December 13, 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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Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Mariners 4, Indians 3: The M's just keep on winning. That's eight in a row, with this one ending interestingly. The Indians had runners on the corners with no one out in the ninth. Then Drew Stubbs got caught in a rundown he probably shouldn't have gotten caught in between third and home, ending up in a double play which erased both baserunners. Michael Bourn struck out, game over.
Reds 3, Giants 9; Giants 5, Reds 3: A weird doubleheader in which the Giants were the home team in the first one and the Reds were the home team in the nightcap, batting last and wearing their home uniforms and everything. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that both games were in AT&T Park and that the Reds had agreed to make up a home rainout in San Francisco as opposed to the teams chartering jets and traveling to Ohio in between games. There was a time in this country where people had vision and ambition and such a thing would not have seemed so crazy. Thanks, Obama.
Red Sox 6, Rays 2: An eight strikeout performance from Jon Lester, who was making the start on extra rest. He gave up two runs and seven hits with no walks in six and a third. He needed that.
Dodgers 10, Blue Jays 9: Toronto had a five-run lead in the sixth and piddled it away. Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run homer. He Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis each had three RBI. Five straight for L.A., 22 of 27 overall.
Pirates 5, Nationals 1: Gerrit Cole had no problems with the Nats, pitching seven strong and driving in a run. The Nats have lost five straight. Jayson Werth after the game: "Things aren't going our way and we're not winning games. We need to find a way to win a game." That's some keen insight there, Jayson.
Mets 4, Braves 1: Bright side for the Nats: The Braves have sucked too. Carlos Torres allowed a leadoff homer to Andrelton Simmons but nothing else of consequence. I was so depressed watching this game that I turned it off and watched episode 6 of "Sherlock" for the fourth time or so. I feel like I know how Holmes did that thing at the end now. But thanks to the BBC I've been waiting over a year for the resolution and will be waiting a lot longer. British TV is weird.
Yankees 5, Rangers 4: Two runs off Joe Nathan in the ninth is not the sort of thing one can count on very often, but that's what the Yankees got thanks to an RBI triple by Eduardo Nunez who was then driven in on a Brent Lillibridge single. Weirdest part: the tying run came in the form of Vernon Wells who actually drew a walk. He doesn't do that terribly often.
Padres 6, Brewers 2: Nick Hundley was 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBI. Just before the game Milwaukee traded Francisco Rodriguez. This has been quite a week for unloading jerks in Milwaukee. Anyone gonna argue that the team now has better chemistry? Nah, of course not. They're not winning.
Tigers 6, White Sox 2: Seven scoreless for Rick Porcello. The White Sox committed four errors. This one night after they had three. More like the Chicago White Slops, amirite?
Cardinals 4, Phillies 1: Make that three teams in the NL East "hunt" stinking up the joint. Shelby Miller struck out six in six shutout innings to nab his 10th win. Allen Craig drove in a couple. More like the NL Least, amirite?
OK, sorry. I'll cut that out now.
Royals 3, Orioles 2: Bruce Chen is now 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA. Only two starts and a lot of relief work in that, but you have to assume these are showcase starts for a trade, right? Of course that assumes Dayton Moore knows what he's doing.
Marlins 4, Rockies 2: No matter how poorly the P.R. end of the offseason purge was for the Marlins, you have to admit that this team is more interesting giving a showcase to the kids while losing than it is trotting out highly-paid veterans and losing. Jose Fernandez gave up two runs over seven innings while striking out eight. Christian Yelich makes his debut after yesterday's callup going 3 for 4 with a couple driven in.
Astros 5, Athletics 4: A three-run ninth for the Astros, with runs scoring on a Matt Dominguez homer then a passed ball/throwing error combo gave them the walkoff win. It was Grant Balfour's first blown save in a long, long time.
Diamondbacks 10, Cubs 4: A.J. Pollock doubled, tripled and drove in three, Eric Chavez tripled and drove in three and Patrick Corbin kept the Cubs more or less contained.
Twins 10, Angels 3: Your standard seven-run 10th inning, highlighted by a Chris Herrmann grand slam. Herrmann was filling in for Joe Mauer, who high-tailed it out of there for the birth of his twins.
Thirty years ago today, one of the most infamous and bizarre games of the 1980s took place—the Pine Tar Game between the Royals and the Yankees.
The day began normally enough on July 24, 1983. The visiting Royals fought the Yankees hard for eight innings, but entering the ninth the Yankees clung to their narrow 4-3 lead.
Yankees manager Billy Martin let reliever Dale Murray start the ninth instead of star closer Rich Gossage. Sure, it was a save situation, but it was 1983—you didn’t always use your closers in every ninth inning save opportunity. Besides, Murray had pitched a fine two and two-thirds innings so far. (Speaking of how times have changed—when was the last time you saw a reliever enter in the sixth and still work in the ninth?)
Murray got two easy outs to begin the inning, putting the Yankees one away from a victory before the Bronx crowd of 33,944. If the next batter made an out, no one would ever remember this game.
But U L Washington helped send the game into a trajectory of the improbable, singling to center, to keep the game alive. He was the tying run, with the winning run at the plate.
That winning run was George Brett.
Here’s where it happened. First, Martin went to his bullpen. Murray might be a nice enough pitcher under normal circumstances, but with a superstar like Brett, Martin wanted his superstar reliever. Enter Gossage.
Gossage would have a fine season in 1983. He’d score just 22 saves, but pitch 87.1 innings in 57 relief appearances, win 13 games, and fan 90. And he allowed just five homers.
But we all know what happened here, right? Gossage threw. Brett swung. The ball sailed. Suddenly a jubilant Royals team had a 5-4 win. All the Yankees were disheartened.
Well, all the Yankees except one. Normally Martin took losing harder than anyone. An even keel was never part of his makeup. But he was also a master at looking for the angle, and he knew he had the angle here.
Earlier that year Martin noticed that Brett put too much pine tar on his bat. The rules state only 18 inches, and Brett had more. Martin never said anything at the time, because why should he? Unless the situation could help the Yankees, Martin wasn’t going to bring it up.
But wow, would it ever help the Yankees here! All Brett did with his pine-tarred bat was change the outcome of the game with two outs in the ninth. (In fact, it was such a clutch shot that WPA lists it as the most game-changing home run of George Brett’s career). Martin immediately came out of the dugout and made the umpires look at the bat. They had to agree. The homer was nullified, Brett was out and the game was over.
Except it was far from over.
In clips that have been shown a million times since then, Brett came charging out of the dugout, wanting to throttle home plate umpire Tim McClelland. The ump stood by his by-the-book ruling, but the Royals fumed. They issued a protest and, in a rarity, the protest was upheld. The commissioner acknowledged that the umpires made the right technical call, but said it “wasn’t in the spirit of the rules.” The homer was allowed and now the Yankees fumed.
Eventually the bottom of the ninth was played and the Yankees lost, but that was up in the future. The pine tar homer itself was 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversaries and “day-versaries” (which are things that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better items in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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