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!
And here's the full roster.
THT's latest e-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's new e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
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Let’s discuss the THT Annual (7)
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Putting the knock on pitching changes (2)
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Monday, October 22, 2012
Giants 6, Cardinals 1: And we head to Game 7, as the Giants continue to only really want to turn it on this postseason once they're facing elimination. And of course, as everyone predicted, it happened thanks to a great Ryan Vogelsong start,which followed a great Barry Zito start,which all came while people were hearing rumors that Tim Lincecum—who has been relegated to the bullpen—is on the trading block.
Baseball is one giant mindf**k sometimes.
In that Game 7, which is under a pretty hefty threat of rain right now, we'll see Matt Cain take on Kyle Lohse in a rematch of Game Three. Lohse won that one and has been fantastic this postseason. Cain, less so, but the guy can pitch a little, and it's definitely a strong matchup.
WPS takes you through Game Six with a little help from Motown: it's the same old Vogelsong, but with a different meaning as the series goes long.
Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 F Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 Giants 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 6 (Series tied 3-3) WPS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Cardinals 9 5 2 2 4 5 4 4 0 Giants 17 40 2 1 1 1 0 1 X WPS Base: 98.1 Best Plays: 31.1 Last Play: 0.0 Grand Total: 129.2
I reassured readers last time by saying there was still time for the NLCS to put up an above-average game. This wasn't it, at all. In fact, it was the worst-rated game this postseason. One side jumps out fast to a big lead and keeps the lid down tight. That's the standard WPS killer.
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong was the story and the star of the game. His fine pitching held St. Louis to one run over seven innings, and that single tally only cut the margin to four, not much of a rallying point. Even better, Vogelsong was the crux of San Francisco's offensive breakout.
With runners at the corners and one out in the second, Vogelsong showed bunt before the first pitch, baiting the defense. He then pulled the butcher-boy play, bringing the bat back and swinging. His grounder caught shortstop Pete Kozma out of position and surprised, and Kozma's boot brought a run across. More importantly, by not making the second out (by sacrifice or regular out), Vogelsong paved the way for the Giants to score three more runs with two gone. The old-school butcher-boy was the turning point of the contest, if such a thorough beating can be said to have one.
Vogelsong was even helpful in providing us with our Tim-ism of the night. Relating Vogelsong's twisting course in professional baseball, Tim McCarver said he had played not only on many minor-league clubs but in "two different Japanese cities: Orix and Hanshin."
Japanese baseball is different from American baseball, and not just because Bobby Valentine can be a successful manager there. Orix and Hanshin are the corporations that own the Buffaloes and Tigers, respectively. Those teams and others are named after their owners: Tokyo's Yomiuri Giants are the prime example, though there are Japanese teams called by their cities. If you hate seeing Citi Field and AT&T Park in American baseball, it could be plenty worse.
Okay, that's a slightly esoteric point, but it's the best Tim-ism I've got. Playing it safe and saying "two Japanese teams" would have saved him a good deal of chaffing here.
There will be one more night of NLCS baseball, hopefully tomorrow night. (There is some threat of rain in the Bay Area.) WPS Recap will be there, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be, too.
40,000 days ago, one of the best pitchers in baseball history made his major league debut.
On April 19, 1903, Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown pitched in his first big league contest, and it was quite a debut. Pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, Brown threw a complete-game shutout for a 3-0 win. Yeah, that’s a nice way to start a career.
For 1903, at least, it was not a harbinger of things to come. Brown's debut day shutout would be the only one he threw all year long. Wins would also prove to be far and few between, as he ended the year with a record of 9-13, rather south of stellar. To be fair, that poor record reflected the lackluster quality of his teammates, as the Cardinals lost over two-thirds of their games on the season for a woeful 43-94 mark. When Brown wasn’t the pitcher of record, they were 34-81.
Also, while Brown’s end-of-season numbers didn’t turn many heads, his performance 40,000 days apparently caught at least a few eyes. You see, the team he shut out was the Chicago Cubs. It would be the first of five times Brown started against the Cubs that year, and though the Cardinals lost three of those games, the Cubs liked what they saw from Brown. They liked him so much that in December the Cubs picked him up in a trade with the Cardinals.
Now, it’s impossible to say exactly how much Brown’s debut-day performance impacted the decision by the Cubs to trade for him, but it stands to reason that it a fair amount to do with it. After all, it was a complete-game shutout, and Brown was just making his debut—and the Cubs did opt to trade for him that offseason.
If the shutout was a big part of the reason Brown became a Cub, then today plays a big role in his Hall of Fame case, much more than because he debuted on this day.
The St. Louis Cardinals of the first decade of the 20th century were a dreadful lot. They annually finished in the second division, well out of any pennant race. More to the point, they had a terrible defense that let many balls go for hits.
Chicago was a different story. They were assembling a squad with a great defense centered on middle infielders Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers. Their team Defensive Efficiency score in 1906 of .736 is the greatest single-season mark by any squad ever.
Don’t get me wrong. Brown was a legitimately great pitcher and earned his place in Cooperstown, but it certainly didn’t hurt to pitch in front of a world class defensive unit. That benefit allowed him to flourish as much as he could.
In Brown’s first season in Chicago in 1904, not only did his win-loss record improve from 9-13 to 15-10, but his ERA plummeted from 2.60 to 1.86. From 1904-11, Brown’s ERA was 1.72 in 2,192 innings. Even if you account for all the unearned runs back then, his ERA is damn impressive. A combination of Brown’s arm and the Cubs’ gloves did it.
But before Brown could reach his prime with the Cubs, he had to debut against them, and that debut was 40,000 days ago.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate either their anniversary or “day-versary.” Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim over things.
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