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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Thursday, October 04, 2012
This past year, I twice had the pleasure of serving as a judge in Vince Gennaro's Diamond Dollars Baseball Case Competition. Vince's idea is brilliant: develop a business school case study about baseball and ask teams of business school students to present their recommendations for the case. Just like they do at Harvard Business School, and just about every other business school I know.
Last March, the University of Chicago's Booth School took the honors, against some tough competition such as Northwestern's Kellogg Business school, the University of Florida and a surprise team of undergrads from Yale. Picking the best presentation was tough.
Well, Vince is at it again. He's organized a case competition this Nov. 2 at NYU's Tisch Center for Sports Management and other things. If you're in the New York area and want to participate, contact Vince directly on this webpage. If not, you just might enjoy dropping by and listening in.
25 years ago today was the climax to one of the great pennant race stretch runs of the 1980s.
On Oct. 4, 1987, the final showdown took place between the Tigers and the Blue Jays.
In late September, it didn’t look like this would be much of a race. They played a four game series in Toronto from Sept. 24-27 and it looked like the Blue Jays finished off the Tigers. Toronto entered that series up 1.5 games, and then won the first three games against Detroit. The Jays led by 3.5 games with just seven left to play. Yeah, that’s a lead that’s hard to blow.
Well, blow it is exactly what Toronto did, and they did in nightmarish fashion. First the Tigers won the last game of the showdown in Canada, 3-2 in 13 innings. OK, so it’s still a 2.5 game lead with six for Toronto to play.
Then Toronto hosted the Brewers for a three game set—and got swept. All were close, two were decided by a pair of runs and the other by three, but they were all losses. But the good news was that the Tigers dropped two of four against the Orioles. Yeah, but that means Toronto led by just one game.
But, the season would end with Toronto traveling to Detroit. For the Blue Jays, it was simple—win one game, just one stinking game—and they clinch no worse than a tie for the division.
On Oct. 2, Detroit won the first game, 4-3. The next day, they won another one-run game, 3-2 in 12 innings. Improbably, Detroit now had the lead. This time the Blue Jays needed a win.
That was the situation when baseball began in the season finale on Oct. 4, 1987. Both teams had a dependable veteran pitcher on the mound, the aging warrior Frank Tanana for the Tigers, and crafty lefty Jimmy Key for Toronto.
And both pitchers brought their A-game. Tanana surrendered just six hits to Toronto, and no runs. They did have a few rallies, though. Most notably came the top of the fourth when the team really should’ve scored a run. Cecil Fielder hit a one-out single and then, in a moment that defies all popular images people have of Fielder, he tried to steal second base.
This was sneak attack syndrome. Fielder was playing in his 146th game played and he had never even tried to steal a base, let alone done it successfully. Well, long story short he was thrown out. Now there were two outs. Making it even worse, Manuel Lee then tripled, so you figure Fielder would’ve scored had he still been on base.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Key pitched terrifically for Toronto. Key allowed three hits and three walks – and half of the guys he let on base got rubbed out in double plays. (In fact, Detroit’s aging third baseman Bill Madlock hit into two of them, and struck out in his third at bat. It was arguably the worst game of his career—and it would turn out to be his last game, too).
While Key was fantastic, he made one fatal mistake. In the second inning he threw a pitch that Larry Herndon connected with for a solo home run. That was the only run Key would allow, but it was enough for Tanana. Behind his arm, Detroit won 1-0 to clinch the division.
Toronto lost each of their last seven games, four to Detroit—and all four of those were decided by one run. It was an amazing end to the division race, and it ended 25 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousands days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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Athletics 12, Rangers 5: Oakland shocks the world. No one on the planet had the A's pegged as a playoff team and, as recently as a week ago, no one figured they had a chance in hell at the division crown. Well, that's what you get for pegging and figuring. As for the Rangers ... just, dude, the Rangers. Losers of seven of nine down the stretch. They looked positively shell-shocked in this game. I know there is no correlation between how a season ends and how a team does in the playoffs but, man, this was ugly city.
Yankees 14, Red Sox 2: Good job, Boston. Good effort. Unless, rather than just a totally listless and mailed-in performance, your rolling over like this was really a calculated thing in which you served up you revenge to Baltimore for beating you to close out 2011's collapse.
Rays 4, Orioles 1: Evan Longoria loves game 162. Three homers here to follow up last year's heroics. As for Baltimore, it was remarkable that the O's made it all the way to the last day of the season with a shot at the division. There is no shame in taking the Wild Card. Now, on to face a Rangers team that looks like it's suffering from PTSD.
Tigers 1, Royals 0: Miguel Cabrera: .330, 44, 139. Triple Crown. And the Tigers: the best-rested of all the AL playoff teams despite the fact that they have the worst record of them all. Viva divisions.
Nationals 5, Phillies 1: The Nats clinch home field throughout the playoffs. Teddy wins. What a festive day. Even better? Pouty Phillies! Jimmy Rollins:
"With us healthy, they’re a second-place team"
And if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have a merry Christmas.
White Sox 9, Indians 0: Dan Johnson: all he does is hit home runs in game 162. Really, that's all he's done for two years now. Three bombs last night. His first three of the year.
Braves 4, Pirates 0: Let the record reflect that Chipper Jones ended his career (regular season version) with a pinch hit single to right. Let it also reflect that Ben Sheets ended his with a scoreless inning. Beyond that the Braves emptied the pen and won their 20th of 30 to close out the season.
Mariners 12, Angels 0: Casper Wells drives in five. Every Mariners batter in the starting lineup scored at least one run.
Cubs 5, Astros 4: Because of course the Astros had to lose their 107th and final game -- and their final NL game -- in a walkoff loss. I guess some folks may look to the fact that Houston started respectably and ended winning 15 of 30 to say "hey, it's not so bad," but c'mon guys, it's bad. Here's hoping Bo Porter and a move to the AL give everyone a new beginning down there.
Mets 4, Marlins 2: It's all over now, everyone. The pain will stop until next spring. Ike Davis hit his 32nd homer.
Cardinals 1, Reds 0: Homer Bailey, alas, was unable to pull off the old Johnny Vander Meer. Matt Carpenter singled in a run and Shelby Miller threw six shutout innings against a mostly resting Reds roster.
Dodgers 5, Giants 1: Clayton Kershaw finishes with the ERA crown. That's something. He also finished a lone strikeout behind R.A. Dickey for the second jewel of the pitchers' Triple Crown. Maybe next year he'll learn how to win, however, and regain his Cy Young form.
Blue Jays 2, Twins 1: Next year will be the first season since 1988 without Omar Vizquel in the major leagues. That is all.
Rockies 2, Diamondbacks 1: An NL West crown is followed by a .500 season. And before the NL West crown season, they were just putrid. The Arizona Diamondbacks are like a box of chocolates.
Padres 7, Brewers 6: This was the last game to end last night. And with it the 2012 major league regular season.
And, as it always does, its end makes me sad. I love the playoffs, of course, but they're not the regular season. Baseball to me has always been best as a constant, low-leverage thing where no one game matters too terribly much and, if we don't like it, another game will come along the next day. It's beautiful background music as we go about our lives from April through September. The playoffs are ... something else.
Thanks for stopping by every morning during the long slow walk.