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Friday, May 25, 2012

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-25-2012

El Paso Herald, May 25, 1912:

Tiffany water is circus lemonade compared to the way this glorious athlete thing goes to a boob’s think nubbin. Note, Tyrus Raymond Cobb, Esq., of Georgia, sah!

...

Stabbed night watchman in hotel Euclid, Cleveland, when watchman remonstrated because he was on floor other than that housing Detroit club at 2 a.m.

Beat up negro street cleaner in Detroit.

Went auto riding season of 1910 and forgot to come to ball park in time for game. Happened twice.

Quit the Tigers in 1910 because Davy Jones played left field.

Wouldn’t make trip to Chicago in autumn of 1910 because he could not hit on White Sox grounds.

Quit the Tigers in Chicago and went home because didn’t like hotel room.

Jumped into stands at New York and beat up a spectator.

It’s just Ty being Ty.  And “a boob’s think nubbin” would make an excellent BTF handle.

Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 25, 2012 at 05:22 AM | 62 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history, ty cobb

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   1. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 25, 2012 at 05:33 AM (#4139837)
No superstars on today's Birthday Team, apart from perhaps Lip Pike, but everybody's good. This is a ridiculously deep roster, even if it's a bit defensively challenged.

C: Bill Haselman
1B: Joe Judge
2B: Todd Walker
3B: Dave Hollins
SS: Miguel Tejada
LF: Tip O'Neill
CF: Lip Pike
RF: Jason Kubel

SP: Bob Knepper
SP: John Montefusco
SP: Chris Young
SP: Johnny Beazley
SP: Don Liddle
RP: Joey Eischen

Owner/Equipment Supplier: Al Reach
Manager: Jim Marshall
Play by Play: Lindsey Nelson
Author: W.P. Kinsella
Umpire: Kerwin Danley
   2. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 25, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4139882)
Also in baseball history news, today is the 75th anniversary of Mickey Cochrane nearly getting killed by a beanball, ending his career.
   3. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4139945)
Stabbed night watchman in hotel Euclid, Cleveland, when watchman remonstrated because he was on floor other than that housing Detroit club at 2 a.m.


Let's not bicker and argue about who stabbed who.
   4. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4139948)
I noticed something unusual. Anyone who remembers this sequence of events, please put it into context.

The end of the career of Dick Green, light-hitting second baseman for the dynastic Oakland A's, and recipient of an MVP vote in the one year that he wasn't light-hitting.

October 1974: Dick Green wins the BBWAA's Babe Ruth Award, given to the World Series MVP (nowadays it's the playoff MVP), despite hitting 0 for 13 in the World Series. That in itself is pretty unusual.

Late October 1974: Oakland trades away its other second baseman, 23-year-old Manny Trillo. Logically the job now belongs to 25-year-old uberprospect Phil Garner, with Dick Green as valued backup. Clearly Green's defense was as good as it had ever been, winning that Babe Ruth Award and everything.

March 6, 1974: Oakland waives Dick Green. He retires and goes on to run a moving company in Rapid City, South Dakota. Phil Garner plays virtually every inning at 2B in 1975 and 1976.

First of all, why did they waive him?

Second of all, couldn't he still play? Is this a case of a declining player not wanting to stick around in the majors because he's making less money than he could make running a moving company in Rapid City, South Dakota?
   5. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4139953)
I really didn't want to google 'Dick Green', but one website I found claimed:

"After battling injuries throughout much of the 1972 season, Green returned to play two more seasons in Oakland as a good-field, little-hit second baseman. Although he made an annual ritual of announcing his retirement only to change his mind, he decided to call it quits for good after earning his third World Series ring in 1974. In his post-playing days, Green operated a moving company in Rapid City, South Dakota, which he eventually sold to his partner. Green is now retired, but continues to live in Rapid City."


That still doesn't really explain why they traded Trillo away, but it's a start.
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4139954)
BBRef lists the the World Series MVP as Rollie Fingers but Green as the Babe Ruth Award winner. I always thought the two were the same but clearly they are not. Just looking at the two Red Sox winners from recent years neither Ruth winner (Foulke, Papelbon) was the "official" MVP (Ramirez, Lowell).

Doesn't answer any of Crispix' questions of course but it was something I didn't know.

I'm sure others will have an answer to Crispix' question but my read is that they got to Spring Training and simply decided on some combination of Green being done/Garner being ready.
   7. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4139963)
They did trade Trillo for a Hall of Famer, so it's not like they gave him away.
   8. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4139976)
Sounds like he had been playing in pain for a while.

Oh, and I looked all this up after seeing a link to the 1975 All-Star ballot, on which Green appears despite having retired in early March.
   9. The District Attorney Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4139985)
October 1974: Dick Green wins the BBWAA's Babe Ruth Award, given to the World Series MVP (nowadays it's the playoff MVP), despite hitting 0 for 13 in the World Series.
This seems impossible, I don't care how good his defense was. Is this seriously correct??
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4139994)
This seems impossible, I don't care how good his defense was. Is this seriously correct??


The A's did score just 27 runs in 9 games. No one stands out offensively. But Ken Holtzman seems like a prime candidate pitching-wise. CG shutout in Game 2 of the ALCS. A's won both his starts in the WS and overall in the post season he gave up just 2 runs in 21 IP. Maybe it only goes to position players?
   11. Sweatpants Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4140001)
Holtzman also went 2-4 with a homer in the series.
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4140003)
One of the Wikipedia editors seems to have been afflicted by a need to prove that that did happen.

Green tied a World Series record in game three by starting three double plays in one game.[2][3] He started the first two by catching line drives, and the third was a ground ball double play to end the game.[2] In game four, Green also started a game ending double play.[2] In the eighth inning of the clinching game five, Green made a perfect relay throw to get Bill Buckner, representing the tying run, out at third base.[2] Overall for the six double plays Green participated in during 1974 World Series tied the record for most defensive double plays in a five game series.


Maybe someone who owns the book used as a source for this, Baseball's Last Dynasty: Charlie Finley's Oakland A's, can further explain the mysteries of Dick Green. Or even the author of that book, one B. Markusen.
   13. Guapo Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4140006)
What I'm finding on Google News indicates:

(1) Green had "retired" twice before- after 1971 and 1973- and Charlie Finley convinced him to come back.

(2) In Spring 1975, Green demanded a $82,500 contract. The A's countered with $48,000, then released him.

   14. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4140015)
Green demanded a $82,500 contract. The A's countered with $48,000, then released him.


That seems like a pretty huge gap. BB-Ref doesn't list salaries that far back. It seems like it could have been either of two things: (1) Green really wanted to retire, but decided to give Finley another chance to talk him out of it if Finley was willing to overpay him for the privilege, or (2) Finley was a cheap SOB who lowballed his offer to Green so much that Green was better off running a moving company instead of playing pro ball. Finley was a cheap SOB, of course, so (2) certainly isn't out of the question, but given that Finley had talked Green out of retirement twice before, (1) seems plausible, too.
   15. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4140019)
Maybe someone who owns the book used as a source for this, Baseball's Last Dynasty: Charlie Finley's Oakland A's, can further explain the mysteries of Dick Green. Or even the author of that book, one B. Markusen.


The excerpt I quoted is by Bruce Markusen.
   16. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4140024)
For anyone counting the work hours until the holiday weekend begins, a question for mulling:

Say that science learns to clone ballplayers, so that you could create up to eight identical players. Each set of 8 becomes a team, so that 8 Bryce Harpers is one team, 8 Bill Mazeroskis is another, 8 Bud Harrelsons are another, etc. They have to bat, so they have to make up a batting order, and also have to fill all eight defensive positions (assume that they would have the equivalent of spring training to learn new defensive positions). Pitching is handled by identical pitching machines, so you can ignore any pitching ability the players have.

Out of all the players in history, which 8 clones would make up the best team?
   17. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4140032)
Am I allowed to take Martin Dihigo, or does it have to be someone who played in MLB?

I'll take Dihigo if I can. Played eight positions, won multiple batting titles, won 250 games as a pitcher, hit for power, played good defense. Ruth may have been (probably was) a better player, but Dihigo's the bees knees if you're talking a clone team.

edit: Ah, I see pitching is done by machine. Still, Dihigo's pretty damn good.
   18. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4140033)
I was about to take Dihigo! Aagh!

EDIT: a lot of Negro Leaguers (and Cuban Leaguers) would work as well, given that many of them played multiple positions. If I can't have Dihigo...maybe Pop Lloyd or Oscar Charleston?
   19. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4140037)
Recent players who would be really good: ARod, Cal Ripken, Robin Yount, George Brett, Jeff Kent, Roberto Alomar, (young) Chipper. Larry Walker and Albert Pujols, I think, would hit the snot out of the ball and be bad but not hilariously awful in the middle infield.
   20. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4140040)
Out of all the players in history, which 8 clones would make up the best team?


Honus Wagner. Played every position except catcher at some point in his career and has enough size and (I'm guessing) arm strength that he could have done that too, if he had to. Fast enough to handle CF (723 SB, 252 triples). Didn't become a regular SS until age 29 and is considered one of the best defensive SS in history. One thing that amuses me: Honus Wagner played every game for the 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates but isn't listed as a starter at any position by BB-Ref, because he didn't play more than 61 games at any single position that year.
   21. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4140041)
edit: Ah, I see pitching is done by machine. Still, Dihigo's pretty damn good.


Right, Dihigo's pitching is of no use in this league.

Played every position except catcher at some point in his career and has enough size and (I'm guessing) arm strength that he could have done that too, if he had to.


Plus, he could assume a catcher's squat without bending his knees.
   22. Sweatpants Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4140043)
I'd probably start with catchers. Craig Biggio and Johnny Bench both spent a lot of time at other positions, although Bench never played middle infield.
   23. SOLockwood Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4140044)
If it's limited to MLB players, I'd take Honus Wagner -- he played all over the place and was a great shortstop.
[edit]
Coke to Kiko
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4140048)
Do the pitching machines bat, or is there a DH?
   25. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4140050)
I don't see any reason to confine it to MLB players.

   26. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4140053)
Do the pitching machines bat, or is there a DH?


It's an 8 man batting order. Turns out that clones hate both pitchers batting and the DH.
   27. Cris E Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4140054)
I think if I were doing this I'd clone a bunch of extras so when the second or third one gets destroyed behind the plate you can keep replacing it/him. It might not make a big difference for those healthy types like ARod or Wagner or Banks, but I'd love to see a single healthy Mantle season and you'd need a small clone army just for that.
   28. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4140057)
I'd love to see a single healthy Mantle season and you'd need a small clone army just for that.


Mantle's knees would be in perpetual jeopardy at second.

Wagner was very high on my list. I can also imagine Jackie Robinson blocking the plate with some success.
   29. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4140094)
Photo of Manny Ramirez and Luke Hughes at Sacramento batting practice.

I can't quite figure out what celebrity Manny reminds me of, but it's definitely someone born before 1960.
   30. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4140102)
Albert Pujols seems like an obvious answer to me. He played 3B pretty well, LF competently, and was a Gold Glove caliber 1B. I think he'd hurt you at the middle infield positions, but so would everyone on this list.

Ripken and Yount also make a lot of sense. Ernie Banks? Jackie Robinson? Bert Campernis?
   31. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4140121)
I can't quite figure out what celebrity Manny reminds me of, but it's definitely someone born before 1960.


Cesar Romero?
   32. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: May 25, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4140122)
I can't quite figure out what celebrity Manny reminds me of, but it's definitely someone born before 1960.


George Jefferson?
   33. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4140126)
Danny Glover
   34. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4140136)
   35. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4140138)
Ryne Sandberg would be good. He could play everywhere, and also work well at every slot in the lineup.
   36. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4140141)
That seems like a pretty huge gap. BB-Ref doesn't list salaries that far back.


It has them for some players. Of the 1975 A's that are listed, $82,500 would have been the 8th highest salary, after Billy Williams ($150,000), Reggie, Bando, Campaneris, Holtzman, Fingers, and Rudi and ahead of Vida Blue.
   37. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4140144)
On the 1975 A's that are listed, $82,500 would have been the 8th highest salary


That sounds to me like Green was ready to retire (as he apparently had been for the past two or three years already), but figured if Finley was willing to pay him enough, he'd think about coming back for one more season.
   38. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4140163)
In the eighth inning of the clinching game five, Green made a perfect relay throw to get Bill Buckner, representing the tying run, out at third base.

This was a thing of beauty, by the way: North charged in on Buckner's low drive to RCF and ganked it; Jackson was backing up and alertly fired a rocket back to the infield; Green was lined up just right and indeed made a perfect turn-and-throw to beat Buckner's headfirst slide at third. Buckner probably should not have gone for third, but I can understand why he did.

Plus, [Wagner] could assume a catcher's squat without bending his knees.

I've been looking at
The Unforgettable Season
, about the 1908 NL pennant race, and the contemporary news articles seem to mention Wagner's bowleggedness every time they mention him at all: "like a walking pair of parentheses," that kind of stuff. Obviously he's the starting SS on the All-Bowlegged team, and I came up with Ray Dandridge for 3b. Enough guys out there to make a complete lineup?

For my 8-Clone Team, I'd probably take Wagner too.
If not him, then Willie Mays: he was athletic, coordinated, durable, and extremely baseball-smart, and I bet he'd even get catcher figured out pretty quick.
   39. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4140167)
Buckner probably should not have gone for third, but I can understand why he did.


He'll never live that boner down.
   40. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4140211)
For my 8-Clone Team, I'd probably take Wagner too.


I also had Mickey Cochrane, Schmidt, and Hornsby if he was willing to catch.
   41. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4140221)
I can't quite figure out what celebrity Manny reminds me of, but it's definitely someone born before 1960.


Neil DeGrasse Tyson
   42. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: May 25, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4140231)
   43. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4140246)
I'd probably start with catchers. Craig Biggio and Johnny Bench both spent a lot of time at other positions, although Bench never played middle infield.


Biggio would be good; who else can play passable catcher and second base?

I think a young Ivan Rodriguez would be pretty good - obviously he locks down catcher, and that arm would be fabulous at third and in the outfield. He always seemed pretty mobile, so I don't think he be too terrible in the middle infield.
   44. Bourbon Samurai Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:23 PM (#4140258)
Hank Aaron would be good for the clone team. He started at 2B.
   45. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: May 25, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4140260)
Pudge made an apperance at second base late in his career and didn't look terrible out there. IIRC, he made an excellent play on a pop foul.

Neil Walker could also play a passable catcher and second base, but he might be the exception that proves the rule. Brandon Inge too, I guess.

A youngish Victor Martinez may have been able to be cromulent at second, given the regular work that a clone team would have given him. Vic was signed as a 3B and was quick on his feet and pretty athletic behind the plate as a young'un.
   46. Tyhand7 Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4140315)
Foxx or Bresnahan
   47. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 25, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4140327)
Game of the day (last year): White Sox 8, Rangers 6. This one pulls out the victory in a really tight race among four very good games for the top spot. Carlos Quentin started the scoring for the Sox with a solo homer in the top of the first. Texas tied it on an RBI single by Josh Hamilton, at which point Quentin decided single runs weren't enough, so he hit a 3-run homer in the third to put Chicago ahead again. The Rangers scored once in the third on a pair of singles and a sac fly by Michael Young, then tied it in the fifth on a single by Ian Kinsler, a double by Elvis Andrus, a groundout, and another sac fly by Young. Chicago answered with another pair of runs in the sixth, highlighted by an Adam Dunn homer; Texas scored once in the bottom of the inning, and left the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position. The Sox once again extended their lead to two in the seventh on a two-out RBI double by Alex Rios. In the eighth, the Rangers put runners on the corners with nobody out; Andrus then hit into a double play, scoring one run but letting the air out of the rally. They would rebound to put runners on the corners again, but failed to bring in either to tie the game. The game ended much as it began, with Carlos Quentin hitting his third homer of the day; Texas went 1-2-3 to close it out.

Game of the day (yesterday): Phillies 10, Cardinals 9. Only 7 games on the slate yesterday, but we still got a worthy one. Philly led 4-0 before St. Louis batted for the first time, courtesy of a rally that went double-walk-HBP-RBI forceout-RBI single-walk-2 run single. They added a 2-run double from Shane Victorino in the second, and appeared to have the game well in hand - for all of an inning. In the bottom of the third, the Cards scored four times, on a single, double, groundout, single, double, single rally. The Phils tacked on a run in the fifth on an RBI hit by Placido Polanco, but St. Louis stormed back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning on a solo homer from Matt Holliday and a 2-run shot from Yadier Molina. Philadelphia went back ahead in the sixth on two-out RBI hits from Freddy Galvis and Mike Fontenot; the Cardinals got a solo homer from David Freese in the seventh to pull within a run, but Philly answered with a homer from Ty Wigginton in the eighth. After a sac fly reduced the margin to one again in the bottom of that inning, St. Louis left the go-ahead run on base in the eighth, and the tying run in the ninth.

It's kind of a weird side effect of writing this post every day that I'm becoming mildly spoiled in terms of what constitutes an excellent game of baseball. I'll write up a game like this one, and comment on the fact that it was only tied once and the Cardinals never led, so the score comes in a little below 4, 87th percentile on the year. But at the same time, the game was 10-9, the big deficits became small deficits pretty quickly, and it had both excellent players (Beltran, Holliday, Victorino, Molina) and scrubs (Galvis, Wigginton, Fontenot) in starring roles. It was, in fact, an excellent baseball game, and I should probably work on quashing the instinct to downplay that.

The prescription: Getting my head out of the spreadsheets and watching a game. Which, fortunately, I have scheduled for tomorrow, as my dad, brother, and I are making our annual trip from Tulsa to Dallas to take in the Rangers-Blue Jays afternoon tilt. Sadly, this means no GotD post tomorrow, although I'll try to make up for it with two days' worth on Sunday (there's no way I'm skipping the best game of 5/25/11).
   48. AndrewJ Posted: May 25, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4140344)
Two memorable MLB moments today: 77 years ago at Forbes Field, Babe Ruth hit his last home run(s). And 61 years ago today at Shibe Park, Willie Mays debuted for the Giants.
   49. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: May 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4140731)
2 hbps were revoked in the same at bat for the batter not trying to get out of the way of the pitch in B5 of GT/CLEM in the ACC tourney - it ended in a strikeout on a pitch I (and the batter) thought was outside. Contest (defacto elimination game) getting heated, 5-1 Tech.
   50. Kirby Kyle Posted: May 26, 2012 at 04:11 PM (#4140807)
Expanding on #47: Foxx spent considerable time in the bigs at catcher and also played third in addition to first. He did fine in his few pitching appearances as well. Given his huge bat, I'd take a team of him against anyone except possibly Wagner.
   51. Downtown Bookie Posted: May 27, 2012 at 12:03 AM (#4141088)
Since this is the place for stray, random thoughts:

I was watching the MLB Network Saturday, around noon, and they were showing reruns of Baseball IQ. I found myself thinking that this could be a pretty cool game show, if only they had contestants who actually knew what they were doing. As it was, the show was barely watchable, as I found myself being frustrated and annoyed at how little the two contestants knew.

Anyway, the bottom line is, I hope the MLB Network gives this show another try, but with players who can competently answer questions about baseball.

DB
   52. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 27, 2012 at 12:16 AM (#4141092)
It's kind of a weird side effect of writing this post every day that I'm becoming mildly spoiled in terms of what constitutes an excellent game of baseball....

The prescription: Getting my head out of the spreadsheets and watching a game. Which, fortunately, I have scheduled for tomorrow, as my dad, brother, and I are making our annual trip from Tulsa to Dallas to take in the Rangers-Blue Jays afternoon tilt.


I'm thinking that game didn't exactly improve your appreciation for run-of-the-mill 8-2 baseball games. Nice choice for a once-a-year game.
   53. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 27, 2012 at 10:34 AM (#4141158)
I'm thinking that game didn't exactly improve your appreciation for run-of-the-mill 8-2 baseball games.

You wouldn't think so, right? But it still does. There are just a bunch of weird little details that you get a chance to think over when you're at the game in person (and watching it with someone else who knows it really well) that you can't really pick up from looking through a play-by-play account, and this game had all of those along with the absurd, pulse-pounding events of the 13th. Most games don't have the second factor going for them, but pretty much all of them have the first.

Anyway, inevitably lengthy GotD post featuring many of these details coming up soon, plus the best of Friday and two days of last year, one of which included a pretty notable game itself.
   54. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 27, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4141161)
OK, something I found really odd, but has no meaning whatsoever. I just went to BBRef and noticed how oddly similar the races are in both leagues. The Eastern divisions both feature leaders within one-half game of another and all teams at .500 or better. Toss out the extra team in the NL Central (and it works with the Astros, fittingly) and the two divisions are damn near identical (a half-game difference between KC and Mil is all that separates them). It's not as close between the two West divisions, but not dramatically different either.

   55. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 27, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4141232)
So, the four Games of the Day from the last two days are a good game, a very good game, and two marvelous games. Let's get the merely excellent ones out of the way first:

Game of the day (5/25/12): Phillies 5, Cardinals 3 (10). Cliff Lee vs. Kyle Lohse, which probably wouldn't have looked like a headline matchup coming into the season, but that's how it goes. The Phils left two in scoring position in the top of the first, but still drew first blood in the second, with three singles and an error bringing in two runs. St. Louis put up a single run in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Matt Adams and Shane Robinson; this marks the first time I've ever heard of either Matt Adams or Shane Robinson, so the Cards' ability to get good production out of little-known players doesn't seem to be suffering too much in LaRussa's absence. They tied the game in the third on a leadoff homer by Rafael Furcal, then took the lead in the fourth on a triple by David Freese and a single by Yadier Molina. They added two more singles after that, but Molina (of all people) was thrown out trying for third on the first of them, and with two on and one out, Lohse popped up an attempted sac bunt, so the rally fizzled from there.

The score remained 3-2 until the seventh, when Cliff Lee hit for himself, probably giving MGL a coronary. He singled (his second hit of the game - he's actually 6/16 with a double this year) and scored the tying run from first on a Juan Pierre double, then pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning before coming out. The teams put on one runner each in the eighth, then the Cards had two reach with one out in the ninth, but the score remained unaltered until Pierre singled and Hunter Pence homered off of Jason Motte in the tenth. Jonathan Papelbon set down the imposing order of Beltran-Freese-Molina 1-2-3 in the bottom of the tenth to end the game.

Another notable game from this day was the 14-3 drubbing Texas inflicted on the Blue Jays. It's notable because it scores a 0.66 on the excitement meter, making it the single least dramatic contest of the season so far - the Rangers scored 6 in the first and pulled away from there. The game it... surpassed seems like the wrong word; underpassed? Anyway, the previous anti-title holder was also an emphatic beating at the hands of the Rangers; in fact, as of the end of the day Friday, the Rangers were the second-least exciting team of the year so far, and were... ungaining? Catching down to? the Angels in the bottom spot. This will obviously come up again shortly.

Game of the day (5/26/11): Orioles 6, Royals 5 (12). KC struck hard and fast against Jeremy Guthrie in the top of the second. Jeff Francoeur led off with a single, and one out later, took third on a hit by Wilson Betemit, who in turn moved to second on the throw to third. Mike Aviles hit into a fielder's choice, with Frenchy scoring and Betemit getting thrown out at third. Brayan Pena and Chris Getz singled, scoring a second run, Alex Gordon reached on catcher's interference, which I think is the first time I've typed that phrase this year, and Melky Cabrera singled in a pair of runs to ensure the team would bat around. In the bottom of the second, Nolan Reimold homered off of Jeff Francis, making it a 4-1 game; in the bottom of the third, Baltimore got singles from its first two hitters (Robert Andino and Adam Jones), then two outs later, picked up an RBI hit from Mark Reynolds. After that, Nolan Reimold homered off of Jeff Francis, making it a 5-4 lead for the Orioles. The lead was short-lived, as with two out in the fourth, Getz and Gordon hit back-to-back doubles to even the score at 5.

Typically, you'd expect one or both of the starters to be gone at this point, but Guthrie and Francis pitched three more innings each, and neither gave up another run; the only tight spot came in the top of the seventh, when Getz singled, took second on an errant pickoff throw and third on a fly ball, but was doubled up on a lineout by Cabrera. It's also mildly notable that Baltimore had two runners reach against Francis in the sixth, but Reimold was caught stealing and JJ Hardy was erased on a double play. The bullpens came in at this point, and each gave up one leadoff single during regulation (to Baltimore's Craig Tatum in the seventh and Betemit in the ninth, respectively; Betemit ended the play at second on an error, but neither runner advanced further). The relative stability ended in the tenth, when Gordon led off with a single and moved up on a sacrifice and a groundout; a pair of walks, one of them intentional, loaded the bases for Alcides Escobar, who flied out to end the inning. Baltimore did that rally one better in the eleventh, when Reynolds singled and Reimold hit a ground-rule double, putting runners at second and third with nobody out. Hardy was IBB'd to load the bases, and Everett Teaford entered the game in about as desperate a situation as can be constructed for a pitcher. He rose to the challenge, getting Luke Scott to hit into a force at home and Matt Wieters to ground into a 6-4-3 DP. The Royals went 1-2-3 in the twelfth, and Teaford was lifted from the game for the bottom of the inning; since Louis Coleman yielded a double to Robert Andino and (a popup and an IBB later) a walkoff single to Vladimir Guerrero, it seems like maybe Teaford could have gone a bit longer.

The hero of the day was Reimold, who went 4/4 with a double, a walk, two homers, and 4 RBI; he logged a WPA of .588 despite not factoring into the winning rally. It was his fourth major league game of the year, and he ended it hitting .545 with an OPS of 2.038. He didn't exactly keep it up for the rest of the year, but still.
   56. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 27, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4141256)
All right, now it's on to the genuine classics.

Game of the day (5/25/11): Phillies 5, Reds 4 (19). Winning pitcher: Wilson Valdez.

I've been looking forward to this one all year, so naturally it comes on not only a weekend (when nobody's in the Dugout) but also a day late because probably the only game I'll get to this year falls the day after its one-year anniversary. Ah well, it's a small price to pay.

The pitching matchup (Roy Halladay vs. Travis Wood) does not suggest instant classic, and it starts off about how you'd expect, with Ben Francisco's homer giving Philadelphia a two-run lead before any outs are registered in the bottom of the first. The lead grew in the second when Carlos Ruiz doubled and John Mayberry Jr. singled him in. Meanwhile, however, Doc worked into and out of trouble early, putting runners on third in three of the first four, and needing one of them to be thrown out at home. After the Phils put their fist two runners on in the fourth and failed to score, Cincinnati finally broke through in the fifth on a single and steal by Drew Stubbs and an RBI hit from Joey Votto. Wood settled in a bit after his early trouble, working a perfect fifth and getting around a leadoff triple from Raul Ibanez in the sixth (a foulout, a strikeout, an intentional walk to 8th-hitting Wilson Valdez, and a groundout from Halladay), and that allowed the Reds the chance to even the score in the top of the seventh. Pinch hitter Miguel Cairo led off with a single, and Stubbs matched him; after a Brandon Phillips sac bunt (seriously?) and a free pass to Votto, Rolen struck out, but Jay Bruce singled in a pair of runs to tie the game.

The contest was handed off to the bullpens from there, and the early returns were, at times, exciting. In the top of the eighth, Cincinnati's Edgar Renteria singled with one out, and with two away he stole second and moved to third on an error by Valdez, but Stubbs struck out to leave him there. In the bottom of the ninth, Mayberry singled and Valdez bunted him over; Chase Utley pinch hit and was intentionally walked. While pitching to Jimmy Rollins, Nick Masset threw a wild pitch, so Rollins was also passed freely, loading the bases with one away; Domonic Brown fouled out and Placido Polanco hit into a force to keep Cincy alive.

Jay Bruce led off the top of the tenth with a homer. Ryan Howard did the same in the bottom. The game continued.

In the eleventh, the Reds did a good impersonation of the Hitless Wonder White Sox from over a century ago; with one out, Phillips was hit by a pitch and Votto walked. Phillips was then picked off of second by JC Romero, which was hugely unfortunate and became moreso when Rolen and Bruce also drew walks that would have forced in the go-ahead run if it had still been there. David Herndon relieved Romero on a double-switch, becoming the fourth Philadelphia pitcher in the last two innings and the seventh of the game, and coaxed a groundout from Ramon Hernandez to escape. The bottom half of the frame saw Francisco Cordero bounce back from Howard's homer, working a second inning and maintaining the tie game, largely thanks to the fact that he quickly fielded an attempted sac bunt and forced the lead runner at second.

Cordero was lifted for pinch-hitter Paul Janish in the twelfth; Janish stayed in the game to play short after the scoreless inning, moving Cincinnati's pitcher slot to its third different batting order position of the day. Herndon worked two additional scoreless innings, then was conventionally pinch-hit for in the bottom of the thirteenth. The Reds' Logan Ondrusek also pitched two perfect frames, then was lifted in yet another double-switch before the bottom of the fourteenth. That left Danys Baez on the mound for the Phils, and Carlos Fisher for the Reds, and both were excellent, working 5 scoreless innings apiece through the eighteenth, only allowing one runner to reach scoring position between them.

Enter Valdez. His appearance on the mound is of course the most notable fielding change the Phillies made before the nineteenth, but not the only one. Dane Sardinha, who'd pinch hit for Baez in the previous inning, came on to catch. Carlos Ruiz moved from catcher to third base, his second major league appearance there. Polanco moved from third to second, and Valdez took over on the mound. His opponents? Nobody special, just Votto, Rolen, and Bruce. He hit Rolen with a pitch, but got Votto and Bruce to fly out and Fisher, in the sixth spot in the order, to pop up, completing a scoreless inning. In the bottom of the inning, Fisher, starting his sixth inning of work, gave up a single to Rollins, a walk to Brown, and a sac bunt to Polanco; Howard was intentionally walked, and Ibanez brought the game to a merciful end on a sac fly.

Also notable from 5/25/11 was a 14-2 thrashing of the Indians by the Red Sox. Why is it notable, you ask? Because it scores as the worst game of 2011 to date (0.63), which means that so far, the worst and best games of the year came on the same day. Which is kind of nifty.
   57. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 27, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4141368)
Game of the day (yesterday): Rangers 8, Blue Jays 7 (13).

I had a vauge idea that I might call this one the Game of the Day no matter whether it merited that designation or not, because I attended it in person, and yay for attending baseball games in person, or something like that. Fortunately, the game itself saved me from the possibility of writing something that probably wouldn't have worked well at all, and presents me with the chance to write something that will hopefully be better. Also, I got to watch this game, which was... nice.

Texas opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, and the way they did it should have been an omen that it was going to be an unusual game: They had one hit, no walks, no HBP, and no ROEs, but scored twice. Ian Kinsler led off with a double against Henderson Alvarez; Elvis Andrus bunted (it's not scored as an attempted sacrifice, but it looked that way to me), and the Jays went for the lead runner and failed to get him, so it was a fielder's choice with both runners safe. Josh Hamilton grounded out slowly to second, scoring Kinsler and advancing Andrus; Andrus took third on a passed ball, then came home on a sac fly by Adrian Beltre. The Rangers tested Alvarez again in the second, as David Murphy singled, Yorvit Torrealba reached on an attempted forceout on which Brett Lawrie's throw pulled second baseman Omar Vizquel off of the base, and Mitch Moreland singled to load the bases with one out, only for Kinsler to hit into a double play.

Texas starter Colby Lewis faced his first substantial jam in the third, as Vizquel and Yunel Escobar started the inning with singles to put runners on the corners with none out. Lewis whiffed Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista (who spent most of the game being booed by the Rangers' fans, apparently for his failure to throw retrieved foul balls into the stands - because that's never gone badly in Arlington before), and induced an inning-ending groundout from the suddenly menacing Edwin Encarnacion. Having survived that rally, the Rangers got back into the base-loading business in the bottom of the inning, with one-out singles by Hamilton and Beltre and a two-out walk to Murphy bringing Nelson Cruz, coming off an 8-RBI day, to the plate. Cruz hit into a force, however, and the Jays remained withiin striking distance.

In the fifth, they struck. First baseman Dan Cooper (who my fellow attendees and I realized during the game is the only current starting first baseman in the AL East who hasn't been produced by the Rangers' system - that is, if he's actually the starter; with Lind going down, I'm not sure who'll get the playing time for the Jays, but I'm not aware of any candidates who are former Rangers) led off with a single, and two outs later, Colby Rasmus launched a game-tying homer a few degrees to the fair side of the right field pole. They continued their torment of Lewis in the sixth; Eric Thames (whose last name is apparently not pronounced like Marcus Thames's) hit a one-out double on which Hamilton initially turned the wrong way, and Lawrie hit a grounder to short on which Andrus ill-fatedly threw to third, which put both runners on safely. Cooper singled on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run to drive in the go-ahead run, and Vizquel bunted beautifully up the first base line, leaving Lewis with no play except to desperately try and fail at a glove flip. That made it 4-2 Toronto, and ended Lewis's day; Alexi Ogando entered and escaped with no further damage being done.

Suddenly in line for the win, Alvarez started the sixth inning by fielding back-to-back grounders, the first on a pretty nice play. That brought up Cruz, who started a sequence of three consecutive hitters sending the ball to the rest of Toronto's pitching staff... in the bullpen. Cruz and Torrealba had both homered, tying the game, before anyone started throwing in said bullpen, which left Alvarez on the mound to allow Moreland's tiebreaking shot. (Incidentally, this back-to-back-to-back came from Texas's 7-8-9 hitters, which can't be something that happens very often, right? Can anyone remember another instance like this? But then, the Rangers don't have ordinary 7-8-9 hitters.)

Here comes one of the parts in which attending the game is helpful in writing about it. The PBP account simply says that Alvarez was removed for Luis Perez after Moreland's homer. What actually happened was that Alvarez pitched to Kinsler, went to a 1-2 count, and then threw a pitch that was inside, but not exactly the most inside pitch that was thrown all game.

He was ejected immediately. Which, considering the facts that no warnings had been issued, that the pitch did not actually hit Kinsler, and that it would be idiotic to wait until you have 2 strikes on someone to throw at him, was utterly ridiculous. On the other hand, it gave Toronto an extended period to warm up Perez, and it's doubtful Alvarez would have stayed in much longer after giving up 3 consecutive homers anyway, so the effect on the game was probably less than monumental.

Kinsler popped out to end the inning, and the Jays sent their 3-4-5 to the plate against Ogando in the seventh. Bautista doubled, and JP Arencibia singled him in with one out to tie the game once more, this time at 5. In the bottom of the inning, Andrus led off with a walk, and Beltre singled him to third with one out; Michael Young popped up too shallow to score him, and pinch hitter Craig Gentry (in for Murphy against the lefty Perez) flied out as well, leaving the go-ahead run on third. (Take note - this will be a theme.)

Mike Adams worked a perfect eighth; former Ranger Francisco Cordero returned the favor in the bottom half. Joe Nathan sent the Jays down in order to start the ninth, and Toronto put in its closer, Casey Janssen, in the ninth of a tie game on the road. (Which is good.) Janssen hit Kinsler with a pitch, and Andrus bunted him to second; the intentional walk to Hamilton was so inevitable you didn't even need me to mention it. Beltre flied out to medium-depth left field, and Kinsler was nearly doubled off at second - but Thames's throw was errant (according to the official scorer, anyway - it looked playable to me) and Vizquel let it escape up the first base line, allowing both runners to advance. Young grounded out, leaving the winning run on third. Koji Uehara entered for Texas in the tenth, getting the first two batters easily (foulout and strikeout) before Thames induced 40,000 heart attacks with a warning track flyout. Janssen started the tenth by hitting Gentry with a pitch; Gentry stole second on strike 3 to Cruz, then took third on a flyout by Torrealba. Darren Oliver relieved Janssen, which brought Mike Napoli (scratched from the start due to illness) off the bench to hit for the left-handed Moreland. He struck out, leaving the winning run on third, and the game continued.

Uehara worked a perfect eleventh as well, with all three outs coming courtesy of Kinsler (two popups and a grounder in the 3-4 hole). Kinsler then led off the bottom of the inning with a single, and was once again bunted over by Andrus. With the left-handed Oliver still on the mound, the Jays pitched to Hamilton; a wild pitch moved Kinsler to third during the at bat, but Hamilton grounded to first with the infield in, and Beltre bounced to third, (say it with me), leaving the winning run on third.

Robbie Ross came in for Texas to start the twelfth, and the Blue Jays remembered that they too were allowed to put runners on base. A one-out walk to Rasmus brought Bautista to the plate again; Ross fanned him, and got Encarnacion to hit an apparently routine grounder to short - but Andrus didn't come in enough while fielding, and Encarnacion was called safe on a close play, moving Rasmus to third. It was made irrelevant when Arencibia grounded back to the mound. The Rangers put the leadoff man on once more against Oliver, who stayed in despite the utter lack of non-Hamilton lefties remaining in the order, on a Young single. Gentry was called on to bunt, but failed to get it down twice, then popped out to shallow right once it was called off with 2 strikes. Torrealba worked a 10-pitch walk to move the winning run to seconed with 2 outs, but Napoli flied out to leave it there. (At least it wasn't on third.)

Between the twelfth and thirteenth, we moved from a sunny area of the upper deck to a shaded one (I'm still slightly burned in a few places, but it could be worse). Meanwhile, Rajai Davis hit for Thames, the first position player substitution Toronto had used. He grounded out, but Lawrie singled; pinch hitter Yan Gomes struck out, bringing Vizquel to the plate with two away. It should be noted that Vizquel was 2/22 on the season coming into this game, but had gone 2/5 on the day so far. A Torrealba passed ball moved Lawrie to second, and Vizquel singled up the middle (which meant that his batting average nearly doubled on the day, from .091 to .179), driving in the go-ahead run and taking second on Gentry's futile throw to the plate.

The sequence that follows becomes important in a moment. Ross was lifted for Yoshinori Tateyama at this point; Tateyama's first batter faced was Escobar, who hit the fifth pitch he saw on a soft liner to shallow right that Nelson Cruz couldn't quite come up with, allowing Vizquel to score the second run of the inning. Rasmus stepped up next, and grounded out on his fourth pitch.

In the bottom of the thirteenth, with a two-run lead, the Jays sent Ryota Igarashi to the mound. Entering this game, Igarashi had made one major league appearance in 2012; it was against the Rangers, the previous day, and they hit him around for 2 runs in a single inning of work. His career before this season includes two undistinguished seasons with the Mets. But that's how it goes in the thirteenth inning; you don't exactly have your best arms available. Igarashi walked Kinsler, and Andrus (finally not bunting with a 2-run deficit) split the left-center field gap for an RBI double.

At this point, the Jays pulled Igarashi for Jason Frasor. Jason Frasor is not a great reliever by any means, but he's quite a bit better than Igarashi, and the Jays had a Texas pitching change and two additional plate appearances of their own during which they knew they'd have the lead in the bottom of the inning and could have been warming their best available reliever. So how was it that Frasor didn't start the inning? (Both are right-handed, so it's not a platoon thing.)

Anyway, Frasor went to a 1-2 count on Hamilton, and then Hamilton connected with one.

The guy we go to the games with every year taught me at probably the first game we saw, back when I was 9 or 10, that on a fly ball, you don't watch the ball, because you can't judge it from the stands. You watch the outfielders, and thus avoid sounding like a moron (or Michael Kay) by cheering a medium-depth flyout.

Rasmus turned around and ran back toward the fence at a high speed. Then he slowed down short of the warning track... but he didn't turn around to square up for a catch. And... holy mother of baseball, it's a come-from-behind walkoff homer in extra innings.

The game scores a 7.89, making it the third-most dramatic of 2012 so far. To watch that game under any circumstances would be a treat. To watch it in the midst of a season in which I'm writing these posts every day... man, that was awesome.
   58. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 27, 2012 at 05:23 PM (#4141376)
To watch it in the midst of a season in which I'm writing these posts every day... man, that was awesome.


I really enjoy these posts in general, and I especially enjoyed this one.
   59. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 27, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4141422)
I really enjoy these posts in general, and I especially enjoyed this one.


Agreed, and stuff like this:

They had one hit, no walks, no HBP, and no ROEs, but scored twice. Ian Kinsler led off with a double against Henderson Alvarez; Elvis Andrus bunted (it's not scored as an attempted sacrifice, but it looked that way to me), and the Jays went for the lead runner and failed to get him, so it was a fielder's choice with both runners safe. Josh Hamilton grounded out slowly to second, scoring Kinsler and advancing Andrus; Andrus took third on a passed ball, then came home on a sac fly by Adrian Beltre.

and this:

First baseman Dan Cooper (who my fellow attendees and I realized during the game is the only current starting first baseman in the AL East who hasn't been produced by the Rangers' system)

really make it so.

Thanks Eric. If anyone could see a good one in his first in-person game of the season, I'm glad it was you.
   60. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4141433)
So how was it that Frasor didn't start the inning? (Both are right-handed, so it's not a platoon thing.)


Frasor threw 31 pitches the day before, so he was basically only usable if it was absolutely necessary.
   61. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 28, 2012 at 12:53 AM (#4141533)
Frasor threw 31 pitches the day before, so he was basically only usable if it was absolutely necessary.

Fair enough. Still, if it's not absolutely necessary when Igarashi is the only available alternative when facing the top of the order for the best offense in baseball in the 13th inning, I think you just hold him out entirely at that point.

Anyway, thanks to both 58 and 59. I very much enjoy writing the posts in general, but this one was obviously a particular treat for me as well.
   62. God Posted: May 28, 2012 at 04:06 AM (#4141552)
Jackie Robinson should be the obvious choice. He is, as far as I know, the only prominent player to play at least one full professional season at each of the four infield positions. He was also, according to Bill James at least, a stupendous defensive outfielder. We could argue hypotheticals about players who would have been good at multiple positions, but Robinson actually *was* good at all of them.

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