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, June 13, 2013
Royals 3, Tigers 2: Jose Valverde was handed a 2-0 lead in the ninth with a runner on and promptly coughed it up by surrendering a homer to Lorenzo Cain. Phil Coke added his own brand of kerosene to the fire on the 10th as Eric Hosmer singled in the winning run. After the game he was, and I am not making this up, given a celebratory BBQ sauce shower. Which, on the one hand is kind of fun. On the other hand it suggests that the Royals really don't know how to handle the rituals of winning. Like, I guess they can ask Miguel Tejada or Jeff Francoeur what they're supposed to do when they win, but they may not remember.
Angels 9, Orioles 5: Down 4-2 entering the seventh, the Angels put up a six-spot. The six spot was aided by an Erick Aybar bases-loaded triple and an Albert Pujols homer. Chris Davis homered again too, giving him 21 on the year.
Reds 2, Cubs 1: Mike Leake out-dueled Travis Wood. Would really like to see the phrase "out-dueled" expand in use a bit. We could apply it to two people who enter a nearly-full parking lot at the same time. I'm sure there are others. If you have some potential "out-dueled" applications please leave them in the comments.
Padres 5, Braves 3: And the sweep. Edinson Volquez struck out nine in seven innings and Chris Denorfia hit a two-run homer. The Padres have won six of eight. The Braves finish a dismal L.A.-San Diego road trip 2-5.
Pirates 12, Giants 8: Pirates surging, Giants, um, well, there isn't a word that is both the opposite of and rhymes with surging. Barry Zito got tattooed for eight runs and saw his road ERA balloon to 11.28 (it's 1.94 in San Francisco). Starling Marte had four hits and scored four runs.
Red Sox 2, Rays 1: We've secretly replaced Alfredo Aceves with a pitcher who doesn't stink. Let's see if anyone notices! The Red Sox' complicated swingman allowed one run over six innings. A 2-1 game required 11 pitchers and went nearly three and a half hours. Viva AL East baseball.
Mets 5, Cardinals 1: Dillon Gee had his third straight start in which he only allowed one run. Shelby Miller had his worst start in his young career. Still struck out 10 in that worst start. Homers for David Wright, Lucas Duda and Marlon Byrd.
Indians 5, Rangers 2: A home run and three hits overall for Jason Kipnis. Cleveland entered this series on a losing skid but took two of three from the Rangers, who have lost five of seven.
Brewers 10, Marlins 1: Three driven in for Carlos Gomez. Seven shutout innings for Alfredo Figaro. Kind of a quintessential 2013 game for the Marlins.
Twins 4, Phillies 3: You can't stop Clete Thomas, you can only hope to contain him. The [insert intimidating nickname for Thomas here when we think of one] was 4 for 4 with a couple of RBI doubles as the Phillies dropped their fifth straight.
Nationals 5, Rockies 1: Ross Ohlendorf made his Nats debut and allowed one run over six innings. I got to see him pitch here in Columbus a couple of weeks ago and got a load of his new, old-timey, hands over his head windup. It's a treat. Enjoy it Nats fans.
Diamondbacks 8, Dodgers 6: The day after fisticuffsmanship, the Snakes rattle out 20 hits. They needed all 20, though, as this one went into the 12th inning. The D-backs have done quite well in extras this year, however. And they've taken four straight series from the Dodgers.
Athletics 5, Yankees 2: Two homers for Brandon Moss. The A's have won 10 in a row at home.
Astros 6, Mariners 1: Houston scored all six runs in a ninth-inning rally as eight shutout innings from Jeremy Bonderman -- Jeremy Bonderman! -- go to waste.
Blue Jays vs. White Sox: POSTPONED: I should have guessed that you'd stand me up. Why did I even go, now? And I guess it goes to show the snow may well thaw out, but it goes right down the drain. You left me, You left me, You left me, You left me, You left me standing in the rain.
Forty years ago, they first put the band together. Forty years ago today, a foursome first began working together—and they’d have quite a nice future before themselves and for all Dodger nation. At the time it didn’t look like anything big—in fact that day itself was nothing short of a disaster, but June 13, 1973 marks the first time that the longest lasting infield foursome first played together in the big leagues.
It was the first time that first baseman Steve Garvey, second baseman Davey Lopes, shortstop Bill Russell and third baseman Ron Cey ever took the field together. They would last quite some time together.
Strangely, the only reason it turned out to be a historic day for the Dodgers was because it was such a colossally bad day for them.
June 13, 1973 began like any other day for the Dodgers. They were to play that day against the Phillies with the hope that a win would catapult them ahead of the Giants for first place. It didn’t work out that way at all. The Phillies scored six times in the first, and just to prove that was no fluke, scored six more times in the second, en route to a 16-3 crunching of the Dodgers.
I suspect that manager Walter Alston and friends left the field feeling rather bleak at how badly the team played. Certainly the only thing that appeared historic about the day was the scope of the defeat. But there were undercurrents at work.
You see, the Dodgers had a bunch of young prospects looking to make their mark, and many of them played infield. The veteran of the bunch was shortstop Bill Russell, at age 24, who had gradually taken over the starting position at short over the previous years.
At second and third, the Dodgers had recently given starting jobs to two young kids. A week into the season, Alston handed the third base position to a promising slugger named Ron Cey, and he’d played nearly every day since then. Less than two weeks later, Alston handed over second base to a 28-year-old minor leaguer making perhaps his last attempt to be a major leaguer. That aging prospect was Davey Lopes, and he proved to be an all-time great late bloomer.
That just leaves first base. So far, the team’s normal first baseman was another young stud—Bill Buckner. However, today Buckner had the day off. In his place another youngster with a nice future in front of him took the field. No, not Steve Garvey. It was Tom Paciorek. There’s nothing historic about a Cey-Russell-Lopes-Paciorek infield, but that’s why it’s so important that the Phillies pummeled the Dodgers.
In the fourth inning, with the game already badly out of reach, Alston decided to give aging center fielder Willie Davis some rest. Well, someone had to play center—so how about Paciorek? That opened a hole in first, and Alston looked to his bench and saw this young kid named Garvey sitting there. Sure, let’s try the kid out. And thus infield history was born.
Immediately, the infield was called into action, as Mike Schmidt grounded to Cey, who threw to Garvey for the out. That would be the first of many putouts Garvey would record from one of his fellows’ assists.
Ten days later, Alston started the foursome together. It would be the first of 833 times Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey started together. They would be teammates and starters until the end of 1981. That’s by far the most stable infield starting quartet in baseball history. From 1973-81, they combined for 21 All-Star selections, with each man receiving at least three. They never played on the All-Star team together, but in 1976 and 1980 three out of four of them did (Lopes missed the squad in 1976 and Cey in 1980). Garvey also won the 1974 NL MVP.
After nearly a decade together, the Dodgers broke up the gang, trading Lopes to Oakland. A year later, both Garvey and Cey departed, leaving just Russell.
But in their 833 starts, the Dodgers went 498-335, for a .598 winning percentage. That’s equal to a team going 97-65 over a season. On those occasions when at least one of them missed his start, the Dodgers were 306-267-1, which is a .534 clip. That works out to a team going 87-75. So having all four of them added 10 wins to the Dodgers per year. Not bad.
That really was a nice moment for the Dodgers 40 years ago today, provided you can get around what a horrible game that was for them.
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.
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