Baseball

Drew Storen, Jonathan Papelbon, and the closer conundrum

Featured image This year, the Washington Nationals were expected to be runaway winners of the NL East and strong contenders to win the World Series. They may yet live up to these expectations, but they haven’t so far. One reason is injuries — to Jayson Werth, Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon, Steven Strasburg, Doug Fister, and others. Another reason is disappointing performance by the bullpen, except for closer Drew Storen (injuries »

This day in baseball history: The Reds hang in there against Koufax

Featured image The Cincinnati Reds didn’t win the National League pennant in 1964; they finished a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Judged by run differential, however, they were the best team in the NL. The Los Angeles Dodgers struggled in 1964, a season in which they lost Sandy Koufax for a month and a half. However, they were the champion’s of baseball in 1963. Thus, it wasn’t surprising that, as they »

Shades of Mays

Featured image The Minnesota Twins only recently recalled centerfielder Aaron Hicks from their AAA minor league affiliate to replace a player taking leave for a family emergency. Hicks made some kind of a statement in the first of three games against the Orioles on Monday night. First he hit a home run to put the Twins ahead in the game temporarily. Then he made an improbable over-the-shoulder catch to end the fourth »

This day in baseball history: Twins win twice, cling to first place

Featured image 1965 was only the third year since 1948 that the New York Yankees did not win the American League pennant. Unlike the previous two instances — 1954 (when they won 103 games) and 1959 (when they were only 4 games back in early July) — the ’65 Yankees were never in contention. On this day 50 years ago, they were in sixth place, 10 games off the pace. That pace »

Max it out!

Featured image Last Sunday in Milwaukee, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals took a perfect game into the seventh inning. Then, Carlos Gomez, leading off the inning, dropped a broken-bat single into shallow right field. Scherzer allowed no other hits, but walked Scooter Gennett in the eighth. In the end, he retired 27 of the 29 hitters he faced, striking out 16 of them. All things considered, it was the best game »

Riots Drive Orioles Out of Baltimore

Featured image The Baltimore Orioles’ games Monday night and tonight were canceled because of riots near Camden Yards. Now, in one of the strangest announcements ever, the Orioles and Major League Baseball say that tomorrow night’s game will be moved to the afternoon and “closed to the public.” The game will be played without spectators; will it be televised? I don’t know. But it is hard to imagine anything much stranger. Following »

This day in baseball history — Lefty debuts

Featured image The 1965 baseball season opened on April 12. By far the wildest game of the day took place at Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs hosted the world champion St. Louis Cardinals. Fans had every right to expect a pitchers duel. World Series hero Bob Gibson was on the mound for St. Louis. For the Cubs it was ex-Card Larry Jackson, coming off a 24-11 season. But Jackson failed to »

A Ballplayer Illuminates Immigration

Featured image We are living in a time of record-shattering immigration, both legal and illegal. This concerns many Americans for several reasons. Contemporary immigration is overwhelmingly unskilled and semi-skilled, which means that incomes of working class Americans, especially African-Americans, have been and will continue to be depressed. Worst of all, perhaps, is the fact that we have lost the will to integrate immigrants into American society. High schools populated by immigrants used »

Last week in baseball history — cursed going and coming

Featured image Ask an old-time Cleveland Indians fan to name the worst trade the Tribe ever made and he’ll probably name the deal that sent Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers. Ask him to name the second worst and he might say the deal that brought Colavito back to Cleveland. The Indians famously traded Colavito to the Tigers for Harvey Kuenn in April 1960. It was a blockbuster deal involving the reigning »

Remembering Ernie Banks

Featured image Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,” died on Friday. He was 83. Banks is probably best remembered for his sunny disposition. “Let’s play two” was his famous saying. In on-the-field terms, Banks should be remembered for his remarkable play from 1957-1960, especially the middle two years. In 1958, playing shortstop, Banks hit 47 home runs and drove in 129 runs. The next season, he hit 45 homers and knocked in 143. Banks »

A Fall Non-classic

Featured image The 2014 World Series begins in a few hours. Both teams competing in it — the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals — failed to win 90 games. This therefore will be the first World Series in baseball history (other than in the shortened seasons of 1918 and 1919, and in 1981, the year of the strike) to lack at least one 90 game (or more) winner. Both »

This day in baseball history — take this job and shove it

Featured image On October 16, 1964, during a post-World Series press conference, Cardinals manager Johnny Keane announced that he was resigning. On the same day, the New York Yankees, whom the Cards had just bested in the World Series, fired their manager, Yogi Berra. Four days later, the Yankees hired Keane to replace Berra. The Yankees had been talking to Keane for some time. Keane’s move to the Yankees may already have »

This day in baseball history — The Cardinals are champions

Featured image When last we looked in on the 1964 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees were knotted at two games apiece. Ken Boyer’s grand slam had kept St. Louis in the thick of it. The clubs split the next two games. Game 5 was another dramatic affair, the third in a row. Both teams went with their ace — Bob Gibson for the Cardinals and (with »

This day in baseball history — Ken Boyer’s clutch grand slam

Featured image On October 11, 1964, the New York Yankees hosted the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the World Series. The Yankees led the Series by two games to one. St. Louis called on Game 1 starter, Ray Sadecki. New York’s Game 1 starter, Whitey Ford, was unavailable due to injury. In fact, he was out for the remainder of the World Series. However, the Yankees’ fourth starter, lefthander Al »

This day in baseball history — Mantle’s walk-off homer gives Yanks series lead

Featured image The St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees both entered the 1964 World Series in red-hot form. The Yankees had gone 24-9 since the end of August; the Cards had gone 22-10. New York looked like the better team, though. They had won six more games than St. Louis (99 compared to 93). Their run differential was +153; St. Louis’ was only +63. That’s a large disparity, even taking »

This day in baseball history — Phils pave way for Cards pennant

Featured image Sunday, October 4, 1964 was the final day of the regular baseball season. The New York Yankees had finally clinched the American League pennant the day before with an 8-3 victory over Cleveland at Yankee Stadium. A five-run eighth inning did the deed. Reliever Pete Mikkelsen picked up the win in relief of Al Downing. Pete Ramos got the save, his eighth since coming to the Yankees on September 5 »

This day in baseball — Post-season begins for the Nats

Featured image In a few hours, the Washington Nationals will begin their post-season with a home game against the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, I won’t be there due to the Jewish religious holiday. I don’t follow baseball very closely any more, so take the following statement for what it’s worth: The Nationals are the best team in baseball. This doesn’t mean they will win, or even make it to, the World Series. »