Saturday, October 01, 2005

October 1st, 1963

Mark McGwire Born

I would comment on the steroids scandal with regards to Big Mac, but you know, "I'm not here to talk about the past." Oh wait, it's a history blog. Well, I'll stick to history and keep away from opinion, so how's that? Instead I'll relate one of the silly little stories I have about a handful of players. In Game Four of the 1998 World Series, McGwire was at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium to throw out the first pitch. He did so, and settled into a seat down the third base line. Midway through the game a batter lined one foul down the third base line. And who should reach out and grab the ball on the bounce? Why, Mark McGwire, of course. In my World Series video for that year, it shows the play, then declares "some men just have all the luck."

At the time it was true, but now it is probably just another reminder of how quickly luck can change. Mac played a full season the next year (and hit sixty-five home runs) but after that played just two more seasons, never appearing in more than one hundred games, and now has to live with the infinite steroid rumors swirling around. Some men may seem to have all the luck. But ultimately, luck is fleeting.

(By the way, excuse the shortness of some recent entries, the involvement of the Yankee in recent pennant races has occupied a large portion of my time. But hey, anyone want to buy me a shirt?)

Friday, September 30, 2005

September 30th, 1998

Dan Quisenberry Dies

Dan Quisenberry was a reliever, primarily for the Royals in the eighties. It is an oversimplification to say Quiz was the reason the Royals finally got by the Yankees in the ALCS in 1980 after losing to them in 1976-78, but the Yankees won Game Five (the final game in LCS game in those days) in both 1976 and 1977 in the ninth inning, a situation that might not have occurred if Quiz was closing then.

He was also a genuinely funny man, as his collection of quotes including philosophy on his wind-up ("I found a delivery in my flaw"), the grass vs. Astroturf debate ("Natural grass is a wonderful thing for little bugs and sinkerball pitchers") and reliever usage ("A manager uses a reliever like a six shooter, he fires until it's empty then he takes the gun and throws it at the villain"). Like Casey Stengel, a lot of those quotes show a wisdom lurking below the amusing surface.

Quisenberry was just forty-five when he died from a brain tumor, too young, of course, and is missed around baseball, but especially in
Kansas City.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

September 29th, 1986

Cubs Play at Phillies

Ah, it is these kinds of games that keep me going. This was a fairly routine one featuring the Cubs (who ended the year 70-90) and Phillies (86-75) playing out the string on a late September afternoon at the Vet. The Cubs would triumph 8-3 with their starter, a rookie, scattering ten hits and three runs around seven and two-thirds innings, striking out seven against no walks. The Phils' starter--also a rookie--was unable to match his counterpart's performance, going just three innings. In that time he allowed six hits, one walk and three runs while recording just one strikeout.

So why is this otherwise run-of-the-mill game one that stands out? Because of just who that pair of rookie pitchers were and what they had in common. The latter category was their parents, as the rookies were brothers, the first ever rookie brothers to oppose each other as starting pitchers. And which pair of brothers was it? Why, the Maddux brothers naturally. That's Greg--of three hundred eighteen wins, and counting--and Mike--of thirty-nine. Greg is still pitching for the Cubs (after a long and successful stretch in
Atlanta, of course) while Mike is now the pitching coach for the Brewers. It seems appropriate that Greg, the clearly superior pitcher of the pair, would triumph in their first head-to-head Major League battle.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

September 28th, 1970

Mike DeJean Born

Today we discuss one of the great novels in the English canon, Mike DeJean's A Tale of Two Seasons. Ok, so that's an old joke, and not an especially good one even when it was new. But for DeJean, it was certainly true. DeJean started the 2004 season with the Orioles and pitched, in a word, awfully. DeJean appeared in thirty-seven game s for the O's, pitching a total of thirty-nine and two-thirds innings. In those thirty-nine and two-thirds DeJean allowed an impressive forty-nine hits and twenty-eight walks for a total of 1.94 runners allowed per inning. All those runs turned into forty-three earned runs for an ugly 6.13 ERA, good for twenty-two percent worse than league average.

Incredibly, despite all that, the Mets decided to take a chance on DeJean, exchanging him for "Who Is" Karim Garcia. Even more incredible however, was DeJean's performance in
New York. DeJean appeared in seventeen games for the Mets, totaling twenty-one and a third innings. DeJean gave up twenty one hits in those innings, or just over one an inning, better but not significantly so than his time in Baltimore. However, what was better was DeJean's walks. While in Baltimore he was walking 6.3 men per nine innings. In New York, DeJean walked just five men, good for a sparkling 1.1 walks per nine innings. Combined with an increased strikeout rate, DeJean put up an equally sparkling 1.69 ERA, good for one hundred fifty-three percent better than league average.

So what separated DeJean's seasons? Advice from Mets' pitching coach Rick Peterson? Luck? I guess I'd lean towards the latter, given DeJean managed a 6.31 ERA with the Mets at the beginning of the season--although, to his credit, he has pitched better with the Rockies in the second half of the season. Maybe that's just Mike's time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

September 27th, 2002

Richard Barbieri Attends First Game With Scorebook

I've described this game before, the first I attended with my own personal scorebook, the same one I still have. I occasionally page through it with the intention of pulling out a column or two out of it, but besides that (rather strange in retrospect) Mondesi entry, I never have. Until today, that is. I thought it would be fun, and interesting, to go down the list of the best player I've seen at every position in games I've attended with my scorebook. So here they are, the Richard Barbieri's Scorecard (through 2005) All-Stars:

C, Mike Piazza, June 1st, 2003: And it isn't even close.

Albert Pujols, August 26th, 2005: You could, I suppose, label this as premature, but I don't see it. Pujols is going to end up as one of the greatest hitters who ever lived, maybe even one of the top ten, and half the reason I went to that specific Nationals' game was to see
Prince Albert. He was 0-for-4 with two long fly outs but nonetheless holds the first base spot on this team.

Jose Vidro, May 24th, 2003: The weakest position on my 'team' by miles and miles; Alfonso Soriano would probably be an equally good choice. On the whole however, I have seen a shocking collection of mediocrities trotted out at the keystone: Luis Lopez, Joe McEwing, Terry Shumpert and of course, the immortal Desi Relaford.

Alex Rodriguez, May 12th, 2004: I've also seen A-Rod at shortstop, but more as a third baseman so he gets the hot corner. Besides choosing where to put him, this one is a no-brainer. Rodriguez is one of the game's great hitters and an excellent defensive player.

Derek Jeter, September 27th, 2002: Jeter is probably overrated in some circles, notably those led by Tim McCarver, but he's still a great hitter and one of the best shortstops to play the game. His major shortcoming is his defense, but frankly, it won't much matter on this squad.

Manny Ramirez, April 4th, 2003: Another truly great hitter whose defense--and personality--are all just part of the package. But what the hell, in the game I saw him in, he was part of a 7-6-2 relay to nail the winning run at home plate, so maybe he'd play some D after all.

Ken Griffey, Jr., May 18th, 2005: It is a shame that the shambles Griffey's career became once he left Seattle has more or less obscured for so many just how truly great he was during his time with the M's. He earns the spot over one my personal favorite players, Bernie Williams.

Vladimir Guerrero, May 24th, 2003: Probably the hardest choice here, between Guerrero and Gary Sheffield. Both are fantastic hitters with strong arms in right field,
Sheffield probably more consistent out there while Guerrero is capable of better plays. It is basically a toss-up but I give it to Guerrero because he's never quite been the malcontent Sheffield often was.

SP: Roger Clemens, August 5th, 2003: I've also seen Randy Johnson, Mark Mulder, Mike Mussina and Johan Santana, but this is an easy one.

RP: Mariano Rivera, September 27th, 2002: Also one I barely need to think about, and not just because the other closers I've seen range towards the Mike Williams level. Interestingly, the first game I saw Rivera he actually appeared as a set-up man as Joe Torre tuned up his team for the post-season.

So there you have it, the Scorebook All-Stars. If I was managing this team, I'd like my chances.

Monday, September 26, 2005

September 26th, 1976

Last Home Run Hit at Parc Jarry

Here's an easy trivia question, who has the most home runs at Stade Olympique in Montreal? Right, Vladimir Guerrero (one hundred twenty six, if you're curious). A slightly harder one, who has the most home runs by a visitor? Got a guess? Barry Bonds, with thirty (all but two, incidentally, before he met Victor Conte). The last Olympic Stadium home run? Struck by Florida's Miguel Cabrera on September 29th, 2004, which segues us nicely then, into a signifigantly harder department of home run in Parc Jarry.

The all-time PJ home run leader? Rusty Staub? Good guess, but while Le Grande Orange hit eight-two home runs during his Expos tenure, and nearly three hundred during his career, it's not him. The answer is the otherwise forgettable Ron Fairly, who spent eleven years with the Dodgers and six and a half with the Expos but nonetheless holds the home run record for the Expos' first home with fifty-eight. The leader visitor? My first thought was Hank Aaron, but, no, not him. Any guesses? The answer is "Pops" Willie Stargell, who hit seventeen of his career four hundred seventy-five home runs at Parc Jarry. And now finally, the Ultra Deluxe Bonus Points Trivia Questions, today's title. Who hit the last home run? Anyone? Update: The last home run ever hit there came off the bat of the Philles' Greg Luzinski.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

September 25th, 1969

Tony Womack Born

As I am slightly overwhelmed with school work today, today will have to be a linkback to a previous entry. In honor of today's birthday boy--one of my least favorite ballplayers--I'll give you a link to my rant from earlier this year about my least favorite players. A list which remains basically unchanged, even though I was, as I think I've said before, a bit harsh on poor Michael Restovich.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Listed on BlogShares