December 8, 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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Monday, May 13, 2013
White Sox 3, Angels 0: Chris Sale was fantastic. And not just because of that suh-weet 1983 throwback jersey. A perfect game into the seventh and then the hit that inning to Mike Trout was all the Angels could muster.
Indians 4, Tigers 3: Watched this one with the girlfriend's parents. Tigers fans. Let's just say that Jose Valverde will not be getting a Christmas card from them. Her dad called the implosion before it happened. I suppose one can do that when one watches Valverde enough. In other news, lots of praise for Asdrubal Cabrera's fancy footwork on a double play in the bottom of the ninth. And it was. But if Torii Hunter was actually running it out at full speed it wouldn't have been a double play. No word on this from the announcers. Found that odd.
Reds 5, Brewers 1: Nothing so fun in this one as some things I saw in Cincinnati when I went to the game on Saturday. Best thing there: Brewers pitcher struck out a Reds hitter, Jonathan Lucroy fires it off to third base to send it around the horn and Yuniesky Bentancourt ... drops it. Pretty epic. Here Donald Lutz drove in three. God, shut up, Lutz.
Cubs 2, Nationals 1: Storen and Soriano should film a buddy cop movie in which they take over cases from ace detectives and then totally lose the trail of the killer.
Pirates 3, Mets 2: I suppose Matt Harvey isn't going to be near perfect every time. And plays like this and like this don't happen every day either.
Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 4: Two homers for Jose Bautista. Three more from other Blue Jays. Two of three from the Sox. Maybe that's something to grow on.
Rockies 8, Cardinals 2: After being shut down on Friday AND Saturday night, the Rockies return the favor with a gem from Jorge De La Rosa and a three-run homer from Troy Tulowitzki.
Rays 4, Padres 2: The Rays are heating up. They've won five straight. Here a homer from James Loney -- where the hell is his heat coming from? -- and solid bullpen work brought it home.
Giants 5, Braves 1: Highlight of the game was Pablo Sandoval hitting a ball into McCovey Cove and the guy in the kayak totally eating it face first into the water when he tried to get the ball. I may or may not have wished for a great white shark to eat him when it happened, but I may or may not have been aggravated at my team playing like garbage too, so there was an excuse for my hostility.
Yankees 4, Royals 2: Homers from Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano. Umpire Laz Diaz also tried to goad Hiroki Kuroda into a fight, which was simply ridiculous.
Dodgers 5, Marlins 3: Nice bounceback start for Chris Capuano, who had one to forget last Monday against the Diamondbacks. Miami cures a lot of ills.
Orioles 6, Twins 0: Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along for five shutout innings before having to leave with an oblique strain, but the bullpen finished the shutout for him. Baltimore has won six of eight.
Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Brandon McCarthy's best start of the year went for naught when Philly came back late, scoring two off Heath Bell in the ninth and then capped off by a two-run single by Ryan Howard in the 10th. Thank you, by-the-book managing from Kirk Gibson. McCarthy had 87 pitches through eight shutout innings. He has thrown over 100 pitches four times this year. You'd think he'd get a chance to pitch the ninth.
Rangers 12, Astros 7: "[Team] completes sweep of Astros" is Shift + CTRL + A on my machine. What is it on yours?
Mariners 6, Athletics 1: Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer. Joe Saunders remains unbeatable at home. Jason Bay hit a homer and Jesus Montero had an RBI. No word what the other six or seven DHs they have did.
Thirty years ago today, a new club began in baseball, the 2,000 strikeout club. Sure, many pitchers had achieved 2,000 Ks, but in 1983—for the first time ever—a batter struck out for the 2,000th time.
It was on May 13, 1983, that Reggie Jackson fanned for the 2,000th time.
Striking out that many times takes some doing. When Jackson began, the game’s all-time strikeout champion was Mickey Mantle, with over 1,500. That was huge back in those days, as only eight men had ever struck out 1,000 times prior to 1967.
But things were changing. No one had struck out 1,000 times until Babe Ruth, and the 1920s and '30s were very low strikeout times in general. World War II also hindered admittance to the club because many of the best players were serving overseas.
Strikeout rates went up in the 1950s and then further in the 1960s. By and large, they’ve been on an upward trend ever since. Thus, while there were only eight men who had fanned 1,000 times by Opening Day, 1967, by the time Jackson had reached that mark in 1975, he was one of 44 members.
And Jackson kept on whiffing. He fanned at least 100 times in 18 of his 21 seasons. The three times he didn’t were his abbreviated 35-game rookie season, the strike-shortened 1981 season, and his last year, when he fanned 97 times in 336 at-bats. Jackson swung for the fences and was willing to take the big miss to get the big blast.
By the late 1970s, Willie Stargell had overthrown Mantle to become the all-time whiff king. During 1982, Jackson passed up Stargell, and has been the strikeout leader ever since. Stargell retired just shy of 2,000 Ks, showing the way for Jackson to set the milestone.
Jackson did it in appropriate fashion, I suppose. May 13, 1983, began with Jackson sitting on 1,997 punchouts. Twins starter Frank Viola fanned him twice to put Jackson on the cusp of history. In the bottom of the 11th, Minnesota reliever Len Whitehouse got the historic strike three for Jackson’s 2,000th strikeout.
In the years since, despite the ever-increasing strikeout rates, Jackson remains No. 1 in batter strikeouts, and there are just five others over 2,000. Andres Galarraga was one of the first men to join Jackson over 2,000 Ks, but barely as Galarraga retired with 2,003 strikeouts.
For a while it looked like Sammy Sosa might pass him up, but Sosa aged poorly in the early 21st century, and he never got to Jackson’s 2,597 punchout total. Jim Thome likely would’ve passed Jackson up this year had any team signed him, since he’s just 49 back: 2,548 Ks to Jackson’s 2,597. But Thome went unsigned, preserving Jackson’s record.
Two active players are the others over 2,000. For a long time it looked like Adam Dunn might break the record, as he is the all-time king of the three true outcomes: home run, walk, or strikeout. But he’s having a horrible 2013, after a rotten second half in 2012, which came after a historically futile 2011. He still needs 500 more Ks and isn’t likely to get there.
That just leaves Alex Rodriguez. He is 37 years old and 564 whiffs behind Reggie. If A-Rod can recover from his hip injury and be productive enough at the plate to last several more years, he has a chance. That said, it’s not necessarily a good chance. Over his last five seasons, he fanned fewer than 564 times. He’s likely to play less as he gets older, and so he’d need to last until he’s 43 or older. That’s tough to do.
There’s no one else on the horizon that looks likely to catch Jackson. Miguel Cabrera would be the next person with any sort of shot, but he just completed his third straight year with under 100 punchouts.
Reggie Jackson is still the strikeout king, and he looks to remain so for quite some time. And the strikeout king fanned for the 2,000th time, 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happens X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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