A Cleveland Indians Pitcher Has Not Stolen A Base Since 1967
In 1967 Cleveland Indians pitcher John O’Donoghue accomplished something that was not that uncommon at the time. On July 5, in the bottom of the fifth against the Detroit Tigers, O’Donoghue reached base on a force out. He then stole second base.
His steal was so uneventful it was not mentioned in most newspaper accounts of the game.
That unremarkable steal wound up being quite an achievement. It is the last time a Cleveland Indians pitcher stole a base. That’s right, 51 years ago, 1967. That it is the longest stretch any team in major league baseball has gone without one of their pitchers stealing a base.
There are three teams that came into the league through expansion where no pitcher has ever stolen a base. Two AL teams, the Seattle Mariners (1977) and the Tampa Bay Rays (1998) and one NL team the Miami Marlins (1993). Every other team has had a pitcher steal a base in the subsequent years.
Of course stolen bases have been steadily declining over the years for all of baseball.
But the idea has been propagated that pitchers are one-dimensional entities today. They’re specialists. They’re starters. They’re relievers. They may only be brought in to pitch to one batter. They’re not hitters. And they’re definitely not base runners. Continue reading →
The Sights & Sounds Of Yankee Stadium 1931 – Yankees vs. Red Sox
What follows is a rare and amazing 14 minutes of film.
Yankee Stadium on opening day April 14, 1931. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Happenings before and during the game.
What makes it so unusual is that the film crew was experimenting with syncing the sound to the action. So there are microphones recording what was being said or the resonant sounds of baseball. The players don’t quite know what to say when asked to speak. The natural sounds of the ballpark are just so different from today.
Batting practice with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mayor Jimmy Walker throws out the first ball. An IRT train passes and stops beyond the left field bleachers. Everyone in the stands is well dressed as you’d expect. Large signs remind everyone that “Betting is prohibited.”
The lack of technology is pure pleasure. The advertising is on billboards same as now, but no ads or deafening music being blasted from speakers. Your visual senses are not assaulted by a jumbotron. Fans look at the field, no distractions.
No P.A. system. A guy with a megaphone comes out and announces each team’s battery – a term rarely used today – for pitcher and catcher.
Then there is not only a patriotic marching band entertaining fans, but all the players from both teams march along with the band.
The game itself is great to see, but the things you notice while the game is going on seem so foreign to a modern viewing audience. Continue reading →
Aaron Boone Apparently Has A New Nickname for Every Yankee & It Ends With a “Y”
One of the worst innovations in baseball telecasts has been the managers interview in the dugout during the game.
Without fail the meaningless banter yields no insight and distracts viewers from the game itself.
Listening to new Yankee manager Aaron Boone during spring training, has been especially annoying. In about eight interviews I’ve heard with Skipper Boone, nearly every Yankee has been renamed by placing a “Y” sound at the end of their first or last name. Not being in the Yankees clubhouse I cannot be certain that the Yankees don”t rechristen themselves as Boone has done, but I somehow doubt it.
So during the MLB, YES or ESPN broadcast interviews this spring, Boone sounds more like a schoolboy, than a major league manager.
When Boone is referring to Aaron Judge, he is “Judgey.” Brett Gardner has become “Gardy.” Aroldis Chapman is “Chappy.” Greg Bird is “Birdy.” Aaron Hicks has become “Hicksy.” Chad Green is “Greeny.”
Jordan Montgomery is now the British expeditionary leader of WWII, “Monty.” Like our 40th president Ronald Torryes is “Ronnie.” Chasen Shreve is “Shrevey” which sounds like something akin to a short pervert. Jacoby Ellsbury who could have remained Jacoby or Ellsbury, is not a cow, but must represent Borden milk, as he has become “Elsie.”. Continue reading →
In 2017 Aaron Judge Became The New Single Season Strikeout King
When Aaron Judge makes contact with a baseball it can be an breathtaking sight. His home runs are the definition of tape measure shots, some balls traveling 500 feet or more. Not since Mickey Mantle has a ballplayer hit such long distance bombs with such regularity.
When Aaron Judge doesn’t make contact, the big swing breeze he creates can cool off fans in the first ten rows near the dugouts. And Judge’s propensity for striking out in 2017 was prodigious.
Last season Judge struck out 236 times, 208 strikeouts in the regular season and 28 times in the postseason establishing a new major league record for most total strikeouts in a season. No news outlet bothered to point this out.
Granted, Judge’s strikeout record gets an asterisk because of his postseason participation. Continue reading →
Babe Ruth and Gary Cooper Get A Visit From Former Yankee Bob Meusel & His Daughter
When Babe Ruth played himself in the classic film The Pride of The Yankees (1942) he had not played for seven years. Since his retirement, Ruth’s weight had ballooned to 270 pounds. The Babe wanted to look good for the film, not that he would ever look as svelte as Gary Cooper, starring as Babe’s teammate Lou Gehrig, but at least he tried.
Before filming began Babe went on a diet and shed over 47 pounds to look more like he did in his playing days.
Some former Yankee teammates appeared for short cameos including Bill Dickey, Mark Koenig and Bob Meusel. Continue reading →
An Empty Yankee Stadium Was Used As A Filming Location For Buster Keaton’s “The Cameraman”
Here Are Some Views Of A “Different” Yankee Stadium In 1928
90 years ago, Buster Keaton made The Cameraman, a comedy in which he played a newsreel cameraman trying to get newsworthy footage. Many of the scenes were shot on location in New York City.
In one scene Keaton figures he’ll head up to the Bronx and film some baseball action sequences. He arrives at Yankee Stadium and hurries in with his camera ready to catch the Bronx Bombers, only to discover the Yankees are not playing that day.
That does not stop Keaton from indulging in fantasy, as the empty stadium looms as a backdrop to his antics.
In real life Keaton was a baseball fanatic. This was a time when many Hollywood studios had their own baseball teams and played against one another. In the written application to work with Keaton’s company, there were two questions on the form: 1. Are you a good actor? 2. Can you play baseball? If you answered yes to both you probably could get a job working with Keaton.
Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. Over the next ten years constant changes occurred to the dimensions, seating and field itself creating the classic Yankee Stadium that most fans are familiar with either first-hand or through old photographs.
Presented below are stills from Buster Keaton’s classic film, The Cameraman.
In the opening Yankee Stadium sequence Keaton enters through center field. Note the unfinished right field stands. As originally configured, straight away center field was over 490 feet away from home plate! The bleachers could hold over 10,000 fans. The flagpole was on the playing field and there were no plaques or monuments in Yankee Stadium yet, honoring the “greats.”
A locker room manager emerges from the dugout to tell Keaton, the Yankees are not at home. If you look at the “box seats” you can see that they are really “boxed” off with movable chairs. Continue reading →
30 Minutes Of Baseball Bliss As The Audio System At Yankee Stadium Fails – September 14, 2017
They say if you go to a baseball game there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.
But it’s not only what I had never seen before, but what I didn’t hear. What happened Thursday, September 14, 2017 during a Yankees – Orioles game was unusual.
For the first time in my life, I attended a major league baseball game and the national anthem was not played before the start of the game. No, it wasn’t the second game of a real doubleheader (remember those?)
Not only was the national anthem not played, no sound was heard in the ballpark except the cheers of the crowd, calls of the vendors and crack of the bat. Continue reading →
Gene “Stick” Michael Was More Responsible For The Yankee Championship Teams In The Late 90s Than Anyone Else
Gene Michael awaits the throw to second base as Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio makes his slide (1970).
Former Yankees shortstop, manager and general manager Gene Michael died today September 7, 2017 at the age of 79 of a heart attack at his home in Oldsmar, FL.
Michael was a slick fielding light hitting shortstop who played on Yankees teams from 1968 – 1974, that were a shadow of the former Yankee teams. From 1921 -1964 the Yankees had appeared in 29 World Series, winning 20 of them.
If The New York Yankees futility of the late 1960s and early 1970s was epitomized by their second baseman Horace Clarke, then Gene Michael would unfairly be attached to that failure with his double play partner. Horace Clarke, was a career .256 hitter and average fielder who hit a total of 27 home runs with the Yankees from 1965 – 1974. Because Clarke’s career coincided with that of Michael’s the two were paired together unfairly as the face of Yankee ineptitude.
But there was never any question that Gene Michael was a decent ballplayer and a great competitor.
The “Stick,” as the six foot two skinny shortstop was nicknamed, had baseball smarts and could execute the plays a lot better than an average player. That is what kept Michael on the team. A .229 lifetime average usually won’t ensure your spot on a major league roster unless you can hit thirty or more home runs a year. Yet Michael was valued by teammates and some fans as a hard-nosed, crafty ballplayer.
One thing that Michael did that you rarely see anymore was pull the “hidden ball trick.”Michael said he would only pull it if his pitcher was in trouble.
Michael would have the ball in his glove as the pitcher would be getting ready to pitch and Michael would sneak up on an unsuspecting runner as he began to take a lead off second base and apply the tag. It’s called a bush league play today. Completely unprofessional. I disagree. It showed smarts and initiative to pull it off and I question why it is not tried more often today. I once witnessed Michael do this in person and didn’t realize what had happened.
Michael was smart in other ways. In a May 25, 1973 game against the Texas Rangers Continue reading →
Why The New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become A Joke
1955 Old Timer’s Day (l-r) Frank Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Gabby Hartnett and Joe DiMaggio (photo: Acme)
Sunday June 25, 2017 the New York Yankees will hold their 71st Old TImer’s Day.
There was a time when baseball’s immortals and Gods showed up at Old Timer’s Day games. Take a look at this video below and you can understand my disappointment at what passes today for Yankees Old Timer’s Day. If you have any sense of the history of baseball, this assemblage of players at Yankee Stadium taped on the field by Greg Peterson in 1982 will blow you away.
Maybe the disappointment stems from the fact that with a few exceptions there are almost no former Yankee players of the Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt; Allie Reynolds; Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra caliber still living. The pomp and ceremony of recent Yankees Old Timer’s Day is now somewhat revolting to watch.
Old-Timers Day started with a gathering unlike any other. In 1939 former Yankee teammates of Lou Gehrig gathered to honor him after he had stopped playing due to contracting the illness, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) that would eventually take his life and now bears his name. It was at this occasion that Gehrig made his “luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.
Starting in the 1940s, Yankees Old Timer’s Day became an annual event where former baseball stars from other teams squared off against former Yankee greats. The players who graced the field at Yankee Stadium to play in a spirited and fun exhibition game were among the best to ever play the game. Over the years other teams held their own Old Timer’s Day. Now the Yankees are the only team in baseball that still holds an Old Timer’s Day .
At previous Old Timer’s Day fans would see opponents such as; Ty Cobb; Lefty Grove; Dizzy Dean; Al Kaline; Stan Musial; Ted Williams; Warren Spahn; Hank Greenberg; Bob Feller; Bill Terry; Pee Wee Reese; Duke Snider; Willie Mays and dozens of other “real” stars.
A collection of Hall Of Fame participants at the 1968 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium (l-r) Red Ruffing; Bill Terry; Luke Appling; Bill Dickey; Joe Medwick; Frankie Frisch; Pie Traynor; Joe DiMaggio; Bob Feller and Lefty Grove.
As the Hall-of Famer’s and greats started passing away the names showing up at Old Timer’s Day gradually became less glamorous, until they started delving into quasi-stars and then marginal players.
I am not certain when exactly it ended, but the Yankees stopped inviting players from other teams to participate in Old Timer’s Day.
Over the last 15 years, you may have noticed Old Timer’s Day has become a Yankee love-fest of a few former stars such as Paul O’Neil, Roy White, Willie Randolph, Joe Pepitone and a lot of what can best be described as one season wonders or ordinary ex-Yankee players.
There are still some great former Yankee players who show up to participate in the festivities most notably Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and this year a rare visit by Sparky Lyle.
Many of players the Yankees invite to Old Timer’s Day are nondescript. Yankee management must feel that today’s fans prefer seeing some of these “greats” that have participated in Old Timer’s Day over the last few years:
Brian Boehringer; Scott Bradley; Homer Bush; Bubba Crosby; Chad Curtis; Brian Dorsett; Dave Eiland; John Flaherty; Bobby Meacham; Jerry Narron; Matt Nokes; Dan Pasqua; Gil Patterson; Andy Phillips; Aaron Small; Tanyon Sturtze; Marcus Thames and others of that ilk. Continue reading →
MLB About To Introduce Two Ridiculous Rule Changes To “Speed Up” The Game.
Why The Changes Are Bad And What They Should Do Instead.
These fans watching baseball in the 1940s don’t look bored at all. That may be because the average length of a 9 inning baseball game in the 1940s was about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Baseball is a slow and boring sport. The games are too long. There is not enough scoring.
These are some of the complaints that have been lodged against the National Pastime.
The only part I’ll agree with is that the games are definitely too long.
MLB executives and the players union are trying out two changes this year in the minor leagues to speed up the game. After trial periods, it is likely these changes will be permanently adapted in the major leagues. They may indeed speed up games by a few seconds. For the vast majority of games these changes will have little effect and do more damage than good to the overall structure of baseball.
There are other changes that would be more practical and easy to implement to dramatically shorten all games without changing baseball itself. I’ll discuss that after we review the two proposed MLB rule changes.
The first proposed rule change is that a team will be able to declare an intentional walk without the pitcher throwing any pitches. The pitcher’s manager will just signal for an intentional walk and the batter will go to first.
The second rule change is even sillier. In extra inning games, starting in the tenth inning each team when they come to bat will start the inning with a man already on second base.
So why are these changes beyond foolish?
Let’s look at the first proposal, the announced intentional walk. Although it sounds like an easy strategy to walk a batter intentionally, it is sometimes not so simple to throw four balls that are nowhere near home plate.
There are pitchers, such as the Yankees Dellin Betances, who when called upon to execute an intentional walk, every ball they throw can be an adventure. A wild pitch is always a possibility. Lobbing the ball to the catcher is hard for some pitchers. There are also quite a number of pitchers who throw the ball too close to the plate, so the batter can swing at the ball. Every now and then you’ll see something that you rarely see. Here are just two recent examples.
Miguel Cabrera drives in a run on an intended intentional walk.
Gary Sanchez of the Yankees nearly hits a home run on a pitch that was meant to be a ball.
As I pointed out many pitchers really have a hard time throwing a ball intentionally outside of the strike zone when the situation is called for. This is far more common than you might imagine. Wild pitches can change the outcome of a ballgame, especially with runners on base as seen here in multiple cases:
Then there is the opposite effect, where the defense pulls a tricky play.
In the early 1970s I recall seeing Reds superstar Johnny Bench get fooled at the plate. It happened on the biggest stage possible; game three of the 1972 World Series.
Bench had a 3 and 2 count when A’s manager Dick Williams paid a visit to the mound. Williams talked with pitcher Rollie Fingers and catcher Gene Tenace and made it seem like Williams told Fingers to intentionally walk the dangerous slugger. Because as Tenace returned to the plate to await the next pitch from Fingers, Tenace, stood up, put his hand out calling for an intentional ball four.
And guess what? Tenace jumped right back behind the plate and Fingers threw a slider for strike three, stunning Bench and everyone watching. It was a deft move you don’t see very often.
I couldn’t believe that I found the moment on YouTube.
In 1996 Dennis Martinez and Tony Pena of the Indians, successfully pulled the same move on Blue Jays star John Olerud.
It’s true, these flubs are extremely rare, but they do occur. The automatic intentional walk is a shortsighted rule change and ends up removing strategy from the game.
One other thing: how does the new rule go down in the record books? Will the pitcher be credited with four pitches thrown? What happens when you are at three balls and one strike, do you just declare the walk when you want to intentionally pass a batter or does the pitcher still have to throw a pitch?
The second rule change of starting the inning of an extra inning game with a man placed on second base to begin the inning is simply ludicrous.
No nail-biters anymore, no strategy – it’s just get this game over with. This is what MLB is saying.
Joe Torre, MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer, is in favor of bringing the rule to the major leagues if the minor league experiment works.
Torre said, “Let’s see what it looks like. It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
Really Joe? How many games went to 18 innings or more in the past ten years? How many times did a manager use their whole pitching staff?
In the entire history of Major League Baseball there have only been 46 games that have gone more than 19 innings. On average less than 10 games per year last 15 innings or more. If a manager goes through his entire pitching staff, well he’s not a good manager. Believe it or not many fans enjoy marathon games. It’s the time of those exciting games that gets people sleepy, not the number of innings.
If you want to ruin baseball then this rule change is perfect.
By the way: how would the scoring work for putting a runner on second? Idiotically.
The pitcher didn’t allow the runner on, so why penalize him and the team when a ground ball to second for an out advancing the runner to third and then a fly ball can result in a run. The pitcher and the team was essentially defensively effective, but could lose the game.
This rule is MLB being lazy and coming up with a dumb solution just to shorten games and appeal to younger fans with limited attention spans. It’s like MLB took a page out of the NHL rule book with hockey’s overtime shootout to decide tie games. That adjustment has been horrible for hockey and its fans.
Now what are the ways to speed up baseball games significantly?
Change # 1 – Enforce rule 5.07 (c) of the Major League Baseball rule book which states: “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 12 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.”
The 12-second timing starts when the pitcher is in possession of the ball and the batter is in the box, alert to the pitcher. The timing stops when the pitcher releases the ball. The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.
Did you realize rule 6.02a (8) says:
If there is a runner, or runners, it is a balk when: The pitcher unnecessarily delays the game;
Have you ever seen that enforced? I haven’t. But I’ve seen pitchers call the catcher to the mound six separate times for one batter or take over 30 seconds between each and every pitch.
I’ve noticed and counted the time between pitches in many games. Most pitchers take between 22 -27 seconds to throw a pitch after receiving the ball back from the catcher. Some pitchers are agonizingly slow, like the Dodgers Pedro Baez (over 30 seconds between pitches) and Kenley Jansen (27 seconds between pitches). There are many hurlers who can transform their own fielders into a trance-like state with all that inactivity.
There’s no excuse for this. Watch R.A. Dickey or Mark Buehrle pitch and the game moves at a brisk pace. Unfortunately they are the exceptions. Most pitchers take wayyyyy too long between pitches. Put up a pitch clock and give the pitchers a little leeway- 15 seconds and have them throw the pitch or call it a ball. Figure saving at least 5 seconds per pitch with 260 total pitches being thrown. total time shortened per game: minimum 26 minutes Continue reading →