Hall

You specialize in something until one day you find it is specializing in you.

—Arthur Miller , The Price

Times once were in this country that you could do anything and everything in your chosen line of business. Executives did come from the mailroom. Statesmen were philosophers, innovators, and massive perves (if Franklin is any indication), murderers (Burr), and connoisseurs of the moccachica (Jefferson). Ex-Presidents actually did lead productive lives continuing to serve their country (William Howard Taft became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Andrew Johnson was a senator after being president, and Herbert Hoover lent is name to shanties that sprang up around the country, in which people lived in horrible conditions—thanks Herbie).

In baseball too, famous players returned to the minors to play out their careers in relative anonymity and Poughkepsie. Many early ones like A.G. Spalding, Connie Mack, and Charles Comiskey became moguls because of their involvement in the sport. But quicker than you can say "situational lefty", the specialists took over.

Now we are witnessing the last of a dying breed, which, er, died a couple of weeks ago. The last man to be a major-league player and umpire, Ken Burkhart, died December 29 at the ripe age of 89. Burkhart was a Cardinal farmhand, and his minor-league stops are a trip down memory lane for anyone who has looked at the Cardinals nonpareil organization between the wars (New Iberia anyone?).

He finally made it to the majors right at the end of World War II and registered an 18-8 rookie record. However, injuries and returning vets cut short his career. According to Baseball Library, his mechanics devolved to "an unusual shot-put delivery".

After his playing career was done, Burkhart became an umpire. Even though he was a reportedly excellent ump, who worked three World Series, six All-Star games (in four seasons), one NLCS, and back-to-back no-hitters on consecutive days in September 1968 (Gaylord Perry 9/17/68 and Ray Washburn 9/18/68) he will forever be remembered for a controversial miscall.

In the opening game of the 1970 World Series with the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Reds had men at first and third (Bernie Carbo) and one out (Lee May on one of Brooks Robinson's diving plays). Pinch-hitter Ty Cline tapped a ball in front of home. Catcher Elrod Hendricks lunged forward, snared the ball, and dove back in time to tag Carbo, who was sprinting home, with his glove. The only problem was that replays showed that the ball was in Hendricks' throwing hand, not his glove. During the play Burkhart had gotten out of position and entangled with Hendricks. The Orioles went ahead to stay in the next half inning on a Robinson solo shot and won the Series, 4-1.

The play assured that Hendricks would be the O's bullpen coach for life, Carbo again would end up on the wrong end of a Series, in 1975 against his old team (the Reds), and that there would never again be another former player umpiring in the majors. Or maybe I'm overselling it.

Also, he once awarded a three-ball walk after he counted a balk as a ball (April 24, 1960—Cubs vs Giants). I guess he wasn't a very assiduous speller.

Adios, Ken Burkhart. We shan't see your like again.

Fair Balls and the Imaginary Imaginary Line II
2005-01-14 13:02
by Mike Carminati

Previous: On-Deck Coach I, II, and Fair Balls etc. I

I referred this issue to umpiring authority Rick Roder, who was extremely helpful and informative and also confirmed Andy's and my interpretation of the rules. Lacking a MLB Umpires Manual myself, I first asked if it was there.

This issue is not covered in the MLB Umpires Manual. I believe that most professional umpires would consider a ball that falls inside of the baselines between first/second and second/third to still be on the "infield" as far as this rule is concerned. Accordingly, this is how it is worded in the Jaksa/Roder manual:
It is a fair ball [2.00] if any portion of a batted ball (4) that is airborne falls onto fair territory beyond first, second, or third base.

The problem is that the rule was written referring to the typical batted ball going down one of the foul lines and without regard to the ball up the middle. I have seen misplayed fly balls on Astroturf fields that brought this problem to light; the ball had enough spin to propel it toward the foul lines. Of course, as it happens, the ball is picked up well before it has time to roll that far.

Next, I asked him about the nebulous qualification for balls hit to the outfield:

I also have an issue with this section of the definition: "A FAIR BALL is a batted ball…that is on or over fair territory when bounding to the outfield past first or third base ". Given that the outfield is defined as "the area of the playing field most distant from home base" [i.e. in the definition of OUTFIELDER, of all places], there's a lot of gray area there. Does that include the cutout areas around the bases? If so, then aren't the infielders stationed, usually, in the outfield, technically? What if the ball hits the cutout over a drawn in shortstop and goes foul in front of third, is it foul or fair? Logically, it should be fair, but I don't think the rules are conclusive.

Rick's response:

Regarding "A FAIR BALL is a batted ball…that is on or over fair territory when bounding to the outfield past first or third base ".

The words "to the outfield" could have just as well been left out of the phrase; as you are finding out, those words only serve to confuse. Again, the wording in the Jaksa/Roder manual clearly defines how this rule is interpreted:

It is a fair ball [2.00] if any portion of a batted ball (2) is bounding on or over fair territory when passing any portion of first or third base.

Thus, the point at which the ground ball reaches the home-plate edge of first or third base is the key. At that point it must be ruled fair or foul by the umpire. The "outfield" really has no ramifications whatever in regard to fair/foul balls; the keys are the bases and when batted balls are going to go beyond the bases. Of course, there are issues in regard to the foul poles, etc., but these, as well, have nothing really to do with an accurate definition of "outfield."

Hope that helps. If you don't already have my manual, you might find it invaluable for deciphering how these things are interpreted by professional umpires. If you continue to rely on the wording in the Official Rules, you are destined to be continually frustrated. Believe me, I've been there!

Best wishes,

Rick Roder

Rick's manual seems a wise investment, and once I clear it with the mighty Mike's Baseball Rants budget department (i.e., my wife), I am going to pick me up one.

Fair Balls and the Imaginary Imaginary Line
2005-01-14 01:04
by Mike Carminati


More adventures in wacky fair/foul ball calls:

Hi Mike,

Thanks for answering my questions really helped.

I have a follow up to the question on imaginary line question. I told a buddy of mine what you had said about no imaginary line in pro ball, as there is in High School which there is it is stated in high school rule book.

Since there is no imaginary line in pro ball and I know this would probably never happen someone would pick it up before it rolled foul, but we would like to know just for argument sake. If a fly ball lands just in front of 2nd base and has such a spin on it that it rolls and settles untouched by a fielder into foul territory between 1st and home or 3rd and home: its a Foul Ball, right?

in rule 2.00 it states the the ball has to hit or pass 1st or 3rd base before rolling foul to be a fair ball. So is it that a ball would have to hit or pass 2nd base before rolling foul to be fair? even though a ball hitting in front of 2nd and rolling foul would of really passed 1st or 3rd as far as distance goes.

If you stand on 1st and look across at 3rd, you can see that between the pitching mound and 2nd there is an area that the ball is passed 1st and 3rd.

Like I said i know this would probably never happen that the ball would be picked up before rolling foul.

Just to make sure it a foul ball in pro ball. I know it a fair ball in high school it clearly stated in the high school rule book.

I hope you don't mind me picking your brain

thank for your time and consideration in this matter.


Curiouser and curiouser, eh? Wait for it…

Hi Andy,

That's my understanding. The rule is extremely vague on the matter. It mentions second base only once, and that's if the ball hits second. Here's the rule broken into its components:


A) a batted ball that settles on fair ground between home and first base, or between home and third base,

B) or that is on or over fair territory when bounding to the outfield past first or third base,

C) or that touches first, second or third base,

D) or that first falls on fair territory on or beyond first base or third base,

E) or that, while on or over fair territory touches the person of an umpire or player,

F) or that, while over fair territory, passes out of the playing field in flight.

G) FLIES: A fair fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the fielder is on fair or foul territory at the time he touches the ball.

If a fly ball lands in the infield between home and first base, or home and third base, and then bounces to foul territory without touching a player or umpire and before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball; or if the ball settles on foul territory or is touched by a player on foul territory, it is a foul ball.

If a fly ball lands on or beyond first or third base and then bounces to foul territory, it is a fair hit.

Clubs, increasingly, are erecting tall foul poles at the fence line with a wire netting extending along the side of the pole on fair territory above the fence to enable the umpires more accurately to judge fair and foul balls. [When was this part written, I wonder.]

The rule stats that it is fair if it "falls first on fair territory on or beyond first or third base". However, what is the definition of "beyond"? Not to be Clintonian, but I could see three possible answers: any balls over the imaginary line between first and third (which I believe is the case in high school ball), any balls beyond the arc between first and third that is ninety feet from home, or the entire square area with corners at the bases.

The only other mention the rules make to this is to say that a ball that hit's the pitcher's plate and then goes foul before passing third or first is foul:

A FOUL BALL is…a batted ball not touched by a fielder, which hits the pitcher's rubber and rebounds into foul territory, between home and first, or between home and third base is a foul ball.

However, Pythagoras tells us that the most constrictive of the above options (i.e., the imaginary line) would still be beyond the mound (63.64 feet—or the square root of 90^2*2 divided by 2—from home as opposed to the rubber's 60'6").

From the rules themselves it appears to be left to the umpire's discretion or perhaps to precedents that have been established. My take is that if such a play occurred, then the ball would be foul. The intention of the rule is that to ensure that a ball is considered fair once it leaves the infield, which the rule implies. So that is why hitting the bases is mentioned, but not bouncing out in front of second.

That's my take.


Spalding Grey Matter
2005-01-13 00:29
by Mike Carminati

The Library of Congress has a number of the old Spalding Base Ball Guides online.

Here's the index. They are required reading for all baseball fans.

Here's a great page that lists the "Chicago" games (i.e., shutouts) and extra-inning games for the NL in 1888:

Check out the batting ratios listed. They include the original "batting average", runs per game, from the old National Association of Base Ball Players days (1857-70):

The collection also has a set of indoor baseball guides, which I've never seen before. Check out the indoor fields:

And indoor bats:

Taking My Ball And Going Home II
2005-01-12 12:23
by Mike Carminati

The Times has an editorial on the Minky ball by Tulsa law professor Paul Finkelman.

His finding is that the ball belongs to neither of the warring parties but rather to either the Cardinals or MLB. He settles on MLB:

In the regular season, the answer is clear: the home team. Whether the home team owns the balls used in its park during a World Series game is a slightly more complicated question. But only slightly; if the home team does not own it, then Major League Baseball does.

Well, that's not much of a rationale. Who said the home team didn't own it anyway? Besides, MLB spokesman Carmine "Don't Call Me the Big Ragu" Tiso told the Globe that the ball is Mientkiewicz's. Therefore, doesn't Finkelman's line of reasoning actually support Minky's case?

My friend Murray makes a much more straightforward and convincing argument in an open letter he sent to the Times two full days before the editorial:

To the Editor:

Regarding the Boston Red Sox's insistence that they, and not their employee Doug Mientkiewicz, own the baseball Mientkiewicz caught to record the final out of the 2004 World Series (article, Jan. 8, 2005), I refer you to Rule 3.01(c) of the Official Rules of Major League Baseball: "Before the game begins the umpire shall...(c) Receive from the home club a supply of regulation baseballs....

The last game of the World Series occurred at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Therefore, the party with the most legitimate claim of ownership to the baseball in question is the St. Louis Cardinals. I'm sure the Cards would be willing to part with this valuable Red Sox artifact--for the right price.

All right, I'm convinced. It's the Cardinals' ball. If they wish to liberate it from Mientkiewicz, that's fine. However, the Red Sox have no claim to it. "All the news that's fit to print", huh?

On-Deck Coach II
2005-01-12 01:18
by Mike Carminati

I received the following email in reference to an entry from last June. As it deals with the rules, I found it quite interesting:

I came across your site and found you answered a question in part to what some of myself and fellow umpires where discussing the other night.

I have a question related to the question below about On deck batter directing a runner scoring. What if the ball gets by the catcher and unintentional hits the On Deck batter and the ball doesn't go out of play. What would the ruling be? And is it the same ruling for NCAA and High School?

I also have a question about rule 2.00 Fair ball.

In high school rules it say if a fly ball hits beyond the imaginary line between first and third base and then rolls into and settles in foul territory before it past 1st or 3rd it a fair ball. what they mean by imaginary line is a line drawn from 1st to 3rd across the infield.

What I'd like to know is the ruling for pro rules and NCAA. In their rulebook it doesn't mention anything about an imaginary line between 1st and 3rd. In the pro rulebook it just states that if a fly ball hit in the infield before passing 1st or 3rd and rolls foul untouched it a foul ball.

I know that play would probably never happen.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter


Here's my response:


Interesting questions. First, I don't have any knowledge of NCAA or high school rules, but I'll post this on my site and perhaps someone else will.

As to the first question, I consider this a judgment call based on rule 7.11:


The players, coaches or any member of an offensive team shall vacate any space (including both dugouts) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. PENALTY: Interference shall be called and the batter or runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out.

If, in the judgment of the umpire, the catcher could have gotten the ball and tagged the runner attempting to score, then the batter is out on interference. If, more likely, the ball gets away from the catcher as the runner is sliding or running across the plate, it is unlikely that the runner could have been tagged out (unless he missed the plate) once the catcher retrieved the ball. However, if a trailing runner advances after the run scores, that runner may be called out if the umpire feels that the on-deck batter interfered with the catcher getting the ball and throwing the runner out. That's how I see it.

Regarding the imaginary line between first and third, nothing like this exists in the majors, of course. There once had been a fair-foul rule that allowed a batter to slap a ball in fair territory that bounced foul. This site claims that Dickey Pearce, and it also states that the rule was changed in 1877.

Rich Marazzi's The Rules and Lore of Baseball contains an interesting situation in a little league game:

The batter hit a line drive off the pitcher's plate on the mound. The ball caromed off the plate and landed near the first base dugout in foul territory. Since the ball did not make contact with the pitcher, the ball was ruled foul in accordance with the rule. If the same play had occurred in the late 1860s, it would have been ruled fair because of the so called "fair-foul" hit. If a bunt struck fair then rolled foul it was ruled a fair ball because the ball originally landed in fair territory.

In this example, however, the ball never passes the imaginary line to which you referred, since it hit the mound.

I hope that helps,


Shea Magnifique?
2005-01-11 12:24
by Mike Carminati

On September 16, the Mets were forced to announce that they were firing manager Art Howe effective at the end of the season after the decision was leaked to the press, perhaps as a trial balloon in the court of public opinion. The Mets finished with a 71-91 record in fourth place in a rather mediocre NL East.

This came after a promising start for the Metsgoes. On July 7, they beat the division-leading Phils 10-1 to climb to within one game of the lead with one game left in the series. They lost the next game, 5-4, and within two weeks had fallen below .500 to stay.

So will the real New York Mets team please stand up? Is it the one left reeling in the shadows of the crosstown Yankees at the end of the season? Or is it the one that seemed so promising earlier in the season with David Wright still waiting in the wings? Is seems that owner Fred Wilpon thinks it is the latter but he is doing everything he can to spackle over the more egregious holes before the start of next season.

At the end of the season, the Mets hired former Expo GM Omar Minaya, who in turn hired former Yankee coach Willie Randolph as manager a month later. After declining arbitration to a slew of older players, the Mets signed free agent Pedro Martinez in the middle of December. Then they managed even to top the Yankees acquisition of Randy Johnson by swiping budding superstar Carlos Beltran for 7 years, $119 M. Their next target appears to be Blue Jay free agent first baseman Carlos Delgado.

So after potentially three major free agent signings, the Mets have to be top contenders in the NL East, right? After all they have promising young players on the left side of the infield in David Wright and Jose Reyes, arguably the best offensive catcher of all time in Mike Piazza, former Japanese player Kaz Matsui hopefully growing into his new role at second base in his second season in the majors, and a deep, rebuilt pitching staff.

Would a team coming back from a sub-.450 winning percentage or a fourth-place or worse finish in one season to make the playoffs in the next be that rare an event? Well, it's been done 83 times in baseball history. Here are the occurrences over the last 15 years:

Chicago Cubs20026795.414520038874.5431
Florida Marlins20027983.488420039171.5622
Houston Astros20007290.444420019369.5741
St. Louis Cardinals19997586.466420009567.5861
Arizona Diamondbacks19986597.4015199910062.6171
Boston Red Sox19977884.481419989270.5682
Chicago Cubs19976894.420519989073.5522
San Diego Padres19977686.469419989864.6051
San Francisco Giants19966894.420419979072.5561
St. Louis Cardinals19956281.434419968874.5431
Boston Red Sox19945461.470419958658.5971
Seattle Mariners19944963.438319957966.5451
Cincinnati Reds19937389.451519946648.5741
Los Angeles Dodgers19938181.500419945856.5091
Philadelphia Phillies19927092.432619939765.5991
Oakland Athletics19918478.519419929666.5931
Atlanta Braves19906597.401619919468.5801
Minnesota Twins19907488.457719919567.5861
Cincinnati Reds19897587.463519909171.5621
Pittsburgh Pirates19897488.451519909567.5861

If you want to look at a team, like the 2004 Mets, that did both, finished with a sub-.450 record, no higher than fourth, then there are just 17 teams in baseball history, though almost half are from the past 15 seasons:

Chicago Cubs20026795.414520038874.5431
Houston Astros20007290.444420019369.5741
Arizona Diamondbacks19986597.4015199910062.6171
Chicago Cubs19976894.420519989073.5522
San Francisco Giants19966894.420419979072.5561
St. Louis Cardinals19956281.434419968874.5431
Philadelphia Phillies19927092.432619939765.5991
Atlanta Braves19906597.401619919468.5801
Minnesota Twins19867191.438619878577.5251
Chicago Cubs19837191.438519849665.5961
New York Mets19687389.4489196910062.6171
Boston Red Sox19667290.444919679270.5681
Cincinnati Reds19606787.435619619361.6041
New York Yankees19256985.442719269163.5871
Boston Braves19136982.448519149459.5951
Brooklyn Bridegrooms18985491.36210189910147.6731
Louisville Colonels188927111.193818908844.6471

So have the Mets done what's necessary to join this list? Can they make the playoffs in 2005? It helps that the NL East is a highly mediocre division. Assuming it will take at least 92 wins to nab the division title and/or a wild card spot, have the Mets improved by 21 games with the personnel that they have added? Will Delgado by the final piece to a Mets come back?

Here's a breakdown of the putative 2005 team assuming that they sign Delgado. Listed are the players' 2004 Win Shares for the Mets only, along with a projection for 2005. For most the projection is based on their 2004 WS total projected out to 162-game schedule depending on their expected playing time. This does not take into account improvements for younger players or declines for older ones, nor does it figure in injuries to key players. It just projects the team's 2005 Win Shares based on 2004 totals:

Name2004 G2004 WS2005 WS Proj2005 G ProjPOS
Carlos Beltran159031159CF
Carlos Delgado1280191411B
David Wright699181383B
Cliff Floyd1131418141LF
Pedro Martinez3301733SP
Mike Cameron1401816140RF
Tom Glavine33151533SP
Kazuo Matsui11414141142B
Jose Reyes53513133SS
Mike Piazza1291212129C
Braden Looper69101069RP
Steve Trachsel33101033SP
Victor Zambrano311029SP
Kris Benson112930SP
Andres Galarraga007831B
Miguel Cairo12207612B
Matt Ginter132639RP
Mike DeJean172651RP
Orber Moreno323664OF
Vance Wilson795579C
Eric Valent1306598INF
Scott Strickland00438RP
Jason Phillips1285496INF
Ron Calloway460386OF
Feliz Heredia470047RP
Others 800
Total WS213262

Notes: Delgado's projection based on 2004 WS plus 10% more playing time.
Wright's based on double the playing time.
Floyd's based on 25% more.
Reyes based on 1.5 times more.
Zambrano's based on entire 2004 WS total plus 10% more playing time.
Benson's based on entire 2004 WS.
Galarraga's based on 2003 WS project to 75% of playing time.
Cairo's based on 50% less playing time.
Ginter's and DeJean's based on there times the appearances, and Moreno's twice the appearances.
Valent's and Phillip's based on 75% of the playing time.
Strickland's based on 2003 WS.
Calloway's based on an average of 2003 and 2004.
Cameron's fielding Win Shares were adjusted to the average right fielder (two less).

Adding up all the Win Shares projects to 87 wins for the 2005 Mets. Of course, this is anything but scientific, but it does tell us a couple of things. First, the Mets are vastly improved on paper (surprise!) but are far from division favorites (also surprise!). They do appear to be likely contenders. However, without some improvements over 2004 by a number of key players, they still seem to be short of a division crown.

If youngsters like Wright and Reyes fulfill their potential tags and veterans (Piazza, Delgado, Cameron, Matsui, Floyd) play like they have in years past, the Mets could very easily garner a division crown. However, if either of their top two starters, Martinez and Glavine, both of whom are aging and/or fragile, falter, and their rebuilt pen does not gel, it could be a disappointing season at Shea.

Either way, they'll probably beat the seemingly non-existent Phils this year.

Cats and Dogs Sleeping Together
2005-01-10 12:52
by Mike Carminati

Sheez, I go away for a couple of weeks and the whole baseball world went to heck in a handbasket. Witness:

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The friggin' Los Angeles née Anaheim née California née Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?!? To quote Seinfeld, "Yeah, and I'm Jerry Cougar Mellencamp." Only in Hollywood (of Anaheim) could a name this ludicrous make any sense. I mean, we have withstood some silly stadium namings but we never had a team moniker qualified with "At Camden Yards" or "At Arlington".

It's worse than when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and became first "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" and then eventually shortened it to "The Artist", all the while refusing to "cover" songs by Prince in his concerts. At least he was doing it to tick off his record label. I'm not sure exactly whom the Angels are trying to tick off. Besides Prince is a hobbit, and they are a terribly unpredictable lot after all.

The LA Angels were a once-proud minor-league team in the old PCL, which once had major-league ambitions and was given a special "open" classification. They lasted over fifty years, until the arrival of the major-league Dodgers in 1958. Now they are the punchline to a joke.

Or rather the joke was letting this punchless palooka of a franchise win a World Series just because of a monkey, Gene Autrey's ghost, and every analyst's favorite underrated, pocket-sized player, David Eckstein.

You Gotta Have Breakfast with Carl Everett!

Jeff Shaw found this tidbit: MLB auctioned off breakfast with the surly pseudo-star and actually found someone to pay $785 for the honor. It must have been the free shipping.

I only hope that it was a news reporter that purchased the tickets for the obnoxious nosh so that Carl can masticate with his favorite people. Just remember, fellows, no cell phones.

[By the way, the headline is inspired by "Lunch with Ed" by Dogzilla. You had to be there.]

Yankees Finally Acquire Johnson

In a saga that was years in the making and had a cast of thousand involved, Cecil B. Cashman finally pried Randy Johnson from the Diamondbacks. The Yankees will give the Unit $32 M over two years. Throw in the $9 M that they sent to Arizona, not to mention Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, and Dioner Navarro who went in the trade. That's a lot of cabbage even for the Yankees for a 41-year-old.

One could argue that the Yankees' current direction leads only to madness. Vazquez alone may make them regret the trade, no matter how bad he looked at the end of last season. Halsey and Navarro aren't the greatest prospects but the Yanks organization is so depleted, that they don't need the added strain. Besides, not even the Yankees can keep supporting a team payroll that is spiraling out of control, right? Then throw in Johnson's age, the fact that he missed a good deal of 2003, etc.

I say I don’t care. As a baseball fan, I can't wait to see the most dominant lefty since Steve Carlton pitch in Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte was a good pitcher in the Bronx, but we haven't seen anything like Johnson in Yankee Stadium since Ron Guidry's stellar 1978 season. Or was it Henry "Arthur" Wiggen's 1958 season with the Mammoths?

Here's a rundown of all the Yankee southpaws with at least 19 Win Shares:

NameYearWLERAPitching WSWin Shares
Ron Guidry19782531.7431.231
Lefty Gomez19342652.3330.831
Lefty Gomez193721112.3328.929
Herb Pennock19242192.8327.427
Whitey Ford19641762.1324.024
Herb Pennock19231963.1323.523
Tommy John19792192.9623.423
Fritz Peterson196917162.5523.323
Herb Pennock192516172.9623.323
Whitey Ford19632472.7423.023
Whitey Ford19612543.2122.422
Luis Arroyo19611552.1922.323
Ron Guidry19791882.7822.222
Whitey Ford19551872.6321.522
Whitey Ford19561962.4721.422
Jimmy Key19931863.0021.121
Dave Righetti1986882.4520.520
Lefty Gomez19312192.6720.420
Andy Pettitte19971872.8820.320
Sparky Lyle19771352.1720.220
Whitey Ford19621782.9019.820
Herb Pennock19281762.5619.620
Whitey Ford19581472.0119.620
Ron Guidry19832193.4219.519
Lefty Gomez193818123.3519.419
Ed Lopat19512192.9118.919
Joe Page19491382.5918.819
Tommy John19802293.4318.619

That's a great list. It even has Luis Arroyo.

For context, Johnson had 26.8 Pitching Win Shares in 2004 and had a career-high 28.7 in 2002. That's a far cry from Guidry in 1978, but he also wasn't pitching in the Bronx then.

And there's always the added dimension of Johnson possibly facing former teammate Curt Schilling when the Red Sox play the Yanks. As if their series needed the added media frenzy.

Taking My Ball And Going Home

The more I hear about the World Series champion Red Sox, the less I find them to be the media-darling, Disney-sojourning, warm and cuddly baseball ambassadors that baseball fandom has declared them to be. I guess the fact that the Red Sox's 86-year drought was shorter than that of both Chicago teams but created the Karl Rove-ian misimpression that the Sox were history's dupes pretty much squelched it for me.

Now, Doug Mientkiewicz, a minor supernumerary with the juggernaut Wild Card team, happened to be the first baseman in game four of the World Series and caught the last out of the game. Mientkiewicz held onto the ball as the celebration ensued. He then spirited the ball away in his wife's purse reminding one of the perhaps apocryphal story of Jefferson Davis retreating from the confederate capital in a dress during the Civil War. The ball is currently in a safety deposit box and there it will remain barring the next escapade by Danny Ocean's nebulously numbered crew.

The Red Sox now say that the ball is there's while Mientkiewicz envisions using it to pay for his retirement. MLB has already said that it's Mientkiewicz's ball. But the Kinder and Gentler Empire will have none of it.

It'll be interesting to see if this goes to court. I wonder if there is a precedent for this. I know in football players get to hold onto balls with personal significance. I don't know if a quarterback gets to keep the football he used when he took a knee to end a Super Bowl, however. I would think that the team could be generous given that they have been saving for 86 years to buy off a player for a World Series ball. Maybe giving him the starting first base job would be enough.

If the Red Sox do pry the ball away from Mientkiewicz, where will it end? Will teams have players strip down as they saunter to the dressing rooms after the game to keep any potential souvenirs? How about full cavity searches? And who was the Evil Empire again?

The Rosy Sox

And more on those exemplars of baseball decency, the Red Sox. The Massachusetts Lottery is officially sponsoring the World Series trophy tour.

Wait a sec, isn't trafficking with gamblers bad? Leo Durocher was suspended for a season because of it. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were suspended "for life" (which became four years) after they retired as players because of their association with casinos.

Oh, but those were players, not owners. Owners can traffic with whomsoever they see fit. There's no conflict of interest there.

I wonder if they got the Mientkiewicz ball if the Sox would be able to fund the tour themselves. They are a cash-strapped organization after all. Maybe they should just charge the fans for seeing the trophy. It is all about the fans after all, right?

Hall-abaloo III: 2006 Preview
2005-01-07 01:30
by Mike Carminati

After reviewing the 2005 writers' Hall of Fame vote, I thought it would be interesting to look at next year's first-year class, a particularly weak one. Given that the nominating committee casts a rather wide net, here are the top candidates (min. 75 Win Shares):

NameWin Shares
Will Clark331
Gary Gaetti249
Albert Belle243
Orel Hershiser210
Dwight Gooden187
Gregg Jefferies162
Lance Johnson155
Ozzie Guillen148
Rick Aguilera147
Doug Jones146
Mike Stanley145
Roberto Kelly137
Tim Belcher132
John Wetteland128
Luis Polonia124
Walt Weiss123
Mickey Morandini119
Alex Fernandez110
Hal Morris104
Juan Guzman92
Kevin Elster86
Mark Whiten84
Jaime Navarro80
Jim Leyritz78

I think that the 15 remaining players from this year's ballot will probably be joined by at least 12 of the potential cabdidates. Clark, Gaetti, Belle, Hershiser, Gooden, Jefferies, Guillen, Aguilera, and Wetteland should be locks. Given the caliber of player that gets run up the Hall flagpole to see if anyone salutes, there are another half-dozen that could join them.

That said, the ballot should be a bit longer than this year's rather short 27-man ballot though there is no clear-cut first-ballot Hall of Famer like Wade Boggs this year or Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley last year. Will Clark could sneak in but is just the third-best candidate by Win Shares behind Andre Dawson (340) and Bert Blyleven (339), who finished seventh and eighth in the writers' vote this year.

In 2006, the best candidates (according to Win Shares) will not be on the ballot. They have already been dropped from the ballot in previous seasons because the writers evidently found them lacking (unlike Willie McGee—huh?!?). They are Darrell Evans (363), Rusty Staub (358), Lou Whitaker (351), and Dwight Evans (347).

Of course, 2006 might be the only vote with any drama for some time given that 2007 features three extremely strong candidates: Cal Ripken (427 Win Shares), Tony Gwynn (398), and Mark McGwire (343). All seem excellent first-ballot candidates. 2008 features a great candidate in Tim Raines (390) but the drama there will be whether the voters can see his greatness or consign him to the Evansonian purgatory. Then there's Rickey Henderson, a sure-fire first-balloteer, in 2009.

So what are the odds next year for the four men who garnered at least 50% of the vote in 2005? They are: Bruce Sutter (66.67%), Jim Rice (59.50%), Rich Gossage (55.23%), and Andre Dawson (52.33%). Sutter should be a lock given that he was just 43 votes shy this year, right?

Let's take a look. Of the 80 men who amassed at least 60% of the vote in one year, 45 were elected the next year. That's only 56.25%. That's not too encouraging. Though of the candidates reaching 65%, 31 of 47 (65.96%) did go into the Hall the next year. So it seems to be far from a lock.

And for Bert Blyleven fans, those quixotic few, keep in mind that just 3 men out of 1571 have gained election after receiving less than 50% of the vote in the previous year.

As for the other three candidates, only seven of 83 candidates (8.43%) with between 50 and 60 percent of the vote made it in the next season. So what do I think will happen? I feel pretty good about Sutter, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was the only one enshrined in 2006, at least by the writers' vote. Then again Rice, Gossage, and Dawson all have better odds of making it than McGee has of staying on the ballot again.

Hall-abaloo II: Postmortem
2005-01-05 01:35
by Mike Carminati

Well, now we know that the 2005 writers' class will consist of Boggs and Sandberg, but there were a number of interesting developments in the voting. First, here's a quick review of the players on this year's ballot, their voting results for the last four elections, my prediction for each for this election, and the actual result:

NameFirst YearYrs Elig LeftWin Shares2002 HOF%2003 HoF%2004 HoF%2005 HoF%HighVerdictResult
Jim Abbott2005NA862.52%2.52%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Bert Blyleven1999833926.2729.2335.38%40.89%40.89%Veterans' Committee unless gathers steamRemains on ballot
Wade Boggs2005NA39491.86%91.86%2005 inductee2005 inductee
Tom Candiotti2005NA1580.39%0.39%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Dave Concepcion1994326911.8610.2811.26%10.66%16.91%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot
Chili Davis2005NA2850.58%0.58%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Andre Dawson20021134045.3450.0050.00%52.33%52.33%Not in 2005, maybe within 5 yearsRemains on ballot
Steve Garvey1993227928.3927.8224.31%20.54%42.61%Veterans' CommitteeVeterans' Committee
Rich Gossage2000922343.0142.1440.71%55.23%55.23%Not in 2004, maybe someday but treading waterRemains on ballot
Tommy John1995428926.9123.3921.94%23.84%28.35%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot
Mark Langston2005NA1840.00%0.00%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Don Mattingly20011026320.3413.7112.85%11.43%28.16%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot
Jack McDowell2005NA1220.78%0.78%0.78%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Willie McGee2005142245.04%5.04%Dropped by BBWAA Remains on ballot
Jeff Montgomery2005NA1340.39%0.39%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Jack Morris2000922520.5522.7826.28%33.33%33.33%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot
Dale Murphy1999829414.8311.698.50%10.47%23.25%Veterans' Committee; Dropped by BBWAA in 2005Remains on ballot
Otis Nixon2005NA1270.00%0.00%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Dave Parker1997632713.9810.2810.47%12.60%24.52%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot
Tony Phillips2005NA2680.19%0.19%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Jim Rice1995428255.0852.2254.55%59.50%59.50%Not in 2005, maybe someday but treading waterRemains on ballot
Ryne Sandberg2003NA346 49.2061.07%76.16%76.16%2005 inductee2005 inductee
Lee Smith200312198 42.3436.56%38.76%42.34%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot
Terry Steinbach2005NA1730.19%0.19%Dropped by BBWAA Dropped by BBWAA
Darryl Strawberry2005NA2521.16%1.16%Will remain on ballot at least one more yearDropped by BBWAA
Bruce Sutter1994316850.4253.6359.49%66.67%66.67%2005 or '06 inducteeRemains on ballot
Alan Trammell20021131815.6814.1113.83%16.86%16.86%Veterans' CommitteeRemains on ballot

You'll notice that a number of candidates, including Sandberg, reached a personal high in voting percentage this year. Besides the two that reached the magic threshold (75%), four reached the seemingly all-important 50% mark. Of the players no longer on the baseball writers' ballot, only Gil Hodges, whose high was 63.37%, has ever reached 50% without being eventually elected by some Hall body (and he may gain admittance in March when the Vets' vote is announced).

With two-thirds of the vote, Bruce Sutter looks like a good candidate for 2006, but has just three shots left. Rice, Gossage, and Dawson, the other three over 50%, all set personal highs this year. So did Bert Blyleven, whose Hall chances seem to be gaining momentum steadily each year.

Of the other nine players in Hall purgatory, those players that seem stuck on the ballot (Smith, Morris, John, Garvey, Trammell, Parker, Mattingly, Concepcion, and Murphy), only two set personal highs (Trammell and Morris). None seem like good bets for the foreseeable future.

Of the twelve new candidates, Boggs got the required votes, McGee got barely enough votes to remain on the ballot, and the rest went the way of the dodo. I had picked Strawberry as the one other candidate who would stick around at least for a year, but it ended up being McGee. I guess they let the off-field performance outweigh the on-field.

Overall, the short ballot helped a number of the more borderline candidates get extra support but didn't seem to do much for the tailenders. We'll have to wait a year to see if the players will retain and possibly build on the newfound support.

One note: I'm in vacation in Boca Raton. To quote Ferris Beuller, if you have the means I highly recommend it (where else can you see a well-manicured hedge one mile long that probably costs more than the average American family's income each year to maintain). First, I have to report that their burgers are nothing like you find in the store—they'll full of meat. Second, I visited the Sports Immortals museum/memorabilia store. It was an interesting place—the Honus Wagner card, Ray Chapman ball, dirt from Joe Jackson's first field, and keystones and seats from a number of olde tyme stadia. I want to post some photos along with more comments but am ensure whether I will be able to effect this with the various and sundry cocoanut shells et al that I have with me on vacation.

This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
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