1985 All Star Game

July 14, 2014

1985 All Star Game

56th All-Star Game
Minneapolis, MN

The Pre-Game

The buzz surrounding the 56th All-Star game was dominated by the disparity between the leagues, specifically in home runs. The AL lineup collected a total of 118 in the first half of 1985, while the NL’s eight starting position players only had 69 home runs.

The question was not if the AL would knock some out of the “homer dome”, it was simply a matter of how many.

The senior circuit, however, had dominated the mid-summer classic. Since 1962, the NL had posted a 20-2 record. The junior circuit won roughly once a decade, first in 1971, and two years earlier in 1983.

The hosts were represented by the league minimum one player: Tom Brunansky (.265/.359/.508 19 HR). Also on the AL roster was former Twins pitcher, now with the Indians, Bert Blyleven, and St. Paul natives Paul Molitor (MIL) and Dave Winfield (NYY).

NL Lineup
1. Tony Gwynn SD LF .302/.342/.419 4 HR
2. Tom Herr STL 2B .332/.397/.441 3 HR
3. Steve Garvey SD 1B .261/.284/.426 13 HR
4. Dale Murphy ATL CF .290/.383/.558 22 HR
5. Darryl Strawberry NYM RF .229/.356/.438 8 HR
6. Graig Nettles SD 3B .250/.392/.405 8 HR
7. Terry Kennedy SD C .286/.302/.397 7 HR
8. Ozzie Smith STL SS .283/.346/.383 4 HR
9. LaMarr Hoyt SD P 12-4 2.93 ERA

AL Lineup
1. Rickey Henderson NYY CF .357/.441/.552 11 HR
2. Lou Whitaker DET 2B .309/.393/.495 15 HR
3. George Brett KC 3B .358/.456/.580 12 HR
4. Eddie Murray BAL 1B .274/.353/.465 13 HR
5. Cal Ripken BAL SS .282/.342/.472 15 HR
6. Dave Winfield NYY RF .297/.340/.461 12 HR
7. Jim Rice BOS LF .274/.326/.453 17 HR
8. Carlton Fisk CHW C .238/.320/.528 23 HR
9. Jack Morris DET P 10-6 3.04 ERA

The Game

National League Continues Domination, 6-1

by Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS, July 16-The American League arguably has superior players in seven out of eight positions. But the National League could have fielded a neighborhood softball team behing the brilliant pitching it got tonight, and the result might have been the same.

Five National League pitchers allowed only five hits and one run-an unearned one at that-to shut down the American League, 6-1, before 54,960 in the 56th All-Star Game in the Metrodome.

Full Boxscore

LaMarr Hoyt SD 3 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 W 0 K

Scoring (from Retrosheet)

AMERICAN LEAGUE 1ST: Henderson singled to center; Whitaker made
an out to right; Henderson stole second [Henderson to third
(error by Kennedy)]; Brett lined out on a sacrifice fly to left
[Henderson scored (unearned)]; Murray popped to shortstop; 1 R,
1 H, 1 E, 0 LOB.  National League 0, American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 2ND: Murphy made an out to shortstop; Strawberry
singled to left; Strawberry stole second; Nettles made an out to
left; Kennedy singled to center [Strawberry scored]; Smith
popped to third;over the shoulder catch; 1 R, 2 H, 0 E,
1 LOB.  National League 1, American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 3RD: Hoyt struck out; Cruz grounded out (first
to pitcher); Herr doubled to left; Garvey singled to center
[Herr scored]; Murphy doubled [Garvey to third]; Strawberry
walked; KEY REPLACED MORRIS (PITCHING); Nettles popped to third
in foul territory; 1 R, 3 H, 0 E, 3 LOB.  National League 2,
American League 1.
NATIONAL LEAGUE 5TH: Garvey grounded out (shortstop to first);
Murphy struck out; Strawberry was hit by a pitch; hit on the
leg; Wallach doubled [Strawberry to third]; Virgil singled
to left [Strawberry scored, Wallach scored, Virgil out at second
(pitcher to second)]; Rice's throw got past Fisk; 2 R, 2
H, 0 E, 0 LOB.  National League 4, American League 1.
(PITCHING); Sandberg walked; RAINES BATTED FOR CRUZ; Raines
walked [Sandberg to second]; Pena struck out; Clark walked
[Sandberg to third, Raines to second]; HERNANDEZ REPLACED PETRY
(PITCHING); McGee doubled [Sandberg scored, Raines scored, Clark
to third]; Parker struck out; Wallach was walked intentionally;
WILSON BATTED FOR REARDON; Wilson struck out; 2 R, 1 H, 0 E, 3
LOB.  National League 6, American League 1.

1. Nolan Ryan NL 0.18
2. Ozzie Virgil NL 0.16
3. 3 Tied at 0.07 – Terry Kennedy NL, Steve Garvey NL, Jimmy Key NL

Worst WPA
1. Jack Morris AL -0.13
2, Bert Blyleven AL -0.11
2. Craig Nettles AL -0.11

The Post-Game

The 1985 All-Star game was the first and last held at the Metrodome. It is also the last one held in the Twin Cities. It has been a 29 year wait.

1985 also marked the end of the National League’s dominance. Since that game, the American League has put up a 20-7-1 record in the All-Star Game.

Bert Blyleven pitched two innings (4th and 5th) and gave up two runs. He would be back in the Metrodome less than a month later. On August 1, Blyleven was acquired by the Twins in a trade. He would go on to pitch three full season with the Twins, including the World Series year of 1987.

The Pioneer Press has a link to video of the entire game (including Vin Scully’s play-by-play) in an article by Kevin Cusick:

— The game featured more former Twins (Bert Blyleven, Graig Nettles, Gary Ward) than 1985 Twins (Tom Brunansky). As for future Twins, this game had a six-pack (Paul Molitor, Jack Morris, Dave Winfield, Tom Herr, Jeff Reardon and Blyleven).

— Pete Rose became the only player to appear in both Minnesota all-star games, going hitless as he did at the Met in 1965. It’s not known, though, whether he won big by betting on the National League.

— Vin Scully did play-by-play for NBC, nearly two decades after calling Sandy Koufax’s shutout of the Twins in Game 7 of the 1965 World Series at the Met. While the golden voice hadn’t changed, his golden “hair” certainly had.


Originally published in 2006. Just a few edits in 2014.


Less Than Half Attention – Weekend Links

June 26, 2014

I have to admit I have been keeping only one eye (if that) on the Twins over the last couple of weeks. Most of my sports-watching attention has been focused on Brazil, where the U.S. Men’s National Team has advanced the the knockout round for the second straight Cup Finals.

Back in December, when the World Cup draw took place, I didn’t see much of a chance of Team U.S.A. advancing past the group stage. The draw included two of the top four teams in the world (according to FIFA rankings – Germany and Portugal), and the national team’s personal nemesis Ghana. It seemed as though things had to fall perfectly for the team to advance. While some things did go well for Team U.S.A. (Germany’s dismantling of Portugal, Portugal defeating Ghana), Klinsmann’s side largely made its own luck on the field.

The squad will be back at it on Tuesday, against a Belgium team that is no better than the teams they have already seen in the group stage. Who knows, if some things go right, this team may have a run in the knockout stage. As it stands, this has been a successful tournament for the USMNT.

The rest of the World Cup has been something to watch, particularly the first two rounds of the group stage. It has been largely wide open with lots of goals. Luis Suarez notwithstanding, there has been less dirty play, less flopping, and more of what makes the game so enjoyable. In addition to the United States, two other CONCACAF have advanced, including surprising Costa Rica who won a group that included England, Italy, and Uruguay and Mexico who drew the hosts.

Baseball players follow the World Cup too.

Aside from last weekend’s sweep of the White Sox, there hasn’t been a lot of good going on with the Twins lately. Now Aaron Hicks, who is a switch-hitter again, has been demoted to Double-A.

One good thing: Brian Dozier.

Additionally, the Futures Game during All Star Week will feature three top Twins prospects.

I caught the last inning of Lincecum’s no-hitter. Even better, though, was listening to the entirety of the replay of Clayton Kershaw’s no-no called by Vin Scully. Here’s hoping it’s not Scully’s last no hitter.




June 7, 1989: Bob Welch against the Twins

June 12, 2014

New York Times story on Bob Welch here.

Wednesday June 7, 1989
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

A’s 3, Twins 2

Most Important Play
With two outs in the top of the ninth and runners at the corners, Greg Gagne took a called third strike from Todd Burns to close out the game.

1. Bob Welch OAK 0.19 – 6.1 IP 5 H 1 R 2 BB 2 K
2. Todd Burns OAK 0.16 – SV 0.1 IP 1 K
3. Gene Nelson OAK 0.15 – 1.1 IP 1 H

Bottom WPA
1. Greg Gagne MIN -0.16 – 0-for-1 K
2. Frank Viola MIN -0.09 – 6 IP 6 H 3 R (1 ER) 8 K
3. Mark McGwire OAK -0.07 – 0-for-3 3 K

A three-run fifth inning was enough for the A’s in an afternoon pitcher’s duel between Bob Welch and Frank Viola. Viola was cruising, having retired 12 of the first 15 batters he faced, including 6 K’s over the first four innings. The A’s finally got to him with three singles in the fifth. The inning also included an error charged to Twins third baseman Gary Gaetti and a wild pitch that scored the A’s third run.

32-year-old Bob Welch improved his record to 8-4 with a solid performance against the Twins. He was not dominant, and had the help of a few well placed double plays to keep the Twins scoreless through six innings. He was finally chased from the game when he allowed a pair of singles and a walk with one out in the seventh inning. Only one of those runners scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Al Newman, accounting for the only run charged to Welch in the game.

Bob Welch career versus Minnesota:
15 G 96.2 IP 9 W 5 L 3.52 ERA 37 BB 46 K



Women and Baseball

June 8, 2014

I decided before I had kids that if I had a girl who was interested in the sport, I would steer her away from softball and towards baseball. I have not had the chance to do that because my boys are both, well…boys, so it has not been an issue. I have long wondered why girls play softball in this country. I still don’t have an answer, but the issue has hit the opinion section of the New York Times in an op-ed penned by Emma Span.

Both men and women swim, ski, snowboard and run marathons and sprints. Both play tennis and soccer and basketball. Softball, though, is a completely distinct sport, with different pitching — underhand — and different equipment, including a larger ball. It also has shorter distances from pitcher to home plate and between bases, fewer innings and a smaller outfield. Yes, Division I softball is demanding, far from the beery fun of middle-aged weekend leagues. But the women’s version of baseball is not softball. It’s baseball.

Completely different sport. She goes on to talk about Title IX and a brief history of women in baseball, and how major league baseball essentially banned women from baseball in 1952. The problem is even bigger, though:

Even where no official rules keep them out of baseball, girls face enormous pressure to switch to softball. “They get chased right out of middle-school baseball,” said Jennifer Ring, the author of “Stolen Bases: Why American Girls Don’t Play Baseball,” whose daughter fought to play in high school and played a season on Vassar College’s Division III men’s team. When a girl persists in playing, Ms. Ring said, “you can’t count on it being a good experience, because you have to explain why you’re even there.”

Last year, 474,791 American boys played high school baseball, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations; 1,259 girls did. In some cases these girls were the only ones in their entire state. No college scholarships lie ahead, as they do in softball.

It seems silly to me, but at the very least its something to think about, and I’m glad its getting attention in the New York Times.

Memorial Day Link Dump

May 25, 2014

One of the internet rabbit holes I went down earlier this week led me to my own interview with former Twin reliever Doug Corbett from the summer of 2007. Reading through this took me back. Doug was very candid throughout the interview, with the possible exception of the All-Star game shoe issue. One of my favorites was his story about Mike Marshall:

The only thing about Mike that I did not like was when my mom was visiting and I wanted to give her an autographed ball from the team. When I asked Mike, he declined. When I explained it was for my mom, he responded, “So what, I won’t sign for my mom either.” He was one of the first people I looked up on TwinsCards.com to see how many cards he had autographed. Pretty slim pickings!

He also responded to the accusation that he used the spitball:

I only threw one wet pitch in 1981, yet was ranked as the #2 spitter in baseball behind Bob Stanley in one publication. I never denied throwing one. That was a mental edge I felt I had. The one wet pitch I threw was to Mark Belanger in Baltimore. It was a day game and hotter than blue blazes. I was putting my necklace back inside my jersey and my fingers came out soaking wet. I thought to myself, self, why not? The worst thing you can do is hit the back stop with it. If it works, who knows what benefit may come from it. I gripped it, let it go, the ball was coming in about mid-thigh, Belangers’ eyes got as big as saucers as he saw the location and he swung. The ball dropped out of sight, Mark spun around in a circle then yelled out, “I’m hitting .220, why me?” There’s that mental edge I was referring to. I knew he would return to the dugout cursing to his teammates like Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, etc., about the spitter I just threw him in a meaningless game. With the stuff I threw I needed all the mental edge I could get.

The interview is worth reading in full. Here is part one, and part two.

Billy Hamilton update: .257/.297/.347/.644 slash line. Not good. 18/24 stolen bases. That’s a lot of times caught for the fastest man in the majors.

I don’t have any great ideas for the name of the game, but I’m probably going to buy it.

While the Twins have been more than watchable this year, I am also enjoying the woes of the defending champs. Speaking of entertaining: here’s an article about Cap’n Jeter’s defensive woes. It’s slightly dated, but a pretty good analysis of good shortstops versus, well, Jeter.

I watched the Champions League Final on Saturday and was hoping against hope that Diego Costa scored a goal so we could hear more about this controversial horse placenta treatment he received in Serbia for his hamstring. Additionally, had Costa scored, there would have been a better chance that Atletico Madrid would have defeated neighbors Real Madrid. The 4-1 score line was not indicative of the quality of the game overall, but it was soiled for me by Cristiano Ronaldo’s late penalty kick and subsequent shirt removal.

While we’re talking about the good kind of football, I was a little shocked that there was not room for Landon Donovan on Team USA’s World Cup roster. This shed a little bit of light on the decision. Still, Donovan is responsible for the moment that made me fall in love with the world’s game.

It seems like everything has potential to make you fat.

Finally, at the risk of linking myself too much, here’s my Memorial Day reflection from 2008. That was my grandfather on my father’s side. Exactly a year ago from this Memorial Day, my grandmother on my mother’s side passed away, so this Memorial Day takes on some additional meaning for my family.





Billy Hamilton, Replay and the Transfer Rule

April 17, 2014

I am trying out a subscription to MLB.tv this month. Due to blackout restrictions, I can’t watch the Twins, but I am able to see every other game involving every other team. Since MLB seems to hate my money (seriously, every team except the one I want to see…), I probably won’t renew. It has been fun though. Some observations from the first few weeks of the 2014 season:

The Reds have become the must-watch team for me because of Billy Hamilton. I was trying to explain to my 7-year-old son why we keep watching the Reds. It came down to this: he changes the game. As David Roth puts it, he is an “injection of happy” in a game that has perhaps become a little too serious about itself.

He is also a perfect fit for the .gif age.


My favorite: Hamilton scoring on a popup just beyond the infield.

Unfortunately, he is not getting on base enough this season to show off his unique skill set. In reality, he probably isn’t getting on base enough to secure a major league roster spot for long. Here’s to hoping that the happy injection sticks around for a while.

I still hate the challenge system for instant replay, and really hate the visual of a manager “arguing” with an umpire while facing his own dugout. That said, having replay in place for a couple of weeks has made me rethink my overall stance on the use of replay in baseball.

The system in place has exposed the number of questionable calls that are made over the course of a game. If it takes some form of instant replay to get those calls right, then I am grudgingly for it.

There is no reason, however, that the inefficiencies and downright stupidities of the current system can’t be fixed. The first step is to get rid of the challenge system. It takes people watching at home roughly five seconds to determine whether a given play needs another look – why can’t a fifth umpire “review” every play and communicate to the field umpire on plays that need another look?

Major League Baseball, somewhat quietly, tinkered with the transfer rule during the offseason. It is not a secret anymore. There have been several games impacted by the new rule. Essentially, a catch is not a catch until the ball is transferred cleanly to the fielder’s throwing hand. A safe call could be made, under the current interpretation, if the fielder catches the ball, runs the length of the field with the ball in his glove, then drops it in the course of exchanging the ball to his other hand. This strikes me as one of those rule clarifications that was not well thought out. Hopefully a change will be made before the end of the season, or perhaps a manager will force the league’s hand



10-Team Playoffs

March 5, 2012

Major League Baseball has made it official: baseball will add an extra wild card spot to each league, meaning that a total of 10 (out of 30) major league teams will make the postseason each year.

From the home team’s perspective, I don’t think it matters for 2012. Even if the Twins somehow manage to have enough wins to contend for either of the AL wild card spots, they would very likely be at the top of a very weak-looking AL Central.

Overall, I would prefer there be zero wild cards. If you are going to have non-division winners in the postseason, however, I am for anything that gives those teams an additional handicap. Having to play an extra game, even just the one scheduled for the playoff, puts the wild card team at a greater disadvantage compared with the division winners.

So, I hate that the 162-game season means a little less now, but I like that winning the division means a little more. We can call it a push.


January 25, 2012

I lived in southern Texas for the first three years of my life, so the Houston Astros were my first baseball team (really my first favorite team of any kind). Though I still have a small connection, I abandoned them as my National League alternative around the same time they opened the bandbox they call a ballpark (for the record the Washington Nationals have taken the official title of my NL team).

Still, I can’t help but feeling sad for this news.

Morris and the Hall

January 24, 2012

There has been plenty written about Jack Morris and the Hall of Fame over the past few weeks. While it’s not a slam dunk, indications are that Morris will be inducted in 2013.

On one hand, I’d like to see it, if for no other reason than to once again shine a light on what was the definitive baseball game of my childhood: Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. 10 innings. No runs. Jack Buck’s call: “The Twins are gonna win the World Series, the Twins have won it! It’s a base hit. It’s a one-nothing, ten-inning victory!”

As an aside, I would guess that many would argue that Game 6, the Puckett home run, was more memorable and important. I won’t argue with that. Game 7 is more memorable for me for a couple of reasons, mostly unrelated to the games themselves. For one, I remember where I was when I watched Game 7. For some reason, I don’t remember Game 6 quite as vividly. Also, I had the VCR running for Game 7, and have probably viewed that game at least twice per year for the past 20 years. I just recently acquired the 1991 DVD set, and when I get to Game 6 it will be only the second time that I have seen the entire game.

Back to Morris. While his affiliation with the Twins was short, it was important. There is no chance he’ll have a Twins’ hat on his Hall of Fame plaque, but he is nonetheless identified very closely with the local team thanks to the Game 7 performance. If Morris does get in, it will be fun to see him honored at Target Field.

That said, I don’t think that Jack Morris belongs. The numbers just aren’t there (follow the links above if you want a statistical walk-through). What is interesting is that whether you approach the question with a SABRmetric slant (WAR, WHIP, etc.) or take a more traditional view (Wins, ERA, etc.), Morris falls well short of the current Hall of Fame standard.

The reason he will likely get in, I think, is due in part to his reputation as a “big-game pitcher,” but some of it may be a sort of backlash to the Blyleven vote last year. For all of his superior numbers, the knock on Blyleven has always been that he didn’t “feel” like a Hall of Famer and never seemed like a dominant pitcher. I have trouble getting into the head of someone who still makes that argument, but I suspect that a Morris induction might be a way for a few writers to reclaim the vague but persistent notion that the gut feeling is the best way to evaluate a player’s Hall of Fame candidacy.

I don’t find that argument to be particularly persuasive, but Jack Morris was a very good pitcher, and is as responsible as anybody for my Twins’ fandom and love of baseball, so I won’t complain too loudly if and when he is inducted.

Wooden Shoes in the Hall

January 7, 2011

It has been written about at length, but at long last Bert Blyleven got the call from Cooperstown.

Over the past five years, there have been few questions in baseball circles that produce as much debate as Blyleven’s HOF case. It represents, in a way, the line between the traditional baseball press and the new breed of baseball bloggers (who may or may not be writing from mother’s basement). In the end, the “you had to be there” and “he never felt like a HOFer” arguments (which, I believe, were more about his reputation as uncooperative with the media – the gate keepers off the Hall can be a fickle bunch) lost out to the overwhelming statistical evidence.

While Bert’s inclusion feels like a victory for sanity, it may well be a short-lived one. The Hall of Fame voting this year signaled an entirely new wave of voter insanity – the PED witch hunt.

Well, I guess it will continue to give my favorite writers a reason to continue writing.