Saturday, September 30, 2006

September 30th, 1974

Jeremy Giambi Born

Being the brother of a major league superstar—especially one who has his greatest success with the Oakland A’s apparently—can’t be easy. Living proof of this can be seen in Ozzie Canseco and Jeremy Giambi. Ozzie and Jeremy (which sounds like a 70s cop show, by the way) seemed to handle the burden of being an inferior sibling with a notable lack of grace. Ozzie’s spent a significant amount of time in the minors and also played in Japan but his Major League career was just twenty-four games and while he and I probably don’t have a lot in common, we do have at least one thing: zero career MLB home runs. Following his career, Ozzie and his brother got into a fight outside a Miami Beach nightclub. Two years later, Ozzie violated the terms of his probation from the incident and was sentenced to several weeks in jail.

Jeremy’s Major League career was slightly better than Ozzie’s, as he played in more than five hundred games and hit more than fifty home runs. He is best remembered as a player however, for his failure to slide in Game Three of the 2001 ALDS, a failure that arguably cost the A's a trip to the World Series and inarguably helped the legend of Derek Jeter to grow. Jeremy's antics off the field are also slightly better than Ozzie's, although he managed to cost his brother once again by being cited for marijuana possession at a Las Vegas airport the same day Jason signed his seven year contract with the Yankees. I guess Jeremy was hoping that what happens in Vegas would’ve stayed in Vegas.

Friday, September 29, 2006

September 29th, 1977

Heath Bell Born

Being that I am, of course, a born-and-bred New Yorker, and therefore an avid taker of our fine Subway system; and being that Heath Bell, although a California boy himself is also an avid taker of the Subway, it only seems fitting to provide a link to this article from the New York Times. A (free) registration is required, but worth it.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

September 28th, 2006

Orioles at Yankees

Usually when I go to a ballgame, I'm too wiped out to do a real entry. Tonight I'm somewhat wiped out, but the game provided such an obvious blog topic, I'd be a fool not to take it. Daniel Cabrera, a much touted but so far unsuccessful (an ERA of nearly five in almost five hundred innings) started against the Yankees. The O's jumped to a five-run lead by the third inning, and Cabrera was pitching well, holding the Yankees hitless.

Being held hitless for a few innings is not an uncommon event, and if those innings are, for example, the third, fourth and fifth, it often goes practically unnoticed. When those innings are the first, second and third, however, a buzz begins to spread. Cabrera held the Yankees hitless and runless through until the seventh. After getting Robinson Cano to line up to third, Bobby Abreu hit a ground ball to second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts bobbled it and Abreu reached on the error. Jason Giambi struck out, but not before catcher Ramon Hernandez allowed a passed ball, moving Abreu to second. With Gary Sheffield up, Hernandez allowed another passed ball, meaning the Yankees had now sent a runner all the way to third on an error and two passed balls. Sheffield hit a knubber to third base that Melvin Mora was unable to field cleanly as Abreu scored, leading to perhaps the most unearned run in history: E4, PB, PB, E5. Hideki Matsui then grounded out, ending the "rally."

In the bottom of the ninth, Johnny Damon hit a ground ball that defensive replacement Chris Gomez fielded cleanly. That brought Cabrera two outs away, but Cano then lined a no-doubt single to left, ending the no-hitter bid. Seeing one's team nearly no-hit--Abreu quickly grounded into a double play to end the game--is a memorable experience. But the story of tonight for me will always be the Yankees seventh inning no-hit run.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

September 27th, 1965

Tink Riviere Born

That's a nickname, as you might've guessed but I did not. (Well, "Tink" could be a real name; I mean, if you really hated your baby or something.) Anyway, his given name was Arthur Riviere, he was born in 1899 in Liberty, Texas, (known as "Paris, Texas" until 2002--no, not really, I'm kidding) the same place he would pass away in sixty-six years later.

Riviere had a two-year career, appearing in limited action in both 1921 and 1925 for the Cardinals and White Sox respectively as a pitcher. Riviere wasn't especially good during his time in the Majors, finishing with a ghastly 6.28 ERA in forty-three career innings. He nonetheless lived the dream, spending nearly ten years in the minors (beginning in 1920, and going through to 1931) although he lost two of those seasons to a suspension, for what I don't know.

Following his playing career, Riviere served in the Army during the Second World War and spent much of his post-war life as an insurance agent. For the sake of Tink and his family, I can only hope he was a better insurance agent than he was pitcher.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

September 26th, 1908

Cubs at Dodgers (Doubleheader)

With all the recent talk of the Cardinals' possible collapse and the playoff scenarios therein--which include the Cardinals possibly playing back-to-back games after the "end" of the regular season just to earn their way into the playoffs--it made me think that Tony LaRussa probably wishes he had pitchers 'like they used to make.' One of those pitchers was Ed Reullbach. Reullbach went 24-7 with a good, but not great 2.03 ERA for the World Series winning 1908 Cubs. Although he didn't pitch great in the World Series, Reullbach made his mark on this day, while accomplishing a feat still not matched in the Major Leagues.

With his Cubs up just half a game in the standings on the Pirates and Giants (and actually down two games on the loss side to New York) Frank Chance had pitched his ace Three-Finger Brown two days prior and number two starter Orval Overall the previous day. The burden fell to Reullbach then to help the Cubs through the doubleheader. As it turned out, he did far more than help them.

Incredibly, Reullbach threw a shutout in both ends of the doubleheader. The Cubs won the first game by five as Reullbach gave up just five hits and the second by three when Reullbach was--astoundingly--even better giving up just three hits and a walk. As the Cubs ended up winning the pennant by just a game over both the Giants and Bucs, it seems reasonable to give a fair share of the credit to Reullbach for saving them from any chance of the "traditional" double header split. Furthermore, given the way pitchers are used today, it is likely that Reullbach will hold his record for quite a long time.

Monday, September 25, 2006

September 25th, 1917

Johnny Sain Born

"I asked Mike [Marshall] if he'd ever talked to Johnny Sain about contracts and he said he hadn't. Sain gives you good advice on how to get money out of a ballclub. John's a quiet guy and follows most of the baseball rules about keeping your mouth shut, but he's not afraid to ask for money if he thinks he deserves it. He was with the Boston Braves in 1948 the year they won the pennant. It was Spahn and Sain and then, dear Lord, two days of rain. Warren Spahn and Sain were the staff [That's not really an exaggeration by the way, they started nearly half the team's games and pitched more than forty percent of its innings--RB] and Sain really put it to John Quinn, who was the general manager. Sain had had a big argument in the spring about his contract an signed less than he wanted. Now they were just home from a western trip and fighting for the pennant and Sain went to Quinn and said "I'd like to talk about my contract"

"We'll talk about contract next winter, when it comes up," Quinn said.
"No, I'd like to talk about it now," John said.
"What the hell," Quinn said. "You signed a contract and we're going to stick by it. We can't renegotiate a contract during the season."
"Well, you're going to renegotiate this one," John said.
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Quinn sad.
"I'm suppose to pitch Thursday," Sain said. "But unless you pay me what I wanted in the beginning, I'm not pitching."

That meant it would be Spahn and rain and pray for a hurricane and then maybe a flood. So Quinn tore up his contract and gave him a new one, and John won twenty-four games. [Plus a shutout in the first game of the World Series--RB] He used to say to me, "Now, don't be afraid to climb those golden stairs. Go in there and get what you're worth."

Those golden stairs."

~Jim Bouton, Ball Four

Sunday, September 24, 2006

September 24th, 1979

Nate Cornejo Born

As I'm sure most of you know, the Tigers punched their ticket to the post season today. I think most people are happy for the Tigers and their fans in a vague sort-of way, given the depths to which the franchise fell, their success is nice to see; plus it provides hope to fans of teams like the Royals and Devil Rays that their teams might someday turn it around.

One person who must have mixed feelings about the Tigers success, however, is Nate Cornejo. (The last name is pronounced Cor-NAY-ho, if you're scoring at home.) Cornejo is a righty pitcher who came up for the Tigers as a twenty-one year old in 2001 and pitched for the next four seasons. In the Tigers' awful 2003 season, Cornejo started thirty-two games (second most on the team) and lost seventeen of them. Despite that, he was probably their best regular starter, and the only one with an ERA under five. During his time with the Tigers, Cornejo went a combined 12-29 with a 5.41 ERA. The four Tigers' teams he was on lost nearly four hundred games in four seasons.

In 2004, Cornejo had shoulder surgery that ended his season and ultimately, his career. He retired this year while in the White Sox system, unable to return to the form that brought him to the Majors. As Cornejo watched many of his one-time teammates spray each with champagne, I assume he was happy for those who had "been through the wars" with him, but probably also wistful that he wasn't enjoying one of those champagne showers himself.

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