December 6, 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!
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012
This isn't how rebuilds are supposed to work. You trade away a bunch of talent, you play poorly for a few years, and if everything goes right, the players you got in the trade blossom into a core of talent that you can build around. Right?
So how on Earth did the Oakland Athletics trade away three All-Stars in one offseason and immediately improve? How did Billy Beane turn a mediocre team with little in the way of talent into a spunky, sneakily good club with a penchant for the dramatic?
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Yankees 4, Mariners 1: Obviously Ichiro in Yankees clothing is the weirdest thing to hit baseball in some time. Must be how it felt to see Willie Mays wearing a Mets jersey or—and I really don't think it's hyperbole to say it—Babe Ruth in a Boston Braves uniform. OK, if that's too heavy for you, how about Hulk Hogan with the NWO? Anyway: Ichiro singled in his first at-bat and stole second base, which is very Ichiro. Then he went hitless the rest of the way which is very recent-vintage Ichiro. I suppose we'll get used to this soon.
Phillies 7, Brewers 6: John Axford lost his closing job because he kept giving up big innings in save situations. Then K-Rod comes in and allows four runs in the ninth to blow the easy three-run-lead save. Good for Philly: back to back homers for Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Bad: Roy Halladay gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings.
Nationals 8, Mets 2: Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to kick off the scoring and then had the go-ahead RBI single in extra innings. But of course the Nats scored five more in the 10th inning because the Mets bullpen is the Beatles of allowing multiple runs in extra innings games.
Rangers 9, Red Sox 1: The Rangers have played the Red Sox thrice this season. In those games Texas has outscored Boston 33-7. Just throwing this out there, but the Sox may want to get in on the starting pitching trade action that began yesterday.
Marlins 2, Braves 1: The Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade looked like the beginning of a sell-off for the Marlins. You think that might put Josh Johnson in play. And his six, one-hit shutout innings might be a good thing if you're gonna market the guy. But then he left early with a finger injury. Doesn't sound totally serious, but it's worth watching.
Cubs 2, Pirates 0: Jeff Samardzija was brilliant, allowing only one hit in eight shutout innings. His performance overshadowed near-equal brilliance from Erik Bedard, who struck out 11 while allowing one run over seven.
White Sox 7, Twins 4: The Chisox break a five game losing streak behind Adam Dunn's league-leading 29th homer. Francisco Liriano had one of his worst outings of the year. That can't help the trade value.
Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3: From the things that don't happen very often department: Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer. Only his second in his career. Chad Billingsley gave up one over six innings.
Indians 3, Orioles 1: Forgot this series was still carrying over into Monday. A shame that this couldn't have been the ninth sweep of the weekend. Thanks for nothing, Justin Masterson (7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER).
Giants 7, Padres 1: Buster Posey didn't need much help, as he went 3 for 4 with a homer and four driven in. He got the help, though: Ryan Vogelsong tossed seven one-run innings.
Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 3: Ian Kennedy took most of the work into his own hands as well, tripling with the bases loaded in the fourth to drive in what proved to be all the runs he'd need. Then he finished the night allowing two over eight innings and striking out seven. Jonathan Sanchez allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in his first start for the Rockies. I'm not sure what else they were expecting.
Reds 8, Astros 3: Everyone's talking about the Pirates, but the Reds are in first place, have won eight of ten and show no signs of slowing down. This despite no Joey Votto in the lineup. Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier had three hits and two RBIs each in a game that took nearly four hours. Why anyone would want to watch the Astros play for that long is a mystery to me.
Angels 6, Royals 3: Kendrys Morales came in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the eighth and stroked a single that cleared the bases. I have not seen the video of it yet, but I'm wondering if this occurred because it really woulda been a double if not for the fact that a guy like Kendrys Morales was running or if, alternatively, the Royals played some Keystone Cops outfield.
65 years ago today was a nice day for the Dodgers franchise. On the face of it, the day was nothing too exceptional.
On July 24, 1947, they won a game, their fifth in a row, topping the Reds 6-1. The win increased their lead in the NL to 5.5 games with a record of 55-36.
That’s nice, but like I said nothing special. In fact, it’s likely the Dodgers didn’t realize the significance of the day’s victory. (And if they had realized, they might not have cared much, having more pressing concerns in the midst of the annual pennant race).
But the win did something special for the franchise. That win boosted their all-time franchise record to exactly .500: 4,650 wins versus 4,650 losses. It was their first time at sea level in 38 years. They’ve been over .500 as a franchise ever since.
Brooklyn got their start as an American Association team in 1884, and switched to the NL in 1890 as the AA was entering its death rattle. They were a good team overall, and by the conclusion of 1903 had a cumulative record exactly 200 games over .500: 1,438-1,238.
Then the Dodgers entered their long winter. The decade after 1903 would be the worst in franchise history and it didn’t take long until they fell under .500 as a franchise. They first fell back to .500 in late June 1909, and after some back and forth, last hit .500 on July 7, 1909 with a record of 1,751-1,751. A five-game losing streak begun on July 8 put them under, and they couldn’t rise back up.
The team kept losing, and the Deadball death spiral didn’t end until Sept. 15, 1914 with a record of 2,090-2,235. It had taken the Dodgers just 11 years to go from +200 to -145, an amazing bad stretch.
Though they righted their ship and won a pair of pennants in 1916 and 1920, the Dodgers soon regressed into being a bad team. Legend and lore remembers the 1930s team, Dem Bums, as a historically dreadful bunch, but that really isn’t far. There weren’t exceptionally bad, they were just lousy.
It was an unsteady process, but things finally bottomed out for the franchise at the end of the decade. A loss to Pittsburgh on May 24, 1939, their ninth defeat in their last 10 decisions, but them exactly 200 games under sea level: 3,903-4,103.
But that was the team that turned things around. Under rookie skipper Leo Durocher, they won seven of their next eight and finished the year in third place with a record of 84-69. That would be the first of five consecutive winning campaigns for the Dodgers. They were above .500 in 18 of 19 campaigns beginning in 1939.
And that run of sustained brilliance kept boosting their record. When 1947 began they were just 19 games under .500 (4,595-4,614). On July 13, a 48-31 record put them on the cusp of breaking even, but a brief bad stretch pushed them back.
But then they swept a doubleheader on July 21. And won again on July 22. And yet again on July 23 to find themselves one game under .500 as a franchise.
65 years ago today, they finally cast aside their losing record. Then they kept on winning. It turned out to be a 13 game winning streak. That put them well over .500, where they’ve remained ever since. (And more to the interest of the ’47 boys, it gave them a giant lead in the pennant race).
Nowadays, the Dodgers are miles over .500. When they surged out to a 30-13 record this year, it gave the Dodgers an all-time cumulative franchise record of 10,247-9,291; 956 games over .500.
They’ve fallen back a bit since then, but it would take a quarter century of consecutive 100 loss seasons to bring them back down to .500 – a place they were last at on July 24, 1947, exactly 65 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim over things.
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