Archive for August, 2005

Today in Baseball History

Monday, August 15th, 2005

All my gratitude to The Baseball Page folks.

On August 15, 1916, future Hall of Famers Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox and Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators engage in a memorable pitching duel at Fenway Park. Ruth defeats Johnson, 1-0, in a 13-inning classic.

On August 15, 1911, the Cleveland Naps release future Hall of Famer Cy Young. The legendary righthander will sign a contract with Boston, where he will finish out the season and complete his career with an all-time record of 511 wins.

On August 15, 1965, the San Francisco Giants celebrate ìMasanori Murakami Dayî at Candlestick Park, in honor of the first Japanese-born player to make the major leagues. Usually a relief pitcher, Murakami makes his first and only major league start that day, as the Giants defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, 15-9.

On August 15, 1990, Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics becomes the first major league player to hit 30 or more home runs in each of his first four seasons. McGwireís 30th home run – a 10th inning grand slam – gives the Aís a 6-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

On August 15, 1989, Dave Dravecky of the San Francisco Giants breaks his arm in making his second start after a return from cancer surgery. Although Dravecky earns a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Expos, he will never pitch in the major leagues again.

On August 15, 1945, Commissioner Happy Chandler negotiates a contract to have Gillette become the sponsor of the World Series, replacing Ford Motot Company. The razor company pays a record $150,000 for its affiliation with the Fall Classic, surpassing the $100,000 price tag previously paid by Ford, which had been the World Series sponsor since 1934.

On August 15, 1978, the Oakland Aís trade veteran slugger Willie Horton to the Toronto Blue Jays for another aging hitting star, Rico Carty. As part of the deal, the Blue Jays also receive a minor league pitcher. Horton, who batted .314 in 32 games for the Aís, will join his third team in 1978 after starting the season with the Cleveland Indians.

On August 15, 1965, Washington Senators third baseman Ken McMullen ties a major league record by starting four double plays in one game. McMullenís defensive efficiency helps the Senators defeat the Baltimore Orioles, completing a three-game sweep of their geographic rivals.

On August 15, 1955, future Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle ties a major league mark by switch-hitting home runs for the second time in his career. Mantleís pair of homers help lift the Yankees to a 12-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

On August 15, 1958, one of the greatest Cub fans in history is born in a hospital in Auburn, Indiana. He grows up to idolize such greats as Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ryne Sandburg and Mark Grace. His other favorite player is Freddy Patek of the Royals.

Later, much of the joy and magic of the game would be replaced with cynicism and disillusionment. But even the juiced players and the Cubs scalping their own fans wouldn’t totally dampen his spirits. Through it all, he realizes that Baseball remains the greatest game and always will be. At 47, I’m beginning to wonder if the Cubs will ever win it all in my lifetime.

Keep Hope Alive.

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Book Review: Juicing the Game

Monday, August 15th, 2005

I know what you’re thinking. “Not another book about steroids and Major League Baseball…I’m sick of the whole topic”. Well, I ask you to give this particular book a chance. I first heard about Juicing the Game while listening to the author, Howard Bryant, being interviewed on WGN radio as part of his book tour. I turned it on in the middle of the interview, and Bryant was basically retelling some of the anecdotes from the book. The truth is, the stories he told were so good, I wrote down the title at the end of the interview, and went out and purchased it the next day. My only fear was that Bryant had perhaps used all the best material on the radio show, leaving me to read nothing but filler. Turns out, my fears were baseless. To say Bryant’s book is about steroid use sells “Juicing” short. Bryant does not just give us the standard nuts and bolts about steroids and home runs. Instead, Bryant shows the reader how baseball culture changed to the point that the home run became so important that players, owners and press were willing to overlook baseball’s steroid problem as long as everybody was making money. In doing so, Bryant has written what may one day be considered the definitive history of baseball from 1992 to the present. Luckily for the author, baseball has provided him a compelling cast of characters, including: Fay Vincent, Bud Selig, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Cal Ripken, Donald Fehr, and George Steinbrenner. And while most people have fairly strong preconceived notions about what these men are like, Bryant does a good job of trying to show us the full picture of each one. Thus you may come away thinking that Fay Vincent is not quite the martyr he claims to be, that Giambi is more than just a cheating scumbag, that Steinbrenner’s distaste for the small market owners is not totally unfounded. I also found Bryant’s portrayal of Barry Bonds to be extremely even handed, although it didn’t do much to change my opinion of him.

The main drawback to “Juicing” is that it covers so much ground that it’s bound to run across some subject that doesn’t interest a particular reader. However, I found there was more than enough there to entertain me, and that many of the side stories were as interesting as the main narrative. Included among these were Sandy Alderson’s crushing of the umpires union, the full story of the Questec system and a look inside the contentious relationship between the big and small market ownerships in baseball. The only other downside I can think of is that people who saw me carrying “Juicing the Game” around would incredulously ask me “you’re reading Jose Canseco’s book?“.

In conclusion, if you’ve got any interest in baseball history, and what goes on behind the scenes with players and ownership, I cannot recommend this book more highly. It will definitely change the way you think about the game.

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Top 10 Fav. Fans (Part 2)

Saturday, August 13th, 2005

I apologize for not getting this posted yesterday, but it was the first day back to work after a long summer break. So, without further delay, here is # 7 and 8.

# 8 – The know it all
It seems like just about every game I go to, I sit right next to, in front of, or behind one of these guys. In case you’re not familiar with this type of fan, it’s the only one that comes with his own sidekick. This is the fan that is at the game and persists to talk the entire game as if he was a high up official in one of the teams organizations. He proclaims to his sidekick, who is almost always a complete baseball moron, all this meaningless info that a lot of times is wrong and the sidekick just listens in amazement. Each time I sit by this fan, I am so tempted to begin a banter back and forth to show him up in front of his admiring friend. It’s almost like the desire of guy to show up another guy in front of his hot girlfriend. Each time, I refrain myself and instead, sit in annoyance at yet another of my favorite fans.

# 7 – The Bartman
Before you get your panties in a bunch, no, Steve Bartman is not at each game I attend. However, there are many Bartman’s at each game that affect it each and everyday. It drives me insane when a ball is hit hard down the line and a fan reaches over the fence and snags it while it’s still in play. Can they not see that the umpire just signaled “Fair Ball”? Instead of seeing the play finish itself out, we are left to watch a ground rule double. To make matters worse, these fans are NEVER dealt with by security. In my opinion, if you reach into the field of play and affect a ball that is IN PLAY in any way, you should immediately be ejected from the stadium, no exceptions. It’s impossible to make a mistake on this. Just don’t reach over the fence. If parks will not make that rule, then here is another idea. Put 2 feet of distance between the fans and the wall down the line. This can be done by either removing a row of seats OR by moving the wall in by 2 feet. Both would result in the team losing money (seats) or spending money (wall), but in the end, it would assure that what’s hit in play, stays in play.

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Goat of the Day Award (part 2)

Friday, August 12th, 2005

On the heels of the hidden ball trick…


Todayís dubious winner isÖ.

K Rod

FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ, Angels closer. With the winning run on third, ìK-Rodî missed the throwback toss from his catcher after a thrown pitch. Game over. The play dropped the Angels into second behind the Aís, who they were playing at the time.

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Thru Cub Eyes: Jamie Moyer

Friday, August 12th, 2005

Hard to believe the Cubs had Jamie (the Energizer Bunny has nothing over this guy!) not once but twice. No games were pitched the second time and was released in March of 1992. All of our Friday excerpts are from Carrie Muskatís compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Moyer begins with the day he and Dave Martinez were called up from Iowa. It is June, 1986.


We were late but it was the first flight we could get out. We walk up to the gate and they say ìWhat are you guys doing?î

ìCan you tell us how to get in the clubhouse?î

ìWell, I canít let you in.î

ìWe were just called up from Des Moines.î

ìWell, who are you?î

ìDave Martinez and Jamie Moyer.î

ìWell, I canít let you in. Nobody said you could come in.î

So we finally talked our way in and unloaded the cab and just set our bags in the parking lot. We get inside and guys were out on the field. I got dressed quickly and went out on the field and didnít get much done.

We went back in the clubhouse, and one of the first memories I have of being on the team was going out for the national anthem ñ I was late ñ and we had to be in the dugout at a certain time. So Iím standing there, and I took my hat off and put it over my heart, and my hand is just quivering. And Leon Durham was standing beside me, and in the middle of the national anthem he goes, ìDonít worry kid, weíve all been that way.î It was just like a ton of bricks fell off my shoulders. Thatís a fond memory I have of him saying that.

I donít recall the date, but I know it was my first start in Chicago against what Iíll call my boyhood idol, Steve Carlton. I grew up outside Philadelphia, so I grew up watching the Phillies, not necessarily liking the Phillies. I didnít have a favorite baseball team as a young kid. I found it too boring to watch. I was hyperactive.

It was a pretty neat situation. It was my first major league start, first time being in the major leagues. I had never been to Chicago, I had never been to Wrigley Field and really had no expectations on getting to the big leagues. It all happened so quick. I donít think I grasped or understood where I was or what I was doing. Being able to pitch at Wrigley Field was pretty awesome , but also being able to pitch against my idol I think was then ultimate.

I came out of the game with a lead and we hung on and won the game, so it was a great day. I was able to have my first major league start and win it, and on the other side of the field beat Steve Carlton, so it was a very, very memorable day.

I think the biggest thing is, Iíve always believed I could pitch. I donít think I had the success that I would have liked to have had when I ws here, but I was a young kid ñ and thatís not an excuse, but I was feeling my way through it. After I had a couple yearsí experience, I believed that I could pitch.

When the Cubs did release me the second time, they offered me a coaching job. I was 29 and felt I could coach the rest of my life, but I still believed that I could pitch. Itís just being in the right situation and getting the right opportunities. Did I know I was going to get that? I did not know. But deep down, I really believed that I could still pitch and thatís what kept me going.

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