December 8, 2013
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Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Today, Miguel Cabrera goes for the Triple Crown. How long has it been since someone won the Triple Crown?
Well, it was last done by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. That’s 45 years ago. Let’s see if we can put that in perspective.
Last time someone won the Triple Crown, the A’s played in Kansas City. There were only 20 teams, and there were no baseball divisions. Bud Selig had nothing to do with big league baseball. Only seven guys had 500 career homers. Just six pitchers had 2,500 Ks. Now there are 30. Only 11 had 100 saves. Now 132 relievers are in that club. Jamie Moyer was in preschool last time someone hit the Triple Crown.
Let’s move it beyond the world of baseball for a second. Last time someone won the Triple Crown, LBJ was president, Mao Zedong ran China, Leonid Brezhnev was the head of the USSR, and Charles DeGaulle ran France. Nelson Mandela was in jail on Robben Island. Ronald Reagan was the new governor of California. Barack Obama attended grammar school in Indonesia. The Vietnam War was not only going on, it was still popular.
Last time someone won the Triple Crown, Che Guevera was still alive, and fighting in Bolivia. Last time someone won the Triple Crown, Helen Keller was still alive. Henry Pu-Yi, the last emperor of China, was still alive last time someone got the Triple Crown. Also still alive: Otis Redding, John Steinbeck, Boris Karloff, Dwight Eisenhower, and Judy Garland.
Here were some songs in the Top Ten the last time someone won the Triple Crown: The Letter by the Box Tops (which was No. 1), Reflections by the Supremes, Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson, and Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison. Also, the debut album of the Jimi Hendrix Experience had just come out.
Movies in the theater: Bonnie and Clyde, Battle of Algiers (new in US theaters anyway), The Dirty Dozen, To Sir with Love, In the Heat of the Night, The Flim Flam Man.
Star Trek, the original one, was a TV show entering its second season. “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode would air in December 1967.
Last time someone won the Triple Crown, there had been only one Super Bowl. And no one cared about it.
It's been 45 years since the last Triple Crown. Here are some people who didn’t live to their 45th birthday: Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary, Queen of Scots, Ray Oyler, Natalie Wood, Stephen Austin, Alan Freed, Lyle Alzado, Junior Seau, Elvis Presley, Robert Kennedy, Gary Coleman, Edgar Allen Poe, and Amelia Earhart.
Yaz clinching the Triple Crown is closer in time to Mussolini coming to power in Italy than it is to the present day. It’s also closer in time to the first Yankees world championship than it is to the present day.
The last time anyone won the Triple Crown, it had been only 59 years since the last Cubs world championship.
Don't you love the word "penultimate?" Me too!
Yankees 4, Red Sox 3: It took 12 innings, but Raul Ibanez's heroics won the day. He homered off Boston closer/arsonist Andrew Bailey to bring the Yankees back from a 3-1 deficit in the ninth and then he singled in the improbably-in-the-game Frankie Cervelli to walk it off.
Orioles 1, Rays 0: Both the Orioles' and the Rays' seasons in a nutshell. The Rays got a fantastic performance from James Shields (CG, 2 H, 1 R, 15K), but no offense to speak of. The Orioles got a fantastic group effort from the pitchers and prevailed in a one-run game. The O's have to win again today and hope for a Yankees loss to force a one-game playoff for the AL East title tomorrow.
Athletics 3, Rangers 1: People took me to task on Twitter yesterday when I said that the Rangers had "collapsed." I think they were right. It is the case that the Angels have played out of their minds and that, overall, the Rangers have basically been the Rangers for the past month and change. But it is true that they had a five-game lead a little over a week ago. They've dropped four of five head-to-head to Oakland and are one more loss away from being in a Wild Card game in which they never figured on playing. Not a collapse, I'll grant you, but definitely a butt-kicking.
Reds 3, Cardinals 1; Giants 4, Dodgers 3: Bye-bye Dodgers. It was a nice run, much of it made when they had nowhere close to the talent level your typical contender possesses, but it wasn't meant to be. However, if all of those guys they acquired over the summer play at their established norms or even, shock, have a slightly better-than-normal year in the next couple, L.A. will be a force.
Royals 4, Tigers 2: Over the years there have been a few guys I figured had a run at a triple crown in them. Don Mattingly, maybe, at least for a couple of years in the mid '80s. Gary Sheffield. Manny. Some freak of nature the Colorado Rockies signed and CoorsHabilitated. Miguel Cabrera has had that look ever since he first joined the Marlins. A rare bird. A perfect hitter with a perfect blend of greatness and consistency. He went 2 for 3 with two RBI. Barring a Josh Hamilton explosion today, dude is actually gonna win the triple crown.
Pirates 5, Braves 1: In honor of the Braves losing out on the NL East, Fredi Gonzalez apparently went to the Home Depot parking lot and found several guys to play in last night's game. I mean, I know "Jeff Baker" is a real major leaguer, but it could just as easily be the name of a drifter who found himself stuck in Pittsburgh while he tries to scrape a bit together to get him up to Buffalo, where he heard there might be some work. Not much, but honest pay and a chance to maybe make something out of this life and forget about the past, where everything went wrong no matter what he tried to do. But now, he supposes, he'll play a little right field, a little second base. Play the man's game until he can make it to a world where he isn't always gettin' played. [long, thoughtful drag on a cigarette lonesome harmonica music].
Marlins 4, Mets 3: Adam Greenberg has seen four major league pitches in his life. A 92 mile per hour fastball to the head and three R.A. Dickey knuckleballs with which he could do absolutely nothing. Probably a good time to hop on the motivational speaking circuit, dude. Seriously, though: how Marlins is it to give him his one shot only to make him do it against the nastiest starter in the NL this year? What, they couldn't work him in against Craig Kimbrel last week?
Nationals 4, Phillies 2: Adam LaRoche was the only everyday player to stay in for more than five innings. While he did so, he hit a homer and topped 100 RBI for the year. Some fans even chanted "MVP" for him. They probably believed it too. Nationals fans are just so damn cute. Two homers for Darin Ruf.
Blue Jays 4, Twins 3: I always wondered if it's hard to concentrate on baseball while you're busy making plans for hunting trips and beach weekends with your girlfriend during a game. Blue Jays managed it OK.
Indians 4, White Sox 3: Adam Dunn has no fear. With the season over for Chicago, he could have sat out these last two games and not challenged the single season strikeout record. Nope: he faced it. And whiffed twice, tying Mark Reynolds for the record at 223. Play tomorrow, Dunner. Take what is rightfully yours.
Astros 3, Cubs 0: Getting shut out by the same 3-0 score to the worst team in baseball at home has to be one of the more ignominious ends to a season in baseball history. Maybe some team in 1919 had half the roster die from Spanish Flu or something. That would be worse. I guess.
Brewers 4, Padres 3: Martin Maldonado hit a grand slam. If the Braves played a lineup of drifters, the Brewers played a lineup of orphans. Indeed, they used 10 rookies in this game.
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 3: Aaron Hill with the walkoff three-run homer. Arizona's season isn't ending in the most satisfying manner, but at least it's ending with some excitement.
Mariners 6, Angels 1: Mike Trout's 1 for 5 dropped him to .324, so that's that as far as the batting title goes. In other news, Kyle Sager hit a home run. Every Mariners pitcher is desperately using that as evidence that, no, they don't need to move the fences in at Safeco next year. "Please, dear God, don't do this to us," they're saying.
Fifty years ago today, one of the greatest pennant races came to an end—with a game that was both great and greatly appropriate.
The 1962 season looked like it was going to be the Dodgers’. They led the National League almost all summer long. Their lead was never too comfortable, peaking at just five games, but it was consistent.
With two weeks to go, they led by four games. Then they dropped four of their next six, but that was okay—they still held a four-game lead and there were just seven left to play. Surely, they couldn’t blow that …. Right?
Well, no. They dropped six of their last seven, including their last four. They didn’t even score in their last two games. When the regular season ended, the Dodgers had a record of 101-61—which put them in a tie with the rival Giants.
To determine the pennant winner, NL rules stipulated a best-of-three series. (The league soon changed this rule, and as a result the 1962 Dodgers and Giants are the only teams to ever play 165 games in a year).
On Oct. 1, L.A. got killed in the first game 8-0, the Dodgers' third straight shutout loss. However, on Oct. 2 they roared back from a 5-0 deficit in the second game to even the series.
It all came down to the final game, which took place on 50 years ago today. For much of the day, it looked like Los Angeles’ late-season choke would be redeemed. In the late innings, the Dodgers held a 4-2 lead and the pennant looked to be theirs.
Then came the ninth inning.
The Dodgers didn’t just lose, they choked it away. The Giants barely had to do anything to earn the win—they just had to step out of the way while the Dodgers fumbled the pennant to them.
Matty Alou led off the top of the ninth with a single. That was arguably the last thing the Giants did all inning to win it. The rest was things the Dodgers did to lose it.
Harvey Kuenn grounded into a force play that nailed Alou. Kuenn was on first with one out. So far, so good for L.A.: two outs from the pennant.
However, the Dodgers walked Willie McCovey. And then they walked Felipe Alou, loading the bases, with the tying run in scoring position. Willie Mays was up next—and he hit one back to the pitcher. Instead of a possible double play, it went for an infield single. Now it was 4-3 with the winning run in scoring position.
Orlando Cepeda became the second batter this inning to hit the ball out of the infield for a fly out, but an out deep enough to score the game-tying run. Alou, representing the pennant-winning run, advanced to third. At least there were now two outs.
Before anything else could happen, L.A. threw a wild pitch. Well, at least Alou held at third, but the trailing runner scampered to second. With first open, L.A. intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases. As you might guess, that didn’t end well: Dodgers hurler Stan Williams proceeded to unintentionally walk the next batter, thus force in the winning run.
But since it was the top of the ninth, the inning still wasn’t over. The next batter grounded to second for an easy out—but infielder Jim Gilliam muffed it. Everyone is safe and it’s 6-4. The next batter finally struck out, but the Giants had scored four runs despite only two of the inning’s 10 batters hitting the ball out of the infield.
It was a horrific ending, but also horrifically appropriate given the way the Dodger played down the stretch to cause the playoff series in the first place. And that game was 50 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim over the list.
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