If You Rooted For The Yankees, Could You Root For Tom Seaver?
Tom Seaver pitching two-hitter in the seventh inning as he makes a bid for his 15th win of the year. August 7, 1975 photo: Paul DeMaria (Seaver wound up with a 3 hit complete game 7-0 shutout over the Expos)
Hall of Famer and baseball great Tom Seaver died Monday, August 31 at age 75 and a piece of my childhood died along with him. The accolades, recollections and recounting of stats will continue to flow for the next few weeks.
But not everyone who saw Seaver play rooted for this consummate pro. Especially kids like me.
Being a Yankees fan in the late 1960s and early 1970s was not fun. A New Yorker has to choose teams. A real New York fan can’t root for both the Rangers and Islanders or the Jets and the Giants. You certainly cannot be a fan of both the Yankees and the Mets. So you make choices.
As a New York baseball obsessed kid who collected trading cards, I examined both teams carefully. I chose to be a fan of the on-his-last-legs Mickey Mantle led Yankees. Bad choice. Mantle retired immediately upon my declaration of loyalty.
The 70s Yankees teams featured players like Jake Gibbs, Jerry Kenney, Mike Kekich, Steve Kline, and Horace Clarke.
Arguments on the summer camp bus about who was better, the Yankees or Mets ended with the words Tom Seaver.
Rooting for the Yankees meant rooting against Tom Seaver. Comparing Tom Seaver to any Yankee player was a futile exercise in partisanship.
Before Rich “Goose” Gossage another great “Goose” played pro baseball. Suiting up for the Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers was Leon “Goose” Goslin. Here Goose leaps high to stab a ball at spring training in Lakeland, Florida. Continue reading →
MLB Approves Gambling On Baseball, Maybe Its Time To Reconsider “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s Lifetime Ban
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson before game vs. Yankees at Comiskey Park August 23, 1915
“Shoeless” Joe Jackson, believed by many to have been the greatest natural hitter of all-time, was banned from baseball for life after the 1920 season by Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis.
Jackson had a .356 batting average in his abbreviated 13 year career. Controversially, Jackson remains on baseball’s permanent ineligible list, meaning he can never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His alleged crime, as many people know, was participating in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox including Jackson were influenced by gamblers with promised payoffs to throw the World Series.
As the old car commercial goes “Baseball, Hot Dogs Apple Pie and Chevrolet, they go together in the good ole’ USA.” Where does gambling fit in? Apparently right beside baseball. Continue reading →
Was Game 5 Of The 2017 World Series The Greatest World Series Game Ever Played?
How Many Were Still Watching When The Game Ended At 1:40 am EST?
WORLD SERIES game 5 2017 1:39 A.M EST
I started watching game five of the World Series with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.
It looked like it was going to be a great game. The Astros had overcome two deficits and at 11:30 pm the score was tied 7-7 and it was only the sixth inning.
But like most people on the east coast who had to get up for work in the morning, it was getting near time to turn in for the night.
Some children might get a pass and be allowed to stay up til midnight, but not many, because there is school the next day. And the adults? As much as they want to watch, they know they have real life obligations that require not being exhausted the next morning.
Over 19 million people watched the game but viewership peaked between 11:45 – midnight EST. After that, a steady drop-off in viewers occurred as the game went on and on.
The winning run – game 5 2017 World Series
It did not surprise me that the game ended with a dramatic 13-12 Astros extra inning victory. What was surprising was that the game lasted until 1:40 in the morning. Total time of the game: five hours and seventeen minutes!
How many millions of people missed seeing this great game because of how long it lasted and its starting time? We’ll never know. All I know is that I did not see its conclusion, nor did any of my friends.
As I will continue to point out in story after story, Major League Baseball needs to get their priorities straightened out.
Why a Sunday World Series game was not played during the daytime is simply because FOX TV gets to dictate the start time and derive maximum advertising revenue. Money is more important than the future of the game. Continue reading →
Watching the game from center field – the only way an entire generation of TV director’s have decided to televise baseball
Here are just a few of the ways television has helped to ruin watching baseball. None of the corrective suggestions will be heeded, but someone has to point it out.
1 – The camera angles
Guess what? About 80% of the time you’re not watching baseball. What you are seeing is four guys – a pitcher’s back, a catcher, a batter and an umpire.
What kind of a lead is the runner taking? Where are the outfielders shaded? Is the overused shift in effect? Where was that ball hit? Is it going to be a hit?
How would we know? The audience rarely sees any other part of the field except from the center field camera.
Unless you attend games in person and sit in center field with a high power telescope, this is not the way anyone views an entire baseball game. Nor should it be the way to televise one.
It would be nice to see the return of the overhead mezzanine high camera from behind the catcher so we can see the whole field.
So here are two angles from behind the plate – one high and wide the other not as high. Both of these camera angles are more conducive and infinitely superior to the view you see on most broadcasts.
2- The busy screen
I don’t know about most people but I want to watch a baseball game, not be diverted by ads and a constant scroll of information.
While not every channel is guilty of the news scroll on the bottom of the screen, your view is still cluttered with unnecessary information.
Watching the World Series there are no other scores or news to scroll on the screen so you won’t see the scroll there. Yet that doesn’t stop clutter.
Showing “Fox World Series Game 1” in the upper right hand portion of the screen for the ENTIRE game? Does the score, runners on base, balls and strikes, number of pitches, pitch speed and all other sorts of information need to be shown every second of the game?
Go watch a game from the 1980’s or earlier. How did people enjoy the first 40 years of baseball telecasts with justhaving the game and nothing else on the screen? Quite well.
With the exception of a few local broadcast outlets, most networks televising baseball have adapted their own version of a strike zone box. And it’s getting to be de rigueur instead of a special feature.
This horrible innovation that began a few years ago is an artificial rectangular box on the TV screen surrounding home plate, that supposedly identifies the strike zone and differentiates strikes from balls. Unfortunately it is in the direct line of sight of the television viewer.
Before Radio Or Television If You Didn’t Have A Ticket To The World Series – You Could Still Watch It On The Play-O-Graph
Advertisement for the “wonderful Automatic Play-O-Graph” – Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 13, 1911
In August, 1911 with $10,000 capital, John W. Baker, Henry H. Abbott and Sumner Ford incorporated the Baseball Play-O-Graph Company in Stamford, Connecticut. The men devised a way of transmitting the actions of sporting events “live” through telephone and telegraph.
The depiction of baseball games through mechanical means had been accomplished previously, but not showing the track of the ball, which was what made the Play-O-Graph unique. The Play-O-Graph would show the action without the aid of electric lights.
Baseball fans congregate outside the New York Herald Building during the 1911 World Series
In October of 1911 the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics lead by manager Connie Mack would play John McGraw’s New York Giants for the World Championship.
Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.
There were a couple of oddities in the 1911 World Series. Each game alternated cities with games one, three and five being played in New York and games two, four and six played in Philadelphia. The other strange occurrence was that there was a one week delay between games three and four as a deluge of rain hit Philadelphia for six straight days.
After inspecting the field for playability causing the fifth straight postponement of game four, umpire Bill Klem joked, “There was a pool around second base big enough for a diving exhibition by (swimming champ) Annette Kellerman. I was unable to locate the home plate for the lack of a diving apparatus. The outer gardens would make excellent pasturage for a herd of hippopotami.”
Both teams were considered evenly matched and felt confident they could win the series. Since 1904 each team had won three pennants.
Line outside the Polo Grounds at 7:00 am to buy tickets for game 3 of the 1911 World Series. photo: Bain
When tickets for the opening game of the World Series went on sale on Friday, October 13 at the Giants home field, the Polo Grounds all the tickets were gone within two hours. After the sell-out, the regular ticket price of three dollars shot up to five, six, seven and eventually eight dollars from speculators (scalpers) who had scooped up as many tickets as possible.
With over 38,000 fans cramming the ballpark it would be difficult to see the game without a ticket.
That would be where the Play-O-Graph would come into use. Setting up their machines at four locations in the United States, fans could see the game as it transpired.
“When the pitcher pitches the ball and when the batter hits it and when he is thrown out, is all shown upon the Play-O-Graph. Every move of the game is made clear to the spectator who watches the ball as it moves from place to place upon the board,” the company proclaimed.
The company installed two boards in New York, one in Chicago, one in Detroit and one in Philadelphia. 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 →
Cubs In World Series, 1945; Indians Were World Champions, 1948
Cubs May Have Had Sluggers, But They Still Lost to Tigers in ’45; Indians Prevailed Over Braves in ’48
1945 Cubs Sluggers: (l-r) Lowery, Secory, Nicholson, Pafko and Sauer photo: William Greene
The news photograph above was captioned “1945 Cubs Sluggers.” That may be a bit of a misnomer as Harry “Peanuts” Lowery hit seven home runs in 143 games, the most he ever hit in his 13 year career.
Frank Secory hit no homers in 35 games. Bill “Swish” Nicholson, the only true slugger in this photograph led the National League in homers in 1943 and 1944 with 29 and 33 home runs respectively. In 1945 Nicholson led the Cubs with a mere 13 home runs in 151 games. Andy Pafko hit 12 home runs and drove in 110 runs in 144 games. And Ed Sauer had two homers in 49 games.
As a team the 1945 Cubs hit only 57 home runs. On the other hand their pitchers allowed only 57 home runs.
In the closely contested World Series, none of the “Cubs sluggers” hit a home run. National League MVP Phil Caverretta hit the only homer and led the Cubs with a .423 batting average.
Claude Passeau and Rudy York before game 1 1945 World Series photo: International News
Before game 4 of the World Series began, this photo was taken. The caption reads: Continue reading →
Players on the 1908 World Champion Chicago Cubs In High Definition Photographs
Joe Tinker, Shortstop 1908 Chicago Cubs
For the moment it seems all of America is talking about the Chicago Cubs. As everyone now knows it has been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series four games to one against the Detroit Tigers.
Johnny Kling, Catcher 1908 Chicago Cubs (check out that bat!)
The 1908 Cubs are comprised of forgotten names. Their achievements are just dusty remnants that reside only in the record books. There is no one alive today who actually saw the 1908 Chicago Cubs play.
They were a hardened lot, these players. They usually had to work at other jobs in the off-season. It was a time when baseball players scrambled for a job on one of 16 ball clubs. They had to be constantly looking over their shoulder because there was always some youngster trying to take their $2,000 a year baseball job.
At least we can see what they looked like. We’re bringing the Chicago Cubs of 1908 back to you in high definition photographs. All photographs are from the Library of Congress and can be clicked on for enlargement in great detail.
With their heavy flannel uniforms, small fingered gloves, heavy bats and grizzled looks, here are some of the 1908 Chicago Cubs:
Mordecai “Three Fingered” Brown, Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs
Mordecai “Three Fingered” Brown, really only had three fingers, his index finger was a stump that was the result of catching his hand in a corn shredder when he was seven-years-old. That accident gave Brown an odd spin on his fastball which confounded hitters. He won 239 games while losing only 130 in his career. His ERA was 2.06, the third lowest in history for pitchers with over 2,000 innings.
In the 1908 World Series Brown was one of two star pitchers, winning two games against the Detroit Tigers. Brown was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1949.
Orval Overall Pitcher 1908 Chicago Cubs
You would think anyone named Orval Overall would be remembered just because of his name. A short career doomed Orval to obscurity despite a 108-71 lifetime record with a 2.23 ERA. There was no Tommy John surgery when Overall hurt his arm and his career was over in 1913 at age 32. Overall won the other two games for the Cubs in the 1908 World Series.
Johnny Evers Second Baseman 1908 Chicago Cubs
Johnny Evers was considered one of the scrappiest and smartest players to ever play the game. Evers batted .300 in 1908 and .350 in the World Series. If you enlarge the photograph you will see a man who had lived quite a bit. This photograph of Evers is from 1913 when he was only 32. Continue reading →
It Still Happens – Pitchers Hitting In The Postseason (And Making A Difference)
This photograph of pitcher Sandy Koufax shows a rarity.
In 20 times at bat, Dodger great, Sandy Koufax got only one hit in postseason play.
Koufax is leaving the batters box after stroking a single in game six of the 1965 World Series driving in Ron Fairly. Koufax’s single gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh in an eventual 7-0 shutout over the Minnesota Twins. It wasn’t Koufax’s hitting that won the game, it was the complete game, four hitter with 10 strikeouts that he hurled. Still to everyone watching, sans Twin fans, Koufax’s hit was a pleasant surprise.
The Dodgers went on to win the seventh game and Koufax was named the series MVP.
Koufax was one of the worst hitters ever, compiling a miniscule .097 career batting average over 12 seasons. But no one ever came to see Koufax hit, they came to see him pitch. As bad as a hitter as Koufax was there was always the slim chance that he might get a base hit. And when he did guess what? It was exciting.
The use of the designated hitter in the American League and the DH’s use in World Series games only in American League ballparks has effectively eliminated the thrill out of watching the pitcher impacting the game with his bat.
So in this day and age when it is considered a shock when a pitcher comes to the plate and gets a hit, it is refreshing to see pitchers in the 2016 postseason hitting and making a difference in many games.
Travis Wood homers photo: Dennis Wierzbicki USA Today
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was actually used as a pinch-hitter in game two of the NLDS playoff game against the Cubs. In that same game, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks singled in two runs and reliever Travis Wood blasted a home run against the Giants pitcher George Kontos.
Then in the next game of the series Cubs starter Jake Arrieta hit a three run homer against the Giants. In the fourth inning of game 4 Giants pitcher Matt Moore singled home the go ahead run in a losing effort.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw helped his own cause in game four against the Washington Nationals by doubling and scoring the go-ahead run in what ended up being a 6-5 L.A. victory.
If you polled baseball fans most would say they want more offense and never have pitchers bat. Continue reading →