Tuesday, May 03, 2011
10th anniversary of David Wells’ most asinine moment (5/3/11)Posted by Chris Jaffe
Ten years ago today, David Wells said the most asinine thing in his life.
That’s quite a statement, as Wells was known for the controversial, if not necessarily very well thought out remark. But what he said on May 3, 2001 sure was a doozy.
At that time, he was the big name new pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, who hoped landing the former 20-game winner would help them win the division. It was not to be, but in the hype and hope of his new signing, Chicago’s ESPN-radio affiliate, WMVP AM 1000, gave Wells a weekly segment on the radio once a week for 15 minutes or so on a regular basis.
Ten years ago today, he spouted off about the team’s most familiar face: slugger Frank Thomas. Background: on April 27, in one of Thomas’ rare appearances at first base, the big man dove for a line shot and hurt himself upon landing. There was something wrong with the upper part of his arm, and the Sox had to take him out of the game. He still hadn’t returned to the lineup.
Cue Wells as the mouth that roared. He told his radio audience: "If you don't have the guts to be out there, you know what, you don't need to be here. . . . Playing hurt will get you a lot more respect from your fellow players." Supposedly, some of Wells’ teammates congratulated him in the clubhouse for that statement. If so, they got sucked up in his idiocy.
Wells’ tough talk soon turned into dumb talk. Exactly one week after Wells’ statement, the Sox medical staff made an announcement: Frank Thomas had so badly injured his arm he couldn’t play at all. The medical staff shut him down for the year. Oops.
How do I know this news broke exactly one week after Wells’ mini tirade? Because, the news broke during his regularly scheduled weekly radio show. I still remember listening to that lovely little moment of schadenfreude. Wells was in the midst of his normal shtick, when the radio station announced breaking news from the South Side: team doctors said Thomas would be out the entire rest of the year. Then you had to go back to Wells sounding sad, and how bad for Frank, and all this stuff in which he had to pretend his statement from last week never happened. It was a great moment when mouthing off came back to show the person up.
Long story short: Wells himself later got shut down for an injury that year, in what proved to be his only season in town. Thomas spent the next several years with the White Sox and is currently one of the team’s goodwill ambassadors.
A sight we could've seen more of: David Wells with his mouth shut.
That was 10 years ago today, but it's not the only noteworthy events celebrating it’s anniversary of “day-versary” (the latter being an event that happened X-thousand days ago).
Here are some other notable ones, with the better ones in bold if you just want to skim. First day-versaries (since I’m the only one who tracks this sort of stuff):
4,000 day since Roberto Alomar receives a walkoff walk: CLE 3, NYY 2.
5,000 days since the last of Ryne Sandberg’s 25 multi-home run games. In that same game, teammate Sammy Sosa slams out his 200th home run.
5,000 days since an Orioles’ victory propels Davey Johnson to a career-best 263 games over .500 (970-707). He’ll match but never better the +263 mark.
9,000 days since Tom Kelly managed his first MLB game.
15,000 days since the Cardinals sent prospect Willie Montanez to the Phillies in place of Curt Flood, who refused to report in the trade between these two teams. Flood’s refusal sparks his petition against the reserve clause, which helps create free agency in baseball.
1857 George Gore, Hall of Merit member, born.
1890 First time the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants meet.
1891 Eppa Rixey, Hall of Famer, born.
1895 Hall of Fame slugger Sam Thompson hits his only walkoff home run, a three-run shot giving the Phillies an 8-5 win over Giants.
1896 Overflow crowd at Cubs-Cards game causes fans to stand in roped off section in the outfield. Balls hit into them are considered triples, giving this game nine triples in all, including three by Bill Dahlen.
1899 Bizarre walkoff home run hit in Pittsburgh: Jack McCarthy hits a ball that goes through a door in the outfield. A fan shuts it before a defender can reach it. The NL will order a replay of this game as a result.
1905 Red Ruffing, great-hitting pitcher and Hall of Famer, born.
1911 The longest lasting nine-inning game of the season takes place in 1911: NYG 3, BRK 0 game takes three hours to finish. It was a very different game back then.
1912 Yankees get too little too late: they score 10 runs in ninth inning in furious rally, but lose 18-15 to the A’s.
1915 Almost three years after his big league debut, Wilbur Cooper allows his first outside-the-park home run. His five previous home runs allowed were all insiders.
1920 Braves 2, Dodgers 1 (19). That’s noteworthy because just two days earlier these same two teams tangled for 26 innings. Like that May 1 game, both starters here went the distance: Dana Fillingim (19 IP) for Boston and Sherry Smith (18.1 IP) for Brooklyn.
1927 It’s brother versus brother in the NL as Jesse Barnes out duels his brother and fellow pitcher, Virgil Barnes: Dodger 7, Giants 6.
1928 Pirate hurler Ray Kremer loses at Forbes Field, after 22 consecutive victories there. Now that’s what I call home field advantage.
1930 Charlie Root, the winningest pitcher in Cubs’ history (201 wins with the franchise) steals the only base of his career.
1935 Ted Breitenstein, high quality 1890s pitcher, dies.
1936 MLB debut: Joe DiMaggio.
1938 Lefty Grove begins 20-game winning streak at Fenway Park.
1938 Lou Gehrig, six weeks or so shy of his 35th birthday and suffering from ALS, hits his 10th and final inside-the-park home run.
1941 Hank Gornikci makes a nice MLB debut with the Cardinals, tossing a one-hitter in 6-0 victory over the Phillies.
1945 Davey Lopes born.
1946 Lou Boudreau records his 1,000th hit.
1946 Red Sox announce that Fenway will have lights in 1947.
1947 Pirates trade Al Gionfriddo and $100,000 to Dodgers for Kirby Higbe, Cal McLish, Gene Mauch, Hank Behrman, and Dixie Howell. Gionfriddo has one of the most famous moments in Dodgers’ history in the 1947 World Series. He makes a sensational catch of a DiMaggio blast, robbing him of at least extra bases and possibly a home run (my memory is foggy on how far the blast went). It’s also indirectly responsible for a Chris Berman-ism. Announcer Red Barber said, while watching Gionfriddo go back toward the wall, that he’s going “back back back back back” which Berman later decided to use as his home run call.
1950 Vic Raschi balks four times in one game.
1950 MLB debut: Johnny Klippstein, who turns into an effective reliever after an unspectacular career as a starter.
1951 Gil McDougald of the Yankees records six RBIs in an inning: a grand slam and a two-run triple. This record lasts until Fernando Tatis hits two slams in one inning in 1999. NYY 17, STB 3.
1952 The first all-black battery in MLB history occurs for the Indians; pitcher Toothpick Sam Jones and catcher Quincy Trouppe.
1953 Nice day for Early Wynn: he tosses a complete game shutout on the mound and homers at the plate, as Indians beat Senators 7-0. It’s Wynn’s 10th straight win, his best. His numbers in that stretch: 11 GS, 9 CG, 93.2 IP, 61 H, 23 R, 18 ER, 40 BB, 52 K. 1.73 ERA.
1955 Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser pitches his last game.
1957 Walter O’Malley agrees to move the Dodgers to LA.
1958 Al Maul dies at age 92. He was the last surviving player for the Union Association, a rival major league in 1884.
1959 Charlie Maxwell of the Tigers had a career day: he homers three times in one game and four times in a row in a doubleheader.
1959 Pirates catcher Hank Foiles makes an unassisted double play. That’s tough to do for a catcher.
1961 Switch-hitting minor leaguer Ellis Burton homers from both sides of the plate in one inning. That had never happened before in organized baseball
1961 Ken Boyer laces his 1,000th hit.
1961 Wild comeback that wasn’t: A’s lead Red Sox 8-0 after 6 innings, but Red Sox comeback to tie it, largely thanks to six runs in the top of the ninth. That sends the game into extra innings, but that’s all Boston can do, A’s win 9-8 in 10 innings.
1961 That same day, the Angels stage a more successful comeback. The Orioles led 6-1 at the seventh-inning stretch, but the expansion club gets run one in the seventh, two in the eighth, and three in the ninth for a 7-6 victory.
1962 Hank Aaron hits a double, a triple, and two home runs but never gets the single and thus misses the cycle. His 13 total bases on the day are his career high. Despite his efforts, the Phillies top the Braves, 9-8.
1963 Buster Narum, pitcher, homers in his only plate appearance of the season, only the second time that’s happened in MLB history.
1963 Pete Rose hits his first home run.
1964 Harmon Killebrew experiences maybe his worst day at the plate: 0-for-5 with 4 strikeouts and a GIDP.
1964 Jim Kaat allows the only inside-the-park home run of his career. Nelson Mathews of the A’s hits it, whoever he was. It must be something in the air, because on the same exact day Jim Kaat allows his only career inside-the-park home run, Juan Marichal does likewise. This one is hit by Willie Davis.
1964 Sadaharu Oh hits four homers in a game in Japan.
1964 Carl Yastrzemski gets a career high six RBIs in a game: 3-for-4, one home run, one run and one walk.
1965 Indians select Joe Rudi off waivers from A’s as first-year waiver pick.
1966 Luis Tiant tosses his third straight complete game shutout. For most pitchers that would be a career highlight, but it’s not the longest streak of complete game shutout of Tiant. That said, here are his numbers in this streak: 27 IP, 14 H, 8 BB, 25 K, and of course zero runs for a 0.00 ERA.
1971 A timeout saves the Mets. In the top of the ninth of a 2-2 game against the Cubs, the third base umpire calls a bases-loaded balk on New York reliever Tug McGraw. However, the home plate umpire says he’d just called time, so the balk is negated. The Mets go on to win in extra innings.
1972 Al Kaline laces two triples in one game. Not bad for a 37-year-old.
1972 Bert Blyleven wins his 10th straight game, a personal best he’ll tie 17 years later. His numbers in this run: 13 GS, 9 CG, 108 IP, 93 H, 25 R, 23 ER, 23 BB, 78 K, for a 1.92 ERA. Despite the streak, he’ll end the year 17-17, and that was after going 16-15 the year before.
1974 WPA’s favorite Pete Rose homer: 0.671 WPA: he hits a three-run shot with one out in the top of the ninth and the Cubs beating the Reds 4-2.
1975 Sparky Anderson moves Pete Rose from left field to third base to make room for George Foster.
1975 Brewers lay down six sacrifice hits for manager Del Crandall. That’s the most ever in a designated hitter league. Brewers 4, Yankees 3. In that same game, Robin Yount intentionally walked twice, which is odd because he’s not yet a good hitter.
1977 Dan Meyer gets on base via catcher’s interference twice in one game. That’s only happened six times in the last 90 years.
1977 Last game for Mike Cuellar, a 20-game winner for the Orioles.
1977 Phil Niekro faces 48 batters in one game, his career high. 11 IP, 12 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 9 K in the game. He loses 8-7 to Pittsburgh.
1977 Ryan Dempster born.
1978 Gary Carter hits the first of his 11 career grand slams.
1979 Bobby Bonds smacks his 300th home run.
1980 Ferguson Jenkins becomes the fourth player to win 100 games in each league. Cy Young, Jim Bunning, and Gaylord Perry are the first three.
1980 Willie McCovey hits his last home run. The opposing pitcher is Scott Sanderson, whose career will end in 1996, 37 years after McCovey’s began. Early his career McCovey homered off of Warren Spahn, who debuted in 1942. So that’s a 54-year split between McCovey gopher ball victims. I don’t know how that rates in history, but it sure is impressive.
1981 Fernando-mania: scoreless inning streak for Fernando Valenzuela ends at 36 IP.
1984 The best one-game WPA for any Brewer batter ever: Mark Brouhard scores a 1.027 WPA by going 3-for-4 with 2 runs, 1 homer, three RBIs, and a walk in Milwaukee’s 6-5 win over the Royals.
1985 MLB debut: Lenny Dykstra.
1986 Homer Bailey born.
1986 Kirby Puckett, who homered a total four times in his previous two MLB seasons, launches his 11th home run of 1986 on this date.
1987 Eric Davis homers three times in a game for the second time.
1990 34-year-old Robin Yount hits his sixth and final inside-the-park homer, giving him at least one in three different decades. I wonder how many post-WWII players can say that?
1992 Eddie Murray hits his 400th home run.
1992 Edgar Martinez legs out two triples in one game.
1992 The only time Craig Biggio is caught stealing twice in a game. Astros beat the Pirates anyway, 1-0.
1995 The Bells become baseball’s second three-generation family when David Bell, son of Buddy Bell, who was the son of Gus Bell, debuts. The Boones are the first three-generation bunch.
1996 Ken Hill of the Rangers retires the last 26 batters he faces in a one-hitter.
1998 Dan Wilson hits the first inside-the-park home run in Mariners history.
1999 Davey Johnson wins his 1,000th game: 1,000-740.
1999 Jeff Kent hits for the cycle.
1999 Cuban national team beats Orioles, 12-6.
1999 Creighton Gubanich of the Red Sox gets a grand slam for his first MLB hit, something not done since 1982.
1999 Joe Adcock dies.
2000 Red Sox and White Sox both get four homers in one inning. Not the same game, but an odd coincidence anyway.
2001 Johnny Oates manages his last game. He resigns after the game.
2005 White Sox set new MLB record as they become the first team to lead in each of their first 28 games. They don’t win them all, but they had the lead at one point or another in all of them.
2006 Mike Scioscia manages his 1,000th career game: 532-468 so far.
2006 Washington DC real estate magnate Theodore Lerner wins a bid to purchase the Nationals.
2006 Hector Luno hits the 10,000th home run in St. Louis Cardinals history. This includes their time in the AA in the 1880s, so it may not match up with the franchise’s only claims.
2007 A’s purchase sabermetric darling Jack Cust from Padres.
2008 Ron Gardenhire manages the 1,000th game of his career.
2009 Cubs retire #31 in honor of both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.
2009 Carl Crawford steals six bases in one game against the Red Sox. It’s what he does best: torture Red Sox fans.
2009 Tom Gordon appears in the last game of his career.
History instructor by day, statnerd by night, Chris Jaffe leads one of the most exciting double lives imaginable; with the exception of every other double life possible to imagine. Despite his lack of comic-book-hero-worthiness, Chris enjoys farting around with this stuff. His new book, Evaluating Baseball's Managers is available for order. Chris welcomes responses to his articles via e-mail. Oh, and now he's on twitter.