Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Common Denominator: Rick Aguilera

"With the New York Mets in 1986 when they won it all. With the Minnesota Twins when they won it all in 1991."

But Rick Aguilera was a starter on the 1986 Mets. And get this, it looked like he'd be the losing pitcher in a game that would have ended their season.

Aguilera was pitching the top of the tenth inning of game six of the World Series in 1986. The Boston Red Sox were leading the Fall Classic three games to two. Game six was needed by the Mets to stay alive, and it was at Shea Stadium. Well, it was 3-2 Boston at one point. New York tied it, only to see Dave Henderson take Rick out of the park in the top of the tenth. The Red Sox got more. Aguilera got the next two batters, but in working his second inning of the night, he faltered. Wade Boggs doubled. Marty Barrett singled. 5-3. Boston needed three more outs.

It looked like they were going to get them quickly. Wally Backman flied out to Jim Rice. Keith Hernandez stepped up to the dish. He sent Henderson to the warning track in centre, but Dave got to it. Two down.

Gary Carter was the batter. He popped it back up over the screen. 0-1. Two more strikes. Ball one. Ball two. But then New York woke up.

Carter stroked a single to left on the very next pitch. Kevin Mitchell went up there to hit for the pitcher who'd just given up two runs and put them in this mess. Mitchell singled to centre on an 0-1 pitch. Calvin Schiraldi faced Ray Knight next and put him in a quick 0-2 hole. But Knight fought off an inside fast ball and muscled it to right-centre for a single that scored Carter. Okay, 5-4. Bob Stanley came in to pitch. He got Mookie Wilson to 2-2. But a wild pitch on his eighth delivery saw Mitchell score from third. When Mookie sent a slow roller to first, it looked like it was on to the eleventh. But as all baseball fans know, it got through the legs of Bill Buckner for an error. Ray Knight trotted around from second to score. A 6-5 Mets win! And they came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Red Sox in game seven. Rick had a ring. Five years later, he got another one.

This time, though, Rick was in the closer role. Having not quite done it as a starter, he helped get Minnesota to the Fall Classic as he saved three games vs. Toronto in the ALCS. So, the next step was beating the Atlanta Braves. Minny won the first two games at home. Not only that, but Aguilera had himself two more saves. The Braves went home, and suddenly couldn't lose. Atlanta won games three, four and five. Rick took the lose in game three, as he couldn't hold off the Braves in the bottom of the twelfth in game three. He took the loss.

Here's where another game six presented itself. Rick pitched must better this time. He stopped the Braves at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in the top of the tenth and eleventh. Kirby Puckett went out and hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the frame, giving Minny a 4-3 win.

Sadly, in the next game, Rick just sat and waited. The game was finally won by the Twins in the bottom of the of the tenth on another walk-off single by Gene Larkin. Jack Morris went all the way for Minnesota, winning it 1-0. Rick wasn't a part of that classic, but he was a winner again.


References

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print.

Retrosheet. Web. 24 May 2016.  <www.retrosheet.org>

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 24 May 2016.

Youtube. Web. 24 May 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/>

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

Novak Djokovic has already equaled the total ATP singles titles won by the great Pete Sampras!

It goes without saying that by winning his 64 singles title at Madrid Spain over Andy Murray (Although the Scotsman promptly got his revenge the next time out in Rome), the great Serb also tied the great Swede, Bjorn Borg. However, this didn't shock me, as Borg basically bowed out after 1981, playing in just one ATP tournaments in the next three years (In his last event, Borg lost in the first round). Bjorn was only 25 years old in 1981, and we are left to wonder what might have been had he stayed on, though things clearly wouldn't have been easy with John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, plus some up-and-comers named Lendl and Wilander.

Ironically, it will be McEnroe, Lendl and Connors on Djokovic's hit list as far as ATP titles won is concerned should he ever pass Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Nadal sits at 69, while the injured Federer is stuck at 88, and probably has at the most five more titles left in him. Lendl is at 94. Connors, 109.

So how did Djokovic do it so quickly? When he lost to Murray in Rome, it was Murray's 36th title. Andy is a week older than Novak, and the day of that final was the Scotman's 29th birthday. So Novak could have passed Borg and Sampras before his 29th.

Sampras carried on until he was 31, bowing out at 2002, US Open. That was in September. The writing, though, had been on the wall for at least two years as far as Pete had been concerned. He was in a two-year title drought, and had won just 2 titles in 2000, the year he turned 29. The year before, 1999, Sampras won five titles, including his 5th Wimbledon. He'd add a 6th the next season, but then had to wait until his last tournament two years later to win another title. Pete didn't formally announce his retirement until 2003. It is, in a way, a shame he didn't try and hang on one more year. That was the year Novak arrived. Well, sort of.

But Novak arrived with a wimper. He played some future tournaments, and nothing more. And it was a struggle for Djokovic. He ended the year not playing a single ATP tour event, and his ranking was in the 600s.

The guy who really arrived that year was Roger Federer. Federer had beaten Sampras in the 2001 Wimbledon Round Of 16, then made it into the top ten in 2002. But 2003 was where he entered the status of all-time great. Although he finished the year second to Andy Roddick, he won his first grand slam at the prestigious Wimbledon. It was just the beginning. But Sampras (Obviously) and Federer were still safe from Djokovic at this point. Nadal didn't hit his stride until 2005.

Djokovic didn't even reach a grand slam quarters until 2006 at the French Open. Ironically, he arrived in Paris less than a week past his 19th birthday. Federer had, five years earlier, reached his first final eighth at the same event. No one really knew who Roger Federer was then. No one really knew who Novak Djokovic was in 2006. Federer hadn't reached a French Final by '06. Nadal beat both Djokovic and Federer in that tournament, throwing out a warning to anyone.

Djokovic had to default his match vs. Nadal, but there was no way, despite his denials afterwords, that he was in Rafa's (Or Federer's) class at that point. Neither Federer nor Nadal were at Sampras' level quite then. Although, Roger looked to be on his way.

The next year might have marked the first sign of the new horizon in tennis. Djokovic looked great. Federer destroyed him at the Australian Open, but the soon-to-be 20-year old had the breakthrough. Semis at French. Semis at Wimbledon. Finals at the US Open. In between the four big tournaments, Novak won the first of his (current) record twenty-nine Masters title at Miami. He thrashed Murray, Nadal and Guillermo Canas (Back from his 2005 suspension) in straight sets in the last three rounds. Later, in Canada, he got through Nadal again. Andy Roddick and Roger Federer (In the finals) also fell victim to the superb Serb.

2008 brought him his first Grand Slam, down under. He'd win five more as of this writing, of course. He beat Federer in the semifinals (The first of three times he'd do that) in just three sets. Though all were close, Novak just found a way. And then, after dropping the first set in the finals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, he won three straight sets again.

He added Indian Wells, Rome and even the ATP Year End to his name that year, but it still seemed like he was a distant third to Federer and Nadal. Rafa took over that year, beating Djokovic and Federer in straight sets at the French Open. Then he won Wimbledon over Federer, who could only salvage the US Open in the Grand (Slam) scheme of things.

2011 was Novak's best season prior to 2015. He not only won three Grand Slams, but Novak added five Masters to that for good measure. That year, Djokovic won 10 titles (After winning just 2 in 2010). The inconstant version of him was now officially over. Though Nadal and Federer stayed close, sometimes even passing him in the rankings, it became apparent that the Serb wanted to keep being #1. He ended 2012 at that spot, narrowly lost it the next year to the Spaniard, while Federer fell to 6th. Federer made a strong comeback in 2014, but could not regain the top spot from Djokovic. Nadal still owned the French, but injuries were beginning to catch up to him. In 2015, he finally lost to Djokovic at the French. Novak looked unreal that year. He won three more slams (Missing only in the French Open Finals vs. Stan Wawrinka), added six more Masters (And reached the finals in Canada and Cincinnati for good measure), plus he won the Year-End. It was the fourth straight year and fifth time overall that he won the Grand Finale. Novak had won 10 titles in 2011. He had topped that in '15 by winning 11 of the 16 tournaments he entered. Just domination. His overall record was 82-6 that year, compared to 70-6 four years earlier. There was, of course, no stopping him as 2016 approached. Aged only 28 at the end of last year, Novak had 59 career singles ATP titles to his name.

More than his coach Boris Becker. More than Federer's (then) coach, Stefan Edberg. More than Illie Nastase. More than Mats Wilander. And coming up on Guillermo Vilas' 62. It was hard to believe. His rival Andy Murray was stuck at 35. Novak kept him there by beating him in straight sets at the Australian Open in January of 2016. He'd finished off Federer in the semis (Federer's 12th appearance in the final four Down Under in the past 13 years). Before that, in his first tournament of the new year, Djokovic swept through the field at Doha. No one got a set off him. Nadal won three games in the finals.

Indian Wells and Miami were conquered by the Serb for the fifth and sixth time, respectively. The clay court season, never an easy task, proved a challenge. Novak lost in the second round at Monte Carlo after receiving a first round bye. Nadal got back to his winning ways on the grand stage of clay, collecting his 28th Masters title. That tied him with Djokovic for most Masters won in a career. But only temporary.

When the the next Masters tournament came rolling around in Madrid, Novak made it clear he was gunning for another title. He took care of the Canadian, Milo Raonic in the quarters, disposed of Kei Nishikori in the semis and Murray in the finals. That was title #64. He'd done it!

But, there was always a reminder that no matter how good you are, there are obstacles in the way. Murray wasn't about to let him do that to him again. It had been a while. August of 2015 to be exact, since he'd beaten Novak, but Andy found a way. Novak and Pete Sampras are now tied in career titles, Murray making sure of that. That's not where the comparison ends: Sampras finished his illustrious career without a title at Roland Garros!

And that leads us to Djokovic's problem. He, too, has failed to win the big prize at Paris. He's won matches there over Murray, Federer and even Nadal, but can't seem to string seven wins a row at the French Open. It's still a big gap in his resume. Will 2016 change that? It would be appropriate if he passed Sampras in career titles with a win there this year. Beat the one thing Pete couldn't!


References

Collins, Bud. The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. Washington, D.C.: New Chapter, 2010. Print.

Official Site Of Men's Professional Tennis. Association Of Tennis Professionals. Web. 23 May 2016. <http://www.atpworldtour.com/>.

Youtube. Web. 23 May 2016.. <https://www.youtube.com/>

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 23 May 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/>.

Wine, Steven. "Defending Champ Nadal Advances To Semifinals At French Open." USA Today: Latest World And US News - USATODAY.com. USA Today. 07 May 2006. Web. 23 May 2016. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/french/2006-06-07-day-11_x.htm>.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beck(oning) The Giants To 103 Wins In '93! Part 2

Rob Beck's more advanced stats. His save conversions, just amazing in 1993!


Stat Set 2



Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Crandall 1913 6 ? ? ? 2.86 42 3.9 1.290 0.5
                     
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
                     
Morton 1921 0 ? ? ? 2.76 45 3.8 1.207 2.3
                     
Baumgartner 1925 3 ? ? ? 3.57 18 1.4 1.368 2.5
                     
Marberry 1926 22 ? ? ? 3.00 43 2.8 1.348 3.1
                     
Haid 1928 5 ? ? ? 2.30 21 4.0 1.064 0.4
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Lindsey 1931 7 1 0.875 ? 2.77 32 3.9 1.634 1.1
                     
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
                     
Adams 1943 9 2 0.818 0 2.82 46 3.0 1.254 3.0
                     
Heving 1944 10 ? ? 0 1.96 46 3.5 1.228 1.9
                     
Maltzberger 1944 12 ? ? 0 2.96 49 4.8 1.095 1.8
                     
Christopher 1947 12 2 0.857 0 2.90 33 3.7 1.277 1.4
                     
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
                     
Farrell 1957 10 3 0.769 0 2.38 54 5.8 1.320 2.4
                     
Zuverink 1957 9 8 0.529 0 2.48 36 2.9 1.278 2.7
                     
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
                     
Staley 1959 15 4 0.789 2 2.24 54 4.2 1.169 2.5
                     
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
                     
Fox 1961 12 2 0.857 3 1.41 32 5.0 1.012 2.6
                     
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
                     
Drabowsky 1967 12 5 0.706 3 1.60 96 9.1 0.955 3.2
                     
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
                     
Tatum 1969 22 1 0.957 2 1.36 65 6.8 1.042 4.3
                     
Pitcher Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
                     
Williams 1970 15 4 0.789 7 1.99 76 6.0 1.032 2.8
                     
McMahon 1970 19 5 0.792 0 2.96 74 7.1 1.219 3.0
                     
Sanders 1971 31 4 0.886 0 1.91 80 5.3 1.064 4.1
                     
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
                     
Eastwick 1976 26 9 0.743 1 2.09 70 5.9 1.115 2.8
                     
Lyle 1977 26 8 0.765 1 2.17 68 4.5 1.197 3.7
                     
Sutter 1977 31 9 0.775 0 1.34 129 10.8 0.857 6.5
                     
Stanley 1978 10 5 0.667 1 2.60 38 2.2 1.242 4.1
                     
Blair 1978 28 5 0.848 2 1.97 91 8.2 1.246 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
                     
McGraw 1980 20 5 0.800 0 1.46 75 7.3 0.921 4.7
                     
Fingers 1981 28 6 0.824 0 1.04 61 7.0 0.872 4.2
                     
Caudill 1982 26 6 0.813 0 2.35 111 10.4 1.045 4.4
                     
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
                     
Henneman 1988 22 7 0.759 2 1.87 58 5.7 1.051 3.3
                     
Lancaster 1989 8 3 0.727 7 1.36 56 6.9 1.032 3.9
                     
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
                     
Rojas 1992 10 1 0.909 13 1.43 70 6.3 1.043 3.9
                     
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
                     
Beck 1993 48 4 0.923 0 2.16 86 9.8 0.882 2.4
                     
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
                     
Putz 2007 40 2 0.952 0 1.38 82 10.3 0.698 4.0
                     
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

Baumgartner appeared as a starter twelve times

Wolfgang appeared as a starter eleven times.

Danforth appeared as a starter nine times.

Morton appeared as a starter seven times.

Paige and Mays appeared as a starter six times.

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

Russell, Stanley and Adams appeared as a starter three times.

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

Beggs, Quinn, Narleski and McGraw appeared once as a starter.

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



References

Sports Reference LLC. "Rob Beck Pitching Statistics And History." Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/beckro01-pitch.shtml. Web. 21 May. 2016.