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Friday, July 13, 2012

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-13-2012

Milwaukee Journal, July 13, 1912:

Tuesday when [Pittsburgh pitcher Marty] O’Toole went in against the Phillies, Manager Clarke discovered the ball had been doctored. He called the attention of Umpire Mal Eason and Eason turned over to [National League] President Lynch two balls that he took from play.

O’Toole’s mouth and fingers are blistered. Charley Dooin, Philadelphia manager, said at first that his players had put vaseline on their gloves to soften them. Later…Dooin issued a statement in which he admitted his players had put a disinfectant on the ball.

Dooin says the spit ball is unsanitary and that he is determined to protect his men against any contagious disease that may be traveling on the pill.

And if, in the process, you can poison the opposing pitcher, that’s even better.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 13, 2012 at 05:50 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history, shenanigans, spitball

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 13, 2012 at 06:00 AM (#4181567)
This is the best Birthday Team we've had in a while. Two legit front-line starting pitchers, solid depth in the rest of the rotation, an outfield in which the worst hitter has a 129 career HR and a career OPS+ of 110, and one of the better catchers of his era.

C: Yadier Molina
1B: Jiggs Donahue
2B: John "Chewing Gum" O'Brien
3B: Lee Handley
SS: Daryl Spencer
LF/Manager: Tom York
CF: Ryan Ludwick
RF: Shin-Soo Choo

SP: Stan Coveleski
SP: George Bradley
SP: Ruben Gomez
SP: Pat Rapp
SP: Gene Packard
RP: Bill Caudill
RP/Pitching Coach: Jack Aker

Boondoggle: Kei Igawa
The Swedish Chef's favorite player: Frank Bork
"What did the members of the 4077th call Father Mulcahy behind his back?": Tiny Chaplin
Writer: Eliot Asinof
   2. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 13, 2012 at 06:26 AM (#4181571)
The Australian Baseball League's Melbourne Aces are moving to a new (as in different, not newly-built) facility for the upcoming season. I love the description in their press release:
Thanks in part to a grant from Sports Recreation Victoria and in cooperation with Baseball Victoria, the Australian Baseball Federation, Major League Baseball and Softball Victoria, Melbourne Ballpark will be rejuvenated and ready for the upcoming season. Planned improvements include: a new infield synthetic turf, shortening the outfield fence to ensure more crowd-pleasing home runs, and building a new VIP area.
The good news is that there will be plenty of crowd-pleasing home runs. The bad news is that Melbourne Ballpark is way the hell out in the middle of nowheresville.
   3. TerpNats Posted: July 13, 2012 at 07:06 AM (#4181574)
Milt, please fix the link on #2.

Wasn't Melbourne where the team had the shortest power alleys this side of Shipley Field in College Park? One presumes the new facility iniitally had far longer dimensions.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: July 13, 2012 at 07:48 AM (#4181586)
You ain't kidding -- it's halfway to Werribee!

   5. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 13, 2012 at 07:50 AM (#4181587)
The press release link I botched in #2: Linky
   6. Walt Davis Posted: July 13, 2012 at 08:02 AM (#4181592)
Well, I'll be damned. Guess which airline is a sponsor on the ABL website. That's right, our good friends at Delta.

The Sydney ballpark is not exactly conveniently located either but it's a lot closer than Canberra plus Canberra is the most boring place on the planet.

   7. Dag Nabbit at Posted: July 13, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4181643)
Today is also 20,000 days since Lew Burdette became a legend.

It's also the 118th anniversary of a trade of two pitchers for each other. The pitchers won a combined 612 games. Can you guess who they were? To see the result, click on the link above and scroll to the 1894 item.
   8. JJ1986 Posted: July 13, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4181655)
It's also the 118th anniversary of a trade of two pitchers for each other. The pitchers won a combined 612 games. Can you guess who they were? To see the result, click on the link above and scroll to the 1894 item.

I know one of them is Jamie Moyer.
   9. zack Posted: July 13, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4181695)
Middle of nowhere?! It's on the road to Geelong!

I distinctly remember saying to my friends "is that a ####### baseball stadium?!"
   10. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 13, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4182182)
Game of the day (yesterday): Inexcusably, none. Again.

Game of the day (last year): NL 5, AL 3. At least it was better than this year's game! Of course, since this year's game grades out as the worst ASG ever, including the two ties (2002 and 1961's second game) and the one that was cut off after 5 innings (1952, and yes, seriously, this happened), that's not saying much.

So, in order to tide me over until actual games can be written about once more, here are the 5 best pre-divisional-play All-Star games. In compiling this list (and yesterday's), I learned more about the ASG than I ever necessarily wanted to know. That includes the existence of the previous tied game and the 5-inning game, as well as the fact that the NL totally cheated in the 1934 game, using Billy Herman twice (as a pinch hitter for Carl Hubbell in the third, and replacing Frankie Frisch at second base in the seventh). I wouldn't have noticed this at all except that it screwed with the WPA totals in the boxscore.


5. 1961 (1) - NL 5, AL 4 (10). The NL scored on a Clemente triple and a Bill White sac fly against Whitey Ford in the second, and added a second run when Mays took second on an error, then came around to score on outs by Cepeda and Clemente. The AL scored its first run in the sixth when Killebrew homered; the NL countered in the eighth on a solo shot by All-Star George Altman off of All-Star Mike Fornieles. Roy Face pitched the ninth for the NL; he gave up a one-out double to Cash and an RBI hit to Kaline; Koufax came in and yielded a single to Maris, and Stu Miller then balked the two runners to second and third, allowing Kaline to score when Colavito reached on an error. Miller would go on to load the bases before escaping from the inning.

Miller stayed in to pitch the tenth, and struck out the first two AL hitters. Nellie Fox then walked, and Kaline grounded to third, where Ken Boyer committed his second huge error in two innings, throwing the ball away and letting Fox score all the way from first. But against Hoyt Wilhelm in the tenth, Aaron singled and moved to second on a passed ball, Mays doubled him in to tie the game, and Clemente singled Mays home to win it.

As mentioned above, the second ASG of 1961 was also tied at the end of regulation; despite the shining example of this game, they decided not to keep playing that one.

4. 1941 - AL 7, NL 5. The end of this one is relatively famous, but the rest of the game is pretty good too. Williams singled in the first run of the game in the fourth. The NL tied it in the sixth when Bucky Walters (the pitcher) doubled and came around on two outs, but the AL countered in the bottom of the inning with two walks and an RBI hit by Lou Boudreau. The NL took its first lead in the seventh on a two-run homer by Arky Vaughan, then extended it further in the eighth on... a two-run homer by Arky Vaughan. The AL closed to within 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth when Joe DiMaggio doubled and Dom DiMaggio drove him in, which is pretty sweet. And then, in the ninth, Claude Passeau gave up single-single-walk-RBI forceout-walkoff 3-run homer by Williams. Very nice.

3. 1967 - NL 2, AL 1 (15). Dick Allen homered in the second. Brooks Robinson homered in the sixth. Tony Perez homered in the fifteenth. The teams managed to combine for only 12 runners left on base in 15 innings. Welcome to 1967.

2. 1954 - AL 11, NL 9. The AL scored four in the third, with Al Rosen hitting a 3-run homer and Ray Boone adding a solo shot. The NL came right back with five in the fourth on four consecutive singles followed by two doubles. The AL tied the game on single-single-sac fly in the bottom of the fourth; the NL took the lead back on a 2-run Ted Kluszewski homer in the fifth, and the AL evened the score again on Rosen's second homer of the day.

Take a breath.

The AL surged ahead again in the sixth on a walk and two singles, the second of which resulted in the middle runner being thrown out at third. Two more singles loaded the bases, but the AL left them that way. The seventh passed without any scoring. In the eighth, the NL got a 2-run homer from Gus Bell to go ahead once more; the bottom of the inning saw Larry Doby even the tally with a solo homer, and then Nellie Fox broke the tie with a 2-out, bases-loaded single to provide the final margin of victory.

One of the best 9-inning games in the database. Still not quite as good as...

1. 1950 - NL 4, AL 3 (14). The NL took an early lead in the second when Jackie Robinson singled, Enos Slaughter tripled him in, and then came in himself on a sac fly. The AL pulled within one in the third when George Kell's flyout brought All-Star Cass Michaels home, then took the lead in the fifth on Kell's second sac fly of the day and an RBI single by Ted Williams. The score stayed 3-2 until the ninth, which was led off with a game-tying homer by Ralph Kiner.

Kiner doubled in the eleventh, and the NL loaded the bases behind him but failed to score. They did not fail to score in the fourteenth, which was led off with a homer by Red Schoendienst; this is slightly more unexpected than Kiner hitting one. Joe DiMaggio ended things by hitting into a double play in the bottom of the inning.

Looking at the games overall, when you cut through the fanfare and hoopla and whatnot, the All-Star game is... still pretty terrific. 7 of the 84 games to date have a cumulative WPA (or what I'm tentatively calling WPL, standing for Win Path Length) of at least 5; that's about a 95th percentile game in the larger sample, so there have been almost twice as many really excellent games as you'd expect. 33 of the games, about 40%, score at least 3; this is also more than you'd expect (a 3 is almost exactly the top 1/3 of games). 25 of the games would fall into roughly the bottom third (2.1 or less, approximately); this is fewer than you'd expect.

The game isn't always awesome; just look at this year's. But it's usually pretty good even before you account for the fact that it's the freaking All-Star game, which should not be forgotten even when it's otherwise a dud.
   11. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4182580)
Game of the day (last year): None. But there will be games tomorrow of last year, which is how the All-Star break is supposed to work. (Aren't there at least rainout makeups that could have been played Thursday or something? Obviously there wouldn't have been any scheduling conflicts...)

Game of the day (yesterday): White Sox 9, Royals 8 (14).

Well, then. Baseball, if this game is your apology for the extra-strength All-Star break, I accept.

The game did not start especially well for the Royals. Bruce Chen struck out the leadoff man in the top of the first, but then walked Kevin Youkilis and gave up a 2-run homer to Adam Dunn. Paul Konerko fanned, but Alex Rios capped off the festival of true outcomes with a homer of his own. After singles by AJ Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo, Chen finally recorded the third out. Already down 3-0, the Royals put Alcides Escobar on base with a walk and moved him to third on a wild pitch and a groundout, but he stayed there as Billy Butler struck out to end the inning. The Sox drew a pair of walks to lead off the second, but Youkilis, who you'd figure would readily join that particular variety of parade, hit into a double play, and Dunn struck out.

Things looked up a bit for KC in the second. Jose Quintana retired Yuniesky Betancourt to start the inning, but Mike Moustakas followed that with a solo homer. (Why Moustakas is hitting behind Betancourt, I'm not at all sure.) After the second out, Salvador Perez doubled, then scored on a single by Lorenzo Cain. Cain moved to second on a wild pitch, and came home with the tying run on a hit by Alex Gordon.

Chen and Quintana stemmed the tide for all of an inning and a half, but the Royals put another crooked number up in the bottom of the fourth. Jeff Francoeur started the festivities with a one-out solo homer; after the second out, Cain walked, Gordon singled him to third, and Escobar brought the runner home with a bunt single to third, which is pretty nice. Handed his first lead of the game, Chen quickly coughed it back up. Dunn led off the inning with a single, and while the teams were busy contacting Ripley's, Konerko and Rios recorded outs. Pierzynski singled, moving Dunn to second, and Viciedo homered, moving both runners all the way around and giving Chicago the lead once more. Kelvin Herrera relieved Chen; he gave up a double to Alexei Ramirez but no further runs.

Butler walked and Francoeur singled in the Kansas City fifth, but Quintana stranded the pair of runners. Jose Mijares and Aaron Crow combined on a scoreless sixth for the Royals. Brian Omigrosso worked a perfect sixth, and Crow did the same in the seventh. Matt Thornton gave up back-to-back one-out singles to Butler and Betancourt, but Moustakas lined into an inning-ending double play.

Greg Holland worked a flawless eighth for Kansas City, and Nate Jones quickly recorded the first two outs in the bottom of the inning. Cain then doubled, Gordon walked behind him, and on a 1-2 count, Escobar laced the ball into the right-center field gap. Cain and Gordon both scored, giving the Royals a 7-6 lead, and Escobar ended the play on third. He also ended the inning there, as Leyson Septimo came on to strike out Eric Hosmer and end the inning.

Once again, a Kansas City lead proved to be short-lived. Jonathan Broxton entered with the intent of closing the game. He gave up a single to Kevin Youkilis, then walked Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko on four pitches each to load the bases with nobody out. Alex Rios flied out to short center, with the runners staying in place; Pierzynski then singled to right, bringing Youkilis home. However, Orlando Hudson, who'd pinch run for Dunn earlier in the inning, was thrown out trying to score on the play, and Viciedo grounded out to end the inning, leaving both teams in a tie that can't have pleased either of them.

I'm going to pause here to note that Pierzynski's game-tying single is the kind of play that my method handles poorly. Because WPA treats plays as discrete events, it sees the state of the game going from bases loaded, one out, down a run (48% win expectancy) to first and second, two outs, game tied (46%), and determines that the play isn't terribly interesting. But as a fan experiences it, the play would be a large positive event for the Sox, immediately and damagingly followed by a large negative event. In general, plays that include both a run and an out tend to be underrated by this method, and this is a particularly noteworthy example of that.

Moving on... Butler led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single, and took second on a throwing error by Septimo. He then became the second DH of the inning to be lifted for a pinch runner, Jarrod Dyson in this case; after Betancourt flied out, Dyson became the second pinch runner of the inning to ruin a rally, getting picked off of second. Kansas City's Louis Coleman worked a perfect tenth, and Chicago's Jhan Martinez worked around a single by Perez; Perez was lifted for a pinch runner, who, you guessed it, was doubled up on a lineout by Cain. Coleman walked Youkilis to start the eleventh, which would have been a bigger deal had Dunn still been coming up next; as it stood, Hudson tried to bunt Youkilis over, instead getting him forced at second, and Hudson wasn't advanced from first by the next two hitters.

Gordon started the bottom of the eleventh with a single, and Escobar bunted him to second. Martinez intentionally walked Hosmer to get to Dyson; Dyson then worked him for an unintentional walk to load the bases with one out. Up next was Betancourt, who presumably gave his hitting coach a stroke by swinging at the first pitch and popping out; Moustakas then grounded to third to leave all three runners on.

Tim Collins pitched the twelfth for the Royals. He struck out Pierzynski, then walked Viciedo, who was removed for pinch runner Jordan Danks (whose name gave me momentary hope that the Sox had pinch run with a pitcher in extras; sadly, Jordan and John are not the same person). Ramirez flied out, then Danks took second on a wild pitch, and came in to score on a Gordon Beckham double. Collins kept the Sox to one run, but that's a pretty important one to give up.

Facing Addison Reed, Francoeur led off the bottom of the inning with a double. Brayan Pena lined out, but Cain singled, moving Francoeur to third, and Alex Gordon brought him home on a groundout. Escobar also grounded out, leaving the winning run at second, but the Royals were still alive. They remained so in the thirteenth, despite Everett Teaford giving up a leadoff hit to Hudson and a two-out ground-rule double to Pierzynski (I wonder whether Hudson would have scored if the ball hadn't cleared the wall - maybe he'd have been thrown out at home for the second time in the game). Danks flied out to leave both runners in scoring position. Dyson walked with one out in the thirteenth and stole second with two away, but stayed there when Moustakas ended the inning with a strikeout against Dylan Axelrod.

Teaford retired Ramirez to start the fourteenth, but then walked Beckham and gave up a single to Alejandro de Aza that moved the go-ahead run to third. Youkilis brought it home with a sac fly, and Axelrod nailed down the victory with a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.

This game saw the following deficits overcome: 3-0, 5-3, 6-5 (in the eighth), 7-6 (in the ninth), and 8-7 (in the twelfth). The teams scored 17 runs, and left 28 runners on base, and had 33 at bats with runners in scoring position. The White Sox had five hitters with either more than +.2 WPA or less than -.2; the Royals had seven, including one who didn't enter the game until the 11th inning. Both teams had four pitchers who met the same qualification.

It is a wonderful, exceptional, exhausting exhibition, baseball at its very best. It is the game of the year to date, and by a very healthy margin. And remember, the system is severely underrating one of its most important and exciting plays.

Anyone else looking forward to the rest of the second half?
   12. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 15, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4183006)
Game of the day (yesterday): Orioles 8, Tigers 6 (13). I did already accept baseball's apology yesterday, right? Oh well. If it wants to keep giving me days like yesterday, in which a 12-inning game that featured a game-tying ninth inning rally was only the 5th-most dramatic outing of the day, it's not like I'm going to complain.

The Tigers opened the scoring in the top of the first against Wei-Yin Chen. Austin Jackson led off with a walk, then moved up a base on each of two groundouts before coming home on Prince Fielder's double. Baltimore tied it in the bottom of the inning when Nick Markakis and Jim Thome doubled off of Max Scherzer, then took the lead in the second when Chris Davis and Robert Andino decided to pull a role reversal: Davis beat out an infield single, and Andino hit a 2-run homer. They padded the lead in the third thanks to back-to-back singles by Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, followed by an RBI forceout from Davis.

Chen and Scherzer maintained the score for the remainder of their outings, which were both over after the top of the sixth. The bullpens did the same for a while, with Duane Below and Darin Downs combining on three scoreless innings for Detroit and Darren O'Day and Pedro Strop pitching one each for the Orioles. All Star Jim Johnson then entered for the top of the ninth, his team still leading 4-1.

Miguel Cabrera led off with a single. Prince Fielder flied out, but Delmon Young reached on an error by newly-inserted third baseman Ryan Flaherty. Jhonny Peralta singled in one run, and Brennan Boesch doubled home a second, putting the tying run at third with one out. Alex Avila struck out, but Quintin Berry singled. The tying run scored, but Boesch was thrown out at home to end the inning.

The game was now tied, and the bullpens kept it that way through the next inning and a half; the only rally of significance in this stretch was in the Baltimore tenth, when Wieters led off with a walk and was pulled for a pinch runner who took second on a sac bunt. Mark Reynolds was intentionally passed behind him, but Steve Tolleson, pinch hitting for Flaherty, hit into a third-to-first double play to end the inning.

In to catch came Taylor Teagarden, fresh off the DL and playing his first game of the year. He was catching Miguel Socolovich, who'd already worked a perfect tenth. This inning, however, the Tigers started with singles by Fielder and Young. Danny Worth bunted into an out at third, and Boesch hit into a force at second, but Alex Avila singled against new reliever Troy Patton to bring home the go-ahead run, giving Detroit its first lead since the first inning. Enter Jose Valverde for the Tigers. He sandwiched outs by Andino and JJ Hardy around a double by Nick Markakis. With two away and the tying run on second, Detroit elected to put Thome on intentionally, and Jones made them pay for it by singling to bring Markakis in. That brought Teagarden to the plate; his first plate appearance of the year ended in a strikeout.

Baltimore's Matt Lindstrom allowed only a two-out single in the twelfth; Detroit's Octavio Dotel gave up a leadoff walk and a steal, but nothing else. In the thirteenth, Lindstrom yielded a one-out double to Worth, who then took third on a wild pitch. Don Kelly struck out, Avila walked, and Berry singled in his second hugely important run of the day, giving the Tigers the lead once more.

They'd used Valverde two innings earlier, but Detroit still had setup man Joaquin Benoit in reserve (for reasons that are not entirely clear to me). Benoit coaxed Markakis to ground out; that brought Hardy to the plate. At this point, Hardy had not recorded a base hit in his last 28 at bats; thanks to the All-Star break, that stretch covered 11 days. He ended it quickly and decisively, walloping the second pitch of the sequence over the left field wall to tie the game. Benoit rallied to strike out Thome, but then hit Jones with a pitch. Next up was Teagarden, who in his second at bat of the year, lifted a fly ball inches over the right field fence for a walkoff home run.

Friday gave us the best game of the year. Yesterday didn't do that; it only gave us the #7 game of the year, and thanks to a remarkable set of games otherwise, the third-best day overall.

Just wait and see what we'll get when Taylor Teagarden appears during the first nine innings!
   13. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4183017)
Game of the day (last year): Giants 6, Padres 2 (12). Aaron Harang and Madison Bumgarner started for the Padres and Giants, respectively. They were magnificent: a combined 13 innings, 12 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts, and one solitary run, tallied by the Padres in the third on three consecutive two-out singles (Chris Denorfia, Jason Bartlett, and Chase Headley, respectively). The Giants had put runners at second and third with one out in the top of the inning, and both teams had runners at third with two away in the fifth, but that was about it as far as scoring threats went while the starters were in.

Both of them were lifted for pinch hitters in the seventh, and Ramon Ramirez and Mike Adams preserved the 1-0 margin into the ninth. It lasted all of five pitches in that inning, as Aubrey Huff fell behind 0-2 to closer Heath Bell, then fouled off a pair of pitches, and then hammered a game-tying home run to right. After Huff's homer, the next 18 hitters were retired in order by Bell, Sergio Romo, Chad Qualls, Santiago Casilla, and Jason Spence, respectively, keeping the game at 1-1 through eleven innings.

The out parade ended abruptly in the top of the twelfth. Luke Gregerson walked Cody Ross, and after pinch runner Emmanuel Burriss stole second, also walked Brandon Crawford. Eli Whiteside tried to give Gregerson an out, but the Padre hurler misplayed the attempted sac bunt, loading the bases with none away. Gregerson rallied to get Miguel Tejada to foul out, then struck out Andres Torres to put him one batter away from escape... and then he walked Mike Fontenot, forcing in the go-ahead run. Pablo Sandoval singled, bringing in two more runs. Ernesto Frieri replaced Gregerson, and Nate Schierholtz greeted him with another RBI hit. After a passed ball moved the runners on base to second and third, Huff brought in the inning's final run with an infield hit.

Given the fact that San Francisco was now ahead by five runs, the bottom of the twelfth was more exciting than it had any right to be. Javier Lopez gave up singles to Cameron Maybin and Orlando Hudson, then walked Rob Johnson to load the bases with one out. That made it a save situation, so Brian Wilson was called in from the bullpen. Will Venable brought in one run with a sac fly, and Denorfia walked to reload the bases and bring the tying run to the plate, but Jason Bartlett grounded out to end the game.

The first 11 innings of the game featured a combined 13 hits, 2 walks, 16 K's, and 2 runs. So why wouldn't the 12th have 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs on its own?
   14. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: July 15, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4183036)
I just want to say how much I love this Game of the Day thing. It's awesome.
   15. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 15, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4183249)
I just want to say how much I love this Game of the Day thing. It's awesome.

Thanks. It's a lot of fun to write, and it's kind of therapeutic in that it gives me another way to enjoy baseball while waiting for the Cubs to maybe be good again in a few years.

Meant to mention that the Nats have now fallen from the #1 spot for excitement on the year for the first time in a couple of months. They're sitting just a touch behind the Brewers after yesterday's games, though still within easy striking distance if they have another really good one.
   16. puck Posted: July 15, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4183300)
Wow, Ben Sheets 6 scoreless innings for the win.

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