This day in baseball history: A tie atop the National League

Featured image At the close of play on Sunday August 6, 1966, three teams were virtually tied for first place in the National League. Two of them, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, were in familiar territory. Winners collectively of three of the last four NL pennants, they had battled for dominance during most of the entire decade. The third team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, had been little heard from »

This day in baseball history [UPDATED]

Featured image Just like this year, the 1966 all-star game was played on July 12. The venue was brand new Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The National League of the 1960s probably was as good a league as baseball has ever produced. During the decade, the National League’s record in all-star games was 12-1 (there were two all-star games in the first three years of the decade). The superiority of the National »

Vin Scully calls socialism foul

Featured image Vin Scully retires at the end of this season, his sixty-seventh year doing what nobody has ever done better. Among other things, he has made some classic calls in the course of a glorious broadcasting career. He may not have ever made a better one than he did during Friday night’s Dodgers-Brewers game (video below): “Socialism, failing to work as it always does. This time in Venezuela. You talk about »

Last month in baseball history — the most important trade of the ’60s? [UPDATED]

Featured image On May 8, 1966, the St. Louis Cardinals obtained slugging first baseman Orlando Cepeda from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for left-handed pitcher Ray Sadecki. I was out of the country on the anniversary of the deal, but don’t want to miss the opportunity to commemorate what was arguably the most consequential baseball trade of the decade. To understand the deal, we need to look back to 1964 when »

This Day In Baseball History (2): That’s Using Your Head

Featured image Why should Paul have all the fun? Today someone posted on YouTube the video of the Jose Canseco-assisted home run from this date in 1993. Given what we subsequently learned about Canseco’s steroid use, this all makes a little more sense. Just over one minute long: »

This day in baseball history — dueling shutouts

Featured image How many times have Hall of Fame pitchers squared off with both pitching at least nine innings of scoreless baseball? I assume it very rarely happens nowadays because pitchers don’t often pitch nine innings. It must have happened from time to time during the Dead Ball Era when pitchers did, and scores were low. As for the 70 years or so between these periods, I have no clear sense. I »

This day in baseball history — the Phillies double down on age

Featured image When we last visited the Philadelphia Phillies, they had blown a huge lead in the 1964 National League pennant race. However, Phillies fans had reason to believe that if their team could overcome the psychological impact of their fold, the future held good things in store. The team’s two best hitters, Johnny Callison and Richie Allen, were 25 and 22. Their quality center fielder Tony Gonzales was 27. Solid second »

This day in baseball history: A minor transaction

Featured image On March 10, 1966, the Cleveland Indians traded reserve catcher Camilo Carreon to the Baltimore Orioles for a minor league outfielder. Carreon would play only four games for Baltimore in 1966, his final major league season. The minor league outfielder’s contribution to the Indians would be similarly meager. Lou Piniella played six games for Cleveland, all in 1968. However, Piniella would then play more than 1,700 big league games and »

A dream deferred

Featured image I’d never heard of Adam Greenberg before I went to see him speak last night at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul. He spoke as a guest of the Jewish National Fund. If you ever planted a tree in Israel, the JNF was probably in the picture. I learned last night that it is now also supporting settlement of the Negev among several other worthy projects in Israel. From an »

This day in baseball history — Koufax delivers, sans curveball

Featured image When we last we left the 1965 World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers had climbed back into it with a 4-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins. The Twins still led 2 games to 1, but faced the prospect of seeing LA aces Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax in three of the remaining four games. In Game 4, the Dodgers coasted to a 7-2 victory. Drysdale reversed the tables on Jim »

This day in baseball history — Osteen succeeds where Drysdale and Koufax failed

Featured image This month marks the 50th anniversary of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Minnesota Twins. 1965 was only the Twins’ fifth season in Minnesota and they were already in the World Series. In Washington, DC, from whence they came, the franchise hadn’t been the Series since 1933. This World Series was dramatic in the sense that it went seven games. However, the games themselves didn’t produce »

The Washington Nationals’ horribly disappointing season, what went wrong?

Featured image The regular baseball season ended yesterday, which means the end of the line for the disappointing 2015 Washington Nationals. The bookmakers pre-season favorites to make the World Series limped home in second place in their division, 7 games behind the New York Mets, with a record of 83-79. Today they fired manager Matt Williams. Washington fans are debating whether the Nats’ season represents the biggest disappointment by a Washington team »

This day in baseball history — Dodgers retake first place

Featured image On September 28, 1965, the Los Angeles Dodgers moved into sole possession of first place in the National League for the first time since September 6. The Dodgers were hot, having won ten straight games. However, the San Francisco Giants had started off the month of September by winning 18 of 21 before finally cooling off to the tune of 2-4 in their most recent games. Diabolically, the schedule-makers had »

Baseball loses a legend

Featured image Steve has noted the passing of Yogi Berra and invited me to comment on him as a player. I rate Berra as the second best catcher of all-time, behind Johnny Bench. This advanced statistical analysis rates him number five, but not far below Gary Carter who comes in second. Carter was great, but give me Yogi every time. These days, Berra is best known for his sayings. Yet Thomas Boswell »

Yesterday in baseball history — Koufax is perfect

Featured image Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of an extraordinary baseball game. On September 9, 1965, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game enabled the Los Angeles Dodgers to win 1-0 despite getting only one hit. The line on the game reads like a binary math problem: Chi N 0 0 1 LA N 1 1 0 The Dodgers scored their only run in the fifth inning, without the benefit of a hit, thanks to »

Why baseball players have a more effective union than football players?

Featured image Clark Griffith explains why he thinks “Tom Brady will lose and baseball players win.” It’s because “in Major League Baseball, grievances are heard and decided by an impartial arbitrator. In the National Football League, the person who hears and decides grievances is the commissioner.” I want to focus on a more general question: Why has the Major League Baseball Players Association consistently negotiated more favorable contracts on a full range »

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 »