December 4, 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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10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski trade (15)
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Monday, July 09, 2012
We have reached the All-Star break. Which means that this is the last And That Happened for a week. Unless there's a temporal anomaly or something, which has been known to happen ...
Pirates 13, Giants 2: Andrew McCutchen was added to the Home Run Derby the other day. He got some early practice yesterday, smacking two dingers. If there is any justice in the world, the All-Star Game will introduce this guy to a lot of casual fans who have no freakin' idea that one of the best players in baseball is a Pittsburgh Pirate. Also: more Tim LOLcecum.
Cubs 7, Mets 0: Ryan Dempster came off the DL and picked up right where he left off: keeping the opposition scoreless. With five innings of shutout ball here -- they're taking it easy on him to preserve his trade value, er, I'm sorry, I mean his health -- he runs his streak to 27 straight innings.
Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 1: Here come the Diamondbacks. They took three of four from L.A. to move to within four games. Trevor Bauer was way more efficient in his third big league start and wound up throwing six scoreless. I guess it's easier to pound the strike zone when you know the other team doesn't have anyone who can make you pay for it if you miss.
Reds 4, Padres 2: A road trip that started pretty crappily -- it's an adverb; look it up -- ended much betterly for the Reds, as they took three straight from the Padres to keep pace with the Pirates in the central.
Athletics 2, Mariners 1: Walkoff RBI double for Josh Reddick in the 13th. Probably a good time for people who don't follow Oakland closely to acknowledge that (a) Reddick, who has 20 jacks in the first half, is pretty darn good; and (b) Oakland is at .500 at the break, which no one would have guessed before the season started. Sure, they're still in third place which is where everyone guessed they'd be, but it's a much more respectable, enjoyable-to-watch third place than predicted.
Angels 6, Orioles 0: A spot start for Brad "not the manager of the Astros" Mills and all he does is throw five shutout innings and get homers from Trout, Pujols, Trumbo and Aybar for support. Gee, pitching is easy!
Cardinals 5, Marlins 4: You're not gonna believe this, but Heath Bell poured kerosene on a ninth inning. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
Blue Jays 11, White Sox 9: The Chisox lose their five game winning streak after the Jays launch four homers. Worse: White Sox pitchers walked nine.
Brewers 5, Astros 3: Zack Greinke started on Saturday, on Sunday and will get the first start after the All-Star break, making him the first dude to start three of his team's games since 1917. He lost the first one and was saved in the second despite only going three innings. Maybe he'll actually stick around for the fourth inning in his third go-around.
Tigers 7, Royals 1: The sweep for Detroit. Delmon Young has homered in four straight games. Maybe the Tigers are finally turning the corner. I know people say that every time they win a couple of games, but eventually you figure it'll be true.
Braves 4, Phillies 3: The Braves sweep the reeling Phillies. Like Delmon Young, Brian McCann has homered in four straight. And maybe like the Tigers, the Braves' four-game winning streak is a sign that their sluggishness is nearing an end. Philly, in contrast, has lost 10 of 11.
Rockies 4, Nationals 3: Washington was up 3-1 entering the eighth against the lowly Rockies. That's usually a win, but Sean Burnett gave up two runs in the eighth with the help of a Mike Gonzalez wild pitch and Tyler Clippard sealed the deal in the ninth.
Rays 7, Indians 6: Another blown save, this one from Chris Perez. That breaks a string of 24 straight for him, dating back to his last blown save on Opening Day. Ben Zobrist's RBI single was the final blow.
Yankees 7, Red Sox 3: Andruw Jones lookes at Brian McCann and Delmon Young's four homers in four games and says "meh." Jones has four homers in three games. The Yanks take three of four from the Sox and show them who remains the beast of the east.
Rangers 4, Twins 3: Minnesota blows a 3-0 lead in the ninth. Total team effort there thanks to a throwing error by Brian Dozier and Glen Perkins being as hitable as a pitching machine. Michael Young delivered the tying run with an RBI single and Ian Kinsler drove in the winner in the 13th.
Ten years ago today was one of the most famous games of the first decade of the 21st century. It is certainly the most famous game that didn’t count.
On July 9, 2002, the NL and AL squads met up in the annual All-Star game. That time, it didn’t count, as the game rather embarrassingly ended in a tie that led to a change in All-Star game rules.
Milwaukee’s Miller Park hosted it, right in the front yard of baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Heading into the game, the AL had won the last five of these midseason exhibition contests, but early on it looked like it would be the NL’s day as the senior circuit burst out to a 4-0 lead. It could’ve been an even bigger lead, but Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter leaped over the wall to rob Giants superstar Barry Bonds of a home run in the first inning. That would prove to be a very key run lost.
The AL came back, though. A four-run top of the seventh by the AL gave the junior circuit a 6-5 lead. However, the NL immediately stormed back for a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the frame. That didn’t end the fun, though, as an Omar Vizquel triple drove in Robert Fick, tying the game at 7-7. Though Vizquel was on third with just one out, neither All-Stars Garret Anderson nor Randy Winn could drive him in, leaving the contest tied.
And that was the problem. Like all games in recent years, managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly did their best to get as many guys in the game as they could. All the starting position players played the first three innings, but in the middle third of the game, they bowed out for backups.
In the bottom of the sixth, Torre pulled catcher Jorge Posada, the last remaining AL starting position player. The NL had two starters left at that time: outfielder Vladimir Guerrero and third baseman Scott Rolen. However, Guerrero was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the sixth. Rolen lasted all the way until the top of the eight, when he also departed.
More problematically, the teams had done an impressive job churning through their pitchers. The AL had only nine arms available for the game. They used just three games in five innings, but then guys lasted one inning or fewer. When the AL tied it 7-7, they had just used their sixth pitcher, Kazuhiro Sasaki, but his bad inning of work gave the NL two runs.
So the AL had three pitchers left with the score tied, 7-7. Two of their remaining pitchers were relievers: Ugueth Urbina and Mariano Rivera.
The NL had 10 pitchers available, but after starting pitcher Curt Schilling departed in the second, manager Bob Brenly didn’t let anyone last more than three outs. Also, he went through two relievers in the AL’s four-run seventh inning. The upshot was that when the AL tied the game, Brenly had reliever Robb Nen on the mound with just two more arms left in the bullpen: John Smoltz and Vicente Padilla. Well, Nen just blew the lead, so he wouldn’t come back.
If someone team didn’t score soon, the game would end in a tie.
In the bottom of the eighth, Urbina pitched for the AL. In the top of the ninth, Smoltz retired the AL without incident. A former starting pitcher, Smoltz could conceivably pitch more than one inning, but he was due to bat in the bottom of the ninth, and the NL pulled him for a pinch-hitter.
That pinch-hitter, Benito Santiago, singled off Yankee reliever Rivera in the bottom of the ninth, but he never advanced to second, and the game entered extra innings. AL manager Joe Torre had been willing to use Rivera for more than one inning in postseason appearances, but the stakes weren’t that high here, so Rivera only worked the one inning.
In other words, after nine innings, both teams had just one remaining pitcher: Seattle’s Freddy Garcia and Philadelphia’s Vicente Padilla. Both would last two more innings.
Neither were great pitchers, but then again, by this time it was the second- or even third-line All-Star hitters in the game. Heck, in the 11th both pitchers came to the plate. Each team had run out of possible pinch hitters.
Padilla got to face seven batters in all: Garcia, A.J. Pierzynski, Robert Fick, Johnny Damon, Omar Vizquel, Garret Anderson, and Tony Batista. It wasn’t exactly a Murders Row. Vizquel walked, but no one else got on.
Garcia had to face the following guys: Adam Dunn, Shawn Green, Andruw Jones, Jose Hernandez, Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, Padilla, and Benito Santiago.
With those hitters, no one could score. Thus, after 11 frames, the game was still tied. Heading into the bottom of the 11th, there was a giant, lengthy meeting between the umpires, managers, and commissioner Selig. The decision was made that the game would end in a tie if neither team scored.
When it was announced, the fans were unhappy and began chanting “Let them play! Let them play!” But the decision had been made. It was an embarrassment for Selig, which is why the rules were soon changed to make the game determine World Series home-field advantage.
Regardless, it was the least satisfying All-Star game of them all, and it happened exactly 10 years ago.
Besides that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim.
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