Friday, February 12, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

Mats Wilander beat John McEnroe in their first meeting on grass. And it was in a best-of-five Grand Slam contest. Huh?

I'd always assumed that the Swede, unlike Bjorn Borg and later Stefan Edberg, wasn't very good on grass. I remember thinking that, yes, he'd won the Australian Open on grass, but in a weak field. Many of the greats of the game, including obviously the serve-and-volleyers like McEnroe, Edberg, Boris Becker and Pat Cash, didn't show up until after it moved to January, and hard court. The January move wasn't until 1987, the last year the fourth best slam was held on grass. There was no event in 1986. Edberg won it 1985 and 1987.

But Wilander beat his fellow Swede to the punch down under.

The 1983 Australian Open was held in late November / early December of 1983, and this time the draw was deep. Waiting in the quarterfinals for Wilander was the two-time defending champion Johan Kriek. Kriek was out to prove that his wins in 1981 and '82 were not the result of inferior competition.

Kriek made it through three matches (Receiving a bye in the first round) without losing a set, but Wilander was too good. The Swede took it in three sets himself, winning a third set tiebreaker to clinch it. So, guess who's next?

John McEnroe was playing in his first Australian Open, and for very good reason. He seemed unstoppable on grass. Only supreme efforts from Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors had stopped him from winning five straight Wimbledons from 1980-1984. He'd beaten Borg in four sets in 1981 (The Swede's last trip to that event as a player) and then routed Connors in '84, losing just four games in the finals.

So, McEnroe, who'd made it look easy against Chris Lewis of nearby New Zealand in the finals in London in '83, ventured Down Under for the first time.


And he had to be the favourite. He stormed through his first four matches (Also receiving a bye), by allowing the opposition one set, total. Poor Wally Masur, managed to win just five games against him in the quarterfinals. McEnroe was 4-0 lifetime in the Australian Open. And in his next match, after the first set, it appeared that he'd be 5-0, and be in the finals of another grass Grand Slam in 1983.

But Wilander, after dropping the first set 6-4, stormed through the next three sets. The set he'd lost to McEnroe would proved to be the last one he lost in the 1983 Australian Open (He'd thrash Ivan Lendl in the finals, losing just nine games). The 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win vaulted him into his first grass court Grand Slam finals (Wilander never made it past the quarters at Wimbledon). This also marked the second time in the slams of that year that McEnroe had won the first set against the Swede, only to lose the next three. They'd met (For the first time) in the quarters of the French that year. Wilander lost just six games after McEnroe won that many in the first set alone.


McEnroe came back to Australia in 1985, only to lose in the quarterfinals. As it turns out, semifinal run of his in 1983 was his best ever result. Not his most famous moment, of course. In 1990, he was defaulted in his fourth round match with another Swedish player, Micheal Performs.


But the good folks down under hadn't heard the last of John McEnroe. Maybe they wish they'd had. But in 1992, after skipping the event in '91, he came back and faced Boris Becker in the third round. This time, McEnroe kept it all in check, and rolled back his nearly 33-year old clock for the win.


Wilander went on to win the Australian Open again in 1988, but on a new surface. His '88 year was a grand one. He won three of the four majors. He lost only to Miloslav Mecir at the quarterfinals of Wimbledon.

McEnroe and Wilander met right there the next year. Same Mac-Round. Same Mac-Tournament. McEnroe hadn't been to the semifinals of Wimbledon since 1984, and was determined, as Mercir was in 1988, to prevent an all-Swedish semifinals at London. McEnroe took it. It was the last time the two would meet on such a stage.



Abby Was Amazing In 1967!

Ted Abernathy was another pitcher who gave the starter's role a try, then settled into his comfort zone as the closer. Ted never started another game after 1957, and was out of the big leagues until 1960. But in 1967 he was on the Cincinnati Reds. And what a season he had!

Stat Set 1


Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Wolfgang 1914 24 12 0.500 119.1 9 5
               
Mays 1915 38 27 0.711 131.2 6 5
               
Danforth 1917 50 26 0.520 173.0 11 6
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Marberry 1926 64 47 0.734 138.0 12 7
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Quinn 1932 39 29 0.744 64.1 5 4
               
Russell 1933 50 31 0.620 124.0 12 6
               
Brown 1938 51 32 0.627 132.2 15 9
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Beggs 1940 37 27 0.730 76.2 12 3
               
Murphy 1941 35 31 0.886 77.1 8 3
               
Maltzberger 1944 46 41 0.891 91.1 10 5
               
Page 1949 60 48 0.800 135.1 13 8
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Konstanty 1950 74 62 0.838 152.0 16 7
               
Wilhelm 1952 71 32 0.451 159.1 15 3
               
Paige 1952 46 35 0.761 138.0 12 10
               
Kinder 1953 69 52 0.754 107.0 10 6
               
Mossi 1954 40 18 0.450 93.0 6 1
               
Narleski 1955 60 36 0.600 111.2 9 1
               
Freeman 1956 64 47 0.734 108.2 14 5
               
Hyde 1958 53 44 0.830 103.0 10 3
               
Duren 1959 41 29 0.707 76.2 3 6
               
Face 1959 57 47 0.825 93.1 18 1
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
McDaniel 1960 63 47 0.746 104.1 12 4
               
Arroyo 1961 65 54 0.831 119.0 15 5
               
Radatz 1963 66 58 0.879 131.1 15 6
               
Perranoski 1963 69 47 0.681 129.0 16 3
               
Lee 1964 64 39 0.609 137.0 6 5
               
Ellis 1964 52 32 0.615 122.1 10 3
               
Miller 1965 67 55 0.821 112.1 14 7
               
Regan 1966 65 48 0.738 116.2 14 1
               
Abernathy 1967 70 61 0.871 106.1 6 3
               
Wood 1968 88 46 0.523 159.0 13 12
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Giusti 1972 54 44 0.815 74.2 7 4
               
Hiller 1973 65 60 0.923 125.1 10 5
               
Borbon 1973 80 36 0.450 121.0 11 4
               
Marshall 1974 106 83 0.783 208.1 15 12
               
Gossage 1975 62 49 0.790 141.2 9 8
               
Lyle 1977 72 60 0.833 137.0 13 5
               
Stanley 1978 52 35 0.673 141.2 15 2
               
Tekulve 1979 94 67 0.713 134.1 10 8
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Fingers 1981 47 41 0.872 78.0 6 3
               
Hernandez 1984 80 68 0.850 140.1 9 3
               
Lamp 1985 53 11 0.208 105.2 11 0
               
Eichhorn 1986 69 38 0.551 157.0 14 6
               
Henke 1987 72 62 0.861 94.0 0 6
               
Burke 1987 55 30 0.545 91.0 7 0
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Eckersley 1990 63 61 0.968 73.1 4 2
               
Thigpen 1990 77 73 0.948 88.2 4 6
               
Ward 1992 79 35 0.443 101.1 7 4
               
Henry 1991 32 25 0.781 36.0 2 1
               
Wetteland 1993 70 58 0.829 85.1 9 3
               
Harvey 1993 59 54 0.915 69.0 1 5
               
Hoffman 1998 66 61 0.924 73.0 4 2
               
Urbina 1998 64 59 0.922 69.1 6 3
               
Williamson 1999 62 40 0.645 93.1 12 7
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Rhodes 2001 71 16 0.225 68.0 8 0
               
Smoltz 2003 62 55 0.887 64.1 0 2
               
Timlin 2005 81 27 0.333 80.1 7 3
               
Nathan 2006 64 61 0.953 68.1 7 0
               
Rivera 2008 64 60 0.938 70.2 6 5
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L
               
Bell 2010 67 57 0.851 70.0 6 1
               
Cook 2012 71 23 0.324 73.1 6 2
               
Chapman 2012 68 52 0.765 71.2 5 5
               
Johnson 2012 71 63 0.887 68.2 2 1
               
Davis 2014 70 11 0.157 72.0 9 2
               
Rondon 2015 72 47 0.653 70.0 6 4
               
Pitcher Year GP GF GF% IP W L

Stat Set 2


Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Wolfgang 1914 0 ? ? ? 1.89 50 3.8 1.073 1.8
                     
Mays 1915 7 ? ? ? 2.60 65 4.4 1.063 1.0
                     
Danforth 1917 9 ? ? ? 2.65 79 4.1 1.324 3.2
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Marberry 1926 22 ? ? ? 3.00 43 2.8 1.348 3.1
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Quinn 1932 13 ? ? ? 2.66 24 3.5 1.383 1.1
                     
Russell 1933 13 ? ? ? 2.69 28 2.0 1.218 3.1
                     
Brown 1938 5 ? ? ? 3.80 55 3.7 1.500 0.4
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Beggs 1940 7 4 0.636 0 2.00 25 2.9 1.161 2.2
                     
Murphy 1941 15 7 0.682 0 1.98 29 3.4 1.397 2.2
                     
Maltzberger 1944 12 ? ? ? 2.96 49 4.8 1.095 1.8
                     
Page 1949 27 11 0.711 0 2.59 99 6.6 1.315 4.2
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Konstanty 1950 22 4 0.846 0 2.66 56 3.3 1.039 4.7
                     
Wilhelm 1952 11 1 0.917 1 2.43 108 6.1 1.155 2.7
                     
Paige 1952 10 5 0.667 1 3.07 91 5.9 1.254 3.4
                     
Kinder 1953 27 8 0.771 4 1.85 39 3.3 1.140 4.5
                     
Mossi 1954 7 0 1.000 0 1.94 55 5.3 1.022 3.3
                     
Narleski 1955 19 2 0.905 6 3.71 94 7.6 1.281 2.5
                     
Freeman 1956 18 3 0.857 2 3.40 50 4.1 1.344 2.6
                     
Hyde 1958 18 5 0.783 0 1.75 49 4.3 1.136 4.9
                     
Duren 1959 14 7 0.667 1 1.88 96 11.3 1.200 3.8
                     
Face 1959 10 9 0.526 1 2.70 69 6.7 1.243 3.2
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
McDaniel 1960 26 6 0.813 1 1.29 95 8.2 0.863 6.0
                     
Arroyo 1961 29 10 0.744 1 2.19 87 6.6 1.109 3.3
                     
Radatz 1963 25 3 0.893 0 1.97 162 11.0 1.096 5.7
                     
Perranoski 1963 21 8 0.724 0 1.67 75 5.2 1.202 4.5
                     
Lee 1964 19 8 0.704 1 1.51 111 7.3 1.058 4.3
                     
Ellis 1964 14 2 0.875 1 2.57 125 9.2 1.054 3.1
                     
Miller 1965 24 1 0.960 1 1.89 104 7.8 0.997 4.3
                     
Regan 1966 21 7 0.750 1 1.62 88 6.8 0.934 5.0
                     
Abernathy 1967 28 6 0.824 1 1.27 88 7.4 0.978 6.2
                     
Wood 1968 16 5 0.762 7 1.87 74 4.2 1.006 5.4
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Giusti 1972 22 5 0.815 0 1.93 54 6.5 1.058 2.3
                     
Hiller 1973 38 0 1.000 0 1.44 124 8.9 1.021 8.1
                     
Borbon 1973 14 5 0.737 6 2.16 60 4.5 1.421 2.5
                     
Marshall 1974 21 12 0.636 9 2.42 143 6.2 1.186 3.1
                     
Gossage 1975 26 5 0.839 1 1.84 130 8.3 1.193 8.2
                     
Lyle 1977 26 8 0.765 1 2.17 68 4.5 1.197 3.7
                     
Stanley 1978 10 5 0.667 1 2.60 38 2.2 1.242 4.1
                     
Tekulve 1979 31 6 0.838 8 2.79 75 5.0 1.176 3.2
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Fingers 1981 28 6 0.824 0 1.04 61 7.0 0.872 4.2
                     
Hernandez 1984 32 1 0.970 0 1.92 112 7.2 0.941 4.8
                     
Lamp 1985 2 5 0.286 8 3.32 68 5.8 1.164 1.3
                     
Eichhorn 1986 10 4 0.714 7 1.72 166 9.5 0.955 7.4
                     
Henke 1987 34 8 0.810 1 2.49 128 12.3 0.926 3.3
                     
Burke 1987 18 4 0.818 5 1.19 58 5.7 0.890 4.3
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Eckersley 1990 48 2 0.960 0 0.61 73 9.0 0.614 3.3
                     
Thigpen 1990 57 8 0.877 0 1.83 70 7.1 1.038 3.4
                     
Henry 1991 15 1 0.938 3 1.00 28 7.0 0.833 2.2
                     
Ward 1992 12 4 0.750 24 1.95 103 9.1 1.135 3.1
                     
Wetteland 1993 43 1 0.977 0 1.37 113 12.0 1.008 4.2
                     
Harvey 1993 45 4 0.918 0 1.70 73 9.5 0.841 4.0
                     
Hoffman 1998 53 1 0.981 0 1.48 86 10.6 0.849 4.1
                     
Urbina 1998 34 4 0.895 0 1.30 94 12.2 1.010 3.2
                     
Williamson 1999 19 7 0.731 5 2.41 107 10.3 1.039 2.8
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Rhodes 2001 3 4 0.429 31 1.72 83 11.0 0.853 2.5
                     
Smoltz 2003 45 4 0.918 0 1.12 73 10.2 0.870 3.3
                     
Timlin 2005 13 7 0.650 24 2.24 59 6.6 1.320 2.9
                     
Nathan 2006 36 2 0.947 0 1.58 95 12.5 0.790 3.3
                     
Rivera 2008 39 1 0.975 0 1.40 77 9.8 0.665 4.3
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Bell 2010 47 3 0.940 0 1.93 86 11.1 1.200 1.9
                     
Cook 2012 14 7 0.667 21 2.09 80 9.8 0.941 2.6
                     
Chapman 2012 38 5 0.884 6 1.51 122 15.3 0.809 3.6
                     
Johnson 2012 51 3 0.944 0 2.49 41 5.4 1.019 2.4
                     
Davis 2014 3 3 0.500 33 1.00 109 13.6 0.847 3.7
                     
Rondon 2015 30 4 0.882 8 1.67 69 8.6 1.000 2.2
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR

Notes

Wolfgang appeared as a starter eleven times.

Danforth appeared as a starter nine times.

Paige and Mays appeared as a starter six times.

Marberry, Mossi, Lee and Ellis appeared as a starter five times.

Russell and Stanley appeared as a starter three times.

Brown, McDaniel and Wood appeared as a starter two times.

Beggs, Quinn and Narleski appeared once as a starter

Maltzberger, Hyde, Konstanty, Duren, Tekulve and Henke all wore glasses.


References

Sports Reference LLC. "Ted Abernathy Pitching Statistics And History." Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/abernte02-pitch.shtml. Web. 12 Feb. 16.