October 31, 2009

Clay Zavada wins “Mustached American of the Year”

Thanks in part to the endorsement of The Hall of Very Good, Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Clay Zavada took home The American Mustache Institute's coveted "Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year".

Other people finished behind the Streator, IL native Zavada, but let's be honest...it doesn't matter. Feel free to read what the AMI had to say HERE!



BallHype: hype it up!

October 28, 2009

Mark McGwire...hitting coach?

Mark McGwire being named hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals is not that big of a deal, baseball fans.

Trust me.

You know how I know? Mickey Hatcher, Kevin Long and Joe Vavra led their teams to the three highest batting averages in the Majors and NO ONE knows who they are.


Matter of fact, I had to look it up.

What you've got here is, in my opinion, two things...(A) Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa throwing a bone to a buddy so that said buddy can (B) get his name back in the news so that he can garner more than the third of the necessary votes he has been getting to make it into the Hall of Fame.

This is more of a "let's get the gang back together" move than it is an effort to raise the National League's third best team batting average. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

I mean, honestly...how is Mark McGwire going to help the Cardinals hitters? They were in the top six or seven (above the league average) in every major hitting category and third from the bottom in strikeouts.

Whatever they were doing worked.

That being said...I think Albert Pujols could be getting hitting tips from Fredbird and he'd still end up swinging the best bat in the National League.


BallHype: hype it up!

The season that was...September

Alright…let’s get right to it.

On September 11, Derek Jeter surpassed legend Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees all-time hits leader. With all the hype surrounding Jeter getting hit number 2722, you would think that he actually set some sort of real record.

He didn’t.

While the feat is impressive, the fact that it took him close to 1500 more plate appearances doesn’t make it AS impressive. Wake me up when he becomes the first Yankee to get 3000 hits…sometime in June of 2011.

And since we’re talking Yankees hits milestones (we were, right?)…let’s add another to the list.

Admitted steroid user (and yes, I will call him that until the media’s current man crush subsides) Alex Rodriguez finished the season tied for eighth all-time in home runs with 583.


Tied with who you ask? Mark McGwire.

No comment.

On September 2…Rodriguez collected career hit number 2500. But perhaps the most impressive “A-Rod” achievement this season was his ending the season with 100 RBI…for the 12th straight year!

Less than a week after Rodriguez got hit number 2500, Ichiro Suzuki sent the second pitch of the Mariners September 6 contest down the right field line for his 2000th hit in the Majors. With that case knock, he became the second-fastest player to reach the milestone.

Only Hall of Famer Al Simmons did it quicker.

A week later, Ichiro tallied his 200th hit of the season for the ninth consecutive year…setting an all-time Major League record. All-time hit king Pete Rose holds the non-consecutive record with ten.

On June 27, 2007, Phillies slugger Ryan Howard became the fastest player to hit 100 home runs when he bested Ralph Kiner by 60 games.

Earlier this season (on July 16), Howard again surpassed Kiner when he became the quickest to 200 home runs.

On September 18, the first baseman again joined some pretty exclusive company. With a sixth inning bomb off Atlanta's Tim Hudson, Howard joined Babe Ruth, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey, Jr. as the only four Major Leaguers with at least four consecutive 40 home run, 120 RBI seasons.

Almost as impressive as Howard’s consistency in sending balls deep into the Philadelphia night…is Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds’ consistent futility.

In 2008, Reynolds became the first Major Leaguer to strike out more than 200 times…he finished with 204. This season, he was sent back to the bench a new record 223 times!

If it means anything to anyone, I’d like to point out that only two National League pitchers (Tim Lincecum and Javier Vazquez) struck out more batters than Reynolds struck out.

Lastly…it is worth mentioning that Brian Roberts (yes, THAT Brian Roberts) secured his status as a doubles hitting machine.

With his league leading 56 doubles, Roberts not only became the fourth Major Leaguer ever to achieve three seasons with more than 50 or more doubles (Hall of Famers Tris Speaker, Paul Waner and Stan Musial are the others)…but he secured the top spot on the “most doubles hit by a switch hitter” list.

And to think, back in March when I
previewed the Baltimore Orioles…I suggested “Monument City” had nothing to celebrate.

I stand corrected.


BallHype: hype it up!

October 27, 2009

Twitter Tuesday...October 27, 2009

If you're a regular over at The Hall (and if you aren't...why not?), you saw the interview with Seth Swirsky, the owner of the "Buckner Ball". Sunday was the 23rd anniversary of that fateful night where a relatively routine grounder went under Billy Buck's mitt.

With that in mind...what is going to be the lasting memory of this year's World Series? Will the Phillies repeat? Will A-Rod continue to knock that monkey off his back? Only time will tell.

Still don't know what Twitter Tuesday is? Don't waste Google's time...click the link.




Much like last week's Chatter, this week's is, again...all about how players have been spending their free time so far in this young off season.

Well...MOST of them, that is,

Rdibs49 (Rob Dibble): Great time, U2 @ Rose Bowl! Hung with Trevor Hoffman and his beautiful wife!

DPEP56 (Jeremy Johnson): watching CSI on my new Flat Screen! Flatscreens and surround system definitely the way to go

APacBama (Adam Pavkovich): Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream all night tonight! Dang these rides are messin with my stomach. The haunted houses are freaking us out

73_MC (Seth McClung): Watching the tv show shocking acts of violence. Should we really be giving crazy people ideas like this?

NickSwisher (Nick Swisher): Yankees Win!!! We're not done yet! Still lots of work to do! World Series here we come!





After hearing the announcement that Mark McGwire will be joining the Cardinals coaching staff next season, my feelings were mixed. On one hand, I guess it is good that MLB is beginning to look past the "steroid era". On the other...what can McGwire teach people about hitting?

Suffice it to say, plenty of people had their own opinions.

smg1981: How will Mark McGwire coach baseball without talking about the past?

autographdude: Mark McGwire back in baseball as Cardinals hitting coach, good for LaRussa for bringing him back to the game

stevebattles32: is waiting to see if signing Mark McGwire as hitting coach will bring back Matt Holliday. If you didn't know Matt works out with big mac.

Jiyan59: Mark McGwire Batting coach. The folly of fools is deception. Is there anybody in America that can't see this as Mark's Hall of Fame Tour?

Machinegunka: Mark McGwire returning as Cardinals hitting coach?! Now that's the news of the day. Only if they could get Canseco as pitching coach....




Like most of you out there...I'm not a Reds fan. Frankly, I haven't given them much thought since about 1990. That being said, the gang over at Red Reporter make for a good follow. Their website is top notch, the tweets are concise and the analysis is spot on.

Oh, that and they agree with me about Barry Larkin's Hall of Fame candidacy. It's nice to share a common belief!

Have someone you think everyone should follow? Perhaps you yourself have read some interesting tweets in the past week…drop me a line or leave a comment below. See you next Tuesday!


BallHype: hype it up!


October 25, 2009

Talkin' Baseball with Seth Swirsky

Postseason baseball is shaped by the iconography that is baseball itself. In the last quarter century, some of baseball’s most memorable moments played out on what proved to be the biggest stage possible.

From dramatic homeruns (who can forget Kirk Gibson in 1988 or Joe Carter going deep five years later?) to the straight up weird (we were treated to two in 2003…Steve Bartman in Chicago and the Pedro Martinez throw down of Don Zimmer), baseball fans have pretty much seen it all.

On October 25, 1986…the world bore witness to a routine ground ball that changed the course of the World Series for one team, prolonged a curse for another and overshadowed what was a pretty good career for Bill Buckner.


Much like the Bartman incident or Gibson hobbling around the bases, that ball going under Buckner’s mitt is one of baseball’s most widely known images and to one man…it is the cornerstone of a rather unique collection.

Seth Swirsky is the keeper of, if you ask me, one of the best privately owned baseball collections. Recently, I had the privilege to talk to him.

HOVG: You’ve accomplished plenty. Songwriter, artist, author, filmmaker…but, I’m cutting right the chase on this one. How did you end up in possession of the “Buckner Ball”? It was owned by Charlie Sheen before you got your paws on it, right?

SETH: Yes. Charlie was the first owner of the ball. He bought it at auction, in 1992. He auctioned it in April, 2000 and I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get one of those iconic pieces. The underbidder to both Sheen and me was Keith Olbermann.

HOVG: Okay…now that that is out of the way, let’s talk some baseball and not just about one ball. If someone were to head over to
your site and look at your collection, what would be the first piece you’d want them to see…the crown jewel?

SETH: There are many. The letter from Commissioner Kenesaw “Mountain” Landis that banned “Shoeless” Joe Jackson; Reggie Jackson’s 3rd Home Run Ball from Game 6 of the ’77 World Series: Tom Seaver’s ’69 World Series Home Jersey; The "Buckner Ball"...rare autographs of the midget Eddie Gaedel and “Shoeless” Joe (who was illiterate); a baseball signed by The Beatles on the night they played their famous Shea Stadium concert, in August, 1965. Too many “favorites” to mention. They all are part of the many themes in my collection.

HOVG: How did you get started with collecting? What was your first piece?

SETH: In November 1994, I bought, off of QVC, a baseball signed by the living members of the ’69 Mets. I grew up loving that team, so I bought the ball. I found that I really enjoyed looking at the ball with all those signatures. I then saw a 1952 N.Y. Yankees team ball with Mickey Mantle on it. It was a beautiful ball. I bought it and still have it. I then got to spend an afternoon with the famed collector, Barry Halper and I saw the quality of his things. Every piece told a story. Barry loved themes and truly historic pieces. I was very fortunate to have met him and become a good friend of his.

HOVG: Any recent finds?

SETH: I just picked up the first home run hit at Wrigley Field in it’s first-ever night game. It was hit by Lenny Dykstra in 1988. It goes with a theme I have called “Like Night and Day” and includes a baseball used in baseball’s first-ever night game (in May, 1935, in Cincinnati), a program from that game, a letter from the starting Reds pitcher that night and a ticket to that game. I also have a ball used in the first night game in Brooklyn Dodgers history that also happened to be the occasion of Johnny Vander Meer’s 2nd no hitter. Along with those things, I have a ball used in the first night game in St. Louis history (a Browns game in 1940) along with a very old photograph of Thomas Edison...whose invention of the lightbulb made baseball at night possible!

HOVG: Is there anything that your wife Jody looks at and wishes you didn’t purchase?

SETH: No. She digs my passion.

HOVG: Despite your allegiance to the New York Mets, your baseball hero was, if I’ve done my homework correctly, Mickey Mantle. Tell me about your 1994 meeting with “The Mick”.

SETH: It was the first autograph “show” I went to. It was in San Francisco, around Thanksgiving, 1995. I remember shaking Mickey’s hand. A warm, huge hand. He was such a nice man. And so nice to everyone in line. A real good guy. I asked him, of all the rings he’s won, which was he wearing? He said “my Hall of Fame ring...you know, I went in with Whitey”, referring to his great friend on the Yankees, pitching great, Whitey Ford. He showed it to me. It was a neat experience. He died about 10 months later. I was so glad to have met him. He really made an impression...of a warm, nice, real human being!

HOVG: Which brings me to your books. You said in a 2000 interview that Mantle’s was the one letter that you wished you had gotten in return. For those that aren’t familiar, you’ve authored three books where, basically, you re-print letters that you’ve received from baseball players, as well as some of the game’s more popular fans. Where did you ever come up with the idea? Did it start as another way to get some cherished memorabilia or fodder for a book? Or both?

SETH: No, I wrote those letters because I started to delve deep into the rich history of the game and I simply wanted answers to some questions from the players that participated in some of the great moments. Tons of players wrote back...very famous players and not so famous players. I just loved their stories, in their handwriting, with other people.

HOVG: Of all the replies that you’ve received…do you have a favorite?

SETH: I love Cal Ripken Jr.’s letter about how he became close to his dad. He wrote that he had five brothers and sisters and his dad, who was a coach with the Orioles, would take him to the ballpark with him as none of his other siblings wanted to go. I used to love to “go to work” with my dad growing up and it reminded me of that poignant moment. But, there are so many. Handwritten letters from Sir Paul McCartney, President George W. Bush, Ted Williams, Tom Seaver…they run the gamut.

HOVG: You’re a huge baseball fan, clearly. But as you’ve said, your “soul is in music”. Tell me about that letter you received from McCartney?

SETH: I saw him on TV at a Yankees game. During the seventh inning stretch, the organist played The Beatles great song, “I Saw Her Standing There”. Paul got up and sang it out loud. I thought, I’m going to write to Paul to get the story of how he got into liking baseball and what it was like for him to hear Beatles songs over huge loudspeakers while he’s a spectator at a baseball game. A week later, I got a Fedex from London, opened it and out pops a two paragraph, handwritten letter from Sir Paul for my third book of letters called "Something to Write Home About: Great Baseball Memories in Letters to a Fan". It was thrilling to get his letter.

HOVG: Let’s talk music and that love of The Beatles. Great artists and songwriters, who, collectively…are, quite possibly, are one of the greatest bands ever assembled. In your estimation…who would be the baseball equivalent of The Beatles?

SETH: The closest I can think of is the 1976-1981 New York Yankees. They went to the World Series four times in those years. They had a cast of "cool" characters (“Reggie”, “Sweet Lou” Pinella, Bucky Dent) and they could beat you in many ways...like the many ways The Beatles could make you feel when listening to their albums.

HOVG: One last Beatles-related question…when are we going to be able to see the documentary, "A Year in the Life", you’ve been putting together?

SETH: It is being edited now with a hopeful release next year.

HOVG: Anything you want to add? What’s going on currently in your life and what is next?

SETH: I’m finishing up my new solo record called “Watercolor Day”. 15 pop songs. Due out, this January. Check out
www.seth.com. Also, my band, The Red Button, will have a new album out in the spring and we’re going on a European tour in April-May.

Seth Swirsky is an American pop music songwriter, recording artist, author, filmmaker and memorabilia collector. His music credits include working with the likes of Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Air Supply, Michael McDonald and Al Green.


Most recently, he has recorded with The Red Button alongside Mike Ruekberg. Their debut album “She's About To Cross My Mind” was released in 2007 to critical acclaim.

Swirsky’s three books "Baseball Letters: A Fan's Correspondence With His Heroes", "Every Pitcher Tells A Story: Letters Gathered by a Devoted Fan" and "Something to Write Home About: Great Baseball Memories in Letters to a Fan" are half of the books I’ve read in the last two years.


BallHype: hype it up!

October 24, 2009

The season that was...August

Going into the 2009 season, there were about a dozen or so active players with 300 or more home runs. By the time August rolled around…five more joined the club and two others topped 400 and 500 respectively.

Which brings us to (drum roll, please)…Carlos Lee!

When “El Caballo" went deep against his old team, the Brewers on August 8, his Astros became the first team in Major League history to have three players (Ivan Rodriguez and Lance Berkman were the first two) get their 300th home runs in the same season.

Another sidenote...Lee is the only Panamanian born player to hit 300 home runs. And in case you were wondering (and I know you were), Ben Oglivie is next on the "most home runs hit by a Panamanian born player" with 235.

Two nights later, Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero accomplished something that only five others have done...reached 400 career bombs while maintaining a .320 career batting average.

So who are the other throwbacks you ask?

Babe Ruth (.342 career average and 714 home runs), Jimmie Foxx (.325 and 534), Ted Williams (.344 and 521), Lou Gehrig (.340 and 493) and Stan Musial (.331 and 475).

Later in the month, Guerrero became just the 13th player to notch more than 1000 hits with more than two teams. He’s got 1215 from his days in Montreal and ended the season at 1034. And still young at 34, it isn’t out of the question that he could get the 751 hits he needs to get to 3000.

All that aside, I’m picking him as an early lock to get enshrined whenever he decides to hang up his batting gloves, er…cleats.

Also on August 10, Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies hit for the cycle against the Cubs. In doing so…he became only the second player in baseball history to have hit for the cycle and have an unassisted triple play in their career.

The other? John Valentin.

And before he surpassed Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig for what proved to be the most over-hyped milestone of the season, Derek Jeter actually accomplished something a little more impressive than being the Yankees all-time hit leader.

In the span of one week, the Yankees shortstop amassed enough hits to pass up both Luis Aparicio and Omar Vizquel to become the all-time hit leader among shortstops.

Allow me to explain.

Of Vizquel's 2697 hits at the time...2669 came at shortstop, whereas all but four (2673) of Aparicio's 2677 career base knocks came at shortstop. Coming into the August 16 contest against the Mariners, Jeter had 2672 hits as a shortstop.

Clearly, his 3 for 4 that night put him over the top.

To put this achievement into perspective, Cal Ripken Jr. notched 2479 of his 3,184 hits as a shortstop. So, how good is Jeter?

He's a ten-time All-Star (missing the game only twice since 1998), carries a .316 career batting average and in 2003, was named New York's team captain...making him only the 11th player to carry that moniker since 1912.

Not too shabby.

Add to that that his second place finish in the 2006 MVP balloting was the best by a Yankees shortstop since Phil Rizzuto took home the award in 1950 and you've got a legend in the making.

But I didn't have to tell any of you that.

Knock yourself out and check out April, May, June and July...September, naturally, is up next.



BallHype: hype it up!

October 22, 2009

The season that was...July

As the first half of the season was coming to a close, we were witness to more than our fair share of milestones.

500 home runs for Gary Sheffield...check.

300 wins for Randy Johnson...check.

Back in March,
The Hall predicted David Ortiz would have sent his 300th home run deep into the Boston night sometime in "early to mid-May". No one could have predicted his problems at the plate during the first quarter of the season.

All of that was forgotten July 9 when “Big Papi” finally reached the milestone.

Ortiz would rebound and end the season with 28 bombs, elevating his total as a designated hitter to 274…the most ever at the position. All that aside, will Ortiz get to 400 or 450? What seemed like a lock to happen a couple seasons ago, appears to be an uncertainty now.

With what was probably the quickest forgotten no-hitter since a different Sanchez (Anibal) threw one, Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez blanked San Diego on July 10 for 2009's first no-no.

Having never gotten past summer league baseball in high school, I realize that I am in no position to judge, but c'mon...if someone called you tonight and told you that a member of the Giants staff was on his way to throwing a no-hitter, you'd be more apt to think they were talking about Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson or Matt Cain.

Hell...catch me on an average day and I'd be more likely to come up with Atlee Hammaker or Mike Krukow's names long before I'd utter "Jonathan Sanchez".

All kidding aside, when it was all said and done, Sanchez did what only a dozen other Giants have done. And to top it off...he did it at his home park in front of his Dad.

Classy.

With a big thanks to Dewayne Wise, White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game on July 23 against the Rays. And how good (read: "lucky") was Buehrle? Three times he went to a three ball count.

A sidenote about Buehrle…you might remember, the “South Side” hurler also threw a no-hitter April 18, 2007 against the Rangers. Meaning…you can now mention Buehrle in the same sentence as Hall of Famers Addie Joss, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax and Jim Bunning as well as all-world pitcher Randy Johnson without people laughing you out of the room.

And while Buehrle’s group contains only six members, Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham joined a pretty exclusive group of his own when he became the 13th player to have hit two grand slams in one game July 27 against the Brewers.

One of the other dozen that have accomplished the feat…friend of The Hall and former Orioles backstop Chris Hoiles. Read what Hoiles had to say about his “very special night” by clicking this
THING.

Earlier in the week,
April, May and June were remembered…August is next.


BallHype: hype it up!

October 21, 2009

The season that was...June

During batting practice in 1988, Randy Johnson, then with the Montreal Expos, collided head-first with outfielder Tim Raines. Because of Johnson’s height, Raines exclaimed, "you're a big unit!"

Suffice it to say, the nickname stuck.

At 82 inches tall (or 6’10”), “Unit” is the tallest 300 game winner in history. Before he reached the milestone on June 4, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens and Gaylord Perry shared the distinction at 6’4”.

Another fun fact, since I assume you all know about the Cy Young Awards and strikeout totals, Johnson is one of only two (Jamie Moyer is the other) players born prior to the Kennedy assassination.

Coindentally…the same number of Major Leaguers (two) were born after Johnson made his big league debut September 15, 1988.

Continuing with the trend of sluggers hitting the 300 home run milestone, Johnson’s former teammate Lance Berkman reached the milestone June 13 against Arizona. Berkman ended 2009 with 313 home runs…good for sixth all-time among switch-hitters.

Mickey Mantle leads the pack with 536. The other switch-hitters with 300 or more homers are Eddie Murray (504), Chipper Jones (416), Chili Davis (350) and Reggie Smith (314).

Four nights later, the Astros saw their catcher Ivan Rodriguez squat behind the dish and caught his record-setting 2227th game against the very team that signed him as a 16 year-old back in 1988...the Texas Rangers.

Unfortunately, he had one of his worst nights in memory in front of his old team by going one-for-five, made two throwing errors and saw the Rangers steal three bases.
Yikes.

"I-Rod" is the all-time leader in hits among catchers and sitting at 2618, it remains to be seen if he's got enough in him to be the first to see 3000. As it is...he's also ranked first all-time among catchers in doubles, putouts and with his 13 Gold Gloves and 14 All-Star Games, he's poised to enter Cooperstown as the greatest catcher ever.

A week later…on the same night the "King of Pop" died...Omar Vizquel became the "Venezuelan Hit King".

I know, I know...dumb seque. But the fact remains...with a first inning single, Vizquel surpassed Luis Aparicio on the all-time list with 2678 hits. He closed out the season with 2704.

One of the fun things about previewing milestones at the start of the season was watching them unfold throughout the year.

With a 4-2 victory over the Mets on June 27, Mariano Rivera become only the second member of the 500 save club.

Trevor Hoffman is the all-time leader with 591 saves, so it remains to be seen if Rivera (who ended the season at 526), can actually reach whatever record ends up being set. What is certain is this...it's going to be a long, long time before someone gets near either one of them.

As it stands, the next active reliever is Billy Wagner with 385 and after that...you're looking at Troy Percival with 358. Thing is, Wagner might not hit 386 and Percival might stay stuck at 358 since both have been hampered with injuries and retirement might be on the horizon for both of them.

Who has a chance at joining Hoffman and Rivera in the 500 Club?

Even though he notched a quarter of his career total of 243 saves in one season, Francisco Rodriguez is young enough at 27 to give them a run for their money.

So congrats to Rivera as you continues to secure his spot in Cooperstown, and let's all meet back here in eight years to see where K-Rod is at.

Earlier in the week, we looked at April and May. As you can probably guess…July is next.



BallHype: hype it up!

October 20, 2009

The season that was...May

If you read nothing more, leave now knowing that May brought with it two things…mustaches and Ron Villone.

I can explain.

The third annual
Mustache May celebration kicked off on the first day of May (imagine that!) and with it came your “’stache of the Day”, an endorsement from The American Mustache Institute, an appearance on WGN Radio and interviews with Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and the king of all lip sweaters…Rollie Fingers.

Villone lived up to his moniker “Suitcase” early in the month, when he suited up for the Nationals, his Major League record-tying twelfth team. After the call up from Syracuse, he tied fellow journeyman, pitcher Mike Morgan.

Close on their heels is Matt Stairs.

Stairs is currently enjoying another playoff run with Philadelphia, his eleventh team.

And while not exactly a “milestone”, the Cubs did something pretty cool and pretty monumental on May 3. Before the “North Siders” took the field against the Marlins, they retired number 31 for both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

Each hurler won a Cy Young Award and combined for 300 victories while wearing the pinstriped 31. Maddux would have his 31 retired by the Braves in July.

On May 17, future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez became another in a seemingly long line of players that would circle the bases for the 300th time.

For his career, “Pudge” Rodriguez has hit 298 of his 305 homers as a catcher, good for seventh among backstops on the all-time list.

About a week later, Jason Giambi came out of hibernation to finally hit his 400th career home run.

When The Hall initially previewed
American League West milestones, thought was that “the Giambino” would have surpassed 400 sometime in Mid-April. Unfortunately, a terrible slump pushed back the milestone to May 23.

Giambi finished up his season with 409 home runs and found himself with the Rockies. All-time, he is sitting at 43 on the career homers list, having passed up Hall of Famers Al Kaline (399) and Duke Snider (407) in 2009.

After six attempt to achieve the milestone, Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer locked down win Number 250 on May 31 against the Nationals.

Granted, Moyer finished up the year coming out of the bullpen and facing down the first surgery of his long career, could we be looking at a guy who, with 258 wins, could take up residency in Cooperstown?

Consider this, Moyer has fifteen seasons with double-digit wins and all but one was achieved after the age of 30. And of the 40 pitchers with more victories, only Phil Niekro (17) had more double-digit wins seasons after they turned 30.

What about the 10 other lefties with more than 250 wins?

All but four (Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, Tommy John and Jim Kaat) are in the Hall of Fame. Glavine (with 305 wins) and Johnson (303) will get there and you certainly can make a case for John and Kaat making it in someday courtesy of Veterans Committee.

So let me know…does Moyer have what it takes to get enshrined?

I’m on the fence (hedging toward “no”) when you look at the big picture, but when you consider those he pitched against…you could do much, much worse.

Yesterday...we broke down
April. Join me tomorrow when we look at, naturally, June.


BallHype: hype it up!

Twitter Tuesday...October 20, 2009

Did you hear that? The American League Playoffs just got interesting. It's true, with a Game Three victory, the world seems to have forgotten the dominance of the Yankees and is starting to believe the Halos have a chance.

Honestly, I am hoping they do. I hate a short series...give me all seven games!

Still don't know what Twitter Tuesday is?
Don't waste Google's time...click the link.




The cool thing about this upcoming offseason (for some) will be reading what guys who are typically concerned about baseball think about "normal" stuff.

DPEP56 (Jeremy Johnson): up early again! still getting ready for this huge yard sale! I will be glad when this is over on Sat.

73_MC (Seth McClung): Ugh the new apple mouse is killing me!! I guess I have to get a mouse pad! I always thought those things were tacky!

Brum24 (Cliff Brumbaugh): Man and women let me tell u Funnel Cakes are still delicious! Goooood GOD!!!

BrentMayne (Brent Mayne): This is gonna sound weird, but that Dylan show bordered on heavy metal. LOUD, driving, thumping music. Awesome. Hope i rock like that at 70.

str8edgeracer (CJ Wilson): I just saw an underamour diamond pendant. I'm definitely at an espn party


ESPY_TEAHEN (Mark Teahen): Tanning oil, corona, sunshine and the ones you love.....that's why I love the off-season.





It's no secret that I am not the world's biggest Yankees fan. It's true...I really can't stand them and frankly, I think they might be baseball's most polarizing team. So, for fun, I searched for "Yankees suck"...you might be surprised (confused?) at the variety I found.

philhorlings: Driving out of the charger game, a truck had two sole bumper stickers, "YANKEES SUCK" and "JETER DRINKS WINE COOLERS". Hysterical.

redsox67: Yankees with their $230mil payroll should be sweeping every team. Yankees suck

Gnome_King: It feels like Mathis just blew up the Death Star! Yankees(Suck!)

blight9: Somebody pie that angel in the face! yankees suck angels win





I might not always agree with everything Sky over at Beyond the Boxscore has to say...but one thing we can agee on (see what I just did there?) is that you should follow him. If you are looking for someone to follow that will provide you with more charts and graphs to look at than the USA Today...check out BtB_Sky.


That being said, I make no apologies for the eye strain you are sure to incur.

Have someone you think everyone should follow? Perhaps you yourself have read some interesting tweets in the past week…drop me a line or leave a comment below. See you next Tuesday!


BallHype: hype it up!

October 19, 2009

The season that was...April

Entering this season, The Hall laid out Ten Milestones to Watch For. Simply stated, some were reached…some weren’t.

Among those that made headlines, a few were monumental (Randy Johnson 300th victory)…others were obscure personal achievements (Omar Vizquel beoming the all-time hits leader among Venezuelan born players). And unless you spent the last few years living like Ted Williams' frozen, battered head...you knew that the Yankees opened up a new homer friendly ballpark.

All in all…a good season.

Let’s dive in, appropriately enough, with April.

Of all the home runs achievements that occurred during 2009, none were more improbable than White Sox teammates Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye both reaching the 300 home run plateau against the Tigers on April 13.

In the same game.

Back-to-back.

It was fitting that the pair reached the historic milestone in Detroit given Dye has hit the most home runs (16) by a visiting player at Comerica Park. Konerko is tied for fourth with former Sox teammate Jim Thome at 13.

Two night later, Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki slapped a single against the Angels and surpassed Isao Harimoto and became the all-time leader among Japanese baseball players.

And with that hit, questions were raised…is Ichiro the all-time Japanese hit leader or the all-time hit leader among Japanese born MLB?

Suffice it to say…the guy knows how to swing a bat.

And remember right before the season where it looked like Gary Sheffield’s career looked to be done?

Well, he all but guaranteed his Hall of Fame candidacy (in my mind) when the Mets picked him up off the scrap heap, signed him and, on April 17, he became the 25th member of the 500 home run club.

His first hit in the Majors was a home run for the Milwaukee Brewers, so it was fitting that number 500 was against them. Unpredictably, Sheffield achieved the milestone as a pinch hitter…the first ever to do so.

With April in the books, everyone’s eyes turned to May. Baseball's favorite octogenarian Jamie Moyer was on the cusp of 250 career victories and a revitalized Jason Giambi was looking to nail down home run number 400.


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October 14, 2009

"The Ballad of Billy the Kid"

“I don’t plan on talking to nobody,” Billy Wagner told reporters when asked where he might end up next season. “I’ve got nothing else to (accomplish).”

Wagner has mouthed off before, so whether or not this is just another in a long line of quotable quotes or how he truly feels is a good question.

Unfortunately…only one person can answer that.

Whether or not he makes it to Cooperstown is another story.

Whenever “Billy the Kid” decides to finally call it quits, it’ll be five years and up to what will then be a group of close to 600 writers (currently, the BBWAA has 539 members) that make that decision for him.

With 385 saves, Wagner sits sixth on the all-time saves list. Just five saves ahead of him is Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

And while closers haven’t always gotten the love they deserve from the writers, Trevor Hoffman (591 career saves) and Mariano Rivera (526) are no-brainers to get their ticket punched.

What can Wagner do to be a shoe-in?

“300 saves used to be the milestone mark when closers were two or three inning guys,” former Royals closer Jeff Montgomery told The Hall of Very Good, “but 400 will be the new mark as most good closers will reach the 40 save per year mark even on mediocre teams.”

But what of Lee Smith and John Franco and their 478 and 424 saves?

“I think Smith should be considered for the Hall as well as Franco,” Montgomery added. “If Wagner returns and surpasses the 400 mark he should be considered also.”

But is Wagner going to return? That’s the big question! And if he doesn’t, will his 385 saves be enough to get him to Cooperstown?

To answer that, you have to go much deeper than just the number of saves he has amassed.

His career ERA of 2.39 is out of this world! Only once, during an injury plagued 2000 season, did Wagner’s ERA jump above 2.85. By comparison, Eckersley has a career ERA of just that (2.85) out of the pen…while Hoffman hovers around in the same neighborhood at 2.73.

Wagner’s 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings is as sick as his career ERA. To say that the 5’10” lefty doesn’t bring the heat would be like saying Quentin Tarantino’s latest “Inglourious Basterds” lacked violence. 1092 punchouts in just over 830 innings pitched is amazing.

In 1999, Wagner was the National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year after closing out 39 games and holding opponents to a diminutive .135 batting average. He’s a six time All-Star, appeared in the post-season six times (with three different teams) and in 2003, even closed out a no-hitter.

So why can’t Billy Wagner seem to get over the hump and be included in the same conversation as the other greats at his position?

Attitude.

That’s right, the same thing that managers crave from their closers is the same thing that might keep Wagner from becoming a baseball immortal.

Following the 2003 season, the Astros traded Wagner to the Phillies for Ezequiel Astacio, Taylor Buchholz and Brandon Duckworth. Something tells me that the Astros weren't looking for lightning in a bottle with the three bodies they got. I'm more inclined to believe they were looking to unload a problem child.

But back to that trade and before you give me some half-hearted “what’s a duck worth”, I’ll tell you this…in the two years following the deal, the trio of Astacio, Buchholz and Duckworth played in 76 games and combined for a 6.42 ERA with Houston.

In that same time, Wagner appeared in 120 games, collected 59 saves and had an ERA of 1.86 with Philadelphia. Unfortunately, repeated criticism of his teammates helped make Wagner’s stint in the City of Brotherly Love a short one.

Philadelphia’s National League East rival Mets were the next stop for Wagner. By many accounts, it was a combination of a 2008 season ending injury and a bad attitude that led New York to sign Francisco Rodriguez and, eventually, place Wagner on waivers.

"I don't want to end my career as a set-up man," Wagner said while the Mets looked for potential suitors. "I'd like to have that option (to close)."

Apparently, Boston missed that memo and once Wagner agreed to it, they picked him up and used him as just that…a set-up man for their closer Jonathan Papelbon. Red Sox fans know how that ballad ended Sunday afternoon.

So what’s next for the flame throwing lefty?

He can enter the free agent market this off season and see if there is a team out there willing to take their chances with a 38 year-old closer.

Or, he can retire now, 15 saves short of 400 (his last one coming on July 29, 2008) and seemingly enter Cooperstown at second place on the all-time list of saves by a lefty.

That being said…the BBWAA has been tough on those with what appear to be Hall of Fame numbers, but a piss poor attitude.

Only time will tell.


***Recently The Hall asked "who is the game's best closer"...67% of you responded Mariano Rivera, 10% said Trevor Hoffman and Dennis Eckersley, 5% said Goose Gossage, 3% answered Rollie Fingers while no one said Bruce Sutter.***


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October 13, 2009

Twitter Tuesday...October 13, 2009

Yawn. The first round of the playoffs is over...three sweeps. Last week, I was all gung ho to get this postseason started. Now...I am waiting for pitchers and catchers to report.

Still don't know what Twitter Tuesday is? Don't waste Google's time...click the link.




I like what TBS is doing (and no, I don't mean the "Lopez Tonight" promos)...they have their studio crew up to speed on Twitter. Granted, some of the guys are more into it than the others, but any way you slice it...they are entertaining to follow.

TurnerSportsEJ (Ernie Johnson): in the viewing room with cal, eck and boomer watching games, keeping score, good times

MLBonTBSRon (Ron Darling): day off 2day burgers later at white horse tavern

MLBonTBSCal (Cal Ripken Jr.): waiting for Eck to decide what we are eating for lunch. Watching baseball stuff.

MLBonTBSEck (Dennis Eckersley): my dream world series would be the Marlins vs. the Tampa bay rays so I could sit in the sun

MLBonTBSCal (Ripken): I was talking to Rick Mahorn down the hall at NBA TV and almost missed Teixeira's HR.

MLBonTBSBoomer (David Wells): ernie does look like a squirrel huh




Even though the St. Louis Cardinals made a pretty quick exit this postseason...one player seems to have made a pretty lasting impression on everyone who witnessed the majesty of his lip curtain.

Brendan Ryan.

So, not only is Ryan a candidate for the American Mustache Institute's Robert Goulet Memoroal Mustached American of the Year Award (you can vote HERE)...but he is also the top of this week's "The Buzz".

teenagesleuth: Exactly what is this look Brendan Ryan has going on and what are his intentions?

jasonmulgrew: belated kudos to Brendan Ryan for going for the homosexual vaudevillian magician look - and totally nailing it.

shelley1005: Brendan Ryan - that stache, coupled with that bald head...are you sure you aren't a creepy trucker serial killer?

mchamberlin: Is Brendan Ryan from the 1890s? Or 1973?

NEWS25LanceWilk: Brendan Ryan looks like a Mario Bros.

sandrinistrivia: Hey, Brendan Ryan. Have you ever thought of becoming a cop instead of a ballpayer? I'd hate for that moustache to go to waste.

m1strC: Brendan Ryan looks like he rode to the game on top of an old-timey bicycle with the giant front wheel.

scratchbomb: did Brendan Ryan get his mustache from Deadwood's yard sale? or did he forget to take it off after barbershop quartet practice?

nerd_alert: Anyone else find it impossible to watch Brendan Ryan and not think "I will drink your milkshake"?

thepreston: I wish I had a mustache like brendan ryan of the cardinals.




Since I went WAY overboard with the Brendan Ryan love (or hate?) in "The Buzz", it is only fitting that I suggest you follow two (yes, two) sites dedicated to Cardinal love.


First, check out my friend Dan. He's C70 on Twitter...Cardinal70 on the web. Next, Nick's site Pitchers Hit Eighth is loaded full of Redbird goodness...if you are into that sort of thing. He is also on Twitter at, oddly enough, PitchersHit8th.

Have someone you think everyone should follow? Perhaps you yourself have read some interesting tweets in the past week…drop me a line or leave a comment below. See you next Tuesday!


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October 10, 2009

Postseason thoughts with Brent Mayne

Given all the different storylines that have played out so far, there are plenty directions a post during the first round of the Playoffs can go.

I’ll go down this avenue.

Thanks to an untimely miscue (are any miscues "timely"?) by Matt Holliday Thursday night, the Dodgers are up 2-0 against the Cardinals. The last time the two teams squared off in the NLDS was in 2004 and St. Louis beat Los Angeles in three out of four games.

Handling some of the catching duties for those Dodgers that postseason was veteran Brent Mayne. It was the first playoff appearance for Mayne and recently…I had a chance to catch up with the 15 year pro to talk October baseball.

HOVG: After a pretty lengthy career…you were fortunate to make the playoffs in your last season of pro ball. What did it mean to you to finally make it?

MAYNE: Making to the postseason was one of the greatest achievements of my professional career. I wish I would have made it more than once.

HOVG: Tell me about that 2004 series…how’d it feel?

MAYNE: My biggest memory was the intensity, everything being notched up. I remember being amazed at how the post season made my body feel fresh especially after the long regular season.

HOVG: Was there a particular teammate that just seemed to come to life in October? If so, who was it...and why?

MAYNE: Everyone came alive in the postseason. It was almost like the first games of the year.

HOVG: Lastly...who is your pick to win it all this season?

MAYNE: My pick to win it this year? Tough question. I'll go with the Angels. Total guess though. I really like New York and Philly too.

Mayne spent a bulk of his career playing with the Royals, but also found himself with the Mets, A’s Rockies, Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers. He finished his career with a .993 fielding percentage…fourth best of all-time.

To check out what Mayne has been up to recently, visit his website BrentMayne.com. For an in depth interview regarding his Art of Coaching…check out good friend of The Hall David Allen over at Baseball Reflections.



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