Saturday, November 05, 2005
Derek Jeter Wins Rookie of the Year Award
Having pointed out the number of times the Rookie of the Year award has ended up looking real stupid a few years down the road, it only seems fair to point out some times the voters got it right on both the best rookie of the year and the player who would develop into a great. Such a year was 1996 when the American League voters overwhelmingly gave the award to Derek Jeter, who won all twenty-eight first place votes. 2001 was a good year for both leagues, as every first place vote in the National League went to Albert Pujols while the
Getting it right isn't just a recent phenomenon, however. 1974 saw another legendary figure in the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry accumulate all the first place votes; this time it was
Friday, November 04, 2005
Bobby Wallace Born
Wallace is in the Hall of Fame, a choice of the Veterans' Committee in 1953 which was reflective in part of Wallace's longevity (he was in baseball in some capacity or another for nearly sixty years) rather than his particular Hall worthiness. He's not the worst choice in there, anyway.
I've written before about players who see the league change around them as their careers progress. As true as that was for Claude Osteen, it was really true for Bobby Wallace. Wallace made his debut in 1894 for the Cleveland Spiders. That year the National League had twelve teams, some you would know today--the Cubs, Reds, Pirates and Phillies were all their familiar homes--but with some notable differences, such as the Baltimore Orioles (no association with the current franchise), the St. Louis Browns (today's Cardinals) and the Louisville Colonels. Wallace appeared in only a few games for the Spiders, all as a pitcher. In 1895 he joined Cy Young (who went 35-10) in the Spiders' rotation but in 1896 he appeared in an equal number of games as a pitcher and outfielder and by 1897 had been converted fully to a position player.
Wallace manned the hot corner for the Spiders in '97 and '98 but was traded--as part of an infamous mass exodus--to the St. Louis 'Perfectos' in 1899, thereby avoiding the fate of being on the shockingly bad 1899 Spiders team who lost 134 games and finished thirty-six games out of eleventh place. With the turn of the century came a new-look league as the NL dropped to just eight teams, all of which remain in the league under various names to this day. After a few seasons in
When he retired after the 1918 season--back with
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Matt Lawton Born
Everyone has, I think, heard the old one-liner "So, other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the theatre?" Well, that's a feeling with which Matt Lawton can certainly sympathize. As he wakes up today to his thirty-fourth Lawton will not only be rapidly approaching--if not have already reached--the age at which he will no longer be effective as a player, but also suffering on two fronts. For one thing,
So, other than that, Mr.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Dutch Zwilling Born
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Edward Bennett Williams Buys Orioles
Now, to be fair, Williams is not the best example of this, he didn't strictly speaking sell the team; it was sold by his estate in 1993. However, the profit made reflects just how good an investment a sports franchise can be. Adjusted for inflation, Williams' 1979 purchase of the Orioles cost roughly $26.5 million in "1993 dollars." However, the team was sold was to a Peter Angelos led group for $173 million, a pure profit of $160.7 million and one adjusted for inflation at $146.5 million. Williams then, could've lost nearly ten and a half million a year running the team and still broken even upon its sale. As I said, Williams' estate rather than the man himself was the beneficiary of the profit, but it is a number worth remembering the next time your local team owner cries poverty.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Matt Nokes Born
While Scott Brosius is fairly secure in his status as my favorite player of all-time, Matt Nokes will always hold a special place in my heart as my first favorite player. Nokes was a catcher who began his career in
The 1990 Yankees were a dire squad, losing ninety-five games, the worst Yankees team on a win-loss basis since 1908 Highlanders and still the second worst ever. They had six regulars hitting .250 or worse, including catcher Bob Geren who hit .213/.259/.325 with just eight home runs across two hundred seventy-seven at-bats. Nokes' arrival then, was something of a revelation for a six year-old, as Matt hit four home runs in his first sixty at-bats while wearing the pinstripes. Adding to my fondness was the fact that although Nokes--like virtually every catcher--threw right handed, like me, he hit left handed. My father, a patient soul if ever there was one, actually purchased me a left-handed catcher's mitt (God only knows where you'd find one of those) and a catcher's mask to humor my desire to emulate my hero, who led the Yankees in homers in 1991 and was second on the team with twenty-two jacks in 1992. By 1993 however, the beginnings of the team that would evolve into the Yankee Dynasty was forming and Nokes was relegated to part-time status behind Mike Stanley.
Unless my memory fails me--always a possibility--the last time I saw Nokes was during this game when he struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth with the tying runs on base. He saw limited time for the Yankees during their 1994 season, but had moved onto
Sunday, October 30, 2005
John Montefusco Wins Rookie of the Year Award
With the 2005 Rookie of the Year Awards due to be announced a week from tomorrow, I thought today would be a good opportunity to look back on the award. Rookie of the Year is funny thing, because it is voted--ostensibly--on the performance of a player that year, rather than their future chances. This often results in votes that appear, with benefit of hindsight and without benefit of context, as absurd. The National League 1975 vote, for example, seems comical. Although John "The Count" Montefusco had an average career as a pitcher (he would finish 90-83, 3.54), the man he beat out is an all-time great, and Class of 2003 Hall of Famer, Gary Carter. But push-come-to-shove, Montefusco was simply a better player in 1975, going 15-9 with a 2.88 ERA. Carter was no slouch himself, he hit .270/.360/.416 while splitting time behind the dish and in the outfield (he wouldn't become a full time catcher until 1977) but "The Count" was simply better.
Blessed with hindsight and ignorant of context, it is almost impossible to find a period longer than three to four years when a vastly inferior player triumphed over a superior one. In 1974 George Brett finished behind Mike Hargrove--who had managed the Indians for three years by the time Brett retired--and Bucky Dent. The National League's 1982 award went to Steve Sax, while another second baseman, Ryne Sandberg (Hall of Fame Class of 2005) languished in ninth place. In 1984, Alvin Davis won the award over both Kirby Puckett and Roger Clemens. In 1995 Marty Cordova won the award but has seen the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth place finishers all emerge as better players than he. All of those awards however, were defensible at worst and correct at best. Something to remember next time you stroll down the list of Rookie of the Year award winners and see names like Bob Hamelin (1994 AL over Manny Ramirez) and Wally Moon (1954, over Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron) on the list.