Saturday, November 30, 2013

World Series: Did You Know?

In addition to meeting in the very first World Series, The Pirates and Red Sox have something else in common?

Most Batting Titles by Team, AL: Boston, 24

Most Batting Titles by Team, NL: Pittsburgh, 25

I knew about Williams and Yaz, but I was thinking, "Who won it all those times in Pirate territory? Clemente and Stargell all those times? At the same time, who won all those other ones for the Red Sox?

By comparison, the Mets, Astros, Diamondbacks, Brewers, A's (There Oakland chapter) and Devil Rays have combined for zero batting titles in their history.

The Pirate that I seemed to have forgotten about was Honus Wagner. How many batting titles? Try 8. This was in the early days of baseball. His first came right at the turn of the century, 1900.

Paul Waner, whose brother Lloyd was pretty good hitter in his own right, won 2 in the 30s. But here is something interesting: another Pirate won that season whose names escaped me!

Arky Vaughan won the batting crown in 1935. Waner's two were in the surrounding years.

It would be a while before the Pirates had another winner.

I'm surprised to find it wasn't Roberto Clemente! It was actually Dick Groat, who won it in 1960. The Pirates won it all that year.

Clemente won it the next year and 3 more times in the decade.

Dave Parker, who in '91 was on my Jays (and on the Brew Crew above), won back-to-back in 1977 and '78. Another Pirate, Bill Madlock, won 2 in the early 1980s. Then came a dry spell.

Freddie Sanchez won it in 2006. He is the last Pirate to date to do that!

Boston was a little easier. Look in left field. Duffy, Williams and Yaz, Rice. No problem, right?

I was wrong about Duffy. He played for an earlier Boston team in the National League, which is now the Braves!

In an event, the first Red Sox to win the batting crown (solely in Boston) was Jimmy Foxx. Double X himself! It was 1938.

Now, Dale Alexander won it in 1930, but he only played 101 games for the Red Sox that year. He played 23 with the Tigers. Should we count that? Hard to say. A first of sorts!

Williams' 1941 (.406, but actually .411 if you count the 5 sacrifice flies he hit that year) was his first. Then he won it again the next year. In all The Splendid Splinter took home 5 batting titles. How many more would he have won had he not missed 1943-1945 in WW2 about half of 1950 and 1955. Plus 1952 and 1953 were lost to Korea. Even 1954 was not enough, as he broke his collarbone and missed 37 games. Under today's rule, he would have had enough plate appearances to win. But under those rules, he didn't have enough at bats. Williams finished with 386 ABs. He needed 400.

Pete Runnels edged out Williams for the crown in 1960, then won it again 2 years later. 1963 brought us Carl Yastzremski's first of three. But his 1968 one always makes me smile: .301 (batting averages were just that far down that season)

Fred Lynn, despite injuries that plagued him in his career, took home the crown in 1979. Then came a surprise 2 seasons later, as Carney Lansford won it.

Most recently for Boston, Wade Boggs won it five times from 1983 to 1988.

Norman Garciaparra got the Red Sox on the board in the 1990s for batting titles. But it took him until 1999 to do so. But he made sure to win one the next year, making the Red Sox the first team to win batting titles in the 20th and 21st century!

Manny Ramirez and Billy Mueller combined to give Boston another instance of back-to-back batting titles in 2002 and 2003.

Boston has been shutout of the batting titles since, as of this writing. But one World Series 110 years ago, brought together two teams that produced the most batting titles won for each league!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pyramid Power: How It Helped Toronto, And How It Still Can!

The Leafs of the 70s weren't a great team, but they were an exciting team.

The lacked the depth to compete with teams like Boston in the early 70s, Philly in the mid 70s and the Habs in the late 70s.

Having made it to the quarter-finals in 1976, they faced the Flyers again. The Flyers were coming off their second straight Stanley Cup in 1975.

The two teams had met in the same round in '75 and the Flyers needed the minimum games (4), to oust the Leafs, who had surprised Los Angeles in the first round. So here the Leafs were, with some good goaltending by Wayne Thomas.

Darryl Sittler, fresh off his 6 goal, 4 assist game Feb. 7th vs. the Bruins, was the first Leaf to get 100 points in one season. Lanny McDonald had 93. Errol Thompson had 80.

And from the blueline, the Leafs were among the league's best. Borje Salming had 57 points and Ian Turnbull (who never could quite overcome the laziness) had 20 goals.

But the Leafs problem was in net. Thomas (who had once played for the Canadians) was 28-24-12 with a 3.19 GAA and a .900 S%.

Thomas was a strange one. He'd look brilliant one night and erratic the next. And when he got off to a slow start in 1976/77, he was on the way out. Mike Palmateer would be the man in Toronto for the next 4 seasons.

But Thomas suddenly was playing well and consistant in the playoffs. The Leafs defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 2 games to 1 in the opening round. But if not for Thomas, the result could have been a lot different.

Stopping 35 of 36 shots in the opener, Thomas was the winner in a 4-1 Toronto triumph.

In game 2, Wayne was good again, but this time the Pens took it, 2-0. Thomas stopped 47 of 48 shots, allowing just a second period goal by the other star McDonald (MacDonald, that is!) in the league. But it was Lowell's goal (fresh off a fine 30 goal, 73 point season of his own) that would be the only puck that got by either goaltender that night. The Pens added an empty-netter to seal it. Michel Plasse stopped all 21 shots directed at him for the win. The Penguins were not going away quietly.

Plasse is a good story too, btw. For you trivia buffs, read along. For those that aren't, skip down a few paragraphs and miss out on some interesting stuff.

Plasse was the first professional goaltender to score a goal, if you can believe it. It wasn't in the NHL, though. That's why you haven't heard of this.

It was a Central Hockey League game on Feb 21, 1971. Plasse, playing for the Kansas City Blues (The baseball fan in me says that was also the name of the top minor league team of the New York Yankees from 1936-1954), scored a goal (into an empty net, of course) against the Oklahoma City Blazers.

The Leafs would prove to be too much for Plasse and Pittsburgh in game 3, alas.

Getting exactly 12 shots on goal in each of the 3 periods, the Leafs got 4 by Michel. The Pens couldn't get a thing by Wayne while all this was happening, and the Leafs were back in the quarter-finals.

But it was the Flyers who were too much for the Leafs. Thomas was looking at Bernie Parent from 200 feet away. And that's about how far in talent that Thomas was from Parent!

A decisive 4-1 win in game one (despite Thomas' 40 saves on 44 shots), and then a 3-1 win (despite Toronto outshooting the Flyers 32-27) found the Flyers up 2-0. That's 6 straight postseason losses to Philly, by the way.

Another sweep?

Not so fast!

Not so violent!

Well, it was certainly violent as the Leafs came home on April 15th. This game had it all!

The Flyers earned 28 penalties on this night, 26 in the first two periods alone! If you can believe it, Toronto scored 5 powerplay goals. And they needed all them, since the Flyers scored 4 goals themselves. Yeah, the Leafs failed to score a goal at even strength or short-handed. But a win is a win, right?

Well, Salming lost a one-sided fight to Don Saleski. Saleski so battered Salming that the Toronto police sought to charge Don with assault causing bodily harm! Joe Watson and Mel Bridgman were also nailed with criminal offences in this game. The Leafs used stuff like these to pepper Bernie Parent, coming off his second straight Conn Smythe award, with 52 shots!

Salming scored an inspirational goal in game 4, as the Leafs took this one, 4-3. Salming got an ovation that lasted 3 minutes. The Leafs had tied the Series.

But the Flyers untied it in game 5 as Saleski didn't do any fighting. In fact, he never even made it to the penalty box in this game. But what Donald did was more than enough!

He scored a hat-trick as the Flyers had 6 goals behind Thomas.  Gord McRae came in to play the final 13 minutes. It was all Flyers, 7-1.

So something had to be done in game 6 back at Maple Leaf Gardens. Something a tad bit desperate.

Red Kelly was the Leaf's coach one fine Leaf from the past. (Leaf fans will never forget the image of him passing the puck to Pulford, who dished it off to Armstrong. Armstrong then popped the puck into the unguarded Montreal net, May 2, 1967. It clinched the Stanley Cup for the Leafs) Kelly decided to try and invoke some kind of power into the Leafs dressing for this crucial game.

As in pyramid power.

Now I'll confess, this blogger knows jack about the powers that pyramids produce. But if you're one game away from calling it a year, I'm open to just about anything to prolong it.

Well, it was a game very similar to game 3. Violence, fan and police involvement. The Flyers of the 70s? You get the idea. But this night, it was Darryl Sittler who had a statement to make.

Did pyramids have anything to do with it? I guess they did.

Prior to the game, it was Kelly who put small pyramids under the Leaf bench. Red went one step further when he erected a bigger pyramid in the Leaf dressing room! Put your sticks under it for good luck!

While I'm writing this, I got my hockey stick in my lap. One problem, though. No pyramid. You can't win 'em all!

But Darryl Sittler was one of the Leafs who put his stick under the huge cone. And he went out and scored 5 goals. It was his 4th goal that was cool, I thought.

Taking a pass from Claire Alexander around center ice, Sittler went right through the Flyers' D and scored on a low shot. And this was after he was tripped.

Toronto went on to win the game, 8-5. But the Flyers again beat the Leafs handily in game 7.

But you might be interested to more about the pyramid man, Red Kelly.

Back in his playing days, Red was a tweener. A politician and a hockey player.

Kelly was elected to the House of Commons in 1962. After serving there for three years, it was back to just hockey. But during that time, he also played for the Leafs.

Now the thing about need to know something right now! Anyone here tired about Ford?

Well, this blogger played and old computer game called Civilization back in the early to mid 90s. This was back in the DOS age for all you computer tekkie nerds out there!

Anyways, pyramids played a huge part in Civilization. Indeed, they allowed a change in government without anarchy. A quick switch. Toronto needs a pyramid right now. It would solve everything.

Their hockey team doesn't, by the way. Bernier and Reimer are each playing with pyramid power already this season.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

And Who Will Ever Forget About "The Monster" 1963? Part 2

So how else does the 1963 season of Dick Radatz compare to Hiller and others?

Let's look:

Name Year S BS S% H ERA K K/9 WHIP WAR
Konstanty 1950 22 4 0.846 0 2.66 56 3.32 1.039 4.7
Wilhelm 1952 11 1 0.917 1 2.43 108 6.11 1.155 2.7
Face 1959 10 9 0.526 1 2.70 69 6.67 1.243 3.2
McDaniel 1960 26 6 0.813 1 1.29 95 8.21 0.863 6.0
Arroyo 1961 29 10 0.744 1 2.19 87 6.58 1.109 3.3
Radatz 1963 25 3 0.893 0 1.97 162 11.00 1.096 5.7
Perranoski 1963 21 8 0.724 0 1.67 75 5.23 1.202 4.5
Regan 1966 21 7 0.750 1 1.62 88 6.82 0.934 5.0
Hiller 1973 38 0 1.000 0 1.44 124 8.92 1.021 8.1
Tekulve 1979 31 6 0.838 8 2.79 75 5.00 1.176 3.2
Hernandez 1984 32 1 0.970 0 1.92 112 7.19 0.941 4.8
Eichhorn 1986 10 4 0.714 7 1.72 166 9.52 0.955 7.4
Wetteland 1993 43 1 0.977 0 1.37 113 11.95 1.008 4.2