Friday, January 20, 2017

World Series: Did You Know?

Devon White scored the first run, made the last putout in the field, and at the dish is game six of the 1993 Fall Classic. It was the clinching game. But Devo sort of missed out on being part of three men that helped Toronto win it in dramatic fashion that year. The Jays' 8-6 over the Phillies was keyed by Ricky Henderson, Paul Molitor, and of course Joe Carter in the last of the ninth.

With one out in the bottom of the first, White drew a walk off Philadelphia starter Terry Mulholland. Paul Molitor, who'd have plenty of big hits all game long, drove him home with a triple to right. A sac fly scored Molitor. John Olerud doubled and Roberto Alomar singled. 3-0, Toronto after one.

The Phillies tried to make a game of it, but they went down 1-2-3 in the second, managed just a walk in the third, and finally pried a run loose with two out in the top of the fourth. Dave Stewart was clearly on his game. A sac fly by Ed Sprague restored the three run lead.

Without getting a hit, Philadelphia loaded the bases in the fifth on two errors and a walk. They did not score. Devon White started the bottom of the frame by lining out. Paul Molitor hit a home run to left to make it 5-1 for the home team. Philly went down 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth.

The Phillies though, weren't about to throw in the towel. The scored three times of Stewart the next inning via a walk, single and a Lenny Dykstra (White's counterpart in centre) home run. Danny Cox came in to protect the 5-4 lead. The Phillies scored twice more off him and suddenly had the lead.

The Jays went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. White fanned against relieve Roger Mason. When he batted again in the bottom of the ninth and his team was still down 6-5, Devo was again retired. But before that, Devon White took Dave Hollins fly in the top of the ninth for the first out. After Duane Ward got Darren Daulton to ground out, Jim Eisenreich sent one White's way, and Philly was gone in order. And that led to the Toronto comeback.

Ricky Henderson got it all going with a four-pitch walk off Mitch Williams. Devon White flew out on a 3-2 pitch. But Paul Molitor not only stayed out of the double play, he singled Ricky Henderson to second. Joe Carter batted next. We all know he played "Hero" next. On a 2-2 pitch, Joe hit a dramatic 3-run home run to win the game and World Series for the Jays.

But you always noticed Devon White. His speed was unreal. He could get to anything in centre. He had a good arm. And for a leadoff hitter, he sure had power: He hit 15 home runs that year and 17 in 1991 and 1992!

White may not have played any part in the very last act of the historic 1993 Toronto Blue Jays season, but he'd come through so much that season (He hit a home run in the clincher of the ALCS, plus one off Curt Schilling in game one of the World Series) and was such a joy to watch. Dashin' Devo helped that Toronto team be truly unforgettable. And for all you stat lovers, here's Devon's Fall Classic stats: 8 runs scored, 1 home run, 7 RBIs, .292 batting average!


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 20 Jan. 2017.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Classic Hockey On Youtube! Toronto @ Chicago 3/10/68

The year of 1967/68 was one that saw the NHL expand from six to twelve teams. The "Original Six" teams played in the same division, and two of them in the hunt for the last playoff spot met in March of 1968.

Each team had made a huge trade earlier. In the '67 offseason, Chicago traded Phil Esposito, Fred Stanfield and Ken Hodge to Boston for Pit Martin, Jack Norris and Gilles Marotte. Toronto, meanwhile needed a shakeup, traded Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski, and Garry Unger to Detroit for Norm Ullman, Paul Henderson and Floyd Smith. All three of these players play in the game.

Each team had lost a goalie recently, as well. In the expansion draft of 1967, Glenn Hall was lost by Chicago to St. Louis. Toronto lost Terry Sawchuk to Los Angles. So the Chicago Blackhawks were forced to make due with Dennis Dejordy, Dave Dryden and Jack Norris in 1967/68. The Toronto Maple Leafs had a pretty good backup in Bruce Gamble for the previous two season, and would split the chores with 43-year old Johnny Bower. Al Smith, another pretty good goalie, didn't get into any games that year for the Leafs, sans the All-Star-Game (During the time when it was the defending Stanley Cup Champions vs. the All-Stars from the rest of the league. This meant Toronto, who won the game 4-3 behind Gamble and Smith, beat the best of eleven other teams). Gary Smith was also gone from Toronto.

Gamble and Bower did the job in the Toronto. Bower was his usual self and Gamble bounced back from a off-season in 1966/67. Dejordy did most of the work in Chicago, getting only a little help from Dave Dryden and Norris. However, in this game, it was the Blackhawks that got the goaltending to stifle the new-look Leafs. Norris, at one point a defenceman, stopped 'em all!



Things to look for:

1) The game is presented in colour, which is rare for most hockey games in the late 60s. All the other games I've seen (So far) from that era are black-and-white.

2) Speaking of white, notice as it is today, the home team wears dark and the visiting team wears white.

3) The first period is not shown.

4) Chicago is leading 1-0 as the footage starts.

5) Norris is playing goal for Chicago. One of only 10 games he played for the Hawks.

6) Bower is in net for Toronto, and his age is still a mystery. For the record, he was born November 8, 1924, making him 43 years old at the time of this contest.

7) Jimmy Pappin isn't with Toronto. He and coach Punch Imlach had a falling out that season, and he was traded in the off-season to Chciago, for Pierre Pilote. Pilote plays in this game, however. Pappin was playing for Rochester, the Leafs top farm team, when this March game was played.

8) Mike Walton (#16) gets a penalty shot for the second straight game for Toronto. He'd scored the previous game on one. Speaking of which...

9) This game was played on a Sunday. On the Saturday night before this, Toronto rallied from 4-0 down to beat Detroit 7-5 in Frank Mahovlich's first game back to TO.

10) Pit Martin scores into the empty net. Shortly thereafter, the broadcast ends. There is, however, another goal by Doug Jarrett. So not only do you not see Kenny Wharram's first period tally, but you only see half the game's total goals.

11) Helmets are worn by: Henderson, Mikita, Pilote, Conacher and Martin. Neither goalie wears one.

12) Ken Dryden is mistakenly named as Chicago's other goalie for this game, as Dennis Dejordy is injured and attending a funeral.

13) Brett Hull, a toddler at the time, is mentioned by Bobby Hull's mother @ 30:13! Turns out The Golden Brett is a big fan of Stan Mikita!

14) Bobby Hull's wife Joanne, is quite the artist! Amazing paintings!

15) The third period starts @ 40:13.

16) And speaking of which, Stan Mikita starts out the third period for a faceoff at centre against Dave Keon. Quite the curve on Mikita's stick, eh? Norris, by the way, was a bit of a pioneer for goalies in that he, too used a curve blade.

17) A rare time for Chicago where neither Phil or Tony Esposito is playing for the team. Tony started his NHL career in Montreal the next season, and picked up a Stanley Cup there before landing in the Windy City in 1969/70. Chicago would miss the playoffs in 1968/69, meanwhile.

18) Norris finishes with a shutout. It was his first of the season, and second (And last) of his NHL career.

19) Toronto will rue this loss as they miss the playoffs this season by just four points.

20) Kenny Wharram, who recently passed away, scores twice, although his first period marker is of course, not shown.

21) This is an afternoon game


“The information used herein was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by The Hockey Summary Project. For more information about the Hockey Summary Project please visit:

http://hsp.flyershistory.com

or

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/hockey_summary_project/”


References



CBS Sports Presents NHL On CBS. "1968 COLOR LEAFS VS HAWKS chicago TV broadcast Johnny Bower." Youtube, uploaded by Newton Minnow, 15 Jan. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yORbvADnNsg. (Game is originally broadcast on CBS 10 Mar. 1968)

Diamond, Dan. Total NHL. Toronto: Dan Diamond And Associates, 2003. Print.

Oliver, Greg, and Richard Kamchen. The Goaltenders' Union: Hockey's Greatest Puckstoppers, Acrobats, And Flakes. Toronto: ECW Press, 2014. Print, pp. 104-108.

"Hockey Summary Project." Hockey Summary Project. N.p., 10 Jan. 2001. Web. 18 Jan. 2017. <http://flyershistory.com/>


"Official Site of the National Hockey League | NHL.com” | NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.  <https://www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 18 Jan. 2017.

Podnieks, Andrew, and Rob Del Mundo. The Best, Worst, And Biggest NHL trades Of All Time! Toronto: Moydart Press, 2013. Print, pp. 67-74, www.andrewpodnieks.com

Podnieks, Andrew. The Essential Blue & White Book: A Toronto Maple Leafs Factbook. Vancouver: Greystone, 2001. Print.

Men's Tennis 2017: My Predictions

So a new year of tennis and the men are making a racket. Djokovic wants his #1 ranking back, and already has a title and a win over Murray under his belt.

Djokovic

Novak looked unstoppable until Wimbledon of last year, but then got trampled by a human tornado in Andy Murray last year. But since they're in Australian as I write this, Djokovic has the edge over Murray. That win earlier this year at Doha not only got him his first title of the year, but as mentioned, he beat Murray. That's the kind of confidence he needs going into the Australian Open. He looked sharp in his first round win over Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco got a set off him in the semis of Doha, but not at the event that Djokovic has won six times. Look for Djokovic to have deep runs in not on the Australian Open and French, but also he'll no doubt have a better showing at Wimbledon. If he stays healthy, I wouldn't bet against him winning at least one grand slam and regaining the #1 ranking.

Murray 

Andy no doubt wishes it was still 2016. What a finish. The new #1 ranked player in the world is still looking for:

A) For his first Australian Open title (0-5 in finals)

B) His first French Open (Lost to Djokovic last year)

Murray won Wimbledon, but hasn't gotten to a US Open finals since he won it back in 2012. As he's shown the last two years, he's a man to fear once the clay court season starts. And if he can get some better results at both Indian Wells and Miami, he might just hold on to that top ranking for a while. Whether or not he ends the year #1 is another matter. I think Andy will finishes ranked second at worst.

Wawrinka

Mr. 3-0 in Grand Slam finals has won exactly one of them in the last three years. But as you can see, he hasn't advanced to any other major finals. I believe his string of that will run out this year. I actually don't think he will win a grand slam this year. However, look for him to make deep runs in at least three of them, and pick up five or six titles. A top 5 finish is a good bet.

Nadal

A few years ago, it looked like Rafa was going to easily pass his old pal Roger Federer in career grand slams and make it at least 10 French Opens titles won. Neither has happened yet, and now Nadal has Novak Djokovic 26-23 against him lifetime (After once being up 14-4), and is stuck at 14 slams. Djokovic has 12 and could actually pass him in that category this year. He had some moments last year, but nearly three years has elapses since Rafa beat Novak or won a slam. Can he make it back? I'm not sure. And if it does happens, it won't be until the clay court season.

Federer

The mighty one had 2016 derailed by injuries despite making another two grand slam semis. He's up to 39 semi-finals reached in The Big Four tournaments. But missed the rest of the year following Wimbledon. And at 35, can he continue to compete? That, is a tough question. He still has that aura, but he's also seeded 17th in the Australian Open. There is, of course, an irony there: That's the number of grand slams he's won!

But none since 2012.

There might be a great result here or there, but I can't see Roger getting back to the top five. He's had a great career. But he (And probably Nadal, too) has seen his time pass. The new generation is here. Murray has obtained his peak. Djokoic is Djokovic. There just isn't any more room for Roger Federer to win any more grand slams.

Raonic

Milos just wants to get his first grand slam in 2017. Finalist at Wimbledon in 2016, where Andy Murray prevailed over him in three tight sets, he's back to the scene of taking him to five in last year's semifinals. Can he go further? My guess for Milos is he can win a slam this year, but most likely it will be Wimbledon or the US. The heat could be a big factor. Plus, Murray and Djokovic are on a collision course, and Raonic will be hard-pressed to beat them, at the level they are at right now.

Cilic

Nearly out in the first round of the years' first Grand Slam. What's up with the 2014 US Open winner? He won in Cincinnati last year, and was looking for his third straight semifinal appearance in the years' final major. It didn't work out. He's sort of in Raonic's boat. I can see him winning a slam this year, but my guess would be Wimbledon, given his big serve.

del Potro

Nowhere to be found in Australia, as he's skipping the Australian Open due to fitness concerns. Too bad, really. Juan had one great finish to the year, and a silver medal in Rio to boot. A big comeback year capped off by a two-set down comeback vs. Cilic at the Davis Cup. A Grand Slam might be a lot to ask for this year from Juan. But how about a return to the top ten? That's doable. Just as Cilic is in Raonic's boat, I'd say the same thing about Del Potro: He's in Wawrinka's boat! But look for Del Potro to make some noise at the remaining three slams, assuming he stays healthy.


Ferrer

Did you know this guy has 41 match wins Down Under? Hasn't won the Australian Open, but won his first round match in 2017. David Ferrer will be 35 in April of this year and has 26 titles to his name. None, however, have been Grand Slams. Yet he finds ways to hang around longer than he should at the big stage. Obviously, he isn't going to win a major this year, but come clay court season, I wouldn't be surprised (If David is healthy) if his game picks up.

Berdych

Tomas Berdych lost to Roger Federer at the Australian Open last year, and could face him in the third round this year. Tomas has 13 titles and two wins over Roger in Grand Slams in his career. Actually, he's beaten Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on the big stage (Nadal, right here in 2015). However, he's only once been past the semifinals of a Grand Slam, and that was back in 2010. I don't think that trend will change this year, but I think Tomas could definitely beat Roger this year at Australia. From there, his path could take him to Kei Nishikori. That's probably as far as he goes. As for the rest of the year, who knows? I think Tomas is at the point where he can beat both Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, but it's a whole new ballgame when he faces Andy Murray (His potential semifinal opponent) or Novak Djokovic). He doesn't have the game to beat either of them. Not likely he can beat Stan The Man, either.

Nishikori

Beat Murray at the US Open last year, and was a finalist there in 2014. He likes hard court, so he should have a good result in Australia. But of the "New" guys around (Cilic, Raonic and Nishikori) he's sort of the low man on the scale. He game just enough to compete with Cilic, Raonic, Murray or Djokovic. Wawrinka, too. 

Tsonga

Always a battler, he gave Murray all he could handle last year at Wimbledon. Was the only man to take two sets off him. Finalist in Australia way back in 2008. He's beaten Federer at Wimbledon and Canada (Right there in the finals). Joe is amazingly fast around the court, and the type of player to watch out for at the Grand Slams. His best years though, like Ferrer's, are probably behind him.


References


Infosys, FedEx, Peugeot, and LeSports. "Official Site of Men's Professional Tennis | ATP World Tour | Tennis." ATP World Tour. Emirates. Web. .  <http://www.atpworldtour.com/>.


Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 17 Jan. 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/>

Saturday, January 14, 2017

World Series: Did You Know?

The Babe was also finding other ways than the long ball to help his Yankees beat the Pirates in 1927. He did have that flair for the dramatic in many ways, to tell you the truth.

In 1921, he stole second and third in one game against the New York Giants. 1928 saw him make a fine catch to end the Fall Classic vs. the Cardinals. What then, did he have in store for the Pittsburgh Pirates in that four-game sweep of 1927? Plenty!

The Babe got it all going by singling and scoring in the top of the first in the first contest, held at Forbes Field. He wasted no time and got another single, first pitch swinging in the third. And again, Ruth scored.

Pittsburgh, though played well at times in the first game. Ruth was robbed of another hit in the top of the 5th on a nice stop by George Grantham. The Yankees ended up scoring a run anyways on a sac fly by Lou Gehrig. Ruth added a single later in the game, only to be picked off. Good thing his team won 5-4. Three singles, two runs scored by The Bambino.

Ruth caught a ball that ended up being a sac fly in the bottom of the first in game two (Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead on that play), but later hit one of his own. That put New York up 3-1.

It was still 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, when he made a nice fielding play. George Grantham doubled to right in the top of the seventh. This was a leadoff double. But The Bambino made sure he got no further. The Yankees, inspired by that play, added three runs in the top of eight while the Bucs could get only one of their own in the bottom of the frame. The 6-2 win sent it back to Yankee Stadium for game three.

Ruth hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, That scored runs four, five and six of the inning, which had started with the home team up only 2-0. They ended up winning 8-1.

The Pirates didn't want to be swept, so they scored a run before Ruth and company got their first turn to the dish. The Babe singled home the tying run. Then he made a dash for second, and had himself a stolen base!

The Yankees didn't score another run that inning, but their pitching held the Pirates in check for a while. Ruth, meanwhile hit a two-run home run to break the 1-1 deadlock in the bottom of the fifth. Undaunted, the Pittsburgh Pirates scored two runs of their own in the seventh. Not via the long ball. Two errors, a single and a sac fly and we're tied 3-3.

The game went into the ninth still tied at that score. Wilcy Moore got 'em 1-2-3. The Babe came up in the bottom of the inning after the first two men reached. A wild pitched forced Pirate pitcher Johnny Miljus to walk him intentionally. Lou Gehrig and Bob Meusel both swung and missed at strike three, however.

Two down, bases full of Yankees. Tony Lazzeri was up. On the second pitch, Miljus uncorked another wild pitch, and Earle Combs came home with the series-winning run!

The Babe had two home runs to his name in 1927. He'd made a fine fielding play. He'd stolen a base. He'd even hit some singles, deviating from his big wallops. The Yankees were simply head and shoulders above the rest of the world of baseball that season. The Babe spearheaded the deadly offensive attack of the Yankees.


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

World Series: Did You Know?

The Iron Horse sure had a strong glove in 1927. No doubt Lou Gehrig had a big bat, but his fielding was excellent. The New York Yankees didn't exactly have easy opposition in the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Fall Classic that year.

The World Series opened at Forbes Field that year, and Gehrig got them off on the right foot. Following a single by Babe Ruth in the top of the first, Lou Gehrig hit a triple to score him. Did that deflate Pittsburgh? No. They tied it in the bottom of the frame. The Pirates kept coming back. They could not, however, take the lead.

The Pirates might have in the next inning. The score was still knotted at one, and Pittsburgh had a man on first and only one out. Joe Harris hit a grounder to Tony Lazzeri who got the force by tagging out George Grantham, the runner. His throw to Gehrig at first was low. Right in the dirt. No matter, a nice scoop by The Iron Horse and the inning was over.

The Yankees won the game 5-4. Gehrig finished with 2 RBIs. But he made another good play on a bad toss to first in the bottom of the fourth. The home team was looking to tie it again, down only 3-2.

The Yankees really woke up the next two games. Held to just six hits in game one, they pounded out 11 in game 2 (A decisive 6-2 win) and 9 (Compared to the Pirates' 3) in the third contest. The Yankees, following their 8-1 win at Yankee Stadium in game three, needed just one more win.

Pittsburgh played much better in game four. They even scored in the top of the first, as they had in game two. Sadly for the Bucs, it was 3-1 in not too long a time. The Babe knocked home one in the bottom of the first, then added a two-run home run in the fifth. Gehrig fanned in the bottom of the first, grounded out in the third, and again grounded out in the fifth. But how about his glove the next inning?

Well, Pittsburgh needed some runs. With two down George Grantham sent one Gehrig's way. A fine play by Lou made sure it didn't leave the infield. Grantham beat it out, however. The Pirates did not score as Joe Harris sent one to Earle Combs in centre for the third out.

But Pittsburgh did tie it in the top of the second. Earl Smith hit a grounder to first that Gehrig got to and threw to pitcher Wilcy Moore covering first. Moore couldn't hold on to the ball. Tony Lazzeri then made an error of his own. Two on via errors. Gehrig fielded a bunt for the first out, but both runners scored later that inning on a sacrifice fly and a single. 2 runs, 1 hit, 2 errors. Ouch.

Gehrig was the last out as New York batted in the bottom of the frame. Johnny Miljus got him to fly to left, after Ruth hit into a double play. The Yankees put two on the next inning, but Miljus got out of that jam, too. Moore retired the Bucs in order in the ninth.

In the bottom of the frame, the home team won it. A walk. A bunt beaten, A wild pitch. An intentional walk (By Ruth). Gehrig fanned. So did Bob Meusel. What an inning!

Miljus' 0-1 pitch to Tony Lazzeri ended up being his second wild pitch of the frame. Earle Combs, who walked to start this inning, trotted on home! 4-3, New York. Sweep. How sweep it must have been to be a Yankee fan back then.

Gehrig ended up .308. Babe Ruth blasted two home runs. Mark Koenig led the way with a .500 batting average. The Iron Horse, though, did it all. He fielded well. He ran well, hitting a series-leading two doubles and two triples. He walked a series-leading three times. He got four RBIs in four games. And he ended up with 41 putouts, also tops on both teams (His counterpart on the Pirates, Joe Harris, made 35). 

Eastern Conference Teams That Can Dethrone The Pens In 2017!

The Pittsburgh Penguins are out for a second-straight Stanley Cup later this year, and their third overall in the Sidney Crosby-era. For good measure, the franchise is looking to make it five Stanley Cups overall, which would tie them (With Edmonton) for most Stanley Cups won by a team that joined the NHL from 1967 on.

But not so fast.

Are there teams out there that can beat Pittsburgh that play in their very conference? How about division? "Yes sir!" says I!

Now, a disclaimer: I think the Penguins are a great team! I watched last year's playoffs. They had depth, they had coaching, they had spectacular goaltending. And it continues on this season. But last year was 2015/16. This season is 2016/17, the 100th anniversary of the National Hockey League's inaugural campaign. A year makes a huge difference.

Okay, where to start?

How about Washington? The Pens have a history with them. Of beating them. All the time in the playoffs with the exception of 1994 (Yes, #68 was on that Pittsburgh team). The Caps, though, sure gave the Penguins all they could handle last year. They've got Braden Holtby, brilliant even in defeat in the 2016 playoffs. They've got a great coach in Barry Trotz. Oh, they've also got the latest member of the 1,000 point club, Alex Ovechkin. And he's hungry for a Stanley Cup. He'd love to leave Sidney Crosby behind on his way to one, for sure.

I think this can definitly happen. Of all the scenarios I present, this has to be the most likely. Sure, they may not meet, but if they do, don't you think Washington is due? A win by the Capitals over the Penguins in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs would take the Ovie/Sid rivalry to new heights. Imagine, Crosby, losing to Ovechkin, and then Ovie winning the Stanley Cup later? The Stanley Cup counter would officially start with Alex having one to his name and Sid two himself. "Who will end up with more?" everyone will ask. This needs to be an annual playoff matchup. So much great history here, predating Sidney and Alexander.

How about Columbus?

The surprise team coached by John Tortorella? Well, he won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay (More on them, later) back in 2004, and is doing wonders this year with the Blue Jackets. That 16-game winning streak earlier? Just plain awesome! Did you know Columbus is third in the NHL in goals for with 135 (In 40 games)? They have some serious firepower. And they've got a good goalie named Sergei Bobrovsky. This team took Pittsburgh to six games back in 2014, and have matured much since. Experience is a bit against them as they've missed the playoffs the last two seasons, but they could very well surprise the Pens. This could all be smoke in mirrors as the saying goes. Columbus might be overachieving for all we know. The playoffs will tell.

The Rangers have twice beaten the Pens in the playoffs, and are 2-2 against them in the playoffs from 2007/08 on. They've got Henrik Lundqvist in goal, and it doesn't matter what his numbers are (Well, he's 18-9-1, 2.55, .912 in 29 games) he always on his game in the spring. He can get into the shooters' heads. Even Crosby. Look out for the Rangers, Pens!

Philadelphia is a bit of a long shot, but these teams had a memorable matchup back in 2012. Philly came out on top in six games in the first round, but the team doesn't appear to be dangerous to Pittsburgh, yet. The Flyers might peak when they see the Penguins in the playoffs.

So that's it for the Metropolitan division. How about the Atlantic? Montreal has injuries, but Carey Price isn't one of them. Doesn't he get in the shooters' heads? You bet. The Habs are 26-10-6 after 42 games this year, tops in the Atlantic division. They've been scoring a-plenty lately, but Price, he's sort of fallen off his previous seasons' performance, eh? That could be a concern if these two teams meet in the postseason. I'm not sure the Habs can match the Penguins in a high-scoring series. Price is 7-3-3 in his last 13 games, but his save percentage has been just .901 during that span, well below his .931 S% from 2013/14 through last season. Carey will be the deciding factor, and he needs to regain his form from earlier in the season and World Cup.

Ottawa has been a surprise this season, but not on the Columbus-scale. Their dealing with the loss of Craig Anderson, at least for now. He's a big-game goalie, and his save percentage in the playoffs is just a shade under Braden Holby's .938. Anderson is .933, and he can steal you a series in the postseason. Erik Karlsson is great, nothing more needs to be said. Clark McArthur is dealing with concussion issues. Ottawa is sort of doing things the hard way. Not much offence. They'll need some if they are going to beat Pittsburgh. But the Sens they've played just 39 games, and Mike Condon has done a good job filling in for Craig Anderson. He won't be the guy they turn to come playoff time. If this team can string together some wins, they could challenge Montreal for first in the Atlantic. They currently trail by 12 points, but have 3 games in hand. Boston is actually second but has played 44 games.

The Bruins hopes rest with goalie Tukka Rask. Patrice Bergeron (Who's having an off-year) and Patrice Bergeron are the two big gunners for Boston. They swept Pittsburgh four seasons ago in the playoffs, but that is ancient history in hockey time. They need to find others to pick up the scoring slack, although David Pastrnak has done an admirable job (31 points in 37 games). They aren't even distancing themselves from some of the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference. The team has eight players 30 years or over. Their time may be running out.

I'm not sold on Toronto making the playoffs just yet, so there is no point in speculating how they might fair vs. Pittsburgh in April. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. The two Florida teams are interesting matchups for Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay gave 'em all they could handle last year, bowing out only 2-1 in game seven in the Conference Finals. This year, the injury bug (Most notably, Steven Stamkos) has hit them. But the Lighting are just six points back of the last wild card spot. If they get in and are healthy, they can beat Pittsburgh, and any team for that matter. This team went all the way to game six of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2015, don't forget. Their goalie, Ben Bishop has been excellent the last two playoff years (21-13, 2.09, .927). Florida is three games over .500, but also currently out of the playoff picture. They can get in, but I'd like the Lightning's chances better than the Panthers' chances.

Carolina has been hot lately, beating Columbus, but it's too early to tell for them. Their backup goalie, Eddie Lack is out with a concussion, so the team is short a quality backup. The team sits with 45 points, 3 back of Philadelphia for the last wild card spot (The Hurricanes have two games in hand). But they are 12 points back of the New York Rangers for the first wild card spot (And fourth place in the Metropolitan). This team has some work to do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

World Series: Did You Know?

Roger Peckinpaugh made an error in the eighth game of 1921. And he made some more costly ones in game seven four years later.

Peckinpaugh, looking to help the New York Yankees win their first ever World Series in '21 against the New York Giants, had Babe Ruth and another slugger, Home Run Baker. But after game five in this best-of-nine affair, the Babe wasn't in the starting lineup. He had some knee problems, and an infected arm on top of that. The Yankees led 3-2, but dropped game six 8-5, and game seven 2-1.

Not that the Yankees were any pushovers. They were the designated home team in this Fall Classic, which took place exclusively at the Polo Grounds. Waite Hoyt, 2-0, was on the hill for the American League team. Ruth would make an appearance, later.

So could they send it to a ninth and deciding contest?

The Giants got two on with two outs in the top of the first, and then disaster struck as High Pockets Kelly sent one to short, Peckinpaugh's spot. The ball got through him for an error, and Dave Bancroft scored.

How about Peckinpaugh at the dish? He walked in the bottom of the frame, and the home team soon had runners on second and third with just one out, Roger 90 feet away from crossing the dish. That didn't happen as Bob Meusel popped out and Wally Pipp.

Peckinpaugh gunned out a runner at home in the second, keeping it 1-0. The Yankees played well the rest of the way, and Roger's error was the only one they'd commit. Hoyt pitched well, but so did Giant Art Neft.

The Yankees loaded the bases against him in the last of the fourth on two singles and a walk. All this happened with two outs. But again, no one scored. Peckinpaugh drew a two-out walk the next inning, but was also stranded.

Hoyt retired the last nine man to face him in the game, but the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the ninth down 1-0. Babe Ruth made a dramatic appearance, batting for Pipp, but grounded out to first. The next batter, Aaron Ward, coaxed a walk from Art Neft. Home Run Baker could win the game with a home run. He hit it well to second basemen Johnny Rawlings. Rawlings made an excellent play, throwing out Baker at first. Ward kept running, and ended up out at third. The Giants won, 1-0, and were the World Series winners in 1921.

Peckinpaugh's team looked like they were going to win four years later. His Washington Senators had won in 1924, and were up three games to one. Back-to-back for Washington? No. The Pittsburgh Pirates, the National League pennant winners that year, won game five at Griffith Stadium, 6-3. Then, at home in Forbes Field, they eked out a 3-2 win. It all came down to game seven.

Washington, with Walter Johnson on the hill, started out fast. They crossed home four times in the top of the first, Roger Peckinpaugh himself with an RBI when he hit into a force. That out, however, was taken away as catcher Earl Smith interfered Roger as he was on his way to first.

Peckinpaugh then got a hit taken away via a great catch by Kiki Cuyler in the top of the third. The Pirates made their move in the bottom of the frame, scoring three times to cut it to 4-3. But only temporarily was it a one-run game. Joe Harris knocked home two runs in the top of the fourth for the Senators with a double, and it was 6-3. And with The Big Train on the hill, it was looking all over!

The Pirates got a run back in the bottom of the fifth on two doubles. Peckinpaugh made a critical error in the seventh, and the Pirates scored two more to tie it. Pie Traynor was nailed at the dish to keep it that way.

Roger hit a home run in the top of the eighth to give Washington the lead again, and Walter Johnson needed just six more outs. Soon, Pittsburgh was down to four outs. Johnson got the first two batters out in the bottom of the frame, and then the wheels came off the chariot.

Earl Smith doubled, Carson Bigbee then was sent up to hit for Earl Smith. Smith doubled and the game was tied, 7-7. A walk brought Max Carey to the plate. Carey sent a ball to short, where Peckinpaugh tried for the inning-ending force. The throw was bad, and all hands were safe. Cuyler hit a ground-rule double to right, and Pittsburgh got two more runs. Washington went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth.

The two errors by Roger Peckinpaugh were too many. He'd made six in the previous six games, and the Pirates were World Series champions. At bat, he'd hit just .250 after hitting .417 in the 1924 World Series (Roger hit poorly in 1921, just .179). He'd have to shoulder at least some of the blame for his teams losing in 1921 and 1925.


References


Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print.

Nemec, David et all. 20th Century Baseball Chronicle: A Year-by-year History of Major League Baseball. Collector's Edition. Lincolnwood, Ill: Publications International, 1993. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

World Series: Did You Know?

The top three RBI men on the Chicago White Sox in 1919 were suspected or proven fixers: Joe Jackson, Chick Gandil and Happy Felsch!

The rest of the team wasn't getting it done in the clutch, it appears. The Cincinnati Reds were the opposition and were able to hold a number of the Chicago batters in check when the chips were down, even the honest guys.

In Cincinnati for game one, the home team wasted no time in scoring a run off Eddie Cicotte in the bottom of the first, after Chicago knocked themselves out of the top of the frame. Shano Collins had singled, but was forced at second. Eddie Collins, who'd hit into the force, was then nailed at second on an attempted steal. Buck Weaver was then retired to end that.

The Reds took advantage of this, scoring in the bottom of the frame. In the top of the second however, it was Joe Jackson reaching on an error. No RBI, since he was leading off, but Joe made it all the way to second on the miscue. A bunt by Happy Felsch got him to third, and a sac fly by Chick Gandil scored him, Alas, that proved to be the only run the Sox scored the entire game, won easily by the home team, 9-1.

In game two, again in Cincinnati, the visitors pounded out ten hits: Three by Jackson and two each by Weaver and Ray Schalk, but to no avail!

The Reds won 4-2, as two errors got the White Sox two runs. Cincinnati had just four hits.

The series then shifted to Chicago for game three, and for the third straight contest, the home team won. Obviously, this time it was the White Sox. They shut 'em out, 3-0. Jackson and Felsch, however, didn't get any RBIs. Gandil drove both those men home in the bottom of the second. That was all pitcher Dick Kerr needed. And although Felsch scored a run, he was caught stealing (As was Jackson) and grounded into a double play.

Game four saw the visiting team win for the first time, eking out a 2-0 win. Both the Reds' runs were unearned as Eddie Cicotte made two errors. Jackson, Felsch and Gandil got a hit each. The rest of the team was no-hit. Cincinnati was up, three games to one.

After winning game five in Chicago, Cincinnati was now up 4-1. This was a best-of-nine affair, so the Reds still needed another win. Game six was in Cincinnati.

The Reds wanted it bad, and sailed ahead 4-0 after 4 innings in the sixth contest. Eddie Collins got the White Sox on the board with a sac fly in the top of the fifth, but time was running out.

The sixth inning saved Chicago's bacon. Kerr wasn't nearly as effective in this contest as he had been in game three. When the game finally ended, Dick had allowed 11 hits, which was more than his own team got.

Jackson singled home Buck Weaver in the top of the sixth, following a leadoff double. Felsch doubled himself to the left-centre gap, and Shoeless was across the plate. That made it 4-3. Gandil, though, popped out. Swede Risberg grounded to short. That got Happy Felsch to third, but now there were two outs.

Ray Schalk kept the rally going with a single. For good measure, the catcher stole second. Dickey Kerr grounded out to end the inning, alas. The score was tied at four, but now the visitors had to hold Cincinnati in check from here on in. Oh, and Chicago needed at least one more run.

That didn't occur until extra innings. The Reds got a man on in the bottom of the frame, and two more in the seventh. Kerr held the fort. The White Sox were held to without a hit in the seventh and eighth by Jimmy Ring. Ring was pitching in relief and just the right guy to end this Fall Classic. He'd tossed a fine shutout in game four. Both Shoeless Joe Jackson and Chick Gandil drew walks off him in the top of the eighth (Happy Felsch had been retired on a fly), only to see Swede Risberg hit into an inning-ending double play.

Kerr struggled in the bottom of that inning. First, he got two men on. Then, he came unraveled a bit. Two straight singles. Luckily for Kerr, his mound adversary hit into a force to end that. Ring himself got the first two men to face him in the top of the ninth out, then gave up his third walk of his relief stint. Nemo Leibold, who was the batter who looked at ball four, joined Ray Schalk as White Sox with base swipes in this contest not long after. The stolen base put Nemo in scoring position. But Eddie Collins flied to centre.

The Reds, looking to put the final nail in the White Sox coffin, got a single by Jake Daubert in the last of the ninth. World Series-winning run on. Heinie Groth, the third basemen, forced Daubert at second. Then Heinie tried for a stolen base of his own (Daubert and Morrie Rath had done it earlier, joining Schalk and Leibold as thieves in the day) Ray Schalk nailed him. To extras!

The tenth inning started with a double by Weaver, just like he'd done in the sixth. But Joe Jackson didn't get him home. He beat out a bunt that moved Weaver to third. Felsch, with a grand chance to make it a 5-4 game, fanned. Gandil showed Felsch how it's done with a single to score Weaver. Buck had scored the game-winning run, as it turns out. There were still two more runners on, but Swede Risberg lined into an inning-ending double play, with Shoeless Joe nailed off second on that.

No matter, Kerr (Who'd allowed 11 hits in only 9 innings pitched so far) got 'em 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 10th. The White Sox won 5-4, and were still alive. But now for the bad news: The Reds still led the World Series four games to two! Worse, still, Chicago now had to win again, in Cincinnati!

Eddie Cicotte started game seven for the Chicago White Sox. He was 0-2. His team had scored one run for him in his two outings. He'd pitched bad in game one. Things sure looked dim. Though he pitched better he in this must-win game, Eddie wasn't great.

The Chicago bats showed signs of being that. Jackson got the White Sox off on the right foot with an RBI single in the top of the first off Slim Sallee. Felsch followed that with a single of his own, but the Sox were held to that one run.

Both the Collins, Shano and Eddie singled to start the third. Buck Weaver hit into a double play, but Jackson then drove home his second run of the contest with another single.

Then in the fifth inning, Eddie Collins singled. Weaver and Jackson reached via errors. Felsch singled like he had in the first, getting himself two RBIs and putting Chicago up 4-0. Sallee was removed following this. Chick Gandil grounded out, putting Felsch in scoring position at second. and Jackson 90 feet from home. Swede Risberg fanned. The White Sox would not score again in game seven.

Dolph Luque, who replaced Ray Fisher after getting Gandil and Risberg out, shut down the Sox on one hit in the last four innings. Cicotte won the game 4-1, giving up seven hits.

Game eighth was in Chicago, but Cincinnati wasn't about to be denied. They scored four runs in the top of the first. Chicago had two men on to start the bottom of the inning, but Weaver, Jackson and Felsch failed to deliver. It was 5-0, Reds when Shoeless Joe hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third. The score was 9-1 in the bottom of the sixth as Jackson sent Edd Roush back in centre on a fly.
The Reds didn't let up, alas.

They made it double digits by the time the White Sox batted in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, and the score 10-0 for Cincinnati, Eddie Collins singled. Buck Weaver doubled him to third. Joe Jackson scored both men with a double of his own. 10-3. Happy Felsch though, didn't help the cause by popping out. Chick Gandil sent one that made it all the way to the fence. Closest to the ball was right fielder Greasy Neale, but he seemed to have problems keeping up with the flight path of the ball. Gandil was on third when it was all over. The triple scored Jackson. The Sox weren't done. Swede Risberg sent one out to Edd Roush's territory in centre. But Edd made an error. Gandil scored. 10-5. Ray Schalk, the eighth batter in the bottom of the eighth, grounded out to end that.

Cincinnati put a man on in the ninth inning via a single, but Roush was retired to end that. Chicago mounted another rally in the ninth. Eddie Murphy, batting for relief pitcher Roy Wilkinson, reached base the hard way. Hod Eller had plunked him. Leibold batted, and got a hold of one, sending it to centre. Here's where Edd Roush atoned for his previous muff as he made a fine catch.

It was crucial, since Eddie Collins followed that with a single. Buck Weaver made good contact and hit it to deep right. This time, Greasy Neale didn't lose sight of it, and made the catch. Murphy took third, but there were now two outs.

With Joe Jackson now at the plate, Collins caught 'em all napping and stole second. But when Jackson grounded out to second basemen Morrie Rath, the Cincinnati Reds had the game 10-5, and the 1919 World Series, 5-3.


References


Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992, pp. 91. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990, pp. 76-81. Print.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 8 Jan. 2017.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Bill Mazeroski made the first and last putouts in 1960. He also had some home run heroics, as you well know.

Maz’s Pittsburgh Pirates were up against the New York Yankees in the World Series that year, but had the home-field advantage. The Yankees had some sluggers named Mantle, Berra, Maris, Howard and Skowron. They’d also get a grand slam from Bobby Richardson. These guys were dangerous.

The Pirates didn’t get off to such a good start, even though they were at home. The very first batter of the Fall Classic was Tony Kubek of the Yankees. And, as if to send a message to the Bucs, he singled.

But Maz was about to turn a potentially dangerous situation into nothing.

Hector Lopez came to the dish, and hit towards second. A grounder that second basemen Bill Mazeroski stopped, stepped on second, and first to first. Double play!

The Pirates took the lead early, and held on. But the Yankees had a tendency to score a lot. No, this was not 1961, but this New York team was dangerous.

So it was only 3-2 for Pittsburgh as they batted in the bottom of the fourth. One man was on, and it was our boy at the dish. And he had a favourable count. Two balls, no strikes.

The next pitch from Jim Coates was sent way out to a spot out of reach of the three outfielders, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Lopez. It was Hector in left, who saw it go over the fence. 5-2.

The Yankees actually scored two more runs, but that of course, was not enough.

But in game seven, two runs by New York in the top of the ninth tied the game 9-9. So that was enough to send it to the last of the ninth. Mazeroski made the last putout on a force play at second.

Two pitches later, he send Ralph Terry’s offering over Yogi Berra’s head in left for a dramatic walk-off! The home team had won!

Probably no one had realized that Pittsburgh’s second basemen had a home run in the first game, of course. Maz was more known for his fielding (He won eight gold gloves), and amazingly, was still around in 1971, when the Pirates won again. That home run by Bill turned out to be one of only two times a Fall Classic concluded via that. Joe Carter did that in 1993.

But that one swing by Maz, the brilliant second basemen, that ended a great World Series, will stand the test of time.


References


Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print. pp. 281-286

Sports Reference LLC.  Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 22 Dec. 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

Ken Harrelson went on to a professional golf career after his playing days ended. If you'd have asked me about a successful baseball player-turned-golfer, I'd have said Ralph Terry.

Harrelson faced Terry 12 times at the dish, and didn't come away with much. Ralph held 'em to just a .167 (2-12) batting average, 2 hits (Both singles) and no RBIs or runs scored. Terry made it to 5 PGA tour events, missing the cut in all of them. But Terry won a World Series in 1961 and 1962, while Harrelson had to settle for just an appearance in 1967, which his team lost.

Harrelson got into some trouble while with Kansas in 1967, and got him on the World Series-bound Boston Red Sox. The Athletics released him on August 25th, 1967. But fate came calling. Boston had lost their star rightfielder Tony Conigliaro one week before that when he was beamed by California's Jack Hamilton.

Tony would not be back until 1969, and meanwhile, destiny called "Hawk".

Harrelson showed up to Boston, and Boston signed him three days after his release. He made an immediate impact in his first game in a Red Sox uniform.

In the top of the second of a game August 29th, 1967, he stepped up to the dish against the Yankees and hit a home run. The Red Sox, up 2-0, eventually lost the game in 20 innings to the Yankees, but guess who'd found a home?

While he hit only .200 in the 24 games he got into, he made a huge impact. He drove in 13 runs, and helped drive Boston to the pennant that year, picking up the slack from Carl Yastrzemski and George Scott. Boston also added veteran Yankee catcher Elston Howard earlier that season, an old battery mate of Ralph Terry.

Harrelson didn't do much in the World Series, however, getting into just four games, including the last three contest. Ken hit just .077, and Boston lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hawk was needed the next season, and he really came through for Boston. He drove in a league-leading 109 runs, hit 35 home runs, and batted .275. But when Tony C. returned in 1969, Ken was traded just ten games into the season, ending a short but memorable stay. Red Sox fans had grown to love him. Alas, Harrelson wouldn't be around much longer.

He went to Cleveland, and while he hit 27 home runs (Giving him a very respectable total of 77), his batting average dipped to just .222 despite 84 RBIs. Two years later, he was retired. But that didn't stop Ken from taking some cuts. Or should I say, making some.

He turned to pro golf, and had quite a round one time. Having been released by the Indians in early 1971, he had only a little bit of time to prepare, but he made it to two PGA Tour events, shooting poorly in the August events. The next year, Ken made it to the British Open, but shot 75 and 78 in the first two rounds, missing the cut.

In 1980, after an absence of 7 years, Harrelson gave the PGA another try. At the Plesant Valley Jimmy Fund Classic, he shot an opening round 68. He slumped to a 72 in the second round, and didn't contend the rest of the way. He made the cut, however. He ended up shooting 293 in four rounds, ending it at +9. Ken played in just one more PGA event before he moved on to broadcasting.

Ken wasn't the best baseball player or golfer around, but he sure could swing. He always entertained, ask fans of the Chicago White Sox! He's not the colour commentator, but he sure is colourful!


References


Anderson, Dave. "Four For The Money." Pennant Races: Baseball At Its Best. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Print. pp. 289-323.

"DatabaseGolf.com - Golf Statistics, Awards, and History." DatabaseGolf.com - Golf Statistics, Awards, And History. Roto Sports, Inc., 2011. Web. 13 Dec. 2016. <http://www.databasegolf.com/>

Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print. pp. 459-466.

Golenbock, Peter. Fenway: An Unexpurgated History of the Boston Red Sox. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992. Print. pp. 299-304.

"Ken Harrelson." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 13 December. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Harrelson>

"Ken Harrelson - Official Profile." PGATour. PGA Tour, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016. <http://www.pgatour.com/players/player.11660.html>

"Ralph Terry - Official Profile." PGATour. PGA Tour, n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016. <http://www.pgatour.com/players/player.05600.html>

"Ralph Terry." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 July. 2016. Web. 13 December. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Terry>

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

Ed Reulbach is the only pitcher to throw shutouts in both games of a doubleheader. While not the best pitcher on those great Chicago Cubs teams of 1906-1910, he was right up there.

But Ed posted W% of .826, .810 and .774 from 1906 to 1908, and Chicago was there in the Fall Classic all three years. Despite posting ERA's of 1.42, 1.65, 1.69, 2.03 and 1.78 from 1905 to 1909, he did not lead the league in that category any of those seasons. He never lead the league in wins or ERA at all, although he ended up winning many games.

But it was on September 26, 1908 that his big day came. Reulbach looked like he was ready for a no-hitter (X 2) as it was Chicago vs. Brooklyn.

The Cubs were just on fire. They were 91-54 on the season. Brooklyn? They finished with just 53 wins and 101 losses. They were still, "The Robins" at this point. Chicago beat 'em 5-1 on the 25th.

Reulbach was gonna remind 'em that there was a lot to choose between the two teams. In the opener, he pitched a complete game shutout, winning 5-0. It took Ed just 100 minutes to do that. His team pounded out 10 hits in the nine innings. Brooklyn managed just 5. Reulbach walked but one batter.

And he'd told his manager, Frank Chance, to count him down for the nightcap.

And Reulbach was even better there!

The Cubs got only five hits. The Robins, though, managed just three. Again, Ed walked just three. The games was a little closer, but it was the visiting Chicago team that won, 3-0. The Cubs commited an error, but the Robins committed four in the first game and another two in the second. Ed Reulbach over Jim Pastorius in just 82 minutes!

Chicago lost only one more game the rest of the season. Coming up short to Cincinnati, 6-5 on September 30th, it proved to be a mirage. They finished the year 9-1, winning their last four contests. But they still needed a 4-2 win over the New York Giants on the season's dramatic end. Chicago, you see, appeared to have lost a game on the 23rd of September to New York. Fred Merkle had forgotten to touch second in a force play in the last inning, thus nullifying the winning run. Chicago had never looked back despite losing the very next game. In the World Series, they were even better, beating Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers in just five games. Reulbach won the opener and even made what had to be a surprising relief appearance in an 8-3, game three loss. Chicago pitched back-to-back shutouts from there to win it all for the second straight year.

When it comes to pitchers on even that Cubbies team, you probably wouldn't remember Ed. The truth is, only Modecai "Three Finger" Brown was better than him. Brown was 29-9 that season, while Reulbach was right there with a 24-7 record. I guess Reulbach being nowhere near Brown's 1.47 ERA is the reason for his legendary status. Actually, three others starters, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester and of course Mordecai had better ERA's than Ed Reulbach in 1908. But Orverall and Pfiester won just 108 and 71 games, respectively.

Reulbach ended up with 182 wins, nowhere near enough for Hall Of Fame consideration. Brown ended up winning 239, losing just 130 and posting a career ERA of 2.06. But, then again, Reulbach lost just 106 games of his own and his lifetime ERA was 2.28. Shutout were not his specialty despite pitching two on the same day and 40 overall for his career. Brown finished with 55, leading the league twice. So here again, perhaps he wasn't that far off Brown after all.

Ed ended up bouncing around the bigs. By 1914, he was in the Federal League with the Newark Pepper, winning 21 games after being just 11-18 with Brooklyn of all teams the previous year. Ed ended up with the Boston Braves in 1917, winning just one game in five appearances before being released on July 17th. And while he isn't as well remembered as he should be, that never-to-be-forgotten pennant race of 1908 was clinched in no small part due to Ed Reulbach. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

John Paciorek, age 18, went 3-3 on September 29th, 1963. Six years later, he played his final season in the minor leagues. He was only 23 went it was all over.

Paciorek spent most of 1963 in the minors. He didn't do very well. His batting average was just .219 with Modesto of the California League. "A" ball level. But then, he was in the bigs for the last day of the season. Joe delivered big time.

Houston put him in the game in right. They were still, "The Colts" at this point. Their opponents were none other than their fellow expansion pals of the previous season, the New York Mets.

But New York won only 51 games that season, and this final game would be one of their 111 losses. Well, at least they didn't lost 120 like they did in '62. Houston finished the 1963 season with 66 wins, by comparison, although flash-forward 54 years and it's New York with 2 World Series while their counterparts the Astros have none.

So Paciorek walked in the home half of the second inning. Houston had not yet moved to the Astrodome, of course. And only 3,899 fans showed up at Colt Stadium. But they witnessed something incredible.

A two-run triple by catcher John Bateman scored Paciorek and Bob Aspromonte. It was 2-0. In the fourth, a single by Paciorek scored two more. And then he scored himself on a sac fly to make it a 5-4 game for Houston.

The next inning brought more heroics. John singled to score Aspromonte. A walk and a single scored Paciorek to make it 9-4. Soon, it was 11-4 by the end of the frame. The game was Houston's but Paciorek had more in store for the Mets.

The very next inning, he walked. A wild pitch, grounded out and single saw John touch home for the third time in the game. He added a single in the eighth as Houston won 13-4. John finished 3-3, walked twice, scored 4 times and knocked in 3.

Now, for a surprise. That proved to be John Paciorek's final MLB game. So he was a one-game wonder. And quite one at that!

He spent all of the remaining years of his pro careers in the minors. Injuries set in. Not helping was the fact John hit .135, .193 and .104 in the next 3 seasons in the minors, not even playing at all in 1965. Although he caught on with Cleveland in 1968, making it to the spring, he was still in the minors on opening day that season. Paciorek hit 20 home runs, 73 RBIs and hit .268 in 95 games in the minors that year, playing with Reno and Rock Hill. Again, "A" ball level. 1969 was his last season. John hit .213 with Waterbury at "AA" ball. His career was over.

One has to wonder how it all came together for him that one major league game. If Joe couldn't hit minor league pitching, he sure shouldn't have been able to hit MLB hitting. But he sure did. Granted, it was only one appearance, but it would have been interesting to see what another game at big-league level might have brought him. John Paciorek had his day in the sun. One day, and it was a perfect one!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Mickey Mantle hommered in his first full Fall Classic (Seven games) and his last. Twelve years apart, 1952 and 1964. Mantle left game two of the 1951 World Series with an injury he substained tripping over a a sprinkler top. This forced him to miss the rest of the famed New York Yankees (Mantle's team) vs. New York Giants (Willie Mays' team). The Yankees won in six games.

But the great Joe DiMaggio retired and there was a big hole to fill. Mantle hadn't quite reached his potential yet this season. But his team? They were just rolling! They reached the Fall Classic and were looking to repeat what the great team of 1936-1939 team had done: Win four in a row! Opposing them were the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Yankees had tripped 'em up in 1941, 1947 and 1949. They were looking to continue their domination over the Dodgers!

Well, things were looking grim after game five. The Yankees lost at home. They had to win games' six and seven, in Brooklyn. New York was down 3-2.

Mantle hit a home run in game six. The Yankees won, 3-2. The Bronx Bombers won another tight one, 4-2 in game seven. Mantle broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth with a home run. He later added a single in the top of the next frame, scoring Gil McDougald. No doubt Mantle was pleased when he saw Gene Woodling take Pee Wee Reese's fly in the ninth to end the game. Gene was in right field next to Mantle, who was now in DiMaggio's old spot! The tradition of winning would continue!

The Yankees made in five in a row, and remained on top (Or near it) for the next 12 years. They only missed in 1954 and 1959. But by 1964, the Yankees were an old bunch. Mantle was nearly 33. It was also his last World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals were the opposition.

Mantle hit a walk-off home run in game three, giving his team a 2-1 win. In game six, he added another home run, making it 3-1 for New York. The final score was 8-3 and the Yankees had sent this to a game seven. But it was in St. Louis, and the Cardinals were not about to lose at home.

But Bob Gibson seemed to be like a man possessed on ending the dynasty. He was handed a 6-0 lead after four, and proceeded to stop the mighty Bombers through five. In the top of the sixth, the visitors got two straight singles to start the frame. Mantle came up and took Gibson the other way over Lou Brock's head in left. The home run not only gave Mantle 18 for his career in the World Series, but it also sliced the lead in half, 6-3. New York was not done.

They got another man on next inning, but before Mantle could bat, Roger Maris lined hard to right. In the bottom of the inning, it was time for a home run by the Cardinals. Ken Boyer did the honours. Now it was 7-3 before Mantle could bat again. He connected well, but could only fly out to centre. The Yankees stopped the Cards in the bottom of the frame, and then went at Gibson in the top of the ninth. Home runs by Clete Boyer (Ken's brother) and Phil Linz (With two down!) brought Bobby Richardson to the dish. If he could get on, Mantle would be in the on-deck circle, representing the go-ahead run.

It would have been one amazing thing to see, but Maris watched from that spot as Richardson popped out to second. It was all over for Mickey and company. They'd go down the tubes fast the next four seasons (Although, they did finish 83-79 in 1968) and wouldn't be back until 1976. Everyone on the team was gone by then,

The Mick still has the record for most World Series home runs, with 18, many of them in clutch situations. He'd hit 'em when New York needed 'em, be it at 20 or at 32.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sure Could Have Fooled Me!

Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer pitched against each other precisely once. Not in the 1969 World Series.

Tom was the big ace of the New York Mets, while Jim Palmer was a great for the Baltimore Orioles. When Seaver took the mound to begin the 1969 Fall Classic, it was Mike Cuellar on the hill for the O's.

Seaver struggled. Don Buford greeted him with a home run in the bottom of the first. The Orioles were off and flying at home. They didn't look back, either, winning 4-1. Seaver took the loss of course.

But a funny thing happened next. The Mets won the next four games!

Palmer took a loss in game 3. Seaver edged 'em 2-1 in the next contest, and the Mets came back from 3-0 down in the fifth game to win. And while Palmer and company were back in the Fall Classic in 1970, 1971, 1979 and 1983, Seaver had only the 1973 World Series for his "other" appearance. The Mets lost that in seven to the Athletics.

Palmer was just amazing. He was "Lights out" in many of the key games when Baltimore needed him. Seaver was that, too. However, Seaver's teams were not up to par with the Orioles. It's too bad, really. This could have a pitch a pitching matchup that would have been awesome in the 70s and 80s in the Fall Classic.

Seaves was a remarkable 14-2 in 1981, despite being 36. By 1984, he in the American League with the Chicago White Sox. By then, Jim Palmer had helped the Orioles win their third (And to date, final) World Series. Seaver was 15-11 in 1984, 16-11 the next season. But Palmer wasn't around in 1985.

Palmer and Seaver didn't oppose each other on opening day in 1984. Instead, the Chicago White Sox's LaMarr Hoyt beat World Series hero Scott McGregor. Palmer and Seaver had to wait until April 23rd to face off.

It wasn't really a good game. Palmer was gone after just 3 2/3 IP. 4 earned runs and five hits. Seaver went 6 innings, giving up 4 earned runs of his own. Neither got a decision. The White Sox won 7-6 in 10 innings at home.

When Seaver lost 2-0 on June 28th, Palmer had already retired. Seaver kept right on going, finishing his career with the Boston Red Sox in 1986. Palmer tried to come back in 1991, but didn't make it to opening day. He was nearly 46 years old at the time. Seaver had also tried a comeback in 1987. But at age 43, he was through.

Palmer and Seaver were, in my opinion, better than Nolan Ryan. Were they better than say Bob Gibson or Juan Marichal? That's open to debate. I think they were both better than Jim Bunning. Better than Catfish Hunter. Since then, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and yes, Roger Clemens have come and gone. Who was the greatest right-handed pitcher ever? Well, I didn't mentioned Cy Young and Walter Johnson now right? Can't go wrong with any of the above, eh?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Rollie Sheldon was with the New York Yankees from 1961-1965, but only appeared on the big stage in '64. New York had some depth in pitching, so Rollie was the odd man out in several of those Fall Classics.

Sheldon appeared in 35 games as a rookie in 1961. The pitcher went 11-5 and was on the postseason roster. The Yankees, however, didn't use him against the Cincinnati Reds. Though games one and three were close, and the Reds won game two, it lasted just five games.

Alas, Rollie's second year wasn't very good. He was just 7-8 and his ERA was 5.49. The Fall Classic that year against the San Francisco Giants was very close, including a 1-0 win in game seven by New York. Sheldon watched and waited in vain to be used.

1963 saw the Yankees get swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sheldon was not with the club, and spent the entire year in the minors, going 5-9 with Richmond. New York actually got some great pitching from  But in '64, Rollie was back.Whitey Ford, Al Downing, Jim Bouton and Stan Williams. That, however, could not avert a Dodger sweep.

He was only 5-2 in his 19 games, but 12 of them were starts. His ERA 3.61, which was better than any year except his rookie season (3.60). So when the New York Yankees faced the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series that year, Sheldon not only was there, he was used! Yogi Berra, the Yankee manager, looked past both Bill Stafford and Stan Williams in the Fall Classic in 1964, but not Rollie.

It came early enough. Whitey Ford left game one in St. Louis after just 5 1/3 innings. Al Downing pitched the next 1 2/3 frames. In the top of the eighth, with New York trailing 6-4, Johnny Blanchard pinch hit for Downing, and delivered! A two-out double brought the tying run to the dish. Phil Linz grounded out, but Bobby Richardson singled, 6-5. Roger Maris singled, and the tying run was 90 feet away. Mickey Mantle ended the inning by grounding out.

So Sheldon started the bottom of the eighth. Mike Shannon grounded to Clete Boyer at third. Boyer made an error. Then, with Tim McCarver batting, Elston Howard, the Yankees' catcher, allowed a passed ball. McCarver coaxed a bases on balls from Sheldon, and this was trouble.

Barney Schultz, the pitcher, batted for himself and lined right back at Sheldon. Not only did Rollie get it for the out, he fired to Joe Pepitone at first to nail McCarver going. Two down.

Rollie had pitched to his last batter for the day. Pete Mikkelsen came in, and Curt Flood singled home Mike Shannon. Lou Brock hit a double to left to score two more. None of these runs were earned, but did it matter? Down went New York 1-2-3 in the ninth, as game one of the 1964 World Series went to St. Louis, 9-5.

The series lasted seven games. Sheldon wasn't used again until game seven. Mel Stottlemyre left, and so did Al Downing who relieved him. With two on and nobody out in the top of the sixth, it was Sheldon's turn again. New York was down, 4-0. Dick Groat grounded out to second. 5-0. Tim McCarver flied to Mickey Mantle in right, Ken Boyer tagged and scored. 6-0.

Sheldon got out of that with a K of Mike Shannon, and pitched well in the bottom of the sixth. The Yankees woke up in the top of the frame. Bob Gibson, starting on just 2 days' rest, came undone. Two singles and a Mickey Mantle home run made it 6-3. There was plenty of time for a comeback. Sheldon fanned Dal Maxvill for the first out, as St. Louis tried to give Gibby some more breathing room. Gibson batted and flied out to Tom Tresh in right. When Mantle took Curt Flood's liner in right, Sheldon had faced six batters and gotten 'em all!

Hector Lopez batted for Sheldon in the top of the seventh as New York looked for more. Gibson fanned him. Phil Linz flew out to right, just as he had his previous trip to the dish. The inning, however, continued as Bobby Richardson singled. Roger Maris, with a single of his own the last time up, connected well. Alas, he could only line it to McCarver in right, ending the inning. Sheldon would not get a decision.

The Cardinals ended up winning it, very close, 7-5. Sheldon started 1965 for the Yankees, pitching well in three appearances, but then was shipped out to Kansas with Johnny Blanchard. Sheldon wasn't around the bigs much longer, drifting to Buffalo in 1967. He finished his professional career with Salt Lake City in 1970.


References


Golenbock, Peter. Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary, 2000. Print, pp. 347-368.

Halberstam, David. October 1964. New York: Villard, 1994. Print

Neft, David S., Richard M. Cohen, and Michael L. Neft. The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball, 1992. 12th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. Print, pp. 347-368.

Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print, pp 287-306.

Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 6 Dec. 2016.

Youtube. Web. 6 Dec. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/>

Monday, December 5, 2016

Common Denominator: Harmon Killebrew

"0 SH in his career, attempted three times. All against the New York Yankees."

That would be the Minnesota Twins' Harmon Killebrew, who actually started his career when they were still in Washington in 1954, but not becoming a regular until '59. Washington moved to Minny in 1961,

Killebrew lead the American League in home runs for the first time in 1959. It would be the first of six seasons he'd do that. But it was the only time he did it while the franchise was in Washington. That same year was Killebrew's first attempt to get a sac bunt.

April 22nd, and Killebrew's Senators were hosting Mickey Mantle's New York Yankees. It was Whitey Ford for the Yankees and Bill Fischer for the Senators. It was a long night. The Yankees couldn't get it going.

Harmon had two hits and a walk. But Ford was clutch. After nine innings, it was scoreless. In the top of the 14th, Moose Skowron gave Whitey Ford a 1-0 lead with a home run. The Twins needed to answer that tally in the bottom of the frame.

Norm Zauchin got it started out on the right foot with a single. Harmon Killebrew was next. He forced Zauchin at second with a bunt. The Senators got a two-out single, and Harmon was at second representing the tying run. Ford got pinch hitter Ron Samford to ground out to second. A tough 1-0 loss.

The Yankees, if you can believe it, didn't win the pennant that year. But they were back in the hunt in 1960. Killebrew and company came to town on May 28th to try and stop 'em.

Jim Kaat was going for the Senators, and he did quite a job for a while. Jim Coates was just the Yankees' pitcher. He was fairly good for a few years, but you'd think the Sens could get something off him, right?

Killebrew lashed a double off him in the top of the second. He ended up stranded. Harmon walked his next trip up, only to be stranded again. Top of the sixth, another walk for him. Jim Lemon moved to second as a result. A double play erased Killebrew. Lemon was stranded at third as Earl Battey popped to short.

Bottom of the sixth, and The Mick broke the 0-0 game. Home run. Mantle then fanned his second time up that inning, to end it. By that time, the Bronx Bombers had added three more runs. Roger Maris hit a home run the next inning, and it was 5-0. Where was the great Twins, err Sens, offence?

Bob Allison walked to start the top of the eighth. Julio Becquer doubled him to third. Allison hit a sac fly to Mantle in centre. Becquer made it to third. Killebrew was up. A home run here and it's 5-3.

And then we got a ballgame.

Not so fast. Killebrew bunted. Foul. On the third strike. Dan Dobbek was retired on a scorcher to left. Coates got 'em 1-2-3 in the ninth for a tidy 5-1 win.

Killebrew was now in Minnesota for the 1962 season. It was August 13th. But the Yankees were still the Yankees. They'd won it all in 1961 and looking to repeat. Jim Bouton was on the hill for New York. Jack Kralick was opposing him. Killebrew singled home the game's first run in the bottom of the first.

New York tied it via a solo Tom Tresh home run in the third. In the bottom of the frame, Killebrew came up with runners on the corners and not a man out. He tried to avoid the double play and bunted foul for strike three. Minnesota never scored a run that inning.

Harmon and the Twins weren't about to be denied. Almost by himself, he beat the Yankees. He ended the game 4-5 with 5 RBIs. The home team won, 6-4. So just one bat at bat. New York went on to the pennant and won the World Series in seven games over the San Francisco Giants.

Killebrew and company had to wait until 1965 to dethrone New York. They took the pennant as the Yankees slid down to below .500 that year. Alas, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Minnesota Twins in seven games.

Killebrew lead the AL in home runs in 1962, 1963 and 1964. He tied Carl Yastremzki in 1967 with 44. No one was tied with Harmon in 1969, as he took home the MVP via 49 long balls. The Twins made it back to the postseason, only to lose to the Baltimore Orioles in the first-ever American League Champion Series. Mantle had retired the year before, never making it to the World Series his last four seasons.

Harmon had one last great season in 1971, as he topped the league in RBIs with 119. He ended his career as a teammate of George Brett's in 1975, but he hit just .199 for Kansas. Brett had 9 sacrifice hits in that season alone.

Still, Killebrew ended his career with 573 home runs, 12th on the all-time list. They didn't pay him to move the runners over. They paid him to crush the ball.


References


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 05 Dec. 2016.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

World Series: Did You Know?

Whitey Ford drove in the only run he'd need in game six of 1960. His team, the New York Yankees, needed a win. All Ford did was go out and pitch a shutout.

It was Ford's second of the 1960 Fall Classic against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He'd beaten them 10-0 in game three at Yankee Stadium. But game six was at Forbes Field.

The Pirates looked like they might get to Ford early. The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first. Pittsburgh, up 3-2 in the World Series and looking for the finishing touches, got a single by Bill Virdon in the bottom of the frame to start their turn. Dick Groat hit into a 4-6-3 double play, however. Roberto Clemente singled to keep the inning alive, only to be stranded at first as Dick Stuart fanned.

The Yankees got into the swinging habit in the top of the second. With one out, Yogi Berra, playing left field as Elston Howard actually caught this one, walked. Moose Skowron singled. Howard was hit by a pitch. Bob Friend was in a jam. He managed to get Bobby Richardson to fly out. Short enough that no one scored. Berra though, came home with the game's first run as Ford hit one back to Friend. Berra beat the throw home. 1-0.

The Pirates got their third hit in the bottom of the second, but again nobody scored. The Yankees sure did in the top of the third. Tony Kubek was hit by a pitch. Roger Maris doubled him to third. Mickey Mantle singled 'em both home to make it 3-0. And the rout was just beginning!

Berra singled Mantle to third. Skowron flied out, and that brought The Commerce Comet home. 4-0. Johnny Blanchard singled to keep this thing going! When Bobby Richardson singled, it was 6-0. Ford and Clete Boyer were retired to end the inning, but the lefty had a nice six-run cushion to work with after 2 1/2 innings of play.

Whitey really settled down to make sure Pittsburgh have any comebacks in mind. He set 'em down 1-2-3 in the third and fourth inning. Hal Smith singled to start the fifth, and Don Hoak got the Bucs their fourth hit of the game. Bill Mazeroski hit into a double play, alas. Pinch hitter Rocky Nelson fanned.

New York added two more in the top of the sixth to make it an 8-0 laugher. Roberto Clemente got his second hit of the afternoon in the bottom of the frame, but Whitey Ford kept the shutout going. Richardson and Ford then picked up another RBI each in the top of the seventh to get it to double digits. 10-0, New York.

In the top of the eighth, Roger Maris singled for his third hit of the game, Mickey Mantle forced him at second, but there was no stopping another Yankees' uprising. Clem Labine, pitching for Pittsburgh, had once shutout the Yankees in a World Series game years earlier for the (then) Brooklyn Dodgers. Here, he was having all sorts of troubles. His wild pitch moved the great Mantle to third. Berra singled to centre, and Mantle scored. Berra took second on Bill Virdon's fielding error. Skowron grounded out, but now the catcher-turned-left fielder was 90 feet away from making it a dozen runs.

Johnny Blanchard, the actual catcher (Having replaced Elston Howard earlier) doubled to right. Berra scored for the third time. Maris, Berra, had company. Blanchard was with them with 3 hits in this must-win game.

Dick Groat singled with two out in the bottom of the frame. Nothing came of it. It was also only the sixth hit off Whitey Ford all day long. Red Witt, the fifth reliever of the game for the Bucs, got New York out 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to keep the score at 12-0. Ford eyed the shutout, needing just to retire three more men.

Dick Stuart grounded out to short. Gino Cimoli singled. Hit number seven by Pittsburgh. But only Hal Smith and Roberto Clemente managed more than one. Smith came up, and didn't get a hit, He grounded to Clete Boyer at third. Boyer to Richardson covering second, one. Richardson to Skowron at first, double play! A nice 6-4-3. Ford was a 12-0 winner.






Whitey Ford ended the 1960 World Series with a 2-0 record, a 0.00 ERA and only 11 hits allowed over the course of 18 innings. Alas, all this was not enough. The Pittsburgh Pirates won game seven (Ford did not appear) 10-9 to take it. Remarkably enough, Ford came back the next year to win both his starts again. And again he did not allow a run. Ford was simply pitching "Lights out!" in the World Series at this time!


References


Neft, David S., and Richard M. Cohen. The World Series: Complete Play-by-play of Every Game, 1903-1989. 4th ed. New York: St. Martin's, 1990. Print. pp. 281-286.


Sports Reference LLC. Baseball-Reference.com - Major League Statistics and Information. http://www.baseball-reference.com/. Web. 03 Dec. 2016..

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Common Denominator: Al MacAdam

"Scored the GWG to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in the deciding game of the 1979/80 playoffs. Then scored the GWG in the deciding game to eliminate the Montreal Canadians in the 1979/80 postseason."

That would be the Minnesota North Stars' Al MacAdam. Al was a player to be feared that year, scoring 42 goals and adding 51 assists. The right winger took home the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He had some software.

In the 1978/79 season the Habs had won their fourth Stanley Cup in a row (Beating Toronto along the way), and sixth of the decade. The North Stars had finished 28-40-12. Would the next season be any different?

Well, Montreal lost their coach, Scotty Bowman. They lost Ken Dryden, their great goalie,. Jacques Lemaire was gone. Yvan Cournoyer was also gone. Of those, mentioned above, only Bowman was involved in the NHL in 1979/80, that as the coach of the Buffalo Sabers. Minnesota and Buffalo would each be in the final four that year. The Habs and Leafs would not.

The Leafs came into the 1979/80 playoffs five games below .500, but had Darry Sittler (97 points), Wilf Paiement (74 points), Rick Vaive (22 goals in only 69 games). Plus Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull. Toronto had plenty to test Minny goalie Gillies Meloche. But he had a pretty good goals-against average of 3.06 that year. Could Toronto get some by him? They were 7th in the 21-team league that season with 304 goals.

But they ran into a stop sign as the playoffs began.

The first two games of the first round between Minny and Toronto were right there in the North Stars' ring. The home team weathered the storm in the first two contests. They pounded the Leafs for an amazing 61 shots on goal in the first game, prevailing 6-3 (It was only 4-2 after 40 minutes). Game two was all Minnesota, however. They looked for the sweep after winning it so easily, 7-2. It was 4-0 after two periods in this on, and Al MacAdam had two goals in it!

Game three was at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. Would now be a good time to tell you this was a best-of-five? The Maple Leafs had to win. The led 2-1 after 2 periods. But in the third, it was the Stars tying it, and then taking the lead. John Anderson tied it at 3 in the third with little more than five minutes to play. In overtime, Al MacAdam won it just 32 seconds it.

Next came the Montreal Canadians. Seeking their fifth cup in a row, they swept past Hartford in the first round. Minnesota surprised them in the first two contests in Montreal. The North Stars were 36-28-16 that year. But the Habs? All those departures and they still were 47-20-13. How did they end the season in their last 21 games? 15-0-6. So when the quarterfinals started, Montreal was essentially 18-0-6. Can you say, tall order for Minny?

Minnesota couldn't score a goal on Dennis Herron through two in game one, and neither could Montreal dent Meloche. In the third period, it was the visitors breaking lose with three goals, MacAdam getting his fourth of the playoffs. He was averaging a goal a game.

Meloch was amazing in game two, as well, stopping 40 of 41 shots. Minny won 4-1. But when if shifted to Minnesota, Montreal woke up. Game three saw the Habs make a crucial decision. Bunny Larocque, ken Dryden's old backup, was no slouch in goal. Although Herron posted better numbers in the regular season, 25-3-3, 2.51 GAA, Bunny had all the experience to get the Canadians back in this on the road.

Stopping all 25 shots that came his way, Bunny got Montreal's first shutout of the 1980 playoffs. The game itself was a rout, 5-0 for the Habs. And what a little confidence will do for you, eh? Montreal blasted the home team again, 5-1 in game four. Yvon Lambert was playing amazing. 8 goals in as many games played.

Back home for game five, Larocque, who'd beaten Hartford in the third contest of the first round, upped his playoff record to a perfect 4-0 with an easy 6-2 win. Well, the Habs were for real.

Amazingly, they'd need a game seven to clinch. Minnesota went home and Meloche regained his form. Montreal looked poised to finish 'em off. They had 10 shots on goal in the first period and the only goal, but Minnesota came back with five of their own in the second. Rick Chartraw scored the only goal of the third, but that really didn't matter. The 5-2 win by the home team sent this one back to Canada.

Game seven was back-and-forth, but you had to figure the Canadians would find a way. Yet tied 2-2 with only 86 minutes to play, it was Al MacAdam's 6th goal of the 1980s playoffs that put Minnesota up 3-2. The Habs failed to get the equalizer, much to the amazement of everyone.

Minnesota faced Philadelphia next game, and even won the first game. From there, though, it was all the Flyers, who reached the finals after winning the next four contests. MacAdam had only one goal in those five games.

The Minnesota North Stars made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals the next year, as MacAdam scored nine more goals. They didn't become the next dynasty, however. That title belonged to the New York Islanders, who'd won it in 1980 and then beat Minny in just five games in '81. They'd win it the next two years for good measure.

The North Stars had to wait until 1991 to make it back to the finals, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. MacAdam was long gone by then. The team was off to Dallas for the 1993/94, although a new team, called the Wild, arrived in time for the 2000/2001. The Stanley Cup has yet to make it's way to the city, however.

But they still managed to eliminate two of the the most prominent teams in one magical season many years back.


"The information used herein was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by The Hockey Summary Project. For more information about the Hockey Summary Project please visit:

http://hsp.flyershistory.com

or

http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/hockey_summary_project/


References


"Hockey Summary Project." Hockey Summary Project. N.p., 1 Nov. 2008. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://hsp.flyershistory.com/>


Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Common Denominator: Djokovic And Murray.

"Born a week apart in 1987, finished a year on a tremendous 24-match winning streak not long after a loss at the US Open."

For Novak Djokovic, born May 22nd, 1987, that was 2013. He watched as Nadal caught up to him and passed him in the rankings that year, including beating him in a four-set US Open finals. However, the Serb was not about to lose again.

He won both his rubbers at a Davis Cup tie vs. Canada, beating both Milos Raonic and Vaskek Pospisil (Both of whom were in the top 50 at that time). Neiter player managed to win a set off Djokovic. Then Novak went to Beijing and beat Richard Gasquet in the semis and Nadal in the finals.

Novak won in Shanghai, beating Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro in the last three rounds. Challenges were coming his way, and Djokovic was meeting them with open arms.

At Paris, he beat David Ferrer in the finals, having overcome a pair of players from Switzerland in the previous rounds named Wawrinka and Federer. Roger won set of him. Wawrinka and Ferrer weren't so lucky. 6-4, 6-3 and 6-3, 6-3.

Federer, del Potro and Gasquet then put up spirited fights at the ATP Finals in London, but Djokovic beat them all in three sets. Wawrinka and Nadal managed to win a combined total of 13 games against Djokovic in the semifinals and finals. It was all-too-easy after three early scares.

One more hurdle existed in 2013 for Djokovic. The Davis Cup finals was against Czech Republic. Check out the score vs. Tomas Berdych. 6-4, 7-6, 6-2. Check out the score vs. Radek Stepanek, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.

Djokovic found himself being hounded by Andy Murray three years later. He lost the US Open finals to Wawrinka. But Novak beat Andy in the Australian Open final and later at the French Open finals.

Murray, though, won Wimbledon, and then the Olympics. He lost a Davis Cup tie vs. del Potro after losing in the quarters of the US Open. The loss to Juan was Andy's last of 2016.

He came to China following Great Britain's loss (Although Murray beat Guido Pella in his other singles' match) to Argentina at the Davis Cup. In China, Andy roared to the finals without losing a set. Grigor Dimitrov had been hammered into submission by Andy Murray in the round of sixteen at the US Open, and played much better in the finals. But not good enough to win a set. Murray won, 6-4, 7-6.

Shanghai, and the same. Murray didn't lose a set. In the finals, he beat Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 6-1.

Off to Vienna, and Andy was a little more human. He dropped a set in his first two matches, then didn't lose another. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the last to fall to him, 6-3, 7-6.

Paris saw Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych in the quarters, Milos Raonic (by default) in the semis, and finally John Isner in the finals. This time, Murray dropped a set. He'd routed Isner at Vienna. Here, the Scotsman scraped by, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

In the round robin of the ATP Finals in London, Murray dropped a set to Kei Nishikori. In the semifinals, Milos Raonic was his opponent. The Canadian gave him all he could handle, but Andy Murray found a way, 5-7, 7-6, 7-6.

The finals should have been a challenged, but Andy Murray had all the answers for Novak Djokovic's quest for another Year-End Championship. With a 6-3, 6-4 win, Murray had title #9 on the year, and would finish #1 for the first time in his career.

The 29-year old was born on May 15th, 1987, one week before his vanquished opponent, who happened to have five ATP Finals titles to his name. 2016 had started out frustrating for him. But it ended with 24 wins (Plus 2 more by default). Djokovic likewise ended 2013 with 24 consecutive victories, and still is great player on all surfaces. Both players will be 30 in May of next year. Their rivalry will no doubt continue to be a riveting one. However, other than the Grand Slams, they'll be looking out for the #1 ranking in 2017.


References


"Andy Murray Career Statistics." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia . Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Unknown, 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Murray_career_statistics>

"Novak Djokovic Career Statistics." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia . Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Unknown, 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Novak_Djokovic_ career_ statistics>

"Official Site of Men's Professional Tennis | ATP World Tour | Tennis." ATP World Tour. Emirates. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.  <http://www.atpworldtour.com/>