June 19, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Now availableHardball Times Baseball Annual 2013, with 300 pages of great content. It's also available on Amazon and Kindle. Read more about it here.
THT's latest e-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's new e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
Most Recent Comments
And That Happened (3)
30th anniversary: Bob Welch does it all (1)
And That Happened (2)
30th anniversary: Keith Hernandez for Rick Ownbey and Neil Allen (4)
Four teams, 38 innings, one historic day (9)
our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
Or you can search by:
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Braves 6, Astros 4: Chipper Jones came off the disabled list, singled in his first at bat and hit a home run in his second. Dude is on death's door and he hasn't had functional knees since Bush's first term yet he's still the best hitter on this team. Tyler Pastornicky hit his first MLB bomb. In other news, the Astros wore their Colt .45 throwback jerseys and they looked totally amazing. Check out those stirrups, dude.
Rangers 1, Mariners 0: Neftali Feliz didn't allow a run in his first ever -- and long overdue -- major league start. But according to my sources in the ATH Texas satellite office, he wasn't all that crisp out of the gate, elevating pitches and the like. Guess there's more of a margin for error when you're facing the Mariners. Mike Napoli took an ugly one to the noggin but was OK.
Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 3: Daniel Bard got roughed up (5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER). Thankfully no one in Boston overreacts to such things and will give him all the time he need to ease into the rotation rather than freak the hell out and demand that he be moved to the pen. Meanwhile, Kyle Drabek gave up one run on three hits in five and a third. If he comes correct this season the Jays' perceived rotation problems will be way less significant.
Nationals 6, Mets 2: Between learning about David Wright's broken finger and losing their first game of the season, it seems that the Mets are not invincible after all. Jayson Werth went 4 for 5 and drove in two. Ross Detwiler pitched five scoreless innings.
Brewers 7, Cubs 4: The Brewers scored five in the first with the help of an Alex Gonzalez three-run homer.
Yankees 5, Orioles 4: Freddy Garcia threw five wild pitches. That's special. Raul Ibanez doubled in the go-ahead run in the 12th. That's unexpected.
Tigers 5, Rays 2: Work fast, throw strikes. It's pretty easy, yes? Rick Porcesllo made it look so on a cold afternoon. Porcello allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings. Matt Moore was almost as effective for Tampa Bay, but the bullpen gave up three.
Dodgers 2, Pirates 1: Andre Ethier hit a homer with two outs in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie on Dodger Stadium's 50th anniversary. The Beach Boys sang the National Anthem. Brian Wilson was actually there, so it was the actual Beach Boys, not Mike Love and his Twisted, Depressing Beach Boys Tribute Band.
Cardinals 3, Reds 1: The Cardinals are 5-1, are hitting the ball well and are getting great pitching too. I guess they don't quite miss Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter yet. Homers from Carlos Beltran and David Freese.
Diamondbacks 4, Padres 2: Chris Young with a two-run homer in the 12th wins it. He hit it off Micah Owings, who probably should have been playing left field instead, but then again people have been saying that about Micah Owings for years and folks still let him pitch. The Snakes were lucky the game went extras given that their starter, Trevor Cahill, threw more balls than strikes while walking six dudes in six innings.
Royals 3, Athletics 0: Given the forecast I saw yesterday afternoon I'm surprised they even got this one in. But they did, even if it was rain-shortened. Danny Duffy allowed only one hit in six innings while striking out eight. According to the game story there were probably 150 people in the Coliseum taking this one in.
White Sox vs. Indians: POSTPONED: This one was postponed due to a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow. Well, rain, but since the temperatures were falling, it could very well have been snow eventually.
Ryne Sandberg was a fine fielding, power-packed second baseman who is now an unquestioned member of the Hall of Fame. Reggie Smith was an underrated star whom some also regard as Cooperstown worthy.
When you combine them on an action shot featured as part of the excellent 1983 Topps set, you have yourselves a gem of a card.
Smith actually accumulated slightly more WAR during his career than Sandberg, 63.4 to 62. That might be a simplistic way to assess Smith’s case for the Hall of Fame, but there is little doubt that he was a superb all-round player who hit with power, batted for a good average, drew walks, stole bases, and played a strong right field, the latter ability reinforced by his cannon-like throwing arm. Smith didn’t even strike out all that much for a legitimate home run hitter, never accumulating more than 95 strikeouts in a single season. Clearly, Smith could do it all.
Those kinds of numbers should have generated Smith a major league contract for the 1983 season, and while the Giants did make him an offer, they were outbid by the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese League, so Smith took his substantial talents to the Far East.
Yet, this particular baseball card mystery is not solely about Smith’s value as a player, as great as he was. (But feel free to debate his Hall of Fame case.) As usual, it’s about the card, always about the card.
We know that the photograph must have been taken in 1982, because that was Smith’s only season in San Francisco, and it also happened to be Sandberg’s first season as a Cub.
(In 1981, Sandberg played briefly for the Phillies, while Smith put in his final season in Dodger Blue, so that season is simply not a possibility for the card.)
We also know that the ballpark is Candlestick Park, as evidenced by Smith’s home white uniform and the iconic chain link fence in the right field background. And, of course, it is an afternoon game, with the sun shining brightly in the San Francisco sky.
Sandberg, who looks particularly thin in his age-22 season, is safely returning to first base on a pickoff attempt. So while we know that Sandberg somehow reached first base, we don’t know exactly how. It’s a good bet that since the Giants are attempting a pickoff at first, there is likely no runner at second base, and quite possibly no one at third.
Is this enough information to pin down the game and the inning when the photograph was taken? I’m not sure, but let’s give it a try.
Fifty years ago today, the National League reclaimed its portion of New York City. On April 11, 1962, the New York Mets played their first game.
As anyone who knows baseball history should be aware, that first season for the Mets was not the stuff of wonder and glory. Boy, is that ever a nice way of putting it. That Mets team was the worst of the 20th century, posting a horrible record of 40-120.
The only team with more losses was the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who went 20-134. That team hardly counts, though, as their owners bought the St. Louis franchise in the 1898-99 offseason and concentrated all the quality players in the larger St. Louis market, leaving only the dross in Cleveland. Among real teams, the ’62 Mets are the all-time loss leader.
True to form, that first game was a loss. Playing on the road in St. Louis, the Mets were crushed by the Cardinals, 11-4. It started well for the Mets as pitcher Roger Craig retired the first batter the franchise ever faced. Then things immediately went downhill, with Craig allowing three consecutive singles. Then he balked. Thus, for a brief moment, the Mets had more balks in franchise history than innings pitched.
That set things off on the wrong note for the Mets, and they lost each of their first nine games. That stretch included an extra-innings loss to their fellow expansion team, the Houston Colt .45's.
As it happens, at the same time the Mets were off to their horrible start, the Pittsburgh Pirates set a record by becoming the first NL team in history to begin the year 10-0. Between their hot start and the Mets' dismal debut, the Mets were 9.5 games out of first before they ever won a single game. As it happens, when they finally did win a game, it was over those high-flying Pirates. New York’s 9-1 win over Pittsburgh on April 23 ended both squads’ streaks.
That win would be an aberration, as the Mets dropped 16 of their first 19 contests, putting them 13 games out of first place less than a month into the season. It would be a long year for the Mets, indeed. To be fair, immediately after that horrible start, the Mets had their best stretch, winning nine of their next dozen games. Then again, aside from that stretch, the team was 31-117 on the year so—OUCH!
Looking just at the game that took place a half-century ago, the Mets set the following team firsts:
First batter: Richie Ashburn, who flew out. Later in the day, he scored the team’s first run.
First pitcher: Roger Craig. He also recorded their first out, allowed the team’s first hit, surrendered the first run, got called for the first balk, and struck out the first opposing batter.
First hit: Gus Bell got it, in the second inning.
First walk drawn: Felix Mantilla.
First RBI: Charlie Neal drove it in during the third inning. During this game he would also commit the first Mets error.
First home run: Former Brooklyn Dodger hero Gil Hodges swatted it.
First 1-2-3 inning by a pitcher: Reliever Bob Moorhead did it in the fourth, as Craig only lasted three innings. In the fifth inning, Moorhead gave up the first walk in Mets history.
In all, 14 Mets played in that game, seven of whom are still alive: Craig, Mantilla, Don Zimmer, Frank Thomas, Jim Marshall, Hobie Landrith, and Ed Bouchee.
Also, four of the men who played in that game for the Mets later became managers. Hodges won a world title with the 1969 Miracle Mets. Craig won the pennant while helming the 1989 Giants. He defeated Zimmer’s Cubs in that year’s NLCS. The Cubs were one of four teams Zimmer managed. Marshall managed a team nearly as bad as the 1962 Mets, the 1979 A’s, who went 54-108.
At any rate, the Mets got their start in the majors, exactly 50 years ago today on April 11, 1962.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d prefer to skim the list.
Click for more...