December 10, 2013
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category History .
11/14/2013: Let’s discuss the THT Annualby Dave Studeman
12/10/2013: All about the latest Bill James Handbookby Dave Studeman
12/10/2013: Though night may fall, play ball!by Frank Jackson
12/10/2013: Roy Halladay retiresby Jeff Moore
12/09/2013: Leverage Index by inningby Dave Studeman
12/09/2013: How far are the Mariners from relevancy?by Brad Johnson
12/09/2013: Prince Halby Chris Jaffe
12/09/2013: Three underrated acquisitionsby Pat Andriola
12/06/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: Ed Charles and 42by Bruce Markusen
12/06/2013: The Athletics get busyby Brad Johnson
12/06/2013: Getting to know Ryan Haniganby Chad Dotson
12/04/2013: Cataloging the non-tendered playersby Brad Johnson
12/04/2013: Alone on the pedestalby Jason Linden
12/03/2013: Mascot fight!by Greg Simons
12/03/2013: Why is a sinker “heavy?”by David Kagan
12/03/2013: The role of fall leaguesby Jeff Moore
12/02/2013: Nationals make great deal for Fisterby Matt Filippi
12/02/2013: The Twins go holiday shopping, but to what end?by Brad Johnson
12/02/2013: The end of the benchby Chris Jaffe
11/29/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Danny Waltonby Bruce Markusen
11/29/2013: The best rookies of the ‘30sby Chad Dotson
11/27/2013: Towards an award prediction systemby Shane Tourtellotte
11/26/2013: MLB’s coffers are overflowingby Greg Simons
11/26/2013: The role of prospects in tradesby Jeff Moore
11/25/2013: Stepping up to the plateby Frank Jackson
11/25/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about player birthdaysby Chris Jaffe
11/22/2013: The end of the road for Chris Carpenterby Chad Dotson
11/21/2013: All the news that’s fit to inventby Azure Texan
11/20/2013: Marcus Stroman, the mythbusting machineby Kyle Boddy
11/20/2013: Welcome to the birthplace of… someone elseby Jason Linden
11/19/2013: 2013 THT awards reviewby Greg Simons
11/18/2013: THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographsby Dave Studeman
11/18/2013: Atlanta gets burned againby Frank Jackson
11/18/2013: The 2014 Hall of Fame VC ballotby Chris Jaffe
11/18/2013: Must See MLB.TV 2013by Dave Studeman
11/15/2013: The best rookies of the ‘40sby Chad Dotson
11/15/2013: Card Corner: Wayne Granger: 1973 Toppsby Bruce Markusen
11/14/2013: 10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski tradeby Chris Jaffe
11/14/2013: The Screwball: The face of championship baseballby Azure Texan
11/14/2013: Player-A-Day: Casey Fienby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecumby Brad Johnson
11/13/2013: Pitcher performance after batting successby Shane Tourtellotte
11/13/2013: 25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterby Chris Jaffe
11/13/2013: Houston hoodoo ‘62by Frank Jackson
11/12/2013: It’s The Hardball Times Annual 2014by Dave Studeman
11/12/2013: Player-A-Day: Joe Mauerby Brad Johnson
11/11/2013: Fastball velocity by game stateby Jon Roegele
11/11/2013: The rise of the middle-aged managerby Chris Jaffe
11/08/2013: Player-A-Day: Josmil Pintoby Brad Johnson
11/08/2013: Hall monitor: The case for Andruw Jonesby Chad Dotson
11/07/2013: Big leaguers, bit partsby Azure Texan
11/07/2013: Player-A-Day: Nathan Eovaldiby Brad Johnson
11/06/2013: If he’d only gotten another shotby Jason Linden
11/06/2013: Player-A-Day: David DeJesusby Brad Johnson
11/05/2013: Player-A-Day: David Ortizby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Dariel Abreuby Brad Johnson
11/04/2013: The Boston (Braves) Marathon of 1928by Frank Jackson
11/04/2013: 10 things I didn’t know about birthdays in 2013by Chris Jaffe
11/01/2013: Taking the close pitch with two strikesby James Gentile
11/01/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Don Baylorby Bruce Markusen
11/01/2013: The best rookies of the ‘50sby Chad Dotson
10/31/2013: The Screwball: Celebrate good times, come on!by Azure Texan
10/31/2013: Player-A-Day: Leonys Martinby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Player-A-Day: Jon Lesterby Brad Johnson
10/30/2013: Forecasting the major 2013 awardsby Shane Tourtellotte
10/30/2013: The effect of seeing pitchesby Jon Roegele
10/29/2013: Putting the knock on pitching changesby Joe Distelheim
10/29/2013: Player-A-Day: Ryan Howardby Brad Johnson
10/29/2013: Losing momentum in the sixth gameby Dave Studeman
10/29/2013: Previewing the fall Stars gameby Jeff Moore
10/28/2013: Player-A-Day: Travis Woodby Brad Johnson
10/28/2013: Marquis Grissom: Mr. October Jr.by Frank Jackson
10/25/2013: The blackballing of Dick Dietzby Bruce Markusen
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Xander Bogaertsby Brad Johnson
10/24/2013: The Screwball: Put it in neutral?by Azure Texan
10/24/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘00sby Richard Barbieri
10/24/2013: Player-A-Day: Michael Wachaby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: Earn money watching baseballby Dave Studeman
10/23/2013: Player-A-Day: Jose Iglesiasby Brad Johnson
10/23/2013: 20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameby Chris Jaffe
10/23/2013: Giants take a risk with Lincecum’s two-year dealby Matt Filippi
10/23/2013: BOB: Nolan Ryan retires…for nowby Brian Borawski
10/22/2013: Where does David Price fit?by Jeff Moore
10/22/2013: Survey says?!?!?by Greg Simons
10/22/2013: ALCS post-mortem: The Fielder playby Shane Tourtellotte
10/21/2013: The best rivalries of 2013by Chris Jaffe
10/21/2013: World Series workhorsesby Frank Jackson
10/20/2013: WPS recap: ALCS, 10/19/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
10/19/2013: WPS Recap: NLCS, 10/18/2013by Shane Tourtellotte
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November 14, 2013
10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski trade10 years ago today a trade happened that really, truly, madly, deeply helped one team more than the other. This trade was special. Many trades are debacles on the field, but this one happened to be a debacle on and off the field. In fact, it’s arguable that the off-the-field stuff is what really makes this trade so special. It’s one of the most one-sided trades of the 21st century.
On Nov. 14, 2003, the Twins gave catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for three players, and that trio clearly helped Minnesota more than A.J. helped San Francisco.
Now, A.J. isn’t a bad player. In point of fact, he has had a very long and productive career, and this trade came right in the middle of it. You wouldn’t expect him to be the short end of the stick in a really one-sided trade. But nevertheless, this is a trade that gives Giants fans convulsions to this day.
While A.J. has his talents, he also has one big issue. He may very well be the most disliked player in baseball. Normally, that isn’t a big deal. Athletes are there to play and win games, not to knit quilts together. They don’t have to actually like each other. But Pierzynski—especially back then—had the knack for being extra-specially dislikable. There’s a reason why polls of all major leaguers continually show him to be the guy most people want to bean.
In fact, the first sign that Pierzysnki might be a problem for San Francisco came immediately after the trade’s announcement. To say the Twins players were happy with it would be an understatement. This went beyond the classic, “Great trade! Who’d we get?” reaction. The players all but united to form a giant conga line across Minnesota. My goodness they hated that man.
Eh, who cares? Like I said, athletes don’t have to like each other. True, but in San Francisco, A.J. got along even worse with his teammates. Regardless of how little the Twins liked him, they kept him around for three years as a starting catcher. One year was more than enough for San Francisco. They non-tendered him after the 2004 season.
It was an odd non-tendering. Sure, Pierzynski had a down year, but he still hit .272 with moderate power. No, he wasn’t great, but he certainly was the most talented catcher the Giants had at the time.
But that wasn’t the point. This wasn’t about talent. This was about his personality. The Giants thought he was such a clubhouse cancer, such a jerk, that they had to get rid of him. So they did.
To be fair, A.J. Pierzynski latched on with the White Sox where he became a franchise fixture for the better part of a decade. People still often dislike him, but he proved he wasn’t a malignant, fast-acting clubhouse poison. You can make a decent argument the Giants just overreacted when they dumped him.
But dump him they did, after just one season; a season where he had a WAR of 0.5.
And what did they give up for one season?
Well, the least important man going to Minnesota was minor league pitcher Boof Bonser. He had a decent rookie year in 2006, going 7-6 with a 4.22 ERA but he rapidly fell apart. The Twins soon dumped him. If that was all the Giants gave up, they would’ve clearly gotten the better of the deal.
But there was another minor league pitcher in the deal: Francisco Liriano. Here is where the hurt really comes for San Francisco. In 2006, F-bomb went 12-3 with a spectacular 2.16 ERA and an un-Twins like 144 strikeouts in 121 innings. He soon developed arm problems and has never been that good since, but he still had a few more solid moments for Minnesota. And with a big season like his 2006, that’s all it takes to put Minnesota well ahead of this trade.
But, alas for the Bay Area, Liriano wasn’t the gem the Twins unearthed in this deal.
Not only did the Giants send two pitching prospects, but they also added a hurler with major league experience; a failed started turned middle reliever Joe Nathan.
Well, he’d been a middle reliever in San Francisco. But Ron Gardenhire made Nathan the closer, and he turned into Super Joe. He made four All-Star teams in the next six years. In one of his years off the team, he posted a 1.58 ERA. In seven seasons with the club, he saved 260 games while posting a 2.16 ERA. With the exception of Mariano Rivera, he might have been the game’s best closer in that span.
In all, those three pitchers gave the Twins 27.4 WAR, which is nearly 55 times the value the Giants received.
So yeah, that was a really one-sided trade made 10 years ago today.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
November 13, 2013
25th anniversary: Rob Neyer writes a letterToday marks a rather strange anniversary. For most of the baseball world, it doesn’t mean a thing. It had nothing to do with any game being played. (Who plays games in November anyway?) It wasn’t any transaction or front officer maneuvering.
It was one guy who was underemployed writing a letter to another guy who was self-employed. And they all lived happily ever after.
On Nov. 13, 1988, a young man who had just dropped out of college and didn’t know what to do with his life wrote a letter to a writer/thinker he admired, asking to be his research assistant.
The letter writer was Rob Neyer. The recipient was Bill James.
I’m assuming that most of you out there in reader-land recognize those names. Bill James is the biggest name in sabermetrics, and did more than any other person to popularize the new way of approaching the game that has become part of the mainstream in the 21st century. Rather fittingly, James has joined the mainstream, joining the Boston Red Sox front office about a decade ago.
Today’s anniversary, though, is more about Neyer. James had already made his mark 25 years ago, with his series of annual abstracts, and his Historical Abstract. But Neyer was the guy getting off the ground.
Much to his own surprise, James called Neyer up and offered him the job as research assistant. Neyer stayed on for the next four years, before moving on to become a freelance writer. By the late 1990s, he’d found his niche, writing five columns a week for ESPN.com.
Sitting behind this keyboard, I have no idea how many of you were paying attention to the burgeoning online sabermetric community back in those days. But if you were, you’ll remember that in those days before Twitter, before blogs caught on, before Moneyball, if you wanted sabermetrics on the web, there were two places you could go. There was this little site just starting to get attention called Baseball Prospectus. And there was this guy at ESPN named Rob Neyer. Given the size of the platform ESPN gave him, Neyer was the most public and prominent sabermetric writer working on a regular basis back then. Bill James is great, but he’d broken the wand years ago. Prospectus was, as noted just getting started.
I remember that ESPN even gave Neyer his own message board wherw statheads like me could congregate. I spent plenty of time at the late, great Rob Neyer Message Board posting under the name clespider99.
Neyer’s central role gradually diminished. Prospectus took off (helped by Neyer giving it some attention). Generation Blog got going. Baseball Think Factory arose as a central watering hole for sabermetrics. Oh, yeah—The Hardball Times showed up, and so did FanGraphs and various other sites. Neyer still churned away, his series of columns changing into blog postings at ESPN. Eventually, he and the four-letter parted ways, and Neyer now resides at SB Nation.
But Neyer’s trek all began with that letter to Bill James—a letter written 25 years ago today.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
October 25, 2013
40th anniversary: Cubs trade Fergie Jenkins for Bill Madlock40 years ago today, the Cubs began breaking up that old gang of theirs. On Oct. 25, 1973, they traded star pitcher Fergie Jenkins to the Rangers.
The Cubs hadn’t had much success since WWII. They won the last wartime pennant in 1945, and then had a winning record in 1946, but then entered the long dark night for Cubs fans’ souls. From 1947-66, their best record was an 82-80 record in 1963. Yeah, that’s bad.
But in 1967 they went 87-74, beginning a six-season streak of winning record. They never won a pennant (of course) but they had a really solid core. Helmed by Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher, the club had a quartet of Hall of Famers serving as the focus of their team; leftfielder Billy Williams, third baseman Ron Santo, aging infielder Ernie Banks – and Fergie Jenkins.
Clearly, Jenkins was a key part of the run. In each of those winning seasons, Jenkins posted 20 or more wins. He averaged 21 wins a year, over 300 innings, nearly 40 starts – all while posting a fine 3.00 ERA.
Behind Jenkins and his fellow stars, the team had middle infielders Don Kessinger and Glenn Beckert, and catcher Randy Hundley, who all started for the team for years. A series of quality pitchers worked alongside Jenkins over the years, including youngsters Burt Hooton and Ken Holtzman, as well as veterans Milt Pappas and Bill Hands.
It was a good club, and though they never finished in first they had a nice stretch from 1967-72. But then came 1973. That’s the year that old gang got old, finishing 77-84.
Banks had already retired. (Frankly, he was past his prime before the club had become good). Durocher (also past his prime) left in the middle of 1972. But they still had Santo, Williams, Jenkins, Kessinger, Beckert, Hundley, Pappas, and Hooton.
But Oct. 25, 1973 showed they wouldn’t have them for much longer. The Cubs decided to rebuild, and Jenkins was the first to go. By the time Opening Day 1974 occurred, joining him out the door was catcher Hundley (to Minnesota), second baseman Beckert (to the Padres), and Ron Santo (to the crosstown White Sox). Also, Milt Pappas retired. The Cubs would also trade Sweet Swingin’ Billy Williams during the 1974 season.
The rebuild wouldn’t be very successful, as their next winning season wouldn’t come until 1984. They wouldn’t have consecutive winning seasons again until the 21st century.
This particular trade, however, didn’t work out too badly. Sure, Fergie Jenkins would have a career year in 1974 with the Rangers, winning 25 games with a personal best 328.1 innings. But the Cubs had a nice gem coming to them in the deal: young third baseman Bill Madlock.
While Jenkins tore up Texas in 1974, Madlock finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, batting .313. Then he won a batting title in 1975, hitting .354. He then repeated as champ in 1976, batting .339. Sure batting average is overrated and Wrigley Field inflates averages – but that is nice. Meanwhile, Jenkins staggered his way to a 17-18 record in 1975 with a rising ERA. And that was his last year in Texas.
In those two years, Jenkins had 10.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Madlock had 11.6 WAR as a Cub from 1974-76. Then the Cubs flipped Madlock for Bobby Murcer.
It wasn’t a bad trade necessarily for the Cubs, but it did signal the end of an era—one of the few good eras the Cubs have had in the last 70 years. And that era ended 40 years ago today.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
October 23, 2013
20th anniversary: The Joe Carter gameTwenty years go today, one of the most famous World Series games of all time took place: the Joe Carter game.
It was Game Six of the 1993 World Series on Oct. 23, 1993, and the Toronto Blue Jays entered just one game away from becoming baseball’s first back-to-back world champions since the 1977-'78 Yankees.
Pitching for the Blue Jays was aging veteran Dave Stewart. He was clearly past his prime, but the former ace of the 1988-'90 A’s dynasty had plenty of experience working in high-pressure postseason games.
Opposing Steward and the Jays were the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies actually won more games in 1993—97 to Toronto’s 95. They won those 97 games on the strength of their bats. They finished first or second in a host of offensive categories: runs, hits, doubles, triples, walks, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. They were well rounded.
But so far the Phillies had been done in by their pitching, which wasn’t nearly as impressive. Toronto had scored 8, 10, and 15 runs in its three wins so far. It was up to starter Terry Mulholland to keep the Jays' bats at bay in this game. Though he’d later become a longtime lefty reliever, Mulholland was then an effective starter, with a 3.25 ERA on the season.
But early on, it didn’t look like Mulholland had it. The Jays nearly hit for the cycle in the first inning against him, scoring three runs on a walk, triple, double and single. Mulholland soon calmed down, but the Phillies couldn’t seem to dig their way out of that early hole. After six frames, the Jays led comfortably, 5-1. It didn’t look like they’d need any late game heroics to clinch the championship.
But then in the seventh the Phillies showed everyone how good their offense could be. After Stewart let the first two batters reach, Lenny Dykstra made him pay with a three-run homers. Toronto still had the lead, but now it was a much narrower 5-4 affair.
Out went Stewart and in came reliever Danny Cox. He didn’t allow any big hits, but he couldn’t get them out either. He allowed three singles and a walk. That tied the score 5-5, with the bases loaded and just one out.
Toronto manager Cito Gaston called on a new pitcher, Al Leiter. He’d been in the Toronto system for years, but had gotten hardly any playing time until this year. Now the 27-year-old swingman was called on at this most important of moments.
He did all right. He did allow the leading run to score on a sacrifice fly, but that was it. It wasn’t ideal, but at least the Blue Jays were still in striking distance, down 6-5. But in the bottom of the seventh, Toronto couldn’t do anything, going down in order. Now the Jays had just six outs left.
The eighth looked like it might be their inning. After Carter flew out to lead off, John Olerud worked the count for a walk. Olerud then advanced on a grounder to Roberto Alomar. The good news for Toronto was the tying run was in scoring position. The bad news was there were two outs.
But the bullpen wasn’t Philadelphia’s strength. Its ERA was 4.00, ninth in the NL. Reliever Larry Anderson hit the next batter and then walked another to load the bases. It looked like Toronto could tie it without even a hit. Or not. Pat Borders popped up to end the inning.
The Phillies went down in order in the top of the ninth, and now it was time for the final three outs. To close out the win, the Phillies brought in their relief ace, Mitch Williams. Nicknamed “Wild Thing,” Williams had once set the record (that still stands) for most walks in a season out of the bullpen: 91 with the 1987 Rangers.
While he had 43 saves on the year, he’d also allowed 100 base runners in 63 innings—44 reaching by walk. He’d been especially bad down the stretch, with a 6.24 ERA in his last 15 outings, with 14 walks and 14 hits in 13 innings. Just three days earlier, Williams had given up three runs in two-thirds of an inning while helping cough up a lead in a 15-14 loss in Game Four.
Leading off the top of the ninth, Wild Thing faced Rickey Henderson, one of the few batters in baseball history to walk more than 2,000 times. Naturally, Henderson drew a free pass. Up next came Devon White, and in an epic nine-pitch at bat, Williams got the better of him, getting a fly out.
With the Jays down to just two outs, Paul Molitor came out. The 3,000 hit club member did what he did best: get a hit. Henderson scooted to second, and suddenly extra innings looked like a real possibility.
That’s when Joe Carter came up. You know what happened next. After working the count to two balls and two strikes, Williams delivered a pitch that Carter sent deep into the stands in left field. That was it. Previously, just one World Series had ended on a walk-off home run—Bill Mazeroski's in Game Seven of 1960. Now, Joe Carter made it two.
Toronto had done it—become world champions again. And the Blue Jays did it 20 years ago today.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
October 16, 2013
10th anniversary: the Aaron Boone GameTen years ago today, one of the most famous games in the history of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry occurred. That’s right, today is the anniversary of the Aaron Boone Game. Or, the Aaron F. Boone Game, if you’re a Boston fan.
Though I imagine Boston’s success in 2004 and 2007 has dimmed the pain of that night in 2003 for the Red Sox faithful, that doesn’t mean it hurt any less that night. And, of course, a Red Sox fan had more than one target for his wrath. Aside from Boone, there was also Grady Little to get upset about.
Oct. 16, 2003, was the all-important Game Seven of the ALCS. It had been a tightly played series. Games Three, Four, and Five all were decided by one or two runs. In Game Six, the Red Sox rallied from a 6-4 deficit late in the contest to triumph, 9-6, and force the Game Seven showdown.
On paper, you had to like Boston’s odds to overcome their nemesis. Okay, so the Yankees had home field advantage, but Boston already had won two of the three games in Yankee Stadium so far in the series. And yes, the Yankees had Roger Clemens, one of the greatest pitchers ever, starting. But Clemens had posted a 3.91 ERA in 2003; he was hardly in his prime.
But you know who was in his prime? Red Sox starting pitcher Pedro Martinez. All he had done in 2003 was lead the AL in ERA for the fourth time in five years with a 2.22 mark while fanning 10 batters every nine innings. Though he wasn’t the most durable stud out there (he threw more than seven innings just five times all year), when he was on, he was awesome.
And it was clear Martinez brought more to the table than Clemens on this night. Boston blitzed Clemens for an early 4-0 lead. It could’ve been even worse, but Yankees skipper Joe Torre moved aggressively and yanked Clemens with no outs and two on in the fourth. Mike Mussina, in his first major league relief appearance ever, came in and squelched the Boston rally and kept Boston off the scoreboard in the middle innings.
Martinez was marvelous against the mighty Yankees. The only hitter who could figure him out was slugger Jason Giambi, but boy, did Giambi figure out Martinez. Giambi clubbed a pair of solo homers off Martinez, but that was all the Yankees could muster.
In the seventh, it looked like New York finally might get something going against Martinez. With two out, Giambi hit his second dinger, and then Martinez allowed back-to-back singles. Seven innings was typically Martinez’s limit, and he’d surrendered just three hits prior to this inning. But Martinez struck out young second baseman Alfonso Soriano to end the frame.
On his way off the mound, Martinez pointed to the sky, something he often did when he left a game. After seven innings, exactly 100 pitches thrown, and signs of wearing down, he had every right to think he was handing off the lead to the bullpen.
But, of course, that was not the case.
In the bottom of the eighth, despite Martinez’s creakiness and the fact Boston had a 5-2 lead, Little asked his ace to bear the load for another frame. It was the decision that cost Little his job.
It started off fine. Martinez coaxed a pop up from young Nick Johnson, but it was a battle, taking seven pitches, and Martinez didn’t have many pitches left to battle with. Next up, Derek Jeter slashed a double to right, and then moments later scored on a single by center fielder Bernie Williams. Now it was 5-3 with the tying run at the plate.
That would-be tying run was Hideki Matsui. He didn’t tie it with one swing of the bat, but he didn’t miss by much. He punched out a ground-rule double. Now the tying run was in scoring position. And score is exactly what he did when Yankees catcher Jorge Posada belted a double to tie it up, 5-5.
That was four straight hits, three for extra bases. My favorite story of the night came from a writer who said he was next to a semi-intoxicated British man at a bar watching the game. Watching the debacle unfold, the Brit inquired if it was against the rules to substitute the pitcher, because that bloke on the mound looked to be fried. But what a drunken Englishman with no knowledge of baseball could notice had not registered with Little.
A little too late, Little finally dove into his bullpen, and the relievers stemmed the tide. The inning ended on a bases-loaded ground out by Soriano, but it was still 5-5. Neither side seriously threatened in the ninth, and the game went into overtime.
There is something extra special about an extra-inning Game Seven. All extra- inning contests have the appeal of uncertainty. You never know which inning will be the last; it could always be this one. And Game Sevens are the final confrontation. Nothing builds the pressure like going beyond the ninth in a game like this. Even if these teams weren’t famous rivals and even if you didn’t have the famous Martinez fiasco, this game still would be a classic.
For the first bonus inning and a half, there wasn’t much action. David Ortiz doubled in the 10th, but it came with two out, and he quickly was stranded.
The impressive thing was the pitching. The Yankees asked their super closer Mariano Rivera to shoulder an unusually long three innings. He was known for handling two-inning saves in the postseason, but three innings for a 21st-century closer was practically unheard of.
Rivera shut down the Red Sox in the ninth, 10th, and 11th frames, but that most likely would have been it for him. All Boston had to do was get to the 12th, and they’d get to face a far more mortal man from the New York bullpen. But first then had to retire the Yankees in the bottom of the 11th.
You know what happened. We all know how this played out. Boston reliever Tim Wakefield—not typically a reliever, but when it’s the 11th inning of Game Seven it doesn’t matter who is a starter and who isn’t—faced Yankees infielder Boone. In a lineup littered with stars, Boone was likely the least prestigious. In fact, he began the day on the bench, only entering as a pinch runner in Boston’s hellish eighth inning.
This was Boone’s first at-bat of the game. And it didn’t take long for Aaron John Boone to earn a new middle name from Boston fans. On the first pitch from Wakefield, Boone swung and connected, knocking one well out of the park. Faster than you can say “Aaron Effing Boone” the ballgame—and ALCS—was over. The Yankees had done it.
The Red Sox would get their revenge the next year, but this night was all for the Yankees, and that night was 10 years ago today.
Posted by: Chris Jaffe
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