Winning ugly

Featured image On Monday night, the Clearwater Threshers defeated the Tampa Tarpons 1-0 in a minor league baseball game without the benefit of a hit, a walk, a hit batsman, or a runner reaching base due to an error. How did they manage this? The key was the new rule in the minor leagues for deciding extra inning games. I discussed it here. Under this rule, which conceivably could come to the »

An experimental approach to deciding extra inning ball games

Featured image I read somewhere that this year non-pitchers are pitching an unprecedented number of innings in major league baseball games. A manager might call on a non-pitcher (a catcher, infielder, or outfielder) to pitch if he has used all of his relief pitchers or if the game is so far out of reach that he doesn’t want to burn his remaining relievers. It seems odd at first blush that we’re seeing »

Two fitting all star games

Featured image 1968 was the year of the pitcher. So it was fitting that 1968 gave us the only all-star game ever without a run batted in. The National League prevailed 1-0, its lone run scored by Willie Mays on a double-play ground ball by Willie McCovey. Fifty years later, 2018 is the year of all or nothing. Pitchers are piling up strike outs and batters are piling up home runs. Many »

Agent blames Bryce Harper’s woes on opposing defenses

Featured image Bryce Harper was the National League’s most valuable player in 2015. He was strong contender for MVP last year, before an injury in early August kept him out for about six weeks. This year, however, Harper is struggling. His batting average has fallen below .220. His power, 22 home runs, and his walks, 76 of them, still make him a valuable player. But he’s no MVP, probably not even on »

From the bushes to the show, an update

Featured image Less than two years ago, I was seated at a South Atlantic League baseball game (low A ball) between the Hagerstown Suns and the visiting Greensboro Grasshoppers. Behind me were two Greensboro pitchers — Trevor Richards and Ben Meyer. They were charting the game. As I discussed in this post, neither pitcher seemed destined to make the major leagues. Richards had been undrafted in 2015 coming out of a small »

This day in baseball history: Gibson’s fifth straight shutout

Featured image On June 26, 1968, in the first game of a doubleheader in St. Louis, Bob Gibson shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates on four hits. St. Louis won 3-0. Gibson contributed to the Cardinals’ offense with a double and a walk in three plate appearances. This was Gibson’s fifth consecutive shutout. Here are Gibson’s numbers in the five games: June 6 at Houston: 9 innings, no runs, three hits and two »

Red Schoendienst, RIP

Featured image Red Schoendienst died last week at age 95. A member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, Schoendienst was associated with the St. Louis Cardinals during six decades as a player, manager, and/or coach, and two more as a member of the front office. Schoendienst overcame a serious eye injury suffered as a teenager to hit over .300 in eight seasons and play in nine all-star games (his 14th inning home run »

Bruce Kison, RIP

Featured image Talk about feeling old. It was around this time in 1971, a few days before Dartmouth graduation. I was in Baker Library reading an article in Sports Illustrated about a rail-thin 21 year-old minor league pitcher and his grizzled battery mate. The pitcher was Bruce Kison. The old catcher was Woody Huyke. Pat Jordan, himself a one-time top young pitching prospect, described Kison for Sports Illustrated this way: At 21, »

Washington Nationals tap Dominican Republic pipeline

Featured image Every baseball fan knows that the Dominican Republic contains a rich vein of major league talent. Unfortunately, for too long the Washington Nationals were unable to tap that vein. It all goes back to Smiley Gonzalez. In 2006, the Nationals signed Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez, a 16 year-old prospect, for $1.4 million. Or so they thought. Actually they had signed a 20 year-old named Carlos Alvarez. Alvarez faked his identity and »

This day in baseball history: Gibson vs. Seaver

Featured image The old baseball games I enjoy writing about tend to feature pitching duels between Hall of Famers or abnormally long outings by pitchers. The game at Busch Stadium between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets on May 6, 1968 featured both. It pitted Bob Gibson against Tom Seaver. Gibson was in his prime and on his way to one of the best seasons a pitcher has ever »

Trevor Richards: From the bushes to the show

Featured image I like to attend minor league baseball games. My favorite venue is Hagerstown, where the Suns, a “Low A” affiliate of the Washington Nationals, play. I sit behind home plate so I can focus on the pitchers. Usually, two pitchers from the opposing team sit nearby. One clocks the pitches; the other charts them. Late in 2016 season, the Greensboro Grasshoppers, a Miami Marlins affiliate, were in town. Seated right »

Not Even Baseball Can Survive Socialism [with comment by Paul]

Featured image We have documented, from time to time, Venezuela’s descent into the final stages of socialism. You know you are nearing the end when people eat their pets. But that’s not all: Patrick Reusse, a veteran sportswriter at Minneapolis’s Star Tribune, notes that even baseball is abandoning Venezuela: Bill Smith was in charge of setting up a training academy for the Twins that opened in Bejuma, Venezuela, in 1995. There was »

Moon trot

Featured image Wally Moon died last week. He was an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1950s and early 60s. Moon was Rookie of the Year in 1954 when, replacing the extraordinarily popular Enos Slaughter in the Cards outfield, he batted .304 and scored 106 runs. In 1957, Moon batted .295 with 24 home runs for St. Louis. Moon is best remembered for his 1959 »

This day in baseball history: Cardinals give up on Alex Johnson

Featured image On January 11, 1968, the world champion St. Louis Cardinals traded Alex Johnson to Cincinnati for Dick Simpson. The Cardinals had high hopes for Johnson when they obtained him, in effect, for aging stars Dick Groat and Bill White two years earlier. I discussed that trade here. At that time, the Cardinals compared the deal to the one that had brought them Lou Brock. General manager Bob Howsam said that »

2017 in reading

Featured image Every year around this time I look forward to Tevi Troy’s “The Year in Books.” Yesterday, he published this year’s edition. Tevi’s list centers around his attempt “to get a handle on what was going on in our strange political environment.” He leads off with a book by our friend Seth Leibsohn (along with Chris Buskirk) — American Greatness: How Conservatism, Inc. Missed the 2016 Election and What the D.C. »

Midnight madness

Featured image Why is the World Series like Italian neo-realist cinema? Because both have produced classics that too few Americans got to see. This year’s World Series, between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, has produced two classics so far — Game 2 and Game 5. Houston won Game 2 in eleven innings by a score of 7-6. The Astros got the game to extra innings by scoring one run »

This day in baseball history — Gibson gets it done on mound and at plate

Featured image On October 12, 1967, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox met at Fenway Park in Game 7 of the World Series. Bob Gibson, winner of Games 1 and 4, both complete games and one of them a shutout, was on the mound for St. Louis. Boston countered with Jim Lonborg, winner of Games 2 and 5, both complete games and one of them a shutout. The difference »