December 9, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
And here's the full roster.
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Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Rays 4, Yankees 3: Mark Teixeira committed his first error of the season, which allowed in the go ahead run. Hey, he's allowed one bad day, right? All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once, am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed. Why else would you dress up as a flying rat?
Cubs 4, Braves 1: The Braves' case of the Mondays continues. They are 0-11 on Monday games in 2012. This is important. This means something. Or maybe it doesn't. Last night it was merely a function of Jeff Samardzija striking out 11 Bravos in seven innings and Anthony Rizzo homering again.
Twins 6, Tigers 4: Four straight wins for the Twinkies. This one was Ron Gardenhire's 900th. If they had won this one the Tigers would have gotten back up to .500, but they can't seem to get any momentum. Jim Leyland closed the clubhouse after the game. I assume that this was so that he could murder some of the underperforming Tigers as a lesson to the survivors.
Royals 11, Blue Jays 3: Mike Moustakas hit a grand slam and drove in five as Ricky Romero got walloped. Joey Bats hit his league-leading 27th, but the Jays dropped their fifth game in the past seven tries.
Pirates 11, Astros 2: The Pirates stay hot. Garrett Jones had four hits and four RBI including a homer. His was back-to-back with a Neil Walker shot. Both of them hit the foul pole. That apparently hasn't happened on back-to-back homers since they started keeping track of such things in 2000. I'm sure there's some old guy someplace who will swear he saw it happen in Forbes Field or something, though.
Angels 3, Indians 0: Jered Weaver threw seven shutout innings. Mike Trout didn't start due to a jammed pinkie finger, but he did pinch run.
Brewers 6, Marlins 5: The entire Internet spends 24 hours talking about the Zack Greinke snub so Greinke goes out and pitches kinda poorly (6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER). Now today all the La Russa defenders will act like this one game justified the snub. Can't wait until All-Star season is over. Eh, Greinke probably doesn't care. Brewers won.
Cardinals 9, Rockies 2: Josh Outman? More like Josh Walkman, amirite, people? Ahem, sorry. Anyway, Kyle Lohse pitched well and Allen Craig hit two homers.
Reds 8, Dodgers 2: Scary moment as Zack Cozart was hit in the head with a Chad Billingsley pitch. In these days of, thankfully, much greater awareness of the seriousness of concussions, someone square these two statements from me:
Zack Cozart: "I think it just got away from him. I don't even really remember, to be honest. I just remember hearing a pretty loud bang, then I had some ringing in my ears, and that's why I was on the ground holding my ears"; and
Instead of "he'll be all right tomorrow, how about putting him on the seven-day DL just to be sure?
Mariners 6, Orioles 3: Six runs for the M's at Safeco Field is the equivalent of 22 runs for a normal team in a normal park. Seriously. You can look it up.
Padres 6, Diamondbacks 2: Cameron Maybin hit a 485-foot home run. Clayton Richard continues a nice string of starts. Indeed, he is 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA over his last five.
Athletics 6, Red Sox 1: Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted one inning in which he gave up five runs on four hits while walking two. Nope, not what the Sox needed. Josh Reddick and Brandon Moss homered for the A's and Jarrod Parker pitched well again, allowing one run over six and two-thirds. Kid has a 2.46 ERA on the year.
This week marks the 65th anniversary of Larry Doby integrating the American League. His debut with the Cleveland Indians came on July 5, 1947, and I suspected other THT writers—yes, Chris Jaffe especially—might mention the occasion on Thursday. So I chose to make my remarks today, observing the day that Cleveland owner Bill Veeck purchased Doby's contract from the Newark Eagles. However, sources differ on whether this happened on July 2 or July 3, and Mr. Jaffe got slightly ahead of me yesterday with his anniversary column. I may not be first overall (much like Doby), but I still have a couple thoughts on the matter.
My first thought begins with a man who almost inevitably comes up when you think about Doby's debut: Jackie Robinson. Robinson is, without doubt, the most-honored man in baseball. His number is retired across the game, barred to everyone except one grandfathered player who isn't even playing right now. (Get well, Mariano.) Every April 15, the anniversary of his debut, this is reversed, and everybody is wearing his number. The Rookie of the Year award is named after him, but this shining honor is lost in the sun-hard glare of everything else.
I confess thinking sometimes that it's a bit much. It seems baseball is trying so hard to expiate the sins of a previous generation that it cannot quite move beyond them, even when it is beyond them. And in the center of this effort stands Robinson, raised to a level unique in the sport. He has to be the greatest man in baseball history, they seem to be saying, the only man worthy of these tremendous honors, because only he could have done this tremendous deed.
I can think of another.
Larry Doby walked onto a team whose players didn't have all that much use for him, and not only due to the age-old scorn of rookies. There were honorable exceptions—Joe Gordon, Jim Hegan, and Bob Lemon being names you might well recognize—but to most of the rest, Doby was an interloper, not a teammate. From opposing players, opposing managers, and fans, he got treatment that is still painful to recount at this far remove. "I can't see how things were any different for me than they were for [Robinson]," Doby would later say.
He was partly right. The animus against him was comparable to what Robinson suffered, but the support for him in his struggles was much less. For one, the black newspapers of the day, united in extolling Robinson, let Doby fade from their pages. The story was the First Man, not the Next Man. This was short-sighted: that next man mattered very much, in insuring that Robinson wasn't a fluke, that there would be a next man, and a next, and a next.
But it's understandable that they might not look too closely at his performance, because in 1947, it did not stand much scrutiny. To be blunt, Larry Doby had an awful 1947. He started exactly one game (the day after his debut), and his .156/.182/.188 line over 33 plate appearances didn't justify much more.
Robinson had rough patches in his first April, but a 14-game hitting streak to begin May established him as someone who deserved to be in the majors. Whatever vile stuff was being thrown at him, he could stand buttressed by the knowledge that he belonged.
For Larry Doby, it must have felt like he left his bat back in Newark. And in the dark of night, staying at some rundown hotel because the establishment where the rest of the team stayed didn't serve "his kind," it had to be terribly tempting to think that maybe he belonged in Newark after all.
But he endured the corrosive mixture of outside abuse and inner doubt. He stuck around for 1948, when vindication came in a flood. He played like a star, and his Indians became the first integrated team to win the World Series.
It didn't have to be that way. Not every player who crossed the color line in those years was a success story. For a few, the pressures found a seam in their armor and cracked it. Larry Doby, left exposed in some ways not even Robinson was, might have cracked.
But he didn't. He justified his place in baseball history. Had it fallen to him to be first instead of second, I believe he would have justified that, too. There are surely at least a few others who would have carried the burden as well—but it isn't their anniversary today.
My second thought requires intruding on the foreign turf of professional football, but it involves Doby as well. Football was just ahead of baseball in integrating its ranks in 1946. The twin tracks it followed to do so are worthy of comment.
Soon after the Cleveland Rams won the 1945 NFL championship, owner Dan Reeves pressured the league to allow him to move the franchise to Los Angeles. A potential stumbling block was that the commissioners of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum required the Rams to be racially integrated to play there, and the NFL barred black players. Reeves' pressure was remarkably effective: the bar fell, the Rams signed Kenny Washington and Woody Strode from UCLA, and the L.A. Rams were born in 1946.
The NFL might have been prodded by a parallel example. The All-American Football Conference had been founded as a challenge to the established league. When it began play in 1946, one of its teams came pre-desegregated. The Cleveland Browns, led by the innovative Paul Brown, signed Bill Willis and Marion Motley to play for them. It may be no coincidence that the Browns were the absolute class of the AAFC (and once they were absorbed by the NFL, the class of that league as well).
Let's recap. The AAFC began its short existence in 1946 as an integrated league, thanks to the Cleveland Browns. At the same time, the NFL shed its segregated status due to strong lobbying from the team that months before had won the league title as the Cleveland Rams. A year later, Larry Doby and the Cleveland Indians integrated the American League.
I don't think I've ever seen these connections made before, but there was something about Cleveland in the latter 1940s that made it highly fertile ground for advances in American race relations. And it didn't vanish too quickly, either: when Frank Robinson became the first black manager in the majors, he did it for the Cleveland Indians.
The second, of course, was Larry Doby.
100 years ago today, Rube Marquard did something that no other pitcher has ever done, before or since.
On July 3, 1912, the New York Giants pitcher notched his 19th win of the season, giving him a record of 19-0. It’s the most wins any pitcher has ever had in a year with zero loses.
As you might expect, to achieve this mark several factors had to break in his favor.
First, Marquard was pitching well. Exact gamelogs for 1912 aren’t up at Retrosheet (yet), but here’s what can be said: Marquard had 18 starts from Opening Day to July 3 (the other win must’ve come in relief), and opposing teams scored just 44 runs in them. That’s 2.44 runs per game, well under the NL’s seasonal average of 4.62. So Marquard has that going for him.
Also – and beyond Marquard’s control – his teammates helped him tremendously. The Giants scored 123 runs in those 18 starts, 6.83 runs/game, which of course greatly exceeds average offensive support.
Between his pitching and their hitting, there weren’t any close games until June. All of Marquard’s first dozen starts were decided by at least three runs.
Then luck started to break for him. Towards the end of the streak, there were a number of close games, but Marquard managed to win all of them. Four of his last six starts were one-run wins, and the Giants won a fifth by two runs.
When Marquard had a bad day and allowed six runs, the Giants would score eight, as happened on June 29 for his 18th win. Four days later the hitters didn’t show up, but Marquard did, winning 2-1 a century ago today to bring the streak to 19 straight wins to begin the year.
Finally, Marquard had a bad day the same day his teammates did, and on July 8, Marquard lost 7-2 to the Cubs. He lost his next decision, too. (As a result, the only 20-1 pitcher of all-time is Roger Clemens, who did it in 2001 before finishing the season 20-3).
In fact, Marquard wasn’t very good in the second half of the year. After starting the year 19-0, he was 7-11 the rest of the way. Marquard and his relievers allowed 93 runs in his final 20 starts, twice as much as they surrendered earlier in the season.
Marquard’s streak would not last, but he’s still the only person to begin the season 19-0, and he did it 100 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim things.
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