December 7, 2013
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Monday, April 16, 2012
Bobby Valentine, being Bobby Valentine, spouted off about Kevin Youkilis' game prep to the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham:
I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.
Anyone expecting him not to say things like this doesn't understand Valentine's M.O. He's bombastic, confrontational and publicity-seeking. In other words, he's Boston's version of Ozzie Guillen. You know Guillen, the guy who recently said he loves and respects Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
I get that these two managers enjoy stirring the pot. They love to be the center of attention. They prefer to call our their players in the media instead of addressing their issues face-to-face in the privacy of the clubhouse. What I don't get is why, at least regarding that last point.
Sure, generating controversy boosts their notoriety and helps land them broadcast gigs when they're not in the dugout. That's smart (if annoying) business, helping set them up professionally and financially when their managerial schticks finally wear out their welcome.
But embarrassing their players in public, as Valentine just did and Guillen often did in Chicago, serves only to create a divide between themselves and their players. Who wants to listen to a manager who questions your integrity in public? Who wants to play for a manager who doesn't have your back?
I know these antics bring attention to a team, and as the old saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity. And plenty of people seem to revel in these controversies. But it seems the negative impact of this behavior in the clubhouse—and by extension, the playing field— would outweigh the positive impact of a few more ears and eyeballs focused on the team.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I wish Valentine and Guillen would just shut up.
Marlins 5, Astros 4: Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs, finally putting that crazy home run sculpture into action. Somehow we all survived, though I'm not ruling out the possibility that we all got thrown into an alternate timeline or something and won't truly realize it until all the crazy occult stuff starts happening. Kind of like when Ash heard that tape of the professor reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. If Logan Morrison starts calling his bat his "boomstick" and decapitates a possessed Giancarlo Stanton, we'll know that there is some serious stuff going down.
Dodgers 5, Padres 4: L.A. sports the best record in baseball at 9-1 following a walkoff RBI single by Dee Gordon. Weird triple play in this one. Runners on first and second and Jesus Guzman squared to bunt. He thought it was foul as did the runners, none of whom moved. Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis fired to third, it went around the horn to second and first and everyone was out. Kind of b.s if you ask me, as the home plate umpire held his arms up as though it were a dead ball at first.
Cardinals 10, Cubs 3: Matt Carpenter only has playing time because everyone on the planet is injured, but he's making the most of it. He's hitting .409 with 10 RBIs in 22 at-bats on the young season. Yesterday he hit a homer, a triple and drove in five. Jake Westbrook allowed only four hits in seven innings.
Braves 7, Brewers 4: Atlanta lost its first four games but has won its last five. Chipper Jones hasn't played much, but he's contributed each time he has played, hitting a three-run homer in this one. Brandon Beachy gave up only three hits and an unearned run in seven innings.
Blue Jays 9, Orioles 2: The Jays put up a seven spot in the sixth inning to turn this one into a laugher and averted a sweep by the Orioles. Kyle Drabek had his second strong start in a row.
Reds 8, Nationals 5: Joey Votto doubled in two in the 11th to help the Reds avoid a sweep in Washington. Grand slam for Ryan Ludwick.
Red Sox 6, Rays 4: Nothing like winning three straight over a division rival while scoring 31 runs to make everyone feel better about everything. Patriots Day game early today during which the Sox will go for the sweep. In other news, Ralph Branca threw out the first pitch. The ghost of Bobby Thomson stole the sign that was relayed to him and smacked it over the left field wall. Don DeLillo is writing all about it as we speak.
Phillies 8, Mets 2: Cole Hamels strikes out ten in seven innings, helping the Phillies avoid the sweep. Ty Wigginton drove in four, three of which came on a bases-clearing double that broke the game open in the eighth. The Phillies now start a ten game west coast swing.
Tigers 5, White Sox 2: Rick Porcello gave up one run in seven and two-thirds and Gerald Laird went 3 for 4 with a homer. Believe it or not, Porcello's win was the first W notched by a Tigers starter this season.
Indians 13, Royals 7: The Indians scored 32 runs in a three-game sweep of the Royals, reminding everyone who thought the Royals were a sexy pick this season that they really don't have the pitching to do it. Unless you count Mitch Maier, who now leads the team in ERA. Travis Hafner murdered a baseball in this one, sending it some 456 feet, which was one of the longest homers in the history of Kaufman Stadium.
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 2: Yet another game yesterday in which the winner avoided a three-game sweep. Trevor Cahill allowed only four hits, all of them singles, and only one run in seven and a third. Chris Young homered and drove in three.
Rangers 4, Twins 3: Texas scored three in the eighth, capped by a Josh Hamilton two-run bomb. Hamilton has four homers on the season and his 16 for 41. The Rangers lead the AL with an 8-2 record.
Pirates 4, Giants 1: Pittsburgh snaps a five game losing streak. Garrett Jones homered, described in the AP game story as "Jones pulled a solo home run over the right-field arcade." When it landed it hit a guy who was pounding the l-r buttons on Track and Field so hard he couldn't hear the crowd noise, then it bounced over to the other side of the arcade and rolled under the Dragon's Lair machine. Which no one ever really plays because we all feel like it's rigged.
Yankees 11, Angels 5: Jerome Williams got shelled out of the gate, the bullpen didn't help and the Angels slow start continues. Raul Ibanez absolutely destroyed a baseball in the bottom of the seventh, putting it up in the upper deck on one of the longest homers ever hit in new Yankee Stadium.
Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Remember back when the Mariners and A's used to play teams besides each other? I don't. Brendan Ryan hit a homer. I don't remember that happening too often either.
Forty years ago, it looked like the baseball world had it’s latest and greatest phenom on its hands. A new young pitcher was ready for his close-up almost as soon as he arrived in the majors, and based on the early results, he just might have a Hall of Fame career in front of him. The pitcher was young Cubs hurler Burt Hooten, and 40 years ago today, on April 16, 1972, he threw a no-hitter. It was only his fourth career start.
That’s a mighty nice way to start a career, to be sure. But what made it even more impressive was that Hooten’s no-hitter fit in well with his three previous starts. As April 16, 1972, came to an end, Hooten had pitched 30.2 IP in his career and only allowed eight hits. Yes, only eight.
It’s actually a bit more extreme than even that implies. In June of 1971, Hooten came up for a cup-of-coffee start and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. He allowed three runs in 3.2 innings on five walks and three hits. In his next three starts, Hooten tossed three complete games, allowing a total of five hits. Yeah, that’ll get people’s attention.
The second and third starts came in September of 1971. In his second start, Hooten allowed only three hits while striking out 15 batters. That tied the Cubs all-time franchise record for punchouts in a game. Oh, and those three hits allowed? They all came late in the game. Hooten went 6.2 innings with a no-hitter intact.
In his next turn, Hooten pitched a two-hitter for his first career shutout. There was no flirting with a no-hitter, as Bud Harrelson led off the game with a single, but it’s still five hits allowed over two games. Many fine pitchers never did that in their careers.
But the main event was April 16, 1972. In his first start of the new season, Hooten no-hit the Phillies in a 7-0 win. Rarely has a young talent pitched three consecutive games like the ones Hooten had just unleashed. I’m sure many left the game thinking he was headed to Cooperstown. Instead, he became Burt Hooten, a pitcher with a nice career but only a 151-136 record with a 3.38 ERA.
What went wrong? Well, first, Hooten’s success came in part because he threw a pitch hitters weren’t very familiar with, the knuckle curve, but they got familiar with it and adjusted.
Second, the Cubs didn’t take care of him. There’s a reason why they didn’t win anything for decades. Among other things, they put a terrible defense behind him. In fact, two years later, the 1974 Cubs would have what Wins Above Replacement calculates as the worst defense by any baseball team in at least 90 year: -16.6 defensive WAR. Yeah, that can suck a pitcher’s confidence.
Hooten got worse every year he was with the Cubs but did rebound some after they traded him to LA. By that time, the league had adjusted, and Hooten had lost several valuable years of development. He became a great also-ran in baseball history, but 40 years ago today he was still in the running for greatness.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim the list.
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