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 »

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 »