Saturday, May 06, 2006
Israel Alcantara Born
Ok so I'm guilty of a repeat here, but this is one of my favorite blogs, albeit for the content rather than the writing. Plus is includes a dandy video link, so here we are again.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Cinco de Mayo
Don't worry, not another repeat today, although last's year entry on Mexican ballplayers is still worth reading. As I mention very briefly there, Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla. I'm very familiar with this topic from writing about it for my senior history thesis, titled "The American Civil War and Diplomatic Ramifications of French Intervention in
Anyway, seeing as last year I did something on the best Mexican ballplayers, today it seems only fair I do something to cheer up my readers of French heritage whose defeat on this date is being joyously celebrated today by the Corona Corporat--er, I mean, the people of
The France-born player with the most at-bats is actually Steve Jeltz, who was born in
So chin up France, the Battle of Puebla may have been a humiliating and unexpected defeat, but at least you've got Bruce Bochy and Charlie Lea to cheer you up!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Atlanta at Philadelphia
I'm heading out to the Nationals game tonight. On paper, it looks like a fairly underwhelming match-up, the bottom two teams in the NL East--both of whom are pretty awful--facing off in a game that will still leave the winner miles behind the division-leading Mets and pretty far south of .500. If recent Nats' attendance is anything to go on, they'll draw a crowd of about 21,000--or roughly equal to what DC United draws playing soccer in the same stadium.
I'll be there though, because I love baseball. And because of games like this one I described last year, which proves even a game which on paper appears to be a snoozer can turn into so much more.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Indians at Royals
Fans running on the field is always stupid, but perhaps never so vividly illustrated as it was on this night. In the ninth inning of a Royals' loss, twenty-two Michael Orschlin jumped on to the field in order to win a four hundred dollar bet from a friend. As it turned out, this idea was far better in theory than in execution, as Orschlin ended up delaying the game for nearly fifteen minutes as he had to be carted off the field after breaking his foot in the course of jumping over the Kaufman Stadium fences.
Compounded his misery, although Orschlin was now presumably up four hundred dollars from his bet--assuming his friend paid up, something of dubious certainty--he was actually a thousand dollars in the hole from the fine he would receive for trespassing on the field. Even with his winnings, that's still a six hundred dollar loss. All said then, Orschlin lost a whole bunch of money and broke his foot. That's why you don't run on the field.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Gates Brown Born
I like Gates Brown, and not just because he's one of only a handful of players to get into the Encyclopedia with a name that is made up of two nouns. (The nickname was a childhood one; Brown claimed he never knew its origins but preferred it to "Billy" so it stuck.) Brown was a professional pinch-hitter, a term that gets thrown around a lot. These days it generally means "a professional baseball player who is in the waning stages of his not-so-great career but is an inexplicable manager's favorite and therefore remains on the team to ground-out weakly in crucial situations when called upon as a pinch-hitter." Since that's a bit of a mouthful, most broadcasters simply shorten it to "a professional...pinch-hitter," to explain why Ruben Sierra is grounding out with runners on second and third in the seventh for the fifty-fourth time this season.
Gates Brown however, really was a professional pinch-hitter. Brown stood 5'11", 220 and despite that height is almost invariably described as "squat." Squat or not, Brown wasn't much of a defensive player but he knew how to swing the bat. Appropriately, his first Major League at-bat in 1963 was as a pinch-hitter for Don Mossi and Brown homered, bringing his Tigers within two runs of the Red Sox. Such pinch-hits soon became Brown's forte, he twice led the
The best year of Brown's career came in 1968. With pitching at its high water mark of the post World War II era, Brown was instrumental in providing the offensively-limited Tigers with enough runs to make it to the World Series. He saw time in the field in just eighteen games but appeared as pinch-hitter in nearly fifty others and hit .370 with six home runs, while posting an astounding 234 OPS+.
That was the
Monday, May 01, 2006
May 1st, 1991
I know that's a hopelessly vague description for the date, especially since given my standards, every day is 'History Made' but it's really the only way to describe a day on which two significant historical events occurred. Both are outstanding individual achievements, although they are in many ways different.
The first took place in
Sunday, April 30, 2006
Cy Rigler Signals Strike
This is a story that doesn't quite ring true for me--it's a little too neat--but that's (obviously) not going to stop me from reporting it, because even if it is apocryphal, we'll just consider it a creation myth. The story has it that Rigler was umpiring home plate at a minor-league game in
Rigler thought about this and, according to legend, became the first umpire to raise his right arm on strikes. Thereafter his friends in the outfield bleachers could now see the call on a pitch without having to strain to hear the call. The technique soon spread throughout the country as umpires realized this was a far superior way to announce calls than bellowing "BALL!" or "STRIKE!" more than two-hundred times a game. By the time Rigler made it to the Majors as an Ump the practice was standard.
Rigler would go on to a distinguished MLB career; he umpired in ten World Series, the second-most all time and was just a few weeks removed from being promoted to NL Supervisor of Umpires when he died following complication from surgery for a brain tumor. His ultimate legacy however, remains an afternoon in