Saturday, April 29, 2006

April 29th, 1983

Dodgers at Cubs

The game was a one-run Dodger victory, when Cubs' reliever Lee Smith threw a wild pitch that allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth. The day-game loss dropped the Cubs to 5-14, seven games behind the division leading Cardinals. The game would be largely forgotten but for the events that took place afterwards, when Cubs' manager Lee Elia met with reporters. Asked to comment on the Wrigley Field crowd, which had been booing most of the day, Elia responded with one of the most famous managerial rants of all-time. It gets a little blue at this point, so our younger readers might want to turn away.

Highlights of the rant include Elia's assertions that the Cubs had "all these so-called fucking fans...ripping every fucking thing you do," and the revelation that Wrigley Field was "a fucking playground for the cock-suckers." My personal favorite is Elia first denouncing the fans as "fucking nickel-dime people" and then observing that "the mother fuckers don't even work...they oughta go out and get a fucking job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a fucking living. Eighty-five percent of the fucking world's working. The other fifteen come out here." That's a really great line, however you slice it. The full version--and the priceless audio link, it's worth downloading--is available here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

April 28th, 1955

Dewey Robinson Born

You know what I haven't done in a while? A good "funny baseball names" kind of day. And today is a good one. "Dewey," believe it or not, was his real name: Dewey Everett Robinson. The name is Welsh in its origin, and comes from David, although the traditional Welsh (Cymraeg) spelling is "Dewi." Of course, that's coming from a language which has city names like this one, so maybe "Dewey" isn't so bad.

Also born in 1928 was "Rinty" Monahan. That's Edward Francis Monahan officially, and my best guess is that Monahan got the nickname in his childhood since "Rinty" was usually the name of the character--that's a relative term--played by Rin Tin Tin in movies during Monahan's childhood.

In the more sad department of today's deaths, there are still some good names, including Roy Thomas "Peaches" Davis, Art "Moose" Doll (no idea on the story behind that one), and Albin Oscar "Swede" Carlstrom, whom I really should've mentioned a few days back.

My favorite today however, is a 1925 birth: Clarence Westly Marshall. For some reason from the time he was born until the time he retired, Clarence acquired a nickname, and one I like. So long as history remains and we have records, a man who once won three (regular season) games for a World Series winning team--the 1949 Yankees--will be known as "Cuddles" Marshall. Cuddles. Just makes you want to find someone to hug.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

April 27th, 1975

Chris Carpenter Born

Here's a fun fact: Christ Carpenter, last year's NL Cy Young winner, has lost five games each of the last three years. His losses have been holding steady, while virtually everything else for him has been improving. In those three years, his ERA has gone from 5.28 to 3.46 to last year's 2.83; while his inning total has gone from 73 and a third to 183 all the way up to 241 and two-thirds. Perhaps most importantly for Chris, his win totals against those five losses have gone from four to sixteen to twenty-one.

That's more trivia than anything else, Carpenter has always had a lot of potential and it appears Dave Duncan (his pitching coach in St. Louis ) has finally helped him tap into it. The consistent loss number is a fun contrast to his other statistics, all of which are drifting upwards in a favorable way. Carpenter has a tough road to hoe if he's going to continue that trend, but so far this year he's 3-1, 1.91 in thirty-three innings, so I guess anything is possible. I wouldn't put my money on it, however.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 26th, 1960

Steve Lombardozzi Born

Does that look like a made-up name to anyone else? The kind of alias you come up with on short notice? "What? No, that's not me! I'm Steve. Steve Lomard..o...zzi. Yes, that'll do, Steve Lombardozzi." Real name or not, Steve had a six-year career with the Twins and Astros, including being the starter on the 1987 World Series champion Twins. (Lombardozzi had a scalding World Series that year, hitting .412 with a homer, despite hitting just twenty home runs the rest of his career.)

Ultimately, Lombardozzi was not a good enough hitter to stick as a regular, even at second base and after the 1988 season he would not play regularly and was out of the Majors for good after the 1990 season.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25th, 1994

Gordon Jones Dies

This is Gordon Jones the ballplayer, not Gordon Jones the actor who originated the role of the Green Hornet, almost thirty years before Bruce Lee became involved. This Gordon Jones was a largely mediocre pitcher; he had a dynamite rookie season (2.00 ERA in 81 innings) but was largely underwhelming thereafter, and finished with a career 4.16 ERA, 94 ERA+.

I picked Jones today because I was in one of those moods where I was scrolling the "Died On" list for my subject (apparently something about April 25th does that to me, last year was a death too). I didn't really have something in mind to do for Jones, but I thought perhaps his stat line would serve as inspiration. As it turned out, the inspiration came from his BaseballReference page, but not the way I thought.

It's easy--and often fun--to take pot shots at players but as Jones' page sponsorship, more of a dedication really, reminds me, they're all real guys with families and feelings and such. What I do here is, for the most part, in good fun. That's worth remembering.

Monday, April 24, 2006

April 24th, 1960

Baltimore at New York

There are a lot of ways to judge blowouts, what was the margin of victory? Did a position player pitch? On this day, however, the Orioles developed a new and innovative way of demonstrating they were blown out: can your team hit a grand slam in the eighth and ninth inning and still not even create a save situation? If the answer is yes, you're probably getting blown out. And on this day, the Orioles were getting blown out.

Although the O's started the day well with an Al Pilarcik home run in the top of the first, but that would be their last really good moment of the day, as the Yankee offense exploded in the bottom of the inning. Starter Jacks Fisher failed to get an out, and reliever Gordon Jones' first two batters (Elston Howard and Tony Kubek) homered, as the Yankees scored eight runs before recording an out, tying an American League record. By the end of the second inning, the Yankees were sporting an eleven run lead and the game could safely be defined as over.

In the eighth, with the score still 12-1; the O's rallied against Yankee starter Jim Coates. Batting with the bases loaded, Albie Pearson slugged a grand slam, closing the gap to a (somewhat) more reasonable seven runs. Apparently displeased with the O's insolence in attempting to mount a comeback, the Yankees turned their offense back on in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three runs to push the gap back to ten runs: 15-5 in favor of the home team.

Johnny James entered the game in the ninth for the Yankees and promptly loaded the bases with only one out. At which point Billy Klaus made him pay, driving the O's second grand slam in as many innings, and pulling them within six runs. Now, think about that for a moment. The O's had hit a grand slam in two consecutive innings, and still needed another grand slam, plus a two-run homer, just to tie the game. That's a blowout. As it happened, James would settle down, striking out the next two batters and putting this particularly impressive of a blowout to bed.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 23rd, 1977

Jason Tyner Born

Last September I wrote about Cecil Fielder's first career stolen base, and Matt LeCroy who despite nearly four hundred and fifty games has never stolen a base. Today we have the contrast, Jason Tyner. Tyner has played for the Mets, Devil Rays and Twins for parts of five seasons, totaling just over nine hundred plate appearances. Tyner, who is not a very good player truth be told, has managed as many as thirty-one steals in a season. Power however, has continued to elude him.

Over the course of his career, Tyner's season high in doubles is just eight, and despite his exceptional speed Tyner has only managed a season high of five triples. His biggest problem, however, remains the home run. Over the course of his minor league career Tyner has a grand total of zero home runs, just like you and me. Baseball players are exceptional athletes of course, but at least we mere mortals can know we have the same home run power as Jason Tyner.

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