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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 5-31-2012

May 31, 1912, The Milwaukee Journal checks in on everybody’s favorite good-natured alcoholic ne’er-do-well catcher, Tubby Spencer:

Much of the credit for bringing Spencer around in good shape is due to Mr. and Mrs. “Dode” Criss, who have watched over the big fellow and kept him on the water wagon…Spencer probably will accompany Criss to Texas next year and will become a land owner in the Lone Star State. His salary will be allowed to accumulate throughout the season and by Oct. 1, he will have a sufficient sum to purchase a modest bit of ground and follow the footsteps of Fred Clarke, to the farm.

That’s not how it worked out, of course, because Tubby was the sort of guy who dove through plate glass windows on a whim. The Tubster allegedly spent most of the next several years as a hobo before reappearing as a semi-regular in the 1915 PCL. Spencer played ball until he was 41 years old, making his last known minor league appearance in 1925.

The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 05:30 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history, tubby spencer

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   1. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 05:41 AM (#4143919)
It's a good thing today's Birthday Team has a solid pitching staff, because the lineup is pretty terrible.

Lofton, obviously, was a heck of a player. After him, though, the offensive firepower's going to have to come from Joe Orsulak and (the most recent) Dave Roberts. Good luck with that.

C: Larry Owen
1B: Joe Orsulak
2B: Ray Olmedo
3B: Jeff Schaefer
LF: Dave Roberts
CF: Kenny Lofton
RF: Jose Malave

SP: Jake Peavy
SP: Ray Washburn
SP: Dupee Shaw
SP: George Smith
SP/SS: Socks Seibold
RP: Tippy Martinez
RP: Andrew Bailey

Owner: Edward Bennett Williams
Umpire: Bill Miller
   2. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 05:47 AM (#4143920)
I just noticed this: Kenny Lofton played for 11 teams during his MLB career, and spent one season or less with ten of them. I knew he moved around a lot, but that's wild.
   3. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:46 AM (#4143968)
As noted at THT, today also marks the 75th anniversary of Carl Hubbell finally losing, ending his 24 game winning streak.

Also, in honor of the man officially retiring this weekend in Detroit, it's Magglio Ordonez career highlights, covering highest (and lowest) moments, personal bests and worsts, greatest and most important games played in, and some odds and ends he was on hand for.
   4. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:59 AM (#4143973)
From Dag's THT article:
July 21, 2004: In the fifth inning, Magglio Ordonez is hit by a pitch by Cleveland’s Jerome Robertson. The umpires immediately eject Robertson, who will never pitch again in the major leagues. That’s little comfort to Ordonez, who is injured and unable to play for the rest of the year. A free agent in the off-season, this ends up being his last game with the White Sox.
This game was also Grady Sizemore's MLB debut, oddly enough.

Just to clarify, Robertson's pitch wasn't specifically the thing that ended Ordonez's season. (I don't think he threw hard enough to injure anyone.) Magglio had been struggling with a knee injury and that HBP just happened to be his last plate appearance as a Sock.
   5. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4143991)
New B-ref plug for Play Index. Few things I was unaware of:

- a person can subscribe for a month ($6)

- a person can subscribe for just a day ($2)

- there's an organizational rate (actually, two - one for five or fewer people, one for an unlimited number of users).

- there's a money back guarantee & the unused portion of the PI account will be returned.

I wonder how long that stuff has been in place. Years, for all I know.
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4144001)
I love the Play Index. I'm a huge fan of anything that makes it easy for me to find the answers to questions and PI does that. I find it very useful just for my own amusement and I can't imagine anyone with a blog or any kind of writing gig who doesn't have it. Just the ability to quickly check yourself on stuff like "wow, that .340 average by a 21 year old is pretty unusual" is pretty cool.
   7. BDC Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4144010)
Yes, I tried to kick the Play Index habit for a while, but being without it now would be like being without the Macmillan Encylopedia back in 1970 or '71 – it's just how one knows things about baseball.
   8. BDC Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:58 AM (#4144015)
In other news, I sat through all nine innings of the 21-8 game yesterday. I should have realized it was going to be a long night when Tony Romo threw out the first pitch. Ichiro intercepted and returned it to the Rangers' 15-yard line.

No, it was a brutal night. I kept waiting for a position player to pitch, Brandon Snyder or Craig Gentry or somebody. Snyder eventually caught, which seems riskier than pitching, and less interesting as a bit of trivia. (He'd caught in the minors for a while.)

Favorite overheard conversation: a woman behind me asks, "What do they keep bringing to that referee guy?" Baseballs. "So they keep using new baseballs?" Dozens a game. "That's so wasteful! When I was a kid, we kept playing with the same ball all year." Silence. "So what, do they take and wash them, or something?"
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: May 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4144075)

Favorite overheard conversation: a woman behind me asks, "What do they keep bringing to that referee guy?" Baseballs. "So they keep using new baseballs?" Dozens a game. "That's so wasteful! When I was a kid, we kept playing with the same ball all year." Silence. "So what, do they take and wash them, or something?"


OK, I'm going to go ahead and agree with her. I don't get it. A ball gets belted by a rather solid piece of wood, takes five or six hops on hard ground, slams into leather, then gets thrown at high rates of speed into other pieces of leather before returning to start the process all over again.

Then, some other ball is thrown, hits the dirt once before being caught and the ump immediately deems it unfit for play. How does that make any sense?

   10. Perry Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4144171)
Here's something I've wondered about lately -- I see PITCHERS throwing balls out of games because they're scuffed. How did we get here from the days not so long ago when pitchers not only loved scuffed balls, they went to great lengths to scuff them themselves? Is that another lost art?
   11. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:09 PM (#4144175)
Here's something I've wondered about lately -- I see PITCHERS throwing balls out of games because they're scuffed. How did we get here from the days not so long ago when pitchers not only loved scuffed balls, they went to great lengths to scuff them themselves? Is that another lost art?

In Ron Luciano's first book, The Umpire Strikes Back, he notes that pitchers often asked for new balls or didn't like new balls they'd just been given. This was the 1970s AL, a high time for scuff balling.

Sometimes, the guy just doesn't like the way it feels, or it's just off for them somehow.
   12. Rennie's Tenet Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4144182)
Birthday boy Joe Orsulak was one of my favorite players. He came up as a speed guy, and broke his ankle which took away his speed to play center. He didn't have the power to play a corner, but latched onto a semi-regular status with the awful Orioles of the time. An off-year at that point would have pushed him to pinch-hit duty, and maybe out of the majors, but Orsulak responded by hitting .260 to .290 for 8 straight years. He drew his last major league paycheck at 35.

Raffy Belliard was a similar story -- a career .221 hitter who stayed over .200 for 12 straight years.
   13. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4144183)
the exception being jim palmer. according to multiple umpires not just luciano palmer was somehow able to tell the difference

jim palmer may have been a prima donna but he earned that right
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: May 31, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4144327)
Here's something I've wondered about lately -- I see PITCHERS throwing balls out of games because they're scuffed. How did we get here from the days not so long ago when pitchers not only loved scuffed balls, they went to great lengths to scuff them themselves? Is that another lost art?


I've wondered that also. After a pitch in the dirt, it usually is the catcher/pitcher (not the umpire or batter) who requests a new ball. I would think that a scuffed or dirty ball would help the pitcher.
   15. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: May 31, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4144378)
I've wondered that also. After a pitch in the dirt, it usually is the catcher/pitcher (not the umpire or batter) who requests a new ball. I would think that a scuffed or dirty ball would help the pitcher.

I wonder if it's just a pure control issue?
Games are usually called from the bench, and if "scuff ball" is not in the playbook, most pitchers would be afraid to throw anything other than what the manager tells them.
   16. just plain joe Posted: May 31, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4144475)
In Ron Luciano's first book, The Umpire Strikes Back, he notes that pitchers often asked for new balls or didn't like new balls they'd just been given. This was the 1970s AL, a high time for scuff balling.


I think it was in that book (long time since I read it), Luciano tells a story about a pitcher rejecting five different baseballs in a row. When Luciano went to the mound and told the pitcher to then pick the unrejected ball, from the six he offered him, the pitcher declined the offer. In the ensuing "discussion" Luciano ejected both the pitcher and Earl Weaver (of course this happened against the Orioles). IIRC Luciano said the pitcher was not Jim Palmer.
   17. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: May 31, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4144490)
Luciano did pointedly say that Palmer ALWAYS rejected the same balls when Luciano would try to slip him the same one twice. I think that story you tell comes from his minor league umpire days.

Luciano called out Eckersley as someone who often would pitch w/ the exact same ball he'd just rejected.
   18. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:05 PM (#4144745)
Game of the day (yesterday): Cubs 8, Padres 6. Both teams stranded runners on second in the first inning, but the game really got started in the top of the second when Chase Headley singled and Chris Denorfia hit a 2-run homer off of Chicago's Ryan Dempster. The Cubs countered in the bottom of the inning with a two out walk and steal by Darwin Barney, an RBI hit by Steve Clevenger, who took second on the throw home, and a game-tying single by Dempster. Having helped himself with the bat, Dempster proceeded to hurt himself with his arm, yielding a double to Everth Cabrera and a homer to Carlos Quentin in the third; San Diego would put runners on second and third with one out later in the inning before Headley defused the rally by getting thrown out at home on a grounder. Chicago notched a single tally in the fourth on a two-out single by Barney and a double by Clevenger, but the Padres answered with Quentin's second 2-run homer of the day in the fifth, the third Dempster allowed. The Chicago starter was pulled one batter later for Casey Coleman, who recorded the last two outs of the inning without incident; the incidents were saved for the bottom of the inning, in which David DeJesus's leadoff single was followed by four walks, the last two of which occurred with two outs and forced in runs. (The fourth walk was drawn by Barney, who keeps showing up mid-rally in this game.)

Padres starter Anthony Bass was removed after the first of the bases-loaded walks in the fifth, and with the bullpens pitching, the score stabilized at 6-5. San Diego picked up a two-out single and steal in the sixth, and the inevitable pair of walks from Carlos Marmol in the seventh; the Cubs added a walk of their own in the bottom of the seventh, but no scoring took place until the Chicago half of the eighth, pitched by ex-Cub Andrew Cashner. With two outs, Reed Johnson singled and was replaced by pinch runner Tony Campana; Campana promptly stole both second and third, and after a walk to DeJesus, scored on an infield hit by Starlin Castro to tie the game. After James Russell worked a scoreless ninth (despite giving up a single and a double - a double play in between mitigated the damage), Bryan LaHair singled against Dale Thayer to start the bottom of the inning, and two outs later, Barney homered to left center to end the game.

No shortage of weird stuff in this one - the Padres' runs all scored on 2-run homers, the Cubs ended a 12-game losing streak by sweeping this series, Darwin Barney had .546 WPA, and Carlos Marmol walked only two batters in his one inning of work. But probably the weirdest part is the fact that all eight of the Cubs' runs scored with 2 outs. I'd be pretty surprised if this was a record, or even close to it - but it wouldn't surprise me at all if no other game this year has a team score more runs without scoring before the second out of the inning.

Game of the day (last year): Phillies 5, Nationals 4. Sometimes you can see these coming before the game starts - the pitching matchup of Roy Halladay and Livan Hernandez just screams "classic."

Livan worked an efficient first two innings for the home team, while the Nats put a runner on third in the bottom of the first when Rick Ankiel singled, stole second, and moved up on a groundout before being stranded. In the bottom of the second, Washington got on the board with a solo homer by Mike Morse, then stretched the lead with a pair of singles sandwiched around a forceout and a successfully executed squeeze bunt by Hernandez, which is highly excellent. The Phils wasted a leadoff double in the third, but roared back in the fourth on back-to-back one-out homers by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez to tie the game, then a double by Carlos Ruiz and a single by Domonic Brown to take the lead. Philly put two more runners on in the fifth (both on walks) without scoring, and that allowed the Nationals to retie the score in the bottom of the inning on a Danny Espinosa solo homer; after Livan worked a 1-2-3 sixth, Laynce Nix led off the bottom of that frame with a tiebreaking homer of his own, the third Halladay had allowed. Philly struck again in the seventh; Hernandez was removed after giving up a one-out single to Placido Polanco, and Sean Burnett quickly walked Chase Utley, allowed a game-tying hit to Howard and a go-ahead sac fly to Ibanez, and gave up another hit to Ruiz before Brown fouled out to end the inning. Now ahead once again, Halladay served up a leadoff double to Alex Cora and a bunt hit to Ian Desmond; Cora was thrown out at home on a grounder by Ankiel, and Doc escaped unharmed. (Would any other starting pitcher still be pitching in the seventh, already having given up 4 runs and having put runners on the corners with nobody out? Not many, at least.)

The last two innings were somewhat anticlimactic, since both starters were out of the game. Washington stranded a runner on second in the eighth, and the Phillies left them on the corners in the ninth (since they were already ahead, this wasn't a huge deal). Ryan Madson ended things with a 1-2-3 save, and Philadelphia took home a win in a game that wasn't strictly speaking a classic, but was quite good.

Tomorrow's entry is likely to be at least relatively unimpressive, since there are only 3 games on the slate today. On the other hand, the Tigers and Red Sox are tied 2-2 in the third...
   19. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4144780)
No shortage of weird stuff in this one ... Carlos Marmol walked only two batters in his one inning of work


Unfortunately, anybody who's watched the Cubs over the past couple of years would disagree with your characterization of this as "weird". Marmol walking two batters in an inning is about as likely as not (he's averaging 1.5 per inning this year).
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:18 PM (#4144790)
Unfortunately, anybody who's watched the Cubs over the past couple of years would disagree with your characterization of this as "weird". Marmol walking two batters in an inning is about as likely as not (he's averaging 1.5 per inning this year).


I think you missed a joke there Kiko.

   21. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:29 PM (#4144797)
Unfortunately, anybody who's watched the Cubs over the past couple of years would disagree with your characterization of this as "weird". Marmol walking two batters in an inning is about as likely as not (he's averaging 1.5 per inning this year).

I will refer you to post 31 here.
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 31, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4144826)
Carlos Gonzalez just came up with a chance to hit his fifth consecutive homer, but hit a mere double instead.
   23. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 31, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4144836)
I think you missed a joke there Kiko.


Sorry, watching too much Carlos Marmol ruins one's sense of humor (that said, yesterday's Cubs game was awesome - Darwin Barney: who knew?).

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