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.


A Truly Scary Development

December 1, 2010

Around the time the Twins were being swept out of the 2010 playoffs by the Yankees, I had drafted a post comparing the New York Yankees to a professional wrestling villain. It was surely a brilliant work of literature, but it didn’t meet the high editorial standards of CW, so it was relegated to the WordPress trash bin.

I was reminded of that post while updating myself on the Derek Jeter contract controversey.

On one level, the tabloid-ish fill to the whole affair is somewhat delicious being that the player in the center of it all is constantly praised for the “great character” it takes to stay out of tabloids and police blotters. Additionally, it must be a bitter pill for Jeter-lovers everywhere to discover that Yankees management, of all people, do not buy in to the Jeter hype. I’ll admit, it’s hard not to enjoy the daily updates for these very reasons.

Still, there is a disturbing undercurrent to the ordeal. Is it possible that the Yankees are turning a corner as an organization? Might they actually begin to leverage the financial advantages of being the Yankees by making intelligent, statistically informed baseball decisions instead of throwing large sums of money at marginal free agents?

Nah, I prefer to think that they will ultimately listen to the star-crossed media-types who are indignant that the icon of a generation might have to make ends meet on a mere $15 million-per-year salary and give in to the Captain’s demands.

That would be a characteristic of the Yankees we know and hate.

The Yearly Gold Glove Scam

November 10, 2010

Joe Mauer won his third gold glove yesterday. Also of note was the fact that Torii Hunter did not win the award for the first time in nine years – no small feat considering that he probably hasn’t deserved the award for the last five seasons.

That is about all the time and space I am willing to waste on an award that recognizes Derek Jeter as the best shortstop in the American League.

Triple Triples II

July 7, 2010

It has been almost a week since Denard Span became the 29th player in major league baseball history to hit three triples. To put that in perspective, there have been 21 perfect games in major league history, so it is a feat just slightly more common than the perfect game.

The Minnesota/Washington franchise has been involved in five of those games – three times on the “right” side, including Span’s game.

The last time a member of the Minnesota Twins hit three triples in a game was on July 3, 1980 when Ken Landreaux did it against the Texas Rangers.

One of the more recent occurences came at the expense of the Twins. Lance Johnson, then with the Chicago White Sox, hit three triples in a 14-4 win late in the 1995 season.

Interestingly, all three events were home games for the Twins, one at each of the parks the team has called home.

Washington was involved twice, once when Joe Kuhel did it against the White Sox in 1937, and once when the Nats were the victims of Charlie Gehringer and the rest of the Tigers in a 21-5 loss in 1929. Since Gehringer had his three triples at Griffith Stadium, that makes four ballparks in franchise history that have played host to a three-triple game.

A Crazy Half Inning

June 3, 2010

I had the ESPN game between the Cardinals and the Reds on in the background, so I was able to catch the last six outs of Armando Galaragga’s should-have-been perfect game. I didn’t see any of Dallas Braden’s or Roy Halladay’s until after the fact, so I thought I might have lucked out. As it turned out, I did. I saw one of the most entertaining and frustrating half-innings that doesn’t involve my favorite team.

First, the could-have-beens. This would have been the third perfect game in less than a month. There have been 20 in the history of major league baseball. I don’t think it is anymore than random chance that there have been so many recently, but it is a remarkable stretch, even without Galarraga’s.

Now, the should-have-beens. Jim Joyce missed that call. There have been a lot of terrible calls in the first two months of the 2010 season, but that was easily the biggest of the bunch. It was probably not the worst. In Joyce’s defense, there was some strange footwork on the base, and the play was not as clear at full speed as it seemed in the slow motion replay (the worst thing that can come from this is a louder cry for instant replay).  Galarraga, the Tigers, and baseball should be celebrating another perfect game. As it stands, it was one of the most fascinating one-hitters I can remember.

What should be remembered about that game – Austin Jackson’s back-to-the plate catch in (very) deep left-center field. That is what an outfielder with range looks like. He went and got the ball, and the sheepish grin on Galaragga’s face immediately following the play told the story: he got away with one there. That was a ball that drops most of the time (it might even be a home run in some ball parks). I suppose, then, in the end it evened out.

Though it wasn’t a perfect game, what actually happened is probably going to be more memorable.