April 29, 2011

Friday 5: Matthew Silverman

Matthew Silverman is just like you and me...he eats, drinks and lives baseball.

The difference...he gets paid to write books about it.

Silverman has penned a number of books about the sport and his latest opus, Baseball Miscellany, is full of answers to 27 questions you didn't know you didn't know.

Why 27? Because that's the same number of outs necessary to get a win.

HOVG: Right out of the gate, I’ve gotta ask…what prompted you to pen Baseball Miscellany?

SILVERMAN: They asked me and it sounded like fun. I did the by the by the Numbers book series (histories of the Mets, Cubs, and Red Sox as told through the uniform numbers) for Skyhorse Publishing with different co-authors. Baseball Miscellany taught me, and I hope readers, a lot about the game. History and tradition are as much a draw to the game as anything else, which makes baseball unique among American sports.

HOVG: There are plenty of baseball books out there that claim to be everything one needs to know about the sport and you put that right on the cover. What makes your take on the subject different than some of the others out there?

SILVERMAN: I try to be thorough and authoritative without dulling down the subject. For instance, I wanted to explain how some of the not so obvious team names came about, such as the Mets, the Rays and the Astros. Then after I dug into it, I said, "Well, I just have to do all the teams." So I traced the history of the names of all 30 clubs, including some info on defunct names. It's actually like 30 questions in one. And you'll know that a Royal didn't come about from some Anglofiles in Kansas City.

HOVG: The New York Mets have had a colorful history and have put a number of characters (greats and otherwise) out on the field. Outside of two collaborations (Cubs by the Numbers and Red Sox by the Numbers), you’ve written mostly about the Mets, so, clearly, one could deduce that you’re a fan of the team. Let’s play Gutzon Borglum and put the hammer and chisel in your hands…who do you carve into your Mets Mt. Rushmore? And why?

SILVERMAN: I was just working on this very conundrum for an upcoming book. After much study, internal debate, number busting, and asking some former Mets their opinions, I came up with (Tom) Seaver, (Dwight) Gooden, (Darryl) Strawberry and (Jerry) Koosman for Mount Metmore. I would have thought (Mike) Piazza would be there, but after his first four years with the club, his bat slowed down. (David) Wright hasn't made the rock just yet, but keep the chisel ready. I think Kooz is probably the surprise, but his first two seasons are as good as the first two years of any Mets rookie this side of Gooden. Kooz won twice in the '69 World Series, never lost a postseason game, won 20 (and lost 20 the next year), and went five starts without allowing a run as the '73 Mets made their run. His problems with his tax returns are another matter, but he's got (Lenny) Dykstra beat by a mile when it comes to finance and honesty. Seaver is so far ahead of everyone else on the rock that it's scary.

HOVG: What are you reading now? What’s out there that you would recommend?

SILVERMAN: Recent baseball books I've read include Big Hair and Plastic Grass by Dan Epstein, Major League Bride by Kathleen Lockwood ('70s reliever Skip Lockwood's wife) and I'm just getting into the latest book by my old boss and new MLB historian John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden. Since man (and woman) does not live by baseball alone, I've just finished Sleepwalking in Daylight by an high school English classmate, Elizabeth Flock, and a book on audio version of Run by Anne Patchett that has guided me through a couple of long journeys to Citi Field and back.

HOVG: So what’s next? Do you have another project already lined up…or are you seeing how this latest book does?

SILVERMAN: There's Golf Miscellany coming out next year. It will follow a similar format but obviously deals with a different subject, though there is a chapter I've already worked on about athletes in other sports gravitating to golf. It can be fun getting out of your comfort zone, but you always find yourself back at the well... I'm working on a book on New York's most colorful and agonizing team next year: Best Mets. Out now is New York Mets: The Complete Illustrated History.

HOVG: Lastly, and this isn’t a question, but I read a review that blasts the use of a Tony Bernazard photo on page 107. Now, while it isn’t the best photo of the former infielder…it is Tony Bernazard AND he is donning the powder blue of the Montreal Expos. I guess what I’m trying to say is…thank you for that.

SILVERMAN: If you had an "in action" Tony Bernazard picture at your disposal, why wouldn't you use it? And if Tony Bernazard is going to be pictured with a shirt on, it really should be powder blue with the "elb" Expos logo. Merci.

Matthew Silverman's career as a writer began more than 20 years ago. He has authored, co-authored and edited numerous publications pertaining to Baseball, Football and sports in general. You can check out his website (and the always entertaining "Reflections of a Mets Life") over at MetSilverman.com.

And the best thing about Silverman...his book Baseball Miscellany (you can read a review HERE) can be yours if you hit up The Hall's Facebook page. Just CLICK THIS LINK!


April 28, 2011

Bowie Baysox to Honor Mustached Americans

Much like Pamela Anderson and Hepatitis-C, since the 1970s the rich tradition of baseball and mustaches go hand-in-hand.

While the 1980s were a dark time for people of Mustached American heritage, it did not deter the Baltimore Orioles organization from strongly supporting those with lower nose accoutrements.

Lip-warming stalwarts like Eddie Murray, Rick Dempsey, Scott McGregor, Sammy Stewart and Mike Flanagan embodied a culture of acceptance in the Orioles landscape during a dark decade for the Mustached American community.

It is with this flavor-saving commitment that the Orioles Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox, are collaborating with the American Mustache Institute to honor the Mustached American community on Wednesday night, May 4 at 7:00pm with the Baysox’s third annual “Mustache Mania” at Prince George’s Stadium.

The AMI’s Washington, D.C.-area Associate Steward Nathan Wilson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and people wearing mustaches real and fake will receive half-price admission for Lower Reserve tickets.

The offer is available on game day only at the Baysox ticket office and is valid for one half-priced Lower Reserved Seat Ticket per person donning a mustache or Mustaches For Kids (M4K) business card to the game.

The team will honor participating fans with mustache competitions including “Best Mustache” and “Most Pathetic Mustache.”

It’s a hairy deal indeed, and for more info call (301) 805-6000 or visit Baysox.com.

Carry on.


***This post is on loan from Dr. Aaron Perlut of the American Mustache Institute.***

April 27, 2011

The Giants Win Again!

Is it just me or are the local TV spots for Major League teams getting better?

Earlier this year, the Seattle Mariners broke out this Ichiro gem and a couple of weeks ago, a Minnesota Twins spot with Jim Thome dressed as Paul Bunyan hit the interwebs.

And now this from the San Francisco Giants.

Now, to be fair, the World Champs have one of the game's most visable characters in Brian Wilson...but this spot almost makes the others look like a bad local car ad.

Enjoy!


Chipper Jones Surpasses Mickey Mantle

Yeah, go ahead and read that headline over and over, gang...with a first inning RBI off Mat Latos Wednesday, Chipper Jones now sits behind only Eddie Murray when it comes to runs knocked in by a switch hitter.

With his 1510th career RBI (and counting), the Atlanta Braves thirdbaseman surpassed Mickey Mantle on the all-time list.

"We grew up hearing about Mickey Mantle and now we're witnessing Chipper Jones getting those milestones," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said following Tuesday night's contest. "It really does give me goose bumps every time one of those milestones is reached."

While it's not likely the Jones will catch up with Murray's career total of 1917, the future Hall of Famer is knocking down milestone and milestone on his way to Cooperstown.

So if you're paying attention to the "Chipper Jones Milestone Watch"...dude is now at 2516 hits, 500 doubles, 439 home runs and 1512 RBI for his career.


Logan Morrison's Cast is on eBay

I'm not a big eBay guy.

Honestly, the most excited I've gotten about buying other people's trash was when I found (and bought!) that Rockwell LP for sale a few years ago or last year when Corey Haim's family decided to sell his junk to pay for his funeral.

But then, Florida Marlins leftfielder Logan Morrison went and did this.

Now, if you were too lazy to click on the link above, Morrison is selling his recently removed cast via the online auction site.  And here's part of what the official listing says!

Cast was worn by Logan Morrison, starting left fielder for the Florida Marlins, after injuring his foot last week. Item was signed by 24 members of the 2011 Florida Marlins Roster (not including Hanley Ramirez #2) and was "MLB Authenticated" at the time of signing.

All proceeds will be donated to the American Lung Association.

Why the American Lung Association?  Simple.  Morrison's father died from lung cancer this past December and what a creative way to help raise money for a great organization.

Now...more about that cast itself.

The 23-year-old is suffering from a Lisfranc strain (strained left arch) and was put on the disabled list April 21. Meaning...the earliest he could be activated would be May 5.  But, given the initial estimate on Morrison's injury was that he could be out up to a month...returning by Mother's Day might be a little optimistic.

"There are also hurdles I have to get over," Morrison told Marlins.com. "The doctor said, 'Go as far as the pain will let you go. If it hurts, shut it down.'"

April 26, 2011

Andre Ethier...Mr. April?

With a first inning double Tuesday night...Andre Ethier set a Major League record by hitting in 23 straight April games.

The Los Angeles Dodgers rightfielder broke the 40-year-old record set by his former manager, Joe Torre, who hit in 22 straight April games in 1971.  And while he's a long way away from surpassing Joe DiMaggio's record 56 game hit streak...he's not that far from catching up to Dodgers hit king Willie Davis.

Wait...Willie Davis?!?

Sure, Willie Davis might not be the first name you think of when someone mentions "hit king"...but dude does have two of the longest hit streaks (31 in 1969 and 25 in 1971) in team history.

But what kind of road bumps stand in the way of the 2010 All-Star from eclipsing Davis?  Let's break it down...and figure out exactly where Ethier ranks in Dodgers history since the team packed up and went west in 1958.

If Ethier's streak ends Wednesday against the Florida Marlins...he'll be tied with Brett Butler's 1991 hitting streak. But should the rightfielder get a hit off of pitcher Anibal Sanchez (he's 0-for-6 all-time against the righty) he match John Shelby and his 1988 feat of hitting in 24 straight.

Now, should Ethier get his first hit off Sanchez, he'll get a day off before he squares off against San Diego starter Clayton Richard Friday night.

And as luck would have it...Richard will be the toughest foe the Dodger will face on his march to match Davis. Head-to-head...Ethier is 1-for-13 against the Padres hurler.

But, should Ethier get the best of the Padres Friday night, he'll be the fourth Dodger to get a hit in 25 straight games.

The others?  Davis, second baseman Steve Sax in 1986 and catcher Paul Lo Duca in 2003.

The road from 25 to 31 might be the easiest stretch of the season thus far for the slugger. Against the six probable starters he'll face...he is hitting a combined 22-for-53 (good for a .415 batting average).

Let's put the cart before the horse for a minute and look ahead to Saturday, May 7...Ethier and his Dodgers take on the New York Mets and (more than likely) Chris Young.

Thankfully, this cat OWNS the 6'10" righty.  In 29 at bats...Ethier has 12 hits against Young (a .414 batting average) and six home runs.

So, just how far can "Mr. April" go? If you can grant me the cliche for a moment...only time will tell.


Book Review: Baseball Miscellany by Matthew Silverman


A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone with Skyhorse Publishing asking if I was interested in doing a book review.  At first, I thought it was spam...so, naturally, I responded saying I'd need two copies. 

One for me and one for you...but more on that later.

Now, I'm not much of a reader (feel free to insert your hackneyed "some would suggest I'm not much of a writer" jokes here)...but, thankfully, Hall of Very Good contributor E is. 

Here is his take on Baseball Miscellany:  Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Baseball by Matthew Silverman:

 
Years and years ago, some long-defunct magazine like Sport or Inside Sports used to put out a year-end almanac magazine. 

The main purpose of this magazine was to publish the results and box scores of all the year's sporting event, like who won the World Series or that year's America's Cup (spoiler alert: it was America).

The bulk of the magazine, however, was devoted to facts, figures, and trivia, like Otis Nixon stealing six bases in one game or Wade Boggs throwing out his back putting on his cowboy boots.

I loved this magazine. 

I used to buy it every year because I wanted to know all the wild and wacky things that had happened in sports that year. Nonsensical trivia is one of the few reasons to follow sports. And it’s one of the reasons I read Baseball Miscellany by Matthew Silverman, because, with a name like Baseball Miscellany, it was bound to be full of the completely useless information I love.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Baseball Miscellany does, as the name might infer, have some degree of baseball miscellany, like the fact that Pete Rose went 1,000 at bats without a home run twice in his career, or that, at one time, there were two players in baseball with the nickname “Dummy” (and they were both deaf, which makes it even funnier).

There are even definitions of olde timey terms like “pepper” and “can of corn” that are only used by the oldest of old school broadcasters and are lost on the modern fan.

But, instead of just being full of useless trivia, Baseball Miscellany is mainly devoted to explaining and giving historical background information on why things are the way they are in baseball. The chapter titles ask questions about some aspect of baseball that is then answered in the chapter.

Some of the chapters are devoted to information that not even the most hardcore of fans would care about, like “What is a sandlot,” “Why do pitchers throw overhand in baseball and underhand in softball,” or “Why do some stadiums have the same names as old ones.”

But most of the chapters are devoted to interesting subjects that most fans have pondered about, like “Why is Fenway’s Green Monster so tall,” “Why is the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY,” and “Why is the spitball illegal” (which contains the nice bit of trivia that baseball once had 17 legal designated spitballers, three of whom made the Hall of Fame…not including Gaylord Perry, who spitballed on the downlow).

There’s even a chapter devoted to the worst stadium promotions of all time, which includes local favorite Disco Demolition Night, cooked up by shock jock Steve Dahl and executed by baseball agent provocateur Bill Veeck.

Baseball Miscellany is a thoroughly-researched and interesting read. Its strong point is that it deals with baseball minutiae that hasn’t already been covered to death and tends to be more interesting than just telling me how many players have hit for the cycle twice (the answer is three; how boring is that).

And for those of you that don’t feel like taking on a major reading project, no worries: I read this in a couple of hours. It may not be as in-depth as Men at Work or Moneyball, but it’s an entertaining read, nonetheless.

Check it out.

Alright...so now to the "win this book" portion of this book review.

I mentioned up top that I asked Skyhorse for two copies...and they delivered.  And since Baseball Miscellany is chock full of interesting tidbits ("miscellany" if you will), I want to know...what is your favorite barstool fact to drop on your friends?

Meaning...what is one piece of baseball trivia that you like to unleash on whoever (whomever?) will listen?

Leave it in the comments below, drop me an email or post it over at the Facebook page and if I dig it...you're getting a book.

Oh...and the Tony Bernazard picture above?  You'll have to wait to see what that is all about when Matthew Silverman answers the "Friday 5".


April 22, 2011

Friday 5: Josh Caray

Baseball is known as a game that fathers pass down to their sons and, in turn, they’ll pass down to their sons.  And with that in mind…there have been a number of famous father-son tandems that have taken their acts to the Majors.

In some cases, that same tradition has even manifested itself in the broadcast booth thanks to the Bucks, the Brennamans and, most recently, the Suttons.

But no family has had more success than the Carays…Harry, Skip and Chip.

And now…a fourth Caray is trying his hand at broadcasting.

Josh.

HOVG: Are there pressures sitting behind the mic with the last name “Caray”? I’ve gotta think that everyone is going to want to tune in and hear the next Harry, Skip or Chip.

CARAY: There are certainly pressures, but they are only as big as I make them to be. The people who "expect" me to be another Harry/Skip/Chip are generally people who don't know this industry and all the politics that go into it. My grandfather and father could get away with a lot of things that I cannot. There is a lot that I don't control. So I simply focus on what I can control, which is my broadcasting, and let the rest take care of itself.

HOVG: What is Josh Caray’s style…and are you working on a catchphrase yet?

CARAY: No catchphrases. My dad didn't have one and niether does my borther and both have been very successful. My grandfather had one, but he would have been just as popular without one. I would say that my style is very similar to my father's. I try to keep the game relaxed and simple. I get excited when a big play happens, but overall I try to keep the game pastoral.

HOVG: You grew up in the ATL hanging around with your dad Skip and the Braves. Would calling games for Atlanta be the dream job for you? If not…what would be?

CARAY: Atlanta would certainly be one of them, but when you consider that there are only about 60-80 play-by-play men calling games each year, you become grateful for being one of those chosen few. I would go wherever the job is. Of course, places like Chicago and St. Louis would be great because of my family's history there.

HOVG: Did you ever have a chance to join your father in the broadcast booth? If so…how was it?

CARAY: He actually allowed me to call a half-inning of one game when the Braves were getting blown out by the Expos when I was still in high school. It was memorable because I did the inning with Joe Simpson (who is one of the best analysts in the game, by the way, and a good friend) while my dad stood behind me and listened. It was a cool moment just because he got to hear me do a Major League game before he died and I know that meant a lot to him.

HOVG: Lastly, I grew up outside Chicago and spent a majority of my life hearing your grandfather both on the radio and TV. That said, I’ve also been subjected to hearing countless Harry Caray impersonations. In your estimation, who does the best? And do you do one yourself?

CARAY: I do have one and its decent, but its not as good as Will Ferrell's. I think he has very good one as does comedian John Campanera. The worst is from Michael Wilbon and Jay Mariotti. Both should stick to writing.

Josh Caray begins his stint in the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs broadcast booth later this month. He has also called games alongside Brian Jordan for the Gwinnett Braves of the International League, the Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League and the San Angelo Colts of United League Baseball.


April 19, 2011

Mike Leake isn't the First to Have Committed a Crime

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake made more headlines Monday by getting arrested than he did last season by becoming just the 13th pitcher since 1965 to skip the Minors and jump right to the big leagues.

Hhonestly, stealing $59.88 in shirts from Macy’s should overshadow anything the righty might bring to the bump…it’s just not a smart thing to do.  And c'mon, dude, six shirts?  You can't steal just one?!?

But it’s not like he’s the first cat to get caught up with the law and make a dumb mistake.

Here are ten others that made headlines by being an idiot OFF the field.

DICK WILLIAMS
According to reports, the then-future Hall of Famer was walking around his hotel naked and masturbating (alledgedly) while attending a fantasy camp in January 2000. He was arrested on an indecent-exposure charge and ending up pleading no contest. This happened within two months of the 2000 Veterans Committee Hall of Fame vote and some contend that that is what kept him out of Cooperstown until 2007.

JOSE CANSECO
I hate to say it, but it is getting harder and harder to not bring up Canseco’s name in connection to something anymore. Of course, with this list, it would be criminal to not include the “Godfather of Steroids” and the October 2008 incident where he was detained by immigration officials in San Diego after trying to bring fertility drugs in from Mexico.

JULIO MATEO
While in the San Francisco Giants farm system, the former reliever was arrested on suspicion of forgery in 2008 when police discovered counterfeit $100 bills in his hotel room. The best part was what officer Christopher Enyart wrote in a police report…”Before officers informed him of why we were there, Julio stated that he did not know anything about fake money”. Oops.

SHAWN CHACON
The hard throwing righty was pretty much banished from the game in 2008 when he choke slammed Houston Astros general manager Ed Wade to the ground. A year later, Chacon was arrested at a bowling alley in Colorado in connection with more than $50,000 in unpaid gambling debts in Las Vegas.

DEION SANDERS
“PrimeTime” is known for plenty and thankfully, for him, few people remember the time in 1996 when he and a buddy were arrested for trespassing on property owned by the Southwest Florida International Airport. Why were the two men there? To go fishing. "The only defense I have is that I'm sorry,” Sanders said at the time, “but they were biting."

KEVIN MITCHELL
Like Canseco, you could make a whole list of dumb things that the 1989 National League MVP has done in his lifetime. In 1999, he was arrested for punching his father in mouth for not paying rent. Just last year, Mitchell was arrested for alleged misdemeanor battery at the Bonita Golf Club in California. And according to the internets…dude is listed as one of California's top delinquent taxpayers…owing a cool $5,184,641.51.

JOSE OFFERMAN
In 2007, former Major Leaguer Offerman found himself playing independent ball for the Long Island Ducks. In August of that year, the two-time All-Star got hit by a pitch and instead of calmly jogging to first base he did what anyone would do…he charged the mound with his bat and struck both the pitcher and catcher. And let’s not forget that Offerman is the same guy who also went on to punch out an umpire!

KENNY ROGERS
One of the most overblown incidents in recent memory occurred in 2005 when Rogers shoved two cameramen…knocking one of the cameras to the ground. One of the reporters resumed recording the pitcher and again, was shoved by the four-time All-Star. For whatever reason, this resulted in a 20-game suspension (Rogers served 13 games) and mandatory anger management classes for “The Gambler”.

LUIS POLONIA
I’ve purposely tried to omit sex crimes from this list, but what Polonia did in 1989 is pretty much unavoidable and inexcusable. While in Milwaukee on a road trip, the then-New York Yankee brought a 15-year-old back to his hotel room and had sex with her. The amazing thing, to me, isn’t that the 26 year-old outfielder couldn’t tell that the teenager he hooked up with couldn’t drive, but that he went on to play eleven more years in the bigs and won two rings with the Yankees.

CAL RIPKEN, JR.
Okay, okay…the squeaky clean Ripken didn’t get in trouble, but his Number 8 was once involved in a crime. In late summer 2009, four men stole a statue of the “Iron Man’s” Number 8 form outside of Camden Yards. Thing is, the underaged drunks probably would have gotten away with it too, if they weren’t nabbed for being “disorderly” and keeping the Hall of Famer’s statue in the back of their pickup.

And I hate to go back to Offerman…but while searching the YouTubes for video, I found this piece that includes two yucksters trying desperately to out clever one another when talking about the bat incident.


April 18, 2011

Jamie Moyer to Start Throwing May 1

I'm not going to pretend to know how long it takes to come back from Tommy John surgery since I've not really read that much on the subject.

That said, I'm pretty sure that 48-year-old Jamie Moyer shouldn't be preparing to throw a ball around the yard.

Yet that's exactly what the pitcher says he is planning on doing:

Hope everyone is enjoying their spring. The baseball season has begun - for some it’s been exciting & others it's been a let down so far. Everyone should keep their hopes up, it's a long season. The ESPN gig has been exciting for me. A lot to learn in a new profession. Rehab is going well & I anticipate starting to throw May 1st. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I'm a gigantic fan of Moyer's and I hope that he comes back and pitches into his fifties...I just hope his desire to return doesn't ruin his chances.

If you recall, Moyer had Tommy John surgery back in December after injuring his elbow pitching in the Dominican Winter League.


April 17, 2011

Jim Thome is Paul Bunyan...or is it the Other Way Around?

You're going to see plenty of “at first glance, one might confuse Jim Thome with Paul Bunyan” posts circulating around the ole interwebs thanks to the Minnesota Twins new commercial.

But let’s not kid ourselves…there’s really no comparison.

One is, according to a quick Google search “a larger-than-life folk hero who embodies frontier vitality…a symbol of might, the willingness to work hard and the resolve to overcome all obstacles” and the other dresses up in a Jim Thome shirt and walks his ox through the bowels of Target Field.

See what I did there?

Enjoy this 30-second slice of pure genius courtesy of The St. Paul Pioneer Press.


The Barry Zito Car Accident 911 Call

Remember that car crash that San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito got into last month on the eve of the new season?

Well, according to the one 911 callers...it apparently looked like something out of the God awful "Fast and the Furious" movies.,

That's right, if you listen to the 911 call audio (courtesy of Thirty Mile Zone) one of the cars involved in the now-mustached hurler's accident went "off the ground"!

Now, I'm not sure if that is awesome or not, but if a car goes airborne in an accident...nevermind, it's totally awesome!


Jim Leyland Wins 1500th Game

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland entered 2011 with 1493 victories and Friday night, he became the game’s 19th 1500 game winner.

Twenty five years and three days after his first victory and twelve years to the day after win number 1000.

“It was very nice,” Leyland told reporters following the game, “but it was more important to get a win for the team than me getting to 1500.”

With the win, the skipper now sits second among active managers…behind just St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.

On the all-time list, 12 of the 18 managers ahead of Leyland are in the Hall of Fame.

The six that aren’t…LaRussa, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Gene Mauch, Lou Piniella and Ralph Houk. The first three are locks to get into Cooperstown and Leyland, well…you could do a lot worse.


April 15, 2011

Johnny Damon Makes History

When Johnny Damon hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning of Thursday night's Tampa Bay Rays-Minnesota Twins game, the 10,042 in attendance probably didn't know that they witnessed history.

How do you ask?

Well...check out this offering from Marc Tompin of the St. Petersburg Times:

Damon became the first major-leaguer to hit walkoff homers for five different teams, having also done the deed for the Royals, Red Sox, Yankees, and Tigers (twice).

I realize I didn't dig up the stat first...but when you bust that out this weekend and tell your friends...please say you saw it here.


Friday 5: Andre Dawson

Regardless how you feel about Andre Dawson’s Hall of Fame credentials, I’m pretty sure no one was actually upset when the eight-time All-Star finally made his way through the doors of Cooperstown after nine tries.

The 1987 National League Most Valuable Player played 21 seasons with the Montreal Expos, Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and, finally, his current employer, the Florida Marlins.

Thursday night, I was part of a media consortium that had a chance to catch up with the Hall of Famer…here’s the meatiest of what he told us.

MEDIA: Who do you consider baseball’s home run king?

DAWSON: Well, Barry (Bonds) did what he did (but) the record probably is tainted as a result of the steroid scandal. Hank Aaron was a guy that I idolized growing up because his journey to get to where he was and how he accomplished what he did. To me, he’ll always be the all-time home run king.

MEDIA: Should the steroid tainted players be allowed in the Hall?

DAWSON: I’m glad that the writers have really taken a stance on how they’re going to judge this. And from the look of things…it doesn’t look pretty. It’s hurt a lot of players who probably do a lot better throughout the voting process. They’ve been overlooked and pretty much cast aside and that was all a result of the era where the numbers really took off. Personally, I think that somewhere down the road they might be given better consideration, but they’re going to have to suffer the consequences and that’s probably going to be not being allowed in the Hall of Fame anytime soon.

MEDIA: What are your thoughts on wearing the Expos cap in the Hall of Fame versus a Cubs cap?

DAWSON: It wasn’t my choice or preference, but I respect the decision of the Hall and them being more concerned about the history of the game. I felt (playing in Chicago) is what put me in that particular status of being Hall-worthy and I respect their decision. But I will always, in my opinion, be looked at as a Cub.

MEDIA: Are there any plans that you know of to put Number 8 up on the foul poles at Wrigley Field?

DAWSON: You’d have to talk to the people in charge. (Laughs) I have no knowledge of that one.

MEDIA: If you had to pay to see a ballplayer…which one would you pay to see today?

DAWSON: I’ve always been a big fan of Albert Pujols for his character and the way he handles himself both on and off the field. There’s some talented players throughout baseball and some good young players in the game also. There’s a kid down in Florida who, barring injury, will do some phenomenal things named Mike Stanton. He can hit a baseball as far as anyone in the game and is only 21-years-old. I like him because of his make up…he’s young, has his head on the right place, is a student of the game and is what you’d want in a young ballplayer coming up.

Following the media “press conference”, Dawson and I talked more about the Hall of Fame, Ryne Sandberg’s public endorsement, and how he thinks he should’ve won two other MVP awards while playing in Montreal.

But, in all fairness to “The Hawk”, I didn’t really feel like I could just throw my recorder in his face and, while just shooting the bull, record him.

Lastly, a big thanks to Karen Tilly and her group over at Rockford MELD for making Thursday night’s event possible. Two years ago, I had the chance to talk with Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins, so…here’s to another great guest in the future!


Hell Yeah, Covelli. Hell. Yeah.

When Coco Crisp, then just 26, left Cleveland for Boston...I was one of the guys who thought that a new Red Sox legend was going to emerge. 

Unfortunately...I was wrong.

The speedster has been more flash than substance.  His actions of late have been suspect and, if you follow his Twitter feed...you've gotta wonder if the cat isn't just a little bit distracted.

Thursday night, the Oakland A's outfielder won me over.

Looking like someone right off the cover of Dan Epstein's great book Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s,  Crisp did his best Oscar Gamble impersonation and broke out the afro.

We'll all have to wait and see what Crisp will do with his hair next, but you know what my hope is.

Nothing.


It's Jackie Robinson Day, Everybody!

In 1997, Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson’s number 42.

Now, I didn’t need to tell any of you that, but did you know that even though teams couldn’t release the number…seven players still wore the number following the league-wide retirement?

Perhaps.

If you’ve ever checked out Craig Robinson’s brilliant website Flip Flop Fly Ball…you’ve no doubt seen his “42” chart. The “infographic” breaks down, by team, the last player to have don the number.

The list is varied and, as you would expect, so are the seven guys who wore the number following the retirement of Jackie Robinson’s iconic 42.

So on this eighth anniversary of “Jackie Robinson Day”…let’s remember the last seven guys to wear 42 in the Majors.

Butch Huskey (1993-2000)
Huskey exploded onto the New York scene in 1996 with the Mets, but never quite lived up to expectations. He was out of baseball before he even turned 30. Thanks to the grandfather clause, Huskey was allowed to wear Number 42 for as long as he wanted…he changed his number to 44 in 1999 while with the Red Sox, but then reverted to 42 with the Twins.

Lenny Webster (1989-2000)
Webster played for five different teams during his 12-year career, but only appeared in more than 100 games in one season…1998 with the Baltimore Orioles. The catcher is the last played to wear Number 42 for the O’s.

Scott Karl (1995-2000)
Primarily a starter throughout his six-year Major League career, Karl is the last player to have worn Number 42 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Most recently, he has been in venture capital.

Mo Vaughn (1991-2003)
Vaughn hit .293 over the span of his 12-year big league career. He hit 328 career home runs, took home the American League MVP in 1995 and has the unique distinction of being the last player to wear Number 42 for three different teams (Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and the, then Anaheim Angels). Currently, “The Hit Dog” is the owner of a trucking company outside of Cleveland.

Michael Jackson (1986-2004)
Journeyman reliever Jackson pitched for eight different teams during his 17-year career. His 1005 games played ranks him 13th all-time among pitchers…three more than Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage. Jackson is tied with Paul Assenmacher for the most games pitched in the 1990s with 644. He is also the last player to wear Number 42 for the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians.

Jose Lima (1994-2006)
Lima’s personality was much bigger and brighter than his overall game. Sure, he went 21-10 and was an All-Star in 1999, but outside of that…dude was 89-102 with a 5.26 ERA for his career. Sadly, “Lima Time” was cut short when the pitcher dies last May. He was 37-years-old.

Mariano Rivera (1995-Present)
Enter Sandman. Now, if Jackie Robinson is the greatest hitter to have worn Number 42…pitcher Rivera might just be the best player to have worn the number on his back. At 564 career saves, he's 38 saves away from becoming the all-time leader in the category. Can he do it? “Mo” started the season 43 back and that’s a total he's topped six times in his career...so it isn't out of the realm of possibility.

As a sidenote, while baseball has retired Number 42 league-wide for Jackie Robinson…only one team has retired it for someone else.

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals retired the number for Hall of Fame closer Bruce Sutter.

Suffice it to say, whenever Rivera decides to hang up the spikes…he’ll have his number retired by the New York Yankees.

You can count on it.

Below is the graph listed above.  Click that sucker to make it bigger!


April 12, 2011

Carlos Delgado to Hang it Up for Good

If you follow any of the numerous reports out there...former slugger Carlos Delgado will be announcing his retirement Wednesday.
It's been pretty much a foregone conclusion given dude can't seem to get his hip 100% or find a ride.

But what about those Hall of Fame chances?

As I've written before, Delgado's career totals of a .280 batting average, 473 home runs and 1512 RBI are impressive. Unfortunately, the climate of today's baseball frontier is such that if you didn't produce those numbers over the span of a 17-year career...it is pretty much deemed a failure of sorts.

But...no hardware to speak of, only two All-Star appearances and a mere 2038 hits?  Yeah, Delgado is going to need a little more to get my support.

Overall, if you look at Delgado's numbers, he stacks up rather favorably to some players already in the Hall of Fame. Among those players (according to Baseball-Reference) are legends Willie Stargell, Willie McCovey and Duke Snider.

Of the more recent players on the list, Delgado matches up well with Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff and Andres Galarraga. The problem? None of the three of them are considered shoe-ins...and neither should Delgado.

The Cansecos Speak!

Alright, alright...JOSE Canseco speaks. Ozzie just sits there and kinda listens and nods his head.

In what is the first of hopefully many videos that the Yuma Scorpions will put out between now and the beginning of the season, their newly minted player/manager Jose Canseco talks about what he and twin brother Ozzie will bring to the ballclub.

Let the promotional circus begin!


***Warning: The audio is wicked low.***

David Ortiz's Annual Triple is in the Books

In an effort to take the focus off their miserable start, David Ortiz legged out his annual triple Monday night against Tampa Bay.

Sure, the Red Sox ended up losing (again), but with the three-bagger, the slugger joins Detroit Tigers outfielder Carlos Guillen as the only two players to have had at least one triple every year since 2000.

Yeah...we're talking twelve straight seasons!

Second on the active leaders list (Ortiz's new teammate Carl Crawford leads everyone with 105 triples), Johnny Damon with 100 career triples, will join the pair when he gets his.

For his career, "Big Papi" has 16 triples. And to put things in perspective (or not), career triples leader, Hall of Famer Sam Crawford, has 309 and 13 times over his 19 year career, he had 15 or more.

But here's the kicker, gang, the Red Sox and Ortiz's former team, the Minnesota Twins are 11-4 in the 15 games where Ortiz has reached third without stopping first for oxygen at either of the previous two bases.

An interesting sidenote...one of those three losses (an 8-3 victory by the Orioles July 22, 2004) marks the only game where Ortiz hit two triples in one contest.

Both times he was left stranded at third.


ANOTHER Caray Enters the Broadcast Booth

Last week, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs announced that the grandson of legendary Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray will be joining "Crustacean Nation" for the upcoming baseball season.

Josh Caray is the latest Caray to sit down behind the microphone as he follows his grandfather (Harry), father (Skip) and brother (Chip) into the family business

Caray will be in the Crabs broadcast booth and call all 126 games on BroadcastMonsters.com with live video webcasts set on ibnsports.com. Their season begins April 29.

This is the part of this post where I'm supposed to elaborate further and say something clever about the "apple not falling far from the tree" right?

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Well...at least not until Friday. Stay tuned.  In the meantime, check out Josh's audition to become "the Voice of Wrigley Field".


April 11, 2011

Meet Jose Canseco...Manager?

It appears as though Jose Canseco is ready to pen the latest chapter (you know...because he wrote those books) of his life.

As the latest publicity stunt, er...manager of the Yuma Scorpions.

I'll save you the hackneyed vernacular...this is what the team had to say.

The Yuma Scorpions announced today that Jose Canseco has been named as the Manager of the minor league baseball team for this coming season in the North American League. He will also play 1B or DH and will be the first fulltime player manager in professional baseball since Pete Rose held the similar position with the Cincinnati Reds in 1984 - 1986. In addition, his twin brother Ozzie will serve as his hitting/bench coach and will also play fulltime. Expected to bat in the 3rd and 4th spots in the order, the brothers will be facing a league stocked with AA, AAA, and major league experienced pitching many of whom are half their age. He will also face opposing managers with major league credentials of their own such as Garry Templeton (Maui), Mike Marshall (Chico), Tim Johnson (Lake County), Doc Edwards (San Angelo), and Morgan Burkhart (Calgary).

"I'm excited about my first chance to manage a club in professional baseball and to begin to transition my career to helping younger players and giving back to the game," Canseco said via the team's press release.

"I know I can still play and hit so this player/manager opportunity was just what I was looking for. Two of my idols started as player managers...Frank Robinson (Cleveland 1975) and Joe Torre (NY Mets 1977), and I can only hope to follow in their footsteps."

Given dude's recent track record...it'll be interesting to see how long this latest venture will last.

Best of luck though...see you when the Scorps get to Chicago. Or not.


Pedro Martinez Says He's Ready

Stop me if you've heard this one before...Pedro Martinez wants to come back and pitch. 

Again.

And according to the New York Times...dude is ready.

"I'm in shape right now and I'm training and I'm playing catch," Martinez said, "so getting to full strength would probably take me a month, month and a half, to be on a mound."

When asked who he'd like to play for, Martinez was quick with a response.

"I'd probably have to say the Red Sox. I would like to win a World Series in the National League, so the Phillies are in there, too. But for the time I'm going to be playing, I think Boston is more suitable so that I can retire with the Boston Red Sox and go to the Hall of Fame with the same hat."

As it stands, Martinez would be on the 2015 ballot and at first glance...the thing is packed.

So, yeah, come on back, Pedro. Throw an inning or two in a Red Sox cap and get your name on that 2017 ballot.

Or better yet...keep your legacy in tact.  Pack up your .687 winning percentage, sub-3.00 ERA, three Cy Young Awards and status as a Boston legend and reserve a hotel in Cooperstown for July 2015.  There's nothing more for you to prove.


April 9, 2011

Friday Night Belonged to Chipper Jones

Friday night at Turner Field was the home opener for the Atlanta Braves and front and center (just like he has since 1990) was Bobby Cox.

This time, he was former Braves manager Bobby Cox and he was in the ATL to throw out the ceremonially first pitch.

But, the night didn't belong to the former skipper. Cox will get his due August 12 when the Braves retire his number and induct him in the team's Hall of Fame.

It belonged to Chipper Jones.

Due to injury, Jones was forced to close out 2010 with 2490 hits, 436 home runs, 1491 RBI and a .306 career batting average...arguably some of the best numbers ever put up by a switch hitter.

Jones got off to a hot start this season and quickly got the hits necessary to put him in the position to get hit number 2500 at home Friday night in front of a standing-room-only corwd.

And with three more RBI, dude is now just three shy of joining Eddie Murray as the only switch-hitters in Major League history to record 2,500 hits and 1,500 RBIs in a career.

You're going to find some pieces online saying that this cemented Jones' Hall of Fame chances and some that still question his credentials, but believe this...the Cooperstown plaque makers already have the thirdbaseman's likeness carved out.

They just need to figure out if it should say "Larry" or "Chipper".