Monday, March 30, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Derek Jeter's best chance to lead the Fall Classic in batting average came in 2000. But he fell short. But Derek need make no apoligies. He was always there with the big hit in the clutch for New York. The Yankees needed Mr. Clutch to come through and Derek did. He always knew how to be the man of the hour.

But in his first eleventh hour, the 1996 World Series, Derek batted just .250 against Atlanta. The Braves won the first two games and Derek and Mariano Rivera were looking at this as just a bad experience. Rivera failed to get a save and Jeter wasn't coming through. But, New York turned on the jets and swept through the next four games. Now, all they needed to do was turn on the Jeter in the World Series.

Derek did just that in his next trip their. Better still, the Yankees swept through the San Diego Padres for another jewel in the crown. Jeter made sure it was a sweep as he hit .353. This thing was a group effort all around for New York however. Jeter finished fifth among his teammates in batting average. New York had so much depth, it wasn't easy for the opposition. But it wasn't easy for Derek to stick out, either!

It was much the same the next year. Another Fall Classic, this time against Atlanta. This was another sweep, just like in 1998, but unlike the 1996 World Series. Jeter, if you can believe it, hit exactly .353 again this time. However, Scott Brosius, who'd been the MVP of the 1998 World Series, was out for another. He hit .375. If you can believe it, despite the sweep, it was Atlanta's Bret Boone who trumped 'em both. All Bret did was hit a resounding .538 for the World Series. Derek was well back of that!

But the next year, Atlanta was on a mission of the three-peat. And Derek was on a hitting rampage. After three games, he was hitting .462 to Paul O'Neill's .583. But they both had company. Actually, Tino Martinez was hitting .429, which meant he had MVP credentials with that.

But it would come down to O'Neill and Jeter. In game four, it was the Yankees with a 3-2 win over their cross-town rivals, the Mets. Jeter had a home run and a triple, and boasted his average to 444! However, O'Neill had two hits of his own in only four at-bats. That "dropped" his average up to a still-astonishing .563. Still making Boone look like nothing! The Yankees were up three games to one. They needed just one more win and this Subway Series was theirs!

And they got it, but the problem was Jeter had just one hit in game five. But what a hit it was! Another home run. Bernie Williams also went yard. But it was Paul O'Neill with no hits. Brought down to earth. Alas, that couldn't stop him from ending this Fall Classic with a batting average of .474. Derek was left empty-handed again. His final batting average was .409.

But that didn't stop him from taking home MVP honours. It was a proud first for Derek. He'd hit two key home runs in the last two games. Other than Williams, the only other Yankee to go yard was Brosius. Certainly, they and O'Neill were key contributors. Jeter didn't hit as well as O'Neill, or even Bubba Trammell or Todd Zeile of the Mets, who each batted .400. But Derek, as always, had provided the lift that the Yankees had needed. He may not have had the highest batting average, but his play did give the Yankees high hopes!

World Series: Did You Know?

The Arizona Diamondbacks are the fastest expansion team to win it all. It took them just four years from the beginning of their existence to taste the champagne. But, you to let you all know, it only took five years to build Rome. But two pitchers helped build the D-Backs.

There was just something great about this team from the get-go. After winning 65 games in their inaugural season (Terrific for an expansion team), they jumped to an amazing 100 wins in only their second season. They slipped back to 85 the next season. Maybe they weren't that good.

But in 2001, they sure were. Arizona won 92 games, and had two amazing pitchers. For offence, Luis Gonzalez hit 57 home runs that year. Okay, that wasn't all they got from the bats. But how about Randy Johnson's 21 wins? Not enough to match Curt Schilling's team-leading 22. That is an amazing 1-2 punch. The best lefty-righty combo since Koufax and Drysdale? Maybe. Glavine and either Smoltz or Maddux was pretty good. But in the postseason, there was nobody better.

The D-Backs edged the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2 in the National League Division Series, then took out Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux in just five games. Now, only the New York Yankees stood in the way of a World Series win after just four seasons. It would not prove easy.

Schilling got them off on the right foot in the opening act at home. And that offence? Amazing! They scored nine runs and Curt held New York to a run in the top of the first. When Johnson spun a three-hitter in game two, a 4-0 Arizona win, it looked like this was going five games at the most.

But when the Series headed to New York, the momentum shifted. The Yankees took game thee, 2-1, as Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera combined on a three-hitter of their own. Then, New York dug deep, taking game four in ten innings and game five in twelve. It was back to the desert. And had fate deserted the D's?

Randy Johnson kept 'em alive. Their offence sizzled. Arizona scored fifteen (Count 'em!) runs by the end of the fourth. Johnson left after seven, having allowed the Yankees only two meaningless runs. The bullpen didn't allow any Yankees to touch home. So it was on to game seven, and Johnson was needed again.

Schilling carried a 1-0 lead into the top of the seventh, but New York had proven in games four and five that they were no strangers to dramatics. The tied it in the top of the seventh, then moved ahead in the top of the eighth. Randy Johnson came in to get the last out of that inning. He pitched a scoreless ninth, but Rivera was in the game now with the Yankees ahead.

Down by a run, Mark Grace singled to start things. Then, an error by Tino Martinez put two on! Jay Bell batted for Johnson, and got 'em to second and third with a sac bunt. A dramatic double by Tony Womack dramatically tied this thing. Rivera, shaken, hit the next batter. Bases loaded. Luis Gonzalez at the dish. Arizona needed not a home run, but just a ball to the outfield.

On the second pitch, Gonzalez did that.. Actually, it was a single. The walk-off hit won this most dramatic of Fall Classics. There didn't seem to be any end in sight for it, but it was the underdogs D-Backs that had pulled it off.

The Diamondbacks hadn't been around a long time, but Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling sure had. They had provided the experience and pitching that Arizona needed. Add to that some veterans like Mark Grace and Matt Williams, and this team was no ordinary expansion team. They had a lot of character and heart. And that's what wins championships, even for cities that are new to the big league stuff!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The 1999 Fall Classic had, four the second straight year, four different winning pitchers and four different losing pitchers. Alas, Orlando Hernandez was the only pitcher from both World Series involved in a decision. The New York Yankees had their second straight sweep for good measure, this time against the Atlanta Braves.

Hernandez took the opener, and he pitched very well. Chipper Jones hit a solo home run off him in the bottom of the fourth, but that was the only hit he allowed over seven innings. The Yankees touched home four times in the eighth, and three relief pitchers got the job done from there on just one more Atlanta hit, and New York drew first blood. Greg Maddux took the loss for Atlanta despite holding the Yankees at bay for the first seven innings on a three-hitter of his own. New York ended the day with six hits to Atlanta's two.

In game two it was New York's David Cone going seven innings on one-hit ball himself. This time, the offence was provided early and often. Kevin Millwood was shaky for the Braves and the Bronx Bombers pounced on him and delivered an early KO. The Yankees scored three times in the top of the first, and that was all Cone would need. But the Bronx Bombers scored twice more in the top of the third to make it 5-0. They still weren't done as single tallies in the next two innings closed out the Yankees offence. The Braves didn't score until the bottom of the ninth, as three hits produced two runs, but New York was heading home up two games to none.

In game three at Yankee Stadium, it was Atlanta with the early offence on Andy Pettitte. They surged ahead 5-1 after four, but New York refused to go away. The tallied once in the bottom of the fifth, and once again in the bottom of the seventh. It was 5-3, Atlanta. New York then tied it with two runs the next inning courtesy of a Chuck Knoblauch two-run home run. Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth and tenth for New York, setting the stage for the final blow. It was delivered by Chad Curtis. He'd started the comeback with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth off Tom Glavine. In the bottom of the ninth, he played hero as he took Mike Remlinger out of the park. 6-5, New York, final score. The Yankees were up three games to none and going for the sweep in game four.

John Smoltz, looking to keep Atlanta in it, had only one bad inning in game four. New York scored three times in the third frame to go up 3-0. In the next four innings, New York had only one hit. Smoltz finished the game just six hits allowed in seven innings and eleven strikeouts. His team, however, could not score until the top of the eighth. New York then got that right back in the bottom of the frame with a run off Terry Muholland. Roger Clemens, was amazing for New York. He allowed just one hit in thee first four innings, and stymied the Atlanta batters all game long. A hit in the top of the fifth was quickly erased via a double play. Not until there were two outs in the top of the eighth did he falter. Roger ended the game with just four hits allowed (Two through seven), one run, and four strikeouts. Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera took over from there and allowed just one hit and no runs over the final 1 1/3 innings. The Yankees had game four, 4-1, just like in game one. And they had a sweep.

It takes more then one pitcher to make a staff great. Both New York and Atlanta had superb pitching staffs in 1999. New York had Clemens and Pettitte (despite not getting a decision in game three) with over 250 wins each. Cone won 194. Rivera sealed the deal when these guys couldn't. Atlanta had Hall-Of-Famers in Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine, plus Millwood won 169 game for good measure. While it may have been a sweep, the 1999 Fall Classic showcased some of the game's very best pitchers in the decisions.



References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

While he pitched in the 1996 Fall Classic, Mariano Rivera got his first save two years later. Rivera had to watch in 1996 as John Wetteland did something even Rivera couldn't do: Record four saves in one World Series!

But one thing Rivera did was convince the New YorkYankee brass that he was the closer of the future. Indeed, Wettleland was not resigned for 1997, and the closer's role was all Mariano. The rest, as they say, is history.

But Rivera did not pitch in the Fall Classic in 1997. Cleveland and Florida put on a classic, that the underdog Wild Card Marlins won. Rivera had the ring from 1996, but not the save. That all changed in game one of the 1998 World Series.

The Yankees were taking on the San Diego Padres in 1998 Fall Classic. Right there in the House That Ruth built. The House of Legends. What the Yankees saw from their closer was always the stuff of legend, so why should the Fall Classic be any different? Rivera put the nail in the coffin in game one, a contest that the Padres seemed to be destined to score at will. For a while, they looked like they were going to win, too!

The Padres led after six, 5-2. But then, New York came alive. They crossed the plate an amazing seven times in the bottom of the seventh. That seventh inning stretch must have woken them up. New York was up 9-5 and needed just six more outs. Oh, wait: It's not a save situation!

Jeff Nelson pitched the top of the eight for the Yankees. David Wells had the win wrapped up now, so there was no sense in wasting his arm on the last six outs. But Nelson struggled. Tony Gwynn's single started what looked like a rally. However, it sort of stalled as a force at second erased Gwynn. A walk and a strikeout followed. Wally Joyner was the batter. Steve Finley was on deck. Two on. So that made him the tying run. Hey, that is a save situation! Paging Mariano!

Rivera hoped in from the 'pen. Joyner reached on an error by Chuck Knoblauch, and a run scored. Well, Mariano still had the three-run lead. But now Finley was at the dish. And you knew Rivera had to get him out. And he did just that. On a 1-0 pitch, Finley grounded out to first, with Tino Martinez making the play unassisted. Three more outs and Rivera has that first save!

Two pinch hitters came to the plate in the top of the ninth for the Padres, but Mariano, with the pressure off, got 'em both on strikeouts. He still had the three-run lead. When Quilvio Veras popped out to third, this thing was in the books as a 9-6 Yankee win. Rivera had his first Fall Classic save!

The Yankees would go on to win the next three games, of course. Rivera saved two more games (Game two was a 9-3 Yankee blowout, so Rivera did not get to pitch) to fall one shy of Wetteland's record. Mariano would save eight more games in the World Series in his career, a record for the legend. And every legend has a beginning right?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The Florida Marlins were the first Wild Card team to win the Fall Classic. And it was in only their fifth year of existence. Then, they had to beat out three very imposing teams. They had Atlanta, San Francisco and finally Cleveland to get by.

The Marlins finished the 1997 campaign with a 92-70 record. Pretty good, eh? Well, only good enough for second in the National League East. The Atlanta Braves won 101 games and could give you 101 reasons why they were better then the Marlins. The Los Angeles Dodgers finished four games back in the Wild Card race, with 88 wins.

Florida got by San Francisco three games to none to spoil and chance of Barry Bonds making it to the World Series that year. Atlanta did the same to Houston. But in the National League Championship Series, it was Florida pulling it out in six over Atlanta. It was, however, a tight, back-and-forth race for the World Series, with pitching duels a-plenty. But Florida was off to meet Cleveland.

The Indians, back in the World Series again, lost to Atlanta in six games themselves in 1995, and must have been happy to see an expansion team in the other dugout. But soon, they'd erase that though. There was Devon White, Darren Daulton and Jim Eisenreich on that Florida team. They'd all played in the 1993 Fall Classic.

Florida, playing at home in game one, looked anything but nervous in the opening tilt. They stormed ahead 5-1 and 7-2, while Cleveland tried to play catchup. The Indians got as close as three runs, and that's the way it ended, 7-4. But Cleveland wasn't about to roll over, and squared it with a decisive 6-1 win in game two. It was on to American League territory. And game three was a wild one.

It was Cowboys and Indians. Or Marlins and Indians. But when the dust settled, it was Florida back on top with a 14-11 win. But Cleveland made game four a laugher, even worse then the second affair. 10-3 was the final. With the Series lead at stake, it was another high-scoring game in the fifth tilt. But Florida was coming home up 3-2 with a narrow 8-7 win.

Another decisive win by Cleveland, 4-1, in game six sent this to the limit. It was a classic, like so many game sevens.

Tony Fernandez drove in two with a double off his 1993 Toronto Blue Jays teammate, Al Leiter in the top of the third. The 2-0 Cleveland lead held through eight, although Bobby Bonilla got Florida on the board with a solo home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh.

The Indians were two outs away from it all in the bottom of the ninth, but Florida had already put the leadoff man, Moises Alou, on to start the inning. After an out, the Marlins got another single. Alou was on third. When Craig Counsell flied out, Alou tagged and scored. Jim Eisenreich then made the third out.

The game continued on into extra innings. Flordia ultiamtly won it in the eleventh. But I'm not sure everyone made it home by eleven. Bonilla started it with a single. A bunt moved him to second. And error by Fernandez put runners on the corners. Devon White had a chance to win it all, but grounded to second and Bonilla was out at home trying to win it all. Edgar Renteria did not need to rent any heroics. With two on and two outs, he singled to left. Counsell scored and Florida was the 1997 Fall Classic winners.

The 1997 Florida Marlins were obviously not the best team in the regular season. Talent-wise, they were not as good as Atlanta or Cleveland. But they had experienced players that had been there before in the Fall Classic. They were up against a tremendous team, and they were destined to go the limit. And some of the games they won were wild ones. But that should not take away from the fact of the wildness of the first ever Wild Card World Series Winners!


References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Monday, March 23, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The 1991 Fall Classic was the first to have three games go into extra innings. This was a classic right? A long classic! Minnesota won it all over Atlanta, but no one went home hanging their head in the World Series that year. No one will ever forget it.

The Twins, though, came in an had every intentions of making short work of the Braves. Jack Morris won game one, 5-2. In the second tilt, it was closer, but Minny pulled it out, 3-2. It was on to Atlanta with the Twins up two games.

But here's where it all turned around. The Braves won all three games at home.

In game three, the hometown Braves looked like they had the game won early, as they led 4-1 after six. But here's where the Twins came back with a run in the top of the seventh. Two more the next inning made it a tie game. And it stayed that way through eleven innings. But Justice was about to prevail for Atlanta.

In the bottom of the twelve, Dave Justice singled with one out. Brian Hunter was retired, and it looked like this game was going to the thirteenth inning. But no such (bad?) luck.

Justice stole second, which was a rare site since he was slow. Greg Olsen drew a walk. And Mark Lemke then became a most unlikely hero, as he singled off Rick Aguilera to score Justice. Welcome to a Brave New World of a close and exciting Fall Classic. And it was just the beginning of the fun!

Atlanta won game four, 3-2 to square it at two. And again, they needed to pull it out in their last at-bats. But this time, it was in the bottom of the ninth. Still, the Braves, I'm sure, would gladly go home early, rather then risk extras again. A blowout, 14-5 in game five, gave Atlanta the Series lead for the first time. It was back to the Twin Cities.

The Twins took a lead, the Braves tied it. That happened twice as a 2-0 lead was erased, as was a 3-2 lead. But Kirby Puckett was not about to let Minnesota lose this thing. His dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh gave the Twins a 4-3 win. That also sent this thing to a winner-take-all game seven. And it was another classic. And again, it went to extras.

Jack Morris and John Smoltz put zeros on the scoreboard through seven. In the top of the eighth, it looked like curtains for Smoltz and the Braves. The Twins put two on with nobody out, and John Smoltz was out of the game. But Mike Stanton got Ken Hrbek to line into an inning-ending double play.

In the bottom of the ninth, Atlanta faced another jam in this scoreless affair. The first two Minny batters singled. That was it for Stanton. Alejandro came in to pitch for the Braves, and got Shane Mack to hit into a double play. But that moved Jarvis Brown, who'd come into run for Chili Davis, to third. The World Series winning run was ninety feet away. Mike Pagliarulo then was walked intentionally by Pena. Paul Sorrento came to the dish to pinch hit for Al Newname. But, throwing nothing but strikes, Pena got him to strikeout. The at-bat still took five pitches as the fans in Minnesota inched forth to the edge of their seats.

Jack Morris got 'em 1-2-3 to start the tenth. In the bottom of the frame, this masterpiece would finally come to an end. And it was a dandy of one, I tell ya!

Dan Gladden led off with a double. Chuck Knoblauch bunted him to third. Kirby Puckett and Ken Hrbek were the next two hitters. And both of them knew how to get it done in the clutch. So, the Braves walked them both intentionally. Bases loaded, one out.

Gene Larkin batted for Jarvis Brown. The Braves could have used a double play here. But they would not get it. They would not get an out. Larkin stroked Pena's very first pitch to left centre and Gladden trotted on home, bringing an end to a World Series that seemed destined, never to.

I personally rank the 1991 World Series behind the 1975 Fall Classic. But really, should I? This was one amazing World Series. The Braves didn't quit, and then Twins didn't. Game after game was fought down to the wire, and both teams battled and battled until Larkin's single ended it all. The number "9" is used so much in baseball, but sometimes, "9" is not enough to end it. The World Series used to be a best-of-nine contest, if you can believe it. And while this obviously did not go nine games, it went past nine innings three time, giving baseball fans everywhere a World Series for the ages!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The New York Yankees got not one, but two unlikely heroic acts in the 1978 Fall Classic. Their was a way to Buck the Los Angeles Dodgers' spirits. And along to foil them was Doyle.

Bucky Dent had just hit his dramatic three-run home run off Mike Torrez in the one-game playoff of 1978. And he wasn't about to let that go to waste as his New York Yankees were up for a rematch of 1977. Same teams, same result.

But New York actually lost game one. Badly, too. 11-5, Dodgers was the final score. Fred Stanley started the game at second, in place of the injured Willie Randolph, went 1-2. He was pinch hit for by Cliff Johnson. Brian Doyle took over at second until the end of the game. Dent had only one hit, but also had two RBIs.



In game two, the Dodgers won again, to go up two games to none. It was of to the big, bad, Bronx on a high note! This game was a nail-biter, however. Los Angeles eked out a 4-3 win. Doyle and Dent were of little help. They had no RBIs and went a combined two for seven.



In game three, New York began to asset themselves. The Yankees won in front of their adoring fans at Yankee Stadium. It was a 5-1 final. But again, Doyle and Dent did little. They went a combined one for eighth. Dent did collect his third RBI of the 1978 Fall Classic. But Roy White had the big hit, a home run.



Game four was close as the Yankees needed ten innings to win, 4-3. The World Series was now all tied at two. Bucky Dent got only one hit again, dropping his batting average in this affair to just .226. Doyle failed to get a plate appearance, and only played as a defensive replacement.



But in game five, three wonderful things happend to the Yankees. The won, easily, 12-2. And they took the lead in the Series for the first time, three to two. And hey, it was time for Doyle and Dent to began to assert themselves, right? D and D were delightful! Each had three hits, each scored twice.

Bucky added an RBI and a walk, plus he saw his average go up to .286. But Brian trumped that average. The three hits by him raised his average to .316!

New York then proceeded out west and clinched it, 7-2. And Doyle and Dent did it again! Doyle went three for four, including a double. For the second straight game, he crossed the plate twice. But this time, he added two RBIs, as well. Dent also went three for four, failing to score a run. However, by the end of the game, Bucky had three RBIs,


The World Series was the Yankees for the second straight year. Bucky Dent, was named MVP with his seven RBIs and .417 batting average. But it was actually Brian Doyle with the highest batting average of any player in this Fall Classic. He ended up hitting .438! The Yankees had gotten not one, but two unexpected monster performances from their eighth and ninth hitters!

The World Series has it's heros and goats. But it isn't always the players you expect to deliver, that deliver. The New York Yankees needed two unexpected performances to come back and beat the Dodgers. They had Reggie, Thurmond and Ron. But they also had Bucky and Brian, right?


References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hammond And Anderson: How The Sens Should Handle This

I'm going to start by not saying, "Goaltender Controversy", here. That dates back decades to situations where there was really not any. From what I've read, Bower and Sawchuck got along just fine. Tony Espsoito has said he wanted to play game eighth in 1972 vs. USSR, but was fine with Ken Dryden taking the duties. We all know how that ended, right? All's Well That Ends Well.

Here now, in Ottawa, where the Senators looked dead, comes an interesting situation. Ottawa looked out of the playoff picture back on February 7th of this year. They were 20-22-9, and on a three-game losing streak. It was time to look forward to next season. Their starting goalie, Craig Anderson, had been hurt in a 4-3 win over Toronto on January 21st, and things were going downhill fast.

Ottawa had actually started off strong this season. It seems like a distant, forgotten time, but the Senators started out 9-5-4 after finishing strong the year before that. The team, however, was under a lot of pressure, because it had missed the playoffs the year before. Ottawa, you see, looked to be on the rise after making the playoffs in 2011/12 and winning a round for good measure the next season. Missing out on the spring in 2013/14 seem to spell the end for this edition.

When the team hit a slump right after their strong start, they fired coach Paul MacLean. To be honest with you, he's a coach I've always liked. But it appeared that he'd lost control of the players, who seemed to master the fine art of "finding a way to lose". Indeed, Ottawa was losing games by a goal or two. They were right there in the game, and then the wheels came off the chariot, usually in the third period.

Even so, this team had talent. Erik Karlsson is one of the best defenceman in the league, and happends to be on pace for the most goals he's ever scored in one season. Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris are on pace for over 20 themselves. Mark Stone is, too. Mike Hoffman looks like a Calder winner with 24 goals already. And he's got a bright future. The Senators have nine players in double-digits in goals already. Okay, goal-scoring is not the team's problem. Although they are just at league average, with that kind of spread offence, they have more than enough players to keep them in the games they play. But that puts pressure on the goalies.

The goalies, pre-Hammond were Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Anderson has actually played quite well this year. He's in the top ten in save percentage despite a win-one, lose-one record. But you always have to look beyond his stats to tell the real story. Thousands of times, he has saves would turn the game around for Ottawa. And not just this season, but ever since he arrived back in 2010/11. He's been a winner everywhere he's played. And he also has experience.

Lehner is still out with a concussion, but despite his not-so-great numbers, he's looked strong at times. I gotta think he'll be the odd-man out in this situation when he returns. He has yet to really break out as the Senators have hoped. And, if Hammond continues his strong play, he might be out of Ottawa.

The Senators have had other injuries, which makes Hammond's streak look stronger. Chris Neil has been out since mid-February with a broken thumb. Clarke MacArthur was concussed with Lehner in their collision two days later on the 16th of February. Zack Smith has not played since December.

Anderson is back injured, and Hammond has run his streak to 12-0-1 with a 6-4 win over Boston. Alas, his two-or-less-goals allowed in starts streak has come to an end and Fran Brimsek's record looks save for good. But there is still twelve games to play and Ottawa still is a point back. They've made it back and now have to press onwards. Hammond is still a rookie, and the stress that would be placed on him from having to play every game from here on in would be more than he could handle, in all likelihood.

Funny, Craig Anderson was only 12-9-2 two seasons ago. Now look at Hammond's record, his 1.55 GAA and his .950 S%. Anderson added a 1.69 GAA and .941 S%. Both marks led the NHL in 2012/13, and this season has been very good. Hammond will take a lot from this streak of his, but what will he do when things stop going his way? You can't expect a rookie to take the full load, especially if the Sens make the playoff. And before they get there? The Ottawa Senators will need someone to pick up the slack once Hammond comes down to earth. Anderson needs to play. The Senators will not make the playoffs if he doesn't!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Both Waite Hoyt and Art Neft were superb in the 1921. The nearly became the first pair to each pitch 27 innings and post an ERA of 0.00

Carl Mays basically said, “Top this,” to Hoyt and Neft as he pitched a gem in the opener in the Polo Grounds. Actually, the Polo grounds would prove to be home for all eight games. In any event, it was Mays with a gem and the New York Yankees up a game. Oh, it was a shutout, by the way. The fireworks had started early as someone else had a shutout, too! A five-hitter! Hey, what about Neft and Hoyt? Waite, would ya?


And they went up two games to none after Hoyt outdueled Neft 3-0 in the next game. But both pitched well. In fact, had Neft allowed just one less hit, it would have been a pair of two-hitters. None of the three runs scored were earned. So both Neft and Hoyt had ERA’s @ zero. Neft though, was the visiting team’s pitcher, so now he was stuck on just eight innings while Hoyt had nine!

The Yankees not only lost game three, they lost Babe Ruth to injury. He also missed game four, and the Yanks were beaten again. The Babe was back in game five, and presto, the Yankees won to go up three games to two. Hoyt was also back with a gem. Again, Neft took a tough loss. Hoyt gave up ten hits and an unearned run. Neft gave up three runs and all were earned. But he’d pitched nine innings.

The Yankees ultimately lost the next three games, despite a fine performance by Mays in game seven. Hoyt also pitched well in game eight. He gave up just six hits and an unearned run. His effort would normally be enough to send this thing the distance. But Neft had no intentions of letting that happen. He came into game eight driven to end this thing. And did he ever put on a pitching performance to remember. It was Neft who won the game on a four-hitter and made the Giants, true Giants of baseball in 1921. They’d beaten their hated rivals, five games to three!

The 1921 Fall Classic was supposed to be about Babe Ruth. But with his injury, it was up to people like Waite Hoyt to keep the mighty Yankees in this thing. Hoyt gave it his all! His final ERA in this thing was 0.00. Neft's was a little higher, but it proved to be enough. New York, New York, Hoyt and Neft. A lot of zeros on the scoreboard in this Fall Classic!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Pepper Martin was the first player to bat .500 in a Fall Classic that actually went the limit. It's fitting that one of the Gashouse Gang would be the first. Martin was the type of player that would always rise to the occasion. And his St. Louis Cardinals needed him here. They were up against Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, no pushovers!

His effort's were in vain the opener. The A's came to St. Louis and pushed aside Martin and his mates in easy fashion, 6-2. However, a closer look reveals that Pepper and co. had no intention of letting the Athletics off the hook so easily. Not only did Pepper go 3 for 4, but the Cards collected nine additional hits. So while it was a loss, there could be no doubt that St. Louis came to play!

The Cardinals were again held to just two runs in the second tilt, but this time, their pitching did the job. Actually, it did a tremendous job. Billy Hallahan, who would later fan Babe Ruth in the first ever All-Star Game, pitched a shutout for St. Louis. Martin not only went 2-3 but also scored the game's only two runs. This thing was going to the City Of Brotherly Love. But Martin loved to hit at home or on the road.

And if it was a daunting task that awaited Pepper in Philly, it didn't show. Again, two hits. Again, two runs. And again, a Philly win. The 5-2 final score gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead in the 1931 Fall Classic. Now, the pressure was on Philly to keep the dynasty going. But how could they stop Martin? He was hitting .636 at this point! All this, in front of Herbet Hoover himself!



But Philly sure stopped St. Louis in game four, which they badly needed. George Earnshaw sure earned his 3-0 win over the Cardinals. He held St. Louis to just two hits. Would you believe who got them? Why, the very subject of this blog. So without Pepper, it's a no-hitter. But, alas, you need some of your teammates and some salt to go along with Pepper. Martin went 2-3 and the only time he was retired was in the top of the second as Earnshaw fanned him. He singled and stole second in the top of the fifth. In the top of the eight, Pepper hit a lead off double. But Earnshaw stranded him and ended the day with just one walk. His fine shutout tied the series at two.

Martin was virtually unstoppable in game five. He almost beat the Athletics single-handily. Martin went 3-4 and drove in four of the five Cardinal runs. The Athletics totaled one run in this game, and Martin himself scored one. The 5-1 win put St. Louis just one win away. And Martin's average? Try .667! Pepper was getting two hits in every three at-bats!

But in game six back in St. Louis, Lefty Grove finally became the first A's pitcher to stop Martin. Martin was 0-3 with just one walk. Him teammates were off, too. They managed just one run and five hits off Grove. And Philly brought out their big sticks as the crossed the dish eight times. This thing was going the distance.

The Cardinals, at home, scored twice in the bottom of the first, and Philly never really recovered. The first two Cardinal hitters singled. And then a sac bunt moved runners to second and third with only one out. Pepper was at the plate, Earnshaw threw a wild pitch that scored a run. Martin would eventually walk and steal second. The Cardinals scored again, and Martin made it to third, but he did not score.

The Cardinals scored two more runs to make it a 4-0 lead. Philadelphia was not able to mount any offence until the top of the ninth. Although they scored twice, they could not stop St. Louis from winning 4-2 and triumphing in the 1931 World Series. The A's dynasty was officially over.



Pepper was held hitless in his remaining three plate appearances. So in games six and seven, he was 0-6 with two walks. That dropped his average to .500. But Martin had shown again and again that St. Louis was a team that wasn't going down easily, and always fighting tooth and nail. Although a seven-game affair, the 1931 Fall Classic was ultimately decided by what St. Louis had, character. Martin would go on to play his entire career with the Cardinals, and was always as help to the team when they needed a lift. Here, they were up against a tremendous team that had supplanted the New York Yankees (But New York would be back in 1932) as the dominating team in the American League. The Cardinals had to beat great to win this, and Martin was!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

The 1943 Fall Classic began the tradition of highlight films presented. It was implemented as a way of showing the troops overseas the action that some of them had missed. Like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. A great way to boast moral!

So in '43, it was the Cards and Yankees in a rematch of the previous year's showdown. Stan Musial was there for St. Louis. New York wanted some revenge, and I'm sure if Joe DiMaggio got to see this he was thrilled. Nothing like seeing your buddies get revenge, eh?

The highlights started with Spud Chandler pitching to Lou Klein. Top of the first at Yankee Stadium. Klein got under one and sent it to Johnny Lindell in centre. Joe DiMaggio's position! The Yankees went on to win this game 4-2. It was not too exciting an affair, but at least it's there, on film. Preserved forever!

The 1943 World Series lasted just five games. The Yankees, led by Chandler's five straight strikeouts in the fifth game, took care of St. Louis. But, it was a very close Fall Classic. The only game not decided by one or two runs was New York's 6-2 win in game three. And the last two games, won by New York of course, were 2-1 and 2-0 pitcher's duels.

Neither team was playing with a full deck, and major league baseball would not be back to that until the 1946 season, when DiMaggio and Williams returned. Within two seasons, each would play in the Fall Classic.

The end of World War II did not see the end of these highlight reels, however. They would be shown in theatres, and in schools, and help make the World Series the big event that it is today. The 1943 film lasted just over twenty-two minutes, and was by no means a masterpiece. Although, they inserted a nice inspirational message from Babe Ruth himself to our brave folk fighting the good fight! But they soon found ways to make the World Series films more interesting. The films themselves would be narrated by such legends as Vince Scully, Bob Prince and Mel Allen. Highlights of All-Star games found their way in there. By 1958, it was in colour. 1982 saw them ditch the film, and go with television highlights. And, long before the day in age (ala DVD's) of different angles, the makers of these wonderful videos used alternative views. In the day and age before the satellite television, you could finally get a chance to see your favourite player on the grand stage. And you'd get some nice interviews, along the way! As baseball expanded the playoff formats to American and National League Series, they too, eventually made their way into these highlight packages!

The Fall Classic provides a distraction from the grim realities of some of our darkest times:


Think, 1989, San Francisco and Oakland, The Quake. Even though it was a sweep, it was something to watch and try to forget about all the devastation and deaths caused before the day of game three. A game that, of course, had to be delayed!



Think 2001, New York and Arizona, and the World Trade Center attacks.



The same was true during the second World War. Some of the players had to leave, but baseball wasn't about to go with them. The Show had to go on, as they say. And with the highlight reels finding their way overseas, baseball became prevalent during that tough time. Proof, once again, of baseball's enduring legacy of The National Pastime! Would you rather watch this, or see Babe Ruth again?



The Babe's Blessings!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

A-Rod also got hit by a pitch twice in the Fall Classic. Just like Frank Robinson and Todd Pratt. Unlike them and three others, Alex Rodriguez's team, the New York Yankees crossed plate more times then the team they faced did. A-Rod had a something to do with that.

It was in game three of the 2009 World Series between Alex's Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies, you see, had won it all in 2008 and wanted another. They had the sense to try and stop A-Rod, but they failed.

Game three was played at Citizen's Bank Ballpark in Philly, and this contest on the last day of October belonged to the Bronx Bombers. But they didn't just use the longball. They got their offence from many ways. Even the painful one!

A-Rod was hit in the top of the second on the very first pitch of the inning. A-Rod got drilled by Cole Hamels. It did not lead anywhere however. And at the end of 1 1/2 it was scoreless. It was in the bottom of the second that the Phillies touched home three times. A-Rod and his teammates were getting out-hit...But that was about to change.

Rodruguez got him team to within a run with a two-run home run off Hamels in the top of the fourth, with still plenty of time to go. The Yankees added three more the next inning. It was 5-3, New York, but there was still more scoring to go. But most of it was by New York. All but two runs, to be exact.

Nick Swisher hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth to make it a 6-3 game. But in the bottom of the inning, it was Philly getting a solo shot of their own from Jayson Werth. Were the floodgates of longballs opening?

 With one on, and two out in the top of the seventh, A-Rod was back to the batter's box. And, after falling behind in the count 1-2, he took a ball. The next pitch was also a ball, of course. It hit him! But it also moved Johnny Damon into scoring position for Jorge Posada. Posada came through with a single to score Damon, and the mighty Yankees were back up by three, 7-4.

The teams would trade single tallies from this point on. New York actually were doubling up Philly when Hideki Matsui hit a solo home run. Philadelphia would not go away quietly, as Carlos Ruiz went yard himself in the bottom of the ninth.

A-Rod added a walk on just five pitches in the top of the ninth. He was stranded, of course. In a game like this, that featured home runs, the final score of 8-5 is assumed to consist of "All Who Swatted Them", and 'Rod did not drive in a run or score when he was hit by the pitch. His home run obviously did. But he sure took some for the team, eh? The Yankees always find a way to hit 'em out what is thrown. But the Yankees are hittable, right?



References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/3179

Monday, March 9, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Todd Pratt, who was never an everyday player, also was hit twice in one game in the Fall Classic. But it was lost in a 12-inning classic. That is a record he shares to this day with five other players. It was Pratt's first World Series game.

Pratt, penciled in at catcher for the New York Mets in game one of the 2000 World Series for the Mets, was calling the pitches. Mike Piazza, was DH'ing. The New York Mets were staring across to their cross-town rivals the Yankees in this one. It had been a long time since the last subway series. 1956. The Yankees were in that one, too!

Pratt had played a career-high 80 games that year, and hit .275. Andy Pettitte, the Yankees left-hander, was the pitcher that Pratt had to face. Pettitte was coming inside on this righty, eh?

Pratt led off the top of the third for the visitors of Yankee Stadium. And, on of all things and 0-2 pitch, he got plucked. He made it to second on a bunt by Mike Bordick, but that's as far as he made it. The game was still scoreless.

Pettitte wasted no time the next time Pratt came to the dish. The top of the fifth brought the Mets' catcher back to the dish. It went to 0-2, and Andy fanned him. Pratt needed to come through with a man on second. He was the second out. And when Bordick fanned, the inning was over. The Yankees then scored twice in the bottom of the sixth.

The game was still scoreless in the top of the seventh when Pratt came up again, but this time he came through. But not with a hit. And not with a hit by pitch, either. There were two on and only one out, and Todd looked at three balls. Pettitte then marched it to a full count. Pratt fouled off a pitch, then took ball four. That loaded 'em up. A clutch single by Bubba Trammell scored two to tie it. A bunt and another single scored Pratt, and it was 3-2, Mets!

With one out in the top of the ninth, it was still 3-2, Mets. Marino Rivera was now pitching for the Yankees. With one out, Pratt was back to the plate. And soon, he was on first. Rivera hit him on an 0-1 pitch. When Kurt Abbott (Who had come into the game to field) doubled, things were looking up. But Mariano got the next two batters out, and both runners were stranded. The Yankees, no strangers to dramatics, tied it in the bottom of the frame on a sac fly by Chuck Knoblauch. If only one of Pratt's teammates had done then when it was second and third in the top of the frame, the Mets would have still been ahead at this point. But it was not to be.

The game continued on into extras. In the top of the 11th, Pratt batted. Facing Mike Stanton (Former Brave) he fanned. The Yankees got runners to second and third in the bottom of the inning, but failed to score.

The New York Yankees sent the crowd home happy when a single by Jose Vizcaino won the game in the bottom of the twelve. Just like Carlton Fisk in game six of 1975, only not with a home run.

Pratt did not play another game in the 2000 World Series. The Yankees ended up winning it. And, as it turned out, this was the only Fall Classic game Todd Pratt ever played in. But if you'r going to play in only one game on baseball's grandest stage, it's it good idea to set a record in it, right? Even some physically painful ones!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Frank Robinson, who was a man of many first in baseball, is the first player to be hit twice in one game. The 1961 Cincinnati Reds may have only won one game (And it was not the game Robinson was hit twice), but they had someone who the New York Yankees were careful with. Careful enough to hit? I guess so!

Frank was ever so dangerous in 1961, but New York seemed to have his number for a while. Whitey Ford stopped him and the Reds cold in game one. Frank didn't get a hit, but he walked. In game two, Robinson and his teammates did better. They won 6-2. Frank didn't get a hit, but reached base via and error and walk. And both times he scored.



In game three, at home, Frank hit a double in the bottom of the third to score Elio Chacon. That was the game's first run. The Yankees ultimately won this see-saw affair, 3-2. Robinson was held to just that one hit and fanned twice.

Game four was close for a while, but it was Whitey Ford, back with his World Series record book. He not only broke Babe Ruth's record for most consecutive scoreless innings, but he pitched New York to a 7-0 win. Robinson and hit teammates must have had a handful with Whitey.

In the bottom of the fourth, though, it looked like Cincy would tie it. New York was only ahead 1-0 at this point, and Eddie Kasko got things off on the right foot with a leadoff single. One out later, Ford hit Robinson. All this for naught as Wally Post grounded into an inning-ending double play.

New York was only up 2-0 in the top of the sixth, when they salted things away. The scored twice to make it a 4-0 game, and looked poised for more with the bases loaded, Ford up, and only one out. Ford tried to squeeze Moose Skowron home. Clete Boyer motored towards third as Ford bunted, but Gordie Coleman made the putout unassisted, then raced across to third, where Moose retreated, only to find Boyer there. Coleman made the putout, unassisted again!

Chacon led off the bottom of the frame with a single. Ford had been hurt after fouling a ball of his foot. So he left for Jim Coates. Coates was known to throw at batters, and Robinson would bat that inning. So with two outs, he did just that to Frank. The Reds were unable to score, alas. And at this point, the Bombers had extended their lead to 7-0.

Frank batted again in the bottom of the ninth. The Reds could not hit Coates. But Robinson walked this time. Wally Post did not hit into a double play. Instead, he singled for Cincinatti's fifth hit of the ballgame. But Coates fanned Jim Freese and got Gordie Coleman to fly out to Hector Lopez in left to end the game.

Robinson took no such abuse in game five. He hit a three-run home run off Ralph Terry in the bottom of the bottom of the third. Then, he added a double in the bottom of the seventh. The Reds did not score a run that inning. Wally Post added a two-run home run in the bottom of the bottom of the fifth to give the Reds five runs in five innings. But New York scored thirteen runs in that game, and the Reds failed to score outside of Robinson's and Post's home runs.



The 1961 New York Yankees were one of the all-time great teams. The Reds? Well, they weren't pushovers. And it is good to see that Robinson made sure Cincy made the two Yankees blowouts interesting somewhat. Frank would go on to win a World Series later with Baltimore, their first. That was in 1966, the year he became the first player to win an MVP in both leagues. Later, he became the first black manager in baseball when Frank managed the Cleveland Indians in 1975. So who was the first black manager in the National League? That was also Frank Robinson, with San Francisco in 1981. Frank was the last manager of the Montreal Expos and the first manager of the Washington Nationals. He was never afraid to go to help baseball lead the way with integration in the management. And with 586 career home runs, Frank was never afraid of going up to the dish and get plucked twice in the Fall Classic. Frank is one of only two players to do that! The Reds of 1961 may have lost the World Series, but Robinson served notice that he was going to be around a while!







References

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/

https://www.youtube.com/

Friday, March 6, 2015

World Series: Did You Know?

Tiny Bonham is the last known pitcher to retire the side one three pitches. The unique feat, which has only been recorded as having been done three times total, came to a pitcher whose career and life was brief.

The New York Yankees were up three games to one on the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941, and looking to put it away in game five. Having comeback and won game four, they didn't want to give Brooklyn any life. Bonham went out and pitched a gem. The Brooklyn faithful at Ebbets Field were going home disappointed!

The Yankees tallied twice in the top of the second. A wild pitch scored Charlie Keller. A single by Joe Gorden scored Bill Dickey. Whitlow Wyatt had given up three hits at this point, but settled down after this and New York got only one more runs and three more hits. It was up to Bonham to slam the door on the Dodgers.

Wyatt himself led off the bottom of the third with a double, and scored on Pete Reiser's sac fly. It was 2-1, now. Brooklyn though, would not score again on Bonham. Having given up two hits here, and an earlier triple to Reiser, Bonham would give up just one more hit from here on in!

The game was not going to be a boring affair from here anyways. New York got two on via bases on balls in the top of the fourth, but failed to score. Bonham got Brooklyn 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame, but it was not on three pitches. In the top of the fifth, Bonham's team did score.

Tommie Henrich went yard with the bases empty and one out. Old Reliable had given the Bronx Bombers the breathing room they needed. Wyatt got the next two batters out, but not without drama. Before Wyatt retired the great Joe DiMaggio himself, he had intimidated him. Some brushbacks were thrown by Wyatt during the at-bat. And by the time Joe flew out to Reiser in centre, he was mad. Wyatt and him exchanged some verbal volleys, and both benches empties. Fortunately, order was restored. Joe and Whit stayed in the game.

Wyatt seemed to feed of that exchange. The Yankees would get three more men on-base, but two of them would be retired when the very next batter grounded into a double play. Phil Rizzuto singled with two down in the top of the sixth, so the Dodgers couldn't turn two. Bonham was the batter and Wyatt fanned him. In the seventh and ninth inning, Whitlow got 'em 1-2-3.

Bonham also got 'em 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth. And the bottom of the seventh was one of the quickest half innings ever seen in World Series play.

Pee Wee Reese was the first batter. Swinging on the first pitch, he popped out to Johnny Sturm at first for the first out. The next batter was Mickey Owen. Swinging on the first pitch, he went out on a grounder to short. Augie Galan came to the dish as a pinch hitter. Again, the batter swung on the first pitch. And again he was retired. Sturm made his third putout of the inning on another pop fly.

Bonham gave up a single in the bottom of the eighth, but the Dodgers did not score. And when he again got the side 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth, New York won the game, 3-1. They also had won the 1941 World Series, four games to one.

Bonham had finished the game on a fine four-hitter. It proved to be, however, the only Fall Classic game he ever won. He stayed with the Yankees until 1946, after which he was traded to Pittsburgh. His career had started with some promise, and he posted an ERA of less than three in his first five seasons. In 1942, he topped the junior circuit with and W% of .808 courtesy of a 21-5 season. He was never that good again. He died during the 1949 season.

While Bonham may not have had a long career or life, he produced over 100 wins. And his World Series career featured a clinching-game victory over the hated Dodgers. And a nice 1-2-3 pitch seventh inning!