After a sabbatical from wrestling, 24/7 got me interested again in the product. I'll confess that I'm a John Cena fan, and I think the in-ring product has been as good as ever perhaps. So with a live Monday Night Raw coming, my friend, his fiance and I picked up some tickets for the show. We lucked out with it becoming a three-hour special featuring the draft lottery.
-Legends! We got appearances from Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper and the Fabulous Moolah.
-Chris Benoit's last Raw match.
-Local product Snitsky got DQ'ed for beating up Miz after the bell. Like that merited a DQ. My friend actually worked with Snitsky a short time at a local resort.
-The limo explosion. What an odd event at a show, we found out later that it was actually filmed the night before. The arena is actually in a fairly isolated spot, which made it an attractive venue to pull off that stunt.
For those who bash John Cena, it is really obvious from most live crowds like this that he is a tremendous draw. What struck me more than anything though is that the sound feedback was incredible. During the matches you just heard this incredible hum through the sound system. WWE cranks up the music to the point where I'm surprised the announcers can function.
Next up: Smackdown
A bit of background on this one. For years, WWE ran frequent shows at the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton, PA. Its history dates back at least to 1964, with Bruno Sammartino main eventing shows. Even as the Attitude era flourished in large arenas, WWE would come back to the CYC and run shows in front of 3,800 fans. In the Summer of 1998 however, the catholic leadership saw the product becoming too distasteful, and barred the WWE. So wrestling left the area for two years.
I never saw a wrestling show at the CYC, but I did attend a Harlem Globetrobbers game there. The best information I can find is that the CYC is now owned by Lackawanna College. Here's a virtual tour of the facility.
July 16, 2000. For the first time, the new First Union Arena at Casey Plaza hosts a WWE event (they had WCW Thunder in January). I had upper deck seats to catch this lineup.
Bull Buchanon defeated Al Snow
WWF European Champion Eddie Guerrero defeated Perry Saturn
Taka Michinoku & Sho Funaki defeated the Dupps
WWF Tag Team Champions Edge & Christian defeated the Acolytes
The Undertaker defeated Kurt Angle via count-out
Ivory defeated Jackie
WWF Hardcore Champion Steve Blackman defeated Gangrel
WWF Hardcore Champion Steve Blackman defeated Essa Rios
Matt & Jeff Hardy defeated Road Dogg & X-Pac
Kane defeated the Big Bossman
None of the matches truly stands out. Undertaker/Angle really turned out to be a dress rehearsal for their Fully Loaded PPV match, minus the finish. This was a good show though, nothing was remotely close to bad.
Three years later, first level seats at the same venue (now called the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza).
Maven & the Hurricane defeated Lance Storm & Chief Morley when Hurricane pinned Morley
Christopher Nowinski pinned Tommy Dreamer
WWE Women’s Champion Jazz defeated Trish Stratus and Victoria by pinning Trish
WWE Raw Tag Team Champion Kane pinned Christian
Bubba Ray, D-Von, & Spike Dudley defeated Rico & 3 Minute Warning in a tables match following a 3D on Jamal through a table
Sylvian Grenier & Rene Dupree defeated Scott Steiner & Test when Test was pinned as he was distracted by Stacy Keibler and Steiner on the floor
Booker T pinned Rodney Mack
WWE Raw World Champion Triple H pinned Kevin Nash after ramming the challenger’s head into an unprotected turnbuckle
Here things are clearer. The Dudleys' table match was no more than a standard six man tag with a table finish. I was sour on HHH/Nash at the time, but in retrospect I need to admit that they had a fine match.
I think arena shows are excellent as a fan. Live television shows can be hit or miss as the company is more concerned with angle development. At the live events, it's simply matches, and every angle is done with the live audience in mind.
Coming tomorrow: The Draft Lottery in 2007 and Benoit loses his mind.
Fast forwarding to 1999, a friend winning a radio contest netted us tickets to WWE Raw at the Meadowlands, the day after Wrestlemania XV.
This event featured a two hour live Raw, along with Shotgun and Super Astros tapings. Some highlights I recall.
-The Public Enemy pinned by six other guys in a four team tag match.
-El Hijo del Santo!
-Goldust winning the Intercontinental title from the Blue Meanie.
We got the taping first. The night's Raw featured the usual Russo era storylines. The problem with this type of show is that while everything is designed to engage the live audience, none of it is particularly memorable. The Undertaker kidnaps Stephanie McMahon, leading Vince to order his hooligans to find her. Ken Shamrock gets a confession from Christian. All a little more soap operaish than I prefer. Austin regained his Smoking Skull championship belt at this show. The Rock's popularity was on the rise, and it was clearly evident that he would turn face within a month.
Apologies for a short entry, but I'm really at a loss to write anything really interesting here.
Coming tomorrow: Live shows in 2000 and 2003.
This Saturday I'm attending a WWE house show in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In the week prior, I thought it would be fun to look back at various live shows I have attended.
Kicking off is my first live wrestling experience. In the early days of Monday Night Raw, WWE would run shows in much smaller venues. The Fernwood Event Center was a small convention hall in Bushkill, PA that held maybe 3,000. The town more or less consists of a single resort. Parking at the place was sparse, with cars lining Route 209 perhaps for half a mile. My friend, my father and I got standing tickets for the show, I being unable to convince my dad that the show just might sell out beforehand. Still, we were in.
The show was a combined live show and taping. The matches started with a series of squash matches, some of which aired the next week on Raw. What I remember most is that it seemed to take ten minutes between each squash, more frustrating when the matches themselves lasted two minutes apiece. Razor Ramon defeated Pat Tanaka, the Headshrinkers won a squash, Diesel won a squash, and Ramon came out again and beat the Brooklyn Brawler. (As an aside, one of the jobbers against the Headshrinkers was a young Mike Bucci, who later rose to fame as Nova and Simon Dean.)
Finally we got some competitive matches. IRS defeated Marty Jannetty clean and Doink defeated Bastian Booger. Those matches later aired on the Survivor Series Showdown. Bret Hart beat Jerry Lawler in a dark match. That may have been scheduled to air, but Lawler was charged with statutory rape soon after and was taken off television. Then we got the live Raw, which consisted of Ludwig Borga vs. Scott Steiner and a few more squash matches. The live show saw Randy Savage attack Crush in the dressing area, but without monitors all the live crowd saw was Bob Backlund vs. Barry Horowitz.
Being late, we left during Luger vs. Pierre. An Undertaker/Yokozuna dark match followed.
The show itself is almost entirely unmemorable, as Raw was not much more than a live episode of Superstars at that time. Fernwood was a poor venue, it was cramped and allowed little space for movement to concessions and merchandise, and some fans found themselves sitting directly in walkways. Adding the poor location, and it's a wonder WWE bothered. I would have liked to see them run the Scranton CYC for a Raw once or twice. Or even the Ag Hall in Allentown. Those would have accomplished the same goal of an intimate venue, with a nod towards history.
Coming tomorrow: March '99 in the Meadowlands
Watching the Glory Days documentary of the 1980 Phillies, former owner Ruly Carpenter mentioned a potential trade with the Texas Rangers over the winter of 1979 that would have removed three star performers of the 1980 season. Narrator Dallas Green states, "of course, we won't mention the players involved," while showing a clip of Tug McGraw. What was that trade? What would it have entailed?
Paperofrecord.com carries archives of the Sporting News. Searching for "McGraw" over the period of 1979 would bring up potential trade rumors, I would think. Sure enough, we find our answer. The Phillies seemed keen on acquiring an ace reliever. Whispers of offers to the Cubs for Bruce Sutter are mentioned, but the big one is a package to the Rangers for Sparky Lyle. Specifically, the Phillies would have sent Tug McGraw, Larry Christenson and Bake McBride to the Rangers for Sparky Lyle, outfielder Johnny Grubb, reliever Adrian Devine and maybe shortstop Pepe Frias.
Swapping Lyle for McGraw must have looked good at the time. Sparky Lyle at the time was the greatest lefty reliever of all time. Lyle however was hanging on the precipice. He bombed in 1980, producing a 4.69 ERA with Texas. Tug McGraw meanwhile battled tendonitis, but after a three week stint on the DL he came back and posted an amazing 0.52 ERA from July through the end of the season. I count 12 one-run victories among his appearances. Given that the Phillies won the NL East by a single game, surely that trade costs them the pennant.
The rest of the package looks a little more interesting. Bake McBride was the starting right fielder and a good player. McBride hit .309 in 1980 with 52 extra base hits. Among right fielders, he was middle of the pack. Grubb meanwhile was a lefty slugger, a tremendous platoon player in the era. With Grubb, the Phillies likely platoon him in right field with blazing rookie Lonnie Smith. Offensively that's a good move. Defensively with Smith in right and Greg Luzinski in left? Thank god Maddox was the Secretary of Defense.
Adrian Devine had a good ERA in 1979 but it was a fluke. He struck out merely 22 batters in 66.7 innings pitched. Sure enough, he had a 4.82 ERA the next season and never again pitched in the Majors. Frias was just an awful hitter.
So that trade costs them 1980. McBride faded after the season. Christenson gave the Phillies about 350 quality innings the rest of his career. McGraw had another good season in 1981 and hung on three more years. Grubb was a quality player but not a star. Oddly, the Phillies snagged Sparky Lyle later in the season in a September trade, sending Kevin Saucier after the season for a PTBNL. 1981 was the strike year, that is almost impossible to gauge. One wonders if the Phillies in 1982 could have contended without Christenson pitching a full season. And of course in '83 they won the pennant.
In retrospect, the trade costs them a World Championship. Thank goodness it did not happen.
Ten years ago, Baseball America started listing top prospects by team. The Phillies at the time had a weak system, and BA chose reliever Ryan Brannan as the Phillies' top prospect. Brannan never reached the major leagues. Over ten years have passed, so now it is apparent whether any of the Phillies' farm products at the time became successes or failures. Looking back, could any of their players made better picks as top prospects? I drew up a list of the top ten based on current career win shares. Players in the organization as of January 1, 1998 and claimed rookie eligibility status.
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS (18 years old)
Sally League: 270/332/370, 46 stolen bases
Impressive second year, as Rollins displayed a bit of pop, plate discipline, lots of speed. A shortstop who happened to be one of the youngest players in the league AND exceeded the league OPS is certainly a top prospect.
2. Randy Wolf, LHP (20 years old)
NY-Penn League: 4-0, 1.57 ERA, 40 IP, 8 BBs, 53 K's.
Wolf was the Phillies' second round pick in the 1997 draft. It is hard to put a lot of stock in 40 innings. Michael Cisco would qualify as a top prospect under the same criteria. It would be interesting to go back and read scouting reports on this one.
3. Marlon Anderson, 2B (23 years old)
Eastern League: 266/318/374, 27 steals in 42 attempts.
Those numbers are hardly impressive at all. Low average, little power, high caught stealing rate. Anderson would explode for 62 extra base hits the next year in AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Anderson spent a couple years playing second base for the Phillies before settling in as a valuable spare part for the New York Mets.
4. Desi Relaford, SS (23 years old)
International League: 267/323/400, 29 steals.
You want a higher batting average, but that's not bad from a 23 year old SS in AAA. Relaford bombed as a starter though in 1998. Relaford got mileage out of a career as a utility infielder. His placement on the list is due to longevity rather than real ability.
5. Johnny Estrada, C (21 years old)
NY-Penn League: 314/341/489.
223 at bats, 9 walks and 15 strikeouts? How do you evaluate a player like that? Estrada never got his OBP up. He reached the Majors in 2001 thanks to an injury to Mike Lieberthal, but was terrible. He had a solid year with the Braves in 2004, but otherwise he was a poor hitter. A player like this lives and dies on his batting average and when you do that, it better be closer to .320-.330.[/i]
6. Carlos Silva, RHP (18 years old)
Appy League: 2-2, 5.12 ERA, 58 IP, 14 BBs, 31 K's.
Home run rates are unavailable, so I don't know if Silva's ground ball tendencies were readily apparent. While Silva crashed and burned in 2008, he's had a fine career thus far as a starting pitcher.
7. Adam Eaton, RHP (19 years old)
Sally League: 5-6, 4.18 ERA, 71 IP, 30 BBs, 57 K's.
Nothing in the stat line really stands out. The Phillies packaged Eaton to the Padres for Alan Ashby before the 2000 season. Eaton had a 4.13 ERA in 2000 and since then has NEVER posted a better than average ERA in a season of any length.
8. Bobby Estalella, C (22 years old)
International League: 233/321/418
A beast. Estalella had power to spare, and was built like a truck. Unfortunately he had yet to hit for an acceptable average. Estalella exploded the following season in Scranton, posting a .993 OPS in 76 games. Estalella hit just .216 though in 904 MLB at bats.
9. Wayne Gomes, RHP (24 years old)
International League: 38 IP, 24 BB's, 36 K's, 2.37 ERA
MLB: 42.7 IP, 24 BBs, 24 K's, 5.27 ERA
How the heck did this guy ever come around with those peripherals. Gomes had three decent seasons from 1998-2000, before losing effectiveness.
10. Derrick Turnbow, RHP (19 years old)
Appy League: 24 IP, 16 BB, 7 K's, 7.50 ERA.
Wow. Turnbow found his stuff for one good season in Milwaukee, but otherwise he had extreme control issues his entire career.
I think Rollins and Wolf were obvious talents at the time. The rest are generally a collection of journeymen who had lengthy careers as reserves. In retrospect, Rollins probably should have been the number one prospect.
Let's run with this. Some of the rankings might be off by one or two. I'll never be satisfied as a whole, and in general it's impossible to really create a solid list. I just hope to avoid making some stupid mistakes.
1. Carlos Carrasco, RHP
A strikeout an inning at AA and AAA, just 21 years old.
2. Jason Donald, SS
Gotta love a shortstop who can post a .500+ slugging percentage.
3. Dominic Brown, OF
The scouts love him. I'll buy into the hype.
4. Lou Marson, C
I have qualms about his power, but it's much easier to go with the flow on this one.
5. Michael Taylor, OF
Took a huge jump in one season.
6. Kyle Drabek, RHP
Looks great in the Hawai'ian league. Ace potential.
7. Travis D'Arnaud, C
8. Zachary Collier, OF
9. Joe Savery, LHP
Bad season, but peripherals weren't terrible. Deserves another look.
10. Jason Knapp, RHP
11. Sebastian Valle, C
12. Vance Worley, RHP
13. J.A. Happ, LHP
I'm leary even rating him this high. He walks far too many batters for a pitcher without blow away stuff.
14. John Mayberry Jr., OF
Hard to dismiss this kind of power potential. Doesn't strike out as much as you'd think for a player of this profile.
15. Michael Stutes, RHP
Statistics are impressive, but really lacks impressive stuff. Even watching him, you think nothing of it and all the sudden, you have 8 K's marked on your scorecard.
16. Antonio Bastardo, LHP
Big HR rate in Reading is a red flag.
17. Freddy Galvis, SS
Bat is iffy, but I LOVE the defense. This is a guy I want to watch.
18. Julian Sampson, RHP
While not striking out batters, extremely low HR rate is a good sign for a young pitcher. Keep an eye on this one as a possible Chien-Ming Wang type.
19. Michael Cisco, RHP
Completely under the radar, but posted a 30/0 K:BB ratio as a starter in Lakewood, with no home runs.
20. Drew Naylor, RHP
21. Edgar Garcia, RHP
Never impressive, but still very young.
22. Quintin Berry, OF
Should make a fifth outfielder someday with his speed. Complete lack of power.
23. Andrew Carpenter, RHP
Seemed to recover as the season developed. Thanks to an inning of mopup relief, he's forever a champion.
24. Sergio Escalona, LHP
25. Anthony Hewitt, SS
Performance was awful, but there's potential if he can learn to make contact.
26. Anthony Gose, OF
27. Michael Schwimer, RHP
6'8" reliever, posted high strikeout rates in Williamsport and did not allow a single HR.
28. Jeremy Slayden, OF
Why on earth has he never been pushed a level?
29. Chance Chapman, RHP
Old for Lakewood, but I think he has a future career as a reliever.
30. Brad Harman, 2B/SS
Performance was bad, but he's still quite young, plays defense well and has some power. Possibly a utility infielder in the future. He put on a show at the last World Baseball Classic for Australia, and should get another chance this time around.
Fans of teams tend to overrate their prospects. Sometimes this reaches absurd levels. I mentioned J.A. Happ in my last entry, and apparently a few amateur prospect watchers weight him highly due to his close proximity to the Majors. Does a high level outweigh potential? What about performance vs. scouting? When I develop a prospect list, I think the correct way to go about it is to view the players as trading chips. If you were trading for a team's top prospects, which ones would you value? (Ignoring positional and team needs and such.)
J.A. Happ led the International League in strikeouts, at the age of 25. For comparisons sake, these are the other starters who have finished top ten in strikeouts at the same age. Brandon Knight, Brandon Duckworth, Travis Harper, Luke Hudson, Eric Junge, Denny Lail, Everett Stull, Tim Rumer, Brad Woodall, John DeSilva, Mike Oquist, Jesse Cross, Dave Telgheder, Josh Hancock, Aaron Heilman, Brian Burres, Virgil Vasquez, J.A. Happ, Jeff Niemann and Chris Lambert. Note any All-Stars on that list? None of them even held a starting pitching job long term. Oquist had the most wins, with 25. To make a pitcher on that level a team's top ten prospect is simply delusional.
Coming up with a list of the Phillies' Top 30 prospects, a step ahead of Baseball America.
1. Carlos Carrasco, RHP
2. Jason Donald, SS
3. Michael Taylor, OF
4. Dominic Brown, OF
5. Travis D'Arnaud, C
6. Kyle Drabek, RHP
7. Lou Marson, C
8. Zack Collier, OF
9. Vance Worley, RHP
10. Joe Savery, LHP
11. J.A. Happ, LHP
12. Sebastian Valle, C
13. Michael Stutes, RHP
14. Jason Knapp, RHP
15. John Mayberry Jr., OF
16. Edgar Garcia, RHP
17. Antonio Bastardo, LHP
18. Drew Naylor, RHP
19. Andrew Carpenter, RHP
20. Quintin Berry, OF
21. Freddy Galvis, SS
22. Julian Sampson, RHP
23. Michael Cisco, RHP
24. Sergio Escalona, LHP
25. Jeremy Slayden, OF
26. Anthony Gose, OF
27. Brad Harman, 2B/SS
28. Michael Zagurski, LHP
29. Anthony Hewitt, SS
30. Jason Jaramillo, C
This is a work in progress. Any questions, comments or suggestions are more than welcome. I'm curious to see how it stacks up against BA's list later this offseason.
I don't know if there is a good way to sum up an event like this. I probably should not even try. A lot of things have gone through my head as to what to write, and suffice to say I'm not a terribly poetic writer. I got to watch quite a few of the Phillies' players come through the minors, including Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard.
Frankly, I am shocked it came about so easily. The only other year the Phillies won the World Series was 1980. In that season, the Phils won the division by one game, coming back from behind to win three times in the last week, including the clincher. They won a best of five series 3-2 against the Astros, trailing all three times before they won, and seeing four of those five games go extra innings. They won the World Series 4-2 against the Royals, and they came from behind to win three times. Twice they had to beat Dan Quisenberry to do it. The only game they won in the playoffs but never trailed was the clincher, game six. This time they went 11-3 in the postseason. They were never a loss away from elimination. The only game the Rays even led at any point was their game two victory.
Cole Hamels established himself as a Phillies postseason legend, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts. Brad Lidge rocketed up the postseason saves list. He has now saved more postseason games than all but two pitchers, Dennis Eckersley and Mariano Rivera. Ryan Howard hit three home runs. I think credit is due to the Rays though, who enjoyed a fine season. They lost fighting, with the tying run at second base and losing out only when a line drive stayed in the air too long. Baseball is truly a game of inches, hits turning into outs and vice versa by the smallest of margins. A couple of breaks and the championship easily could have gone the other way.
Was it a boring postseason? More or less, yes. I was thankful for that from a Phillies' perspective but disappointed in the other series. The game five ALCS comeback from the Red Sox will live as a classic. Game five of the World Series was very good as a whole (it will hopefully live in one piece on the dvd), as was game three. Little was memorable about the Fall Classic though. I think we can lay blame on Fox, the weather, MLB as much as we want. The fact remains however that if the games are lacking, there is little you can do to dress them up. Baseball needs exciting games, and then needs to market them properly.
It bears repeating. If you long for the days that your children could enjoy baseball, take them to a minor league game. The lower, the better. You get cheaper tickets, cheaper parking, cheaper concessions, and the players are much more accessable.
It amazes me how much merchandise MLB will attempt to sell in the wake of a World's championship. Within an hour, the Phillies' website proudly displayed a couple hundred items for sale, all proclaiming the Phillies "2008 World Champions." Hats, shirts and dvd sets are customary. Here are some other fun items you might purchase.
* Wincraft Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series Champions Galvanized Pail ($29.99)
* Seven different 2008 World Series Bobbleheads, including the Phillie Phanatic, all holding the trophy ($24.99 each)
* Mr. Potato Head, Complete with Phillies hat and trophy ($19.99)
* 2008 World Champions Snow Globe ($34.99)
* Cole Hamels Autographed World Series Baseball ($217.99)
I can just imagine someone in the process of redecorating their den.
A final note on the parade. Chase Utley has raised a bit of a stir by declaring the Phillies, "World F'n Champions!" That is not the most distressing thing on its face, but it is a bit disheartening how this type of language has seemingly become acceptable at Philadelphia sporting events. It makes it difficult to introduce non-fans into the sport or to a sporting venue. Winning is not a ticket to act like a jackass.
In summation, this is really the first championship win I was alive to witness. I don't think anything in the future will measure to this. Thank you Phillies!
Eight years ago, Bill James produced his book on win shares. In that book, he listed each franchise's top 25 players by that statistic. In the ensuing period, the Phillies have had a run of success, finishing above .500 nearly every season and winning back to back division titles for only the second time in franchise history. With the club now producing several franchise players, I thought it might be worth updating the list.
1. Mike Schmidt (467)
2. Ed Delahanty (365)
3. Richie Ashburn (289)
4. Robin Roberts (277)
5. Steve Carlton (276)
6. Sherry Magee (274)
7. Bobby Abreu (247)
8. Pete Alexander (238)
9. Roy Thomas (233)
10. Del Ennis (215)
11. Dick Allen (211)
12. Johnny Callison (209)
t-13. Gavvy Cravath (188)
t-13. Chuck Klein (188)
t-15. Jimmy Rollins (184)
t-15. Greg Luzinski (184)
17. Willie Jones (179)
18. John Titus (177)
19. Cy Williams (176)
20. Sam Thompson (166)
21. Billy Hamilton (165)
22. Pat Burrell (163)
t-23. Von Hayes (158)
t-23. Fred Luderus (158)
25. Darren Daulton (154)
Chase Utley currently has 126 win shares. He is signed through 2013, and if he maintains his current pace he could begin to challenge that top six. Ryan Howard has 94 win shares. No one else on the team is currently within striking distance. Rollins is under contract through 2011. Again, he could end up with about 260 win shares at the end of his deal.
Often in historical discussions, a sportscaster might bring up a player such as Roberto Clemente or Sandy Koufax. They will cite the player's first few seasons, noting that while they were a superstar player, they struggled in their first few seasons in the majors. Koufax is a particularly good example. He reached the Majors at the age of 19, and in his first six seasons posted a rather pedestrian record of 36-40. This type of analysis misses a key point. Most comparable players were not in the majors at ALL at that age. A great deal of players were not yet even in professional ball.
Koufax played early in the major leagues because he was a "bonus baby." A player who earned a large bonus as an amateur was required to spend two seasons on the major league roster. This rule was intended to prevent teams from hoarding top amateur talent. Clemente was actually a Rule V pick, again a player required to play in the minors at an early age.
Often we tend to evaluate players by looking at career rate stats. Quirks in early or late career performance can skew these results however. I feel it is appropriate to focus on player's primes to get a fair evaluation of their true abilities. This is not the end-all of evaluation. Rather, it simply provides a second look at the great players, allowing us to avoid inaccurate ratings simply because of a fluke in the data set.
Over the offseason, I plan to rate the top five in baseball history at each position. I plan to use statistics, era adjustments, non-MLB players (i.e. negro leaguers), and perhaps even raw skills. These ratings may come out differently than expected, but I hope to find it a worthwhile and enjoyable project.
Had this idea at work. Simple concept, create an All-Star team using only one player from each country. 25 man roster, plus a manager.
C: Dave Nilsson, Australia
1B: Sadaharu Oh, Japan
2B: Glenn Hubbard, Germany
SS: Luis Aparicio, Venezuela
3B: Reno Bertoia, Italy
LF: Larry Walker, Canada
CF: Devon White, Jamaica
RF: Roberto Clemente, Puerto Rico
DH: Babe Ruth, USA
SP Pedro Martinez, Dominican Republic
SP: Bert Blyleven, Netherlands
SP: Chien-Ming Wang, Taiwan
SP: Dennis Martinez, Nicaragua
SP: Tony Mullane: Ireland
CL: Mariano Rivera, Panama
RP: Lance Painter, United Kingdom
RP: Moe Drabowsky, Poland
RP: Danny Graves, Vietnam
RP: Bobby Chouinard, Phillipines
RP: Byung-Hyun Kim, Korea
C: Eddie Ainsmith, Russia
IF: Orlando Cabrera, Columbia
IF: Hector Espino, Mexico (the minor league home run king)
OF: Elmer Valo, Czechoslovakia
Manager: Bruce Bochy, France
Final Standings of pool play.
With four teams tied, a tiebreaker is actually easy to set up. Teams seeded one and four will compete, along with teams seeded two and three. The winners will play for the top spot, the loser of that getting the second spot. The losers of the first game will play for third place and the final playoff entry. The Giants pick up the first seed thanks to their 4-2 record against the other three teams. The Dodgers will get home field against the Highlanders due to better run differential. Hera are the tiebreak matchups.
Yankees (Hunter) @ Giants (Gomez)
Highlanders (Ruffing) @ Dodgers (Pettitte)
Giants 3, Yankees 2
Dodgers 6, Highlanders 3
Dodgers 6, Giants 1
Yankees 5, Highlanders 2
First round is Giants vs. Yankees, winner battles the Dodgers. Both series will be contested best of five.
Earle Combs hit .481/.526/.750, taking MVP honors. Jimmy Key will take best pitcher honors with two wins, 23 innings pitched and a 2.74 ERA.
Yankees 3, Giants 4
Yankees 1, Giants 4
Giants 3, Yankees 4
Giants 8, Yankees 2
Giants win series 3 games to 1.
Giants 2, Dodgers 15
Giants 1, Dodgers 10
Dodgers 9, Giants 10 (13 Innings)
Dodgers 4, Giants 6
Giants 8, Dodgers 9 (10 Innings)
Dodgers win series 3 games to 2.
Let's take a look at the Phillies' top 30 prospects and see how they look with less than three weeks left in the minor league season. Little statistics here, just opinions and analysis. If you need numbers, they are readily available.
1. Carlos Carrasco
Good season, showing he can handle AA and making two good starts now in AAA. Not dominant, but probably a good mid-rotation starter in the making.
2. Adrian Cardenas
Performed well in Clearwater before a trade to the Oakland organization. Now promoted to AA Midland, where the Athletics have moved him back to shortstop.
3. Joe Savery
Disappointing showing, but low home run totals are encouraging. Savery has actually DH'ed in four games as well. Still a prospect.
4. Josh Outman
Outman actually performed worse when converted to the bullpen. Traded to Oakland, the A's have placed him back in the rotation and promoted him to AAA Sacramento.
5. Kyle Drabek
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, pitching in the Gulf Coast League. Next year will indicate where he stands.
6. Dominic Brown
Great plate discipline and some pop. Potential star player on the rise.
7. Greg Golson
That he can handle AA pitching and hit for average yet is a great sign. Strikes out often but shows a good approach at the plate. He is not a wild hacker.
8. Lou Marson
Top-notch AA season. Phillies' catcher of the future.
9. Andrew Carpenter
Hugely disappointing season, only now showing signs of coming around.
10. Jason Jaramillo
Last really good offensive season was in Lakewood. A non-prospect, IMO.
11. J.A. Happ
Has good minor league numbers but looked bad in the Majors. At 25, he's short on time.
12. Scott Mathieson
Second Tommy John surgery. A longshot.
13. Freddy Galvis
Slick fielding shortstop. Not producing much in Low A but not completely overmatched. Still very young.
14. Edgar Garcia
Getting hammered at AA. Garcia has always been young for his levels, never impressive but always climbing the ladder.
15. Jason Donald
Big season, climbing into the Phils' top ten next season.
16. Travis D'Arnaud
Performance at Williamsport behind his already good defensive reputation will shoot him up the charts. If this has seemed an overly optimistic view of the Phillies' system, wait til we're finished.
17. Heitor Correa
Has not pitched.
18. Travis Mattair
Not performing well at Lakewood. Has at year a year to turn things around.
19. Julian Sampson
Good groundball pitcher, but not getting many strikeouts. Again, has a year or two to improve yet.
20. Brad Harman
Showing power, but numbers otherwise disappointing in AA Reading. He has a future if he can stick at shortstop, probably as a utility infielder.
21. D'Arby Myers
Did so badly at Lakewood that he got pushed back to Williamsport. A good athlete but status is slipping fast. Too bad. "I'm thinking D'arby" could have been big.
22. Carlos Monasterios
Poor season in Clearwater. Does not look like that Bobby Abreu trade will pan out.
23. Quintin Berry
Currently riding a 30 game hitting streak. Speedy, not much power. He could be a fifth outfielder down the road.
24. Joe Bisenius
At 25, if you can not handle AAA and do not dominate AA, you're not a prospect.
25. Tyler Mach
26. Antonio Bastardo
Very good strikeout numbers, but beginning to struggle at higher levels. Has a future as a reliever.
27. Mike Zagurski
Tommy John surgery.
28. Matt Spencer
Traded to Oakland after a disappointing FSL campaign. He's hitting (albeit hacking) at High A Stockton. He was skipped a level, so I'd wait before writing him off.
29. Drew Naylor
Great season in Lakewood but struggling in Clearwater. Still an encouraging campaign.
30. Lincoln Holdzkom
Rule V pick returned to Boston before the season.
Next, five players who emerged this season.
Michael Taylor. Great numbers combined between Low and High A. One of the highest OBPs in the minors.
Michael Stutes. 0.85 ERA with matching peripherals in ten starts.
Jason Knapp. Strong strikeout numbers for high school draftee in GCL.
Zach Collier. Early numbers from supplemental draftee are encouraging.
Justin De Fratus. 20 year old pitching well in Williamsport.
A couple weeks ago six of us ran an All-Time Yankees draft. With six teams chosen, the time has come to create a competition. I entered all six teams into a baseball simulator. The games are yet to come. Before the festivities begin, I thought it would be helpful to lay out the specifics and ground rules of the tournament.
1. Each team will play ten games, two against each opponent (one home and one away).
2. The top three teams will advance to the playoffs. The team with the best record receives a bye.
3. In the case of a tie for a playoff berth (first or third place), a tiebreaker game (or games as necessary) will be held. Teams can not be eliminated in a tiebreak scenario, except via an on-field game. Seeding for those games will be decided by:
Head to Head record among tied teams
Overall Run Differential
4. Playoff rounds are five games apiece. Home field format is 2-2-1.
5. Each team will use a five man rotation, ensuring two starts per pitcher.
6. Each team will use their reserve catcher in the 5th and 9th games, their reserve infielder in their 6th game and their reserve outfielder in their 7th game.
7. The extra reserves and relievers (those not drafted) will only be used in an extra inning game, or if a team has exhausted their bullpen.
See the comments for game details.
Another blogger did a mock NBA draft from the board, inserting himself into the spot of one of the participants. I decided to do the same thing with the wrestling draft in the General Wrestling folder. One twist, instead of taking a spot I am simply going to take a pick at the end of each round, picking last each time. Let's see how this goes.
1: "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers. Wrestling's top heel in the 1950s into the '60s. An iconic figure for fans of that era, and a top draw.
2. Bruno Sammartino. Too popular to be ignored, despite relative lack of working ability.
3. Magnum T.A. Extremely popular babyface attraction.
4. Nick Bockwinkel. Top heel, both as a talker and a worker.
5. Classy Fred Blassie. A tremendous heel in his day, an outstanding talker as well.
6. Lou Thesz.
7. Bobo Brazil.
8. Mil Mascaras. A top babyface whose aerial offense could excite the crowd.
9. Jim Londos. A handsome undersized greek would make a tremendous babyface.
10. Killer Kowalski.
11. Mr. Fuji & Toru Tanaka. The beginning of a tag team division.
12. Billy Robinson. The worker/shooter of the promotion.
13. Ken Patera. Undrafted after 400+ picks? Get on the ball people!
14. Johnny Valentine.
15. The Fabulous Kangaroos (Al Costello & Roy Heffernan)
16. Antonino Rocca & Miguel Perez. A popular, main event, ethnic tag team.
17. Red Bastien. Top worker and face in the early 70s. Could occasionally team with Robinson.
18. Doug Somers & Buddy Rose.
19. Whipper Billy Watson. One of the biggest stars in Canadian wrestling history.
20. Jimmy & Johnny Valiant.
21. Don Leo Jonathan. Large, agile heel.
21 picks in, that looks like an extremely stacked promotion. Not a great workrate promotion, but most of these guys are no slouches in the ring and they know how to work a crowd. I'll fill in picks as they happen and later on unveil a fantasy wrestling card.
Three more picks.
22. Mr. Wrestling II. Popular performer in Georgia in the 1970s.
23. Superstar Bill Dundee.
24. Jay Youngblood. Great young babyface, passed before his time.
A mini-MLB draft is in the works. Instead of the whole of MLB history for this one, we are going to focus solely on the New York Yankees. Why the Yankees, a team I despise? They simply have the talent necessary to sustain this kind of idea. I'd run Phillies, but who is going to get excited over Fred Luderus?
We have five entrants. Myself, Canadian Chris, Smues, Brooklyn Zoo and 161st and River. One more person can join in if they are interested.
Here are the basics.
1. 21 man rosters (eight position players and a DH, three reserves, five starters, three relievers, and a manager)
2. You draft a player's career ONLY as a Yankee. If you draft Randy Johnson, you're getting 34 career victories.
3. A player may only be chosen either as a manager or player. A player may not be chosen twice for each role. Two exceptions, Hal Chase and Clark Griffith may be player-managers.
4. All home parks are assumed to be Yankee Stadium.
CC: Babe Ruth
Al: Mickey Mantle
Bored: Lou Gehrig
BZ: Joe Dimaggio
Smues: Alex Rodriguez
161st: Bernie Williams
161st: Whitey Ford
Smues: Yogi Berra
BZ: Mariano Rivera
Bored: Derek Jeter
Al: Charlie Keller
CC: Bill Dickey
CC: Tony Lazzeri
Al: Lefty Gomez
Bored: Red Ruffing
BZ: Don Mattingly
Smues: Spud Chandler
161st: Jorge Posada
Smues: Jason Giambi
BZ: Thurman Munson
Bored: Reggie Jackson
Al: Joe Gordon
CC: Andy Pettitte
CC: Goose Gossage
Al: Allie Reynolds
Bored: Rickey Henderson
BZ: Dave Winfield
Smues: Roger Clemens
161st: Roger Maris
161st: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez
Smues: Mike Mussina
BZ: Earle Combs
Bored: Ed Lopat
Al: Phil Rizzuto
CC: Paul O'Neill
CC: Bobby Murcer
Al: Elston Howard
Bored: Graig Nettles
BZ: Tommy Henrich
Smues: Casey Stengel (manager)
161st: Dave Righetti
161st: Willie Randolph
Smues: Sparky Lyle
BZ: Wade Boggs
Bored: John Wetteland
Al: Herb Pennock
CC: Bob Shawkey
CC: Jimmy Key
Al: Bill Skowron
Bored: Hideki Matsui
BZ: Joe McCarthy (manager)
Smues: Mel Stottlemyre
161st: Waite Hoyt
161st: Joe Torre (manager)
Smues: Tino Martinez
BZ: Catfish Hunter
Bored: Tommy John
Al: Gil McDougald
CC: David Cone
CC: Home Run Baker
Al: Roy White
Bored: Alfonso Soriano
BZ: Vic Raschi
Smues: Robinson Cano
161st: Lou Piniella
161st: Hank Bauer
Smues: Frankie Crosetti
BZ: Tony Kubek
Bored: David Wells
Al: Carl Mays
CC: Chien-Ming Wang
CC: Mike Stanton
Al: Johnny Murphy
Bored: Gary Sheffield
BZ: Bobby Richardson
Smues: David Justice
161st: Clete Boyer
161st: Jeff Nelson
Smues: Gene Woodling
BZ: George Selkirk
Bored: Steve Howe
Al: Miller Huggins (manager)
CC: Don Baylor
CC: Kid Elberfeld
Al: Bob Meusel
Bored: Billy Martin (manager)
BZ: Al Downing
Smues: Ben Chapman
161st: Wally Pipp
161st: Jack Chesbro
Smues: Mickey Rivers
BZ: Bob Turley
Bored: Butch Wynegar
Al: Steve Hamilton
CC: Nick Etten
CC: Jerry Mumphrey
Al: Urban Shocker
Bored: Ron Davis
BZ: Fritz Peterson
Smues: Hal Chase
161st: Bob Wickman
161st: Roberto Kelly
Smues: Clark Griffith
BZ: Joe Page
Bored: Ralph Terry
Al: Ryne Duren
CC: Lindy McDaniel
CC: Johnny Blanchard
Al: Mike Stanley
BZ: Red Rolfe
Smues: Joba Chamberlain
161st: Ron Blomberg
161st: Tom Tresh (or Shane Spencer)
Smues: Wally Schang
BZ: Joe Girardi
Bored: Ron Hassey
Al: Snuffy Stirnweiss
CC: Randy Velarde
CC: Ralph Houk (manager)
Al: Birdie Cree
Bored: Tim Raines
BZ: Ramiro Mendoza
Smues: Tom Gordon
161st: Rick Cerone
Round Twenty-Two (Relief Pitchers)
161st: Shane Spencer
Smues: Lee Guetterman
BZ: Dick Tidrow
Bored: Hal Reniff
Al: Steve Farr
CC: Jack Aker
Over in the General Wrestling forum, there is a draft going on to select all-time rosters of wrestlers. I missed out on this, but it provides an opportunity to do a little list creation in my spare time. I created a list of my ideal top 64 picks. When selecting a wrestler, I feel you need to look for uncommon attributes, something to stand out from the crowd. Mid-carders are crucial to a good promotion, but you can find many, many guys at that level. Also, I think a wrestler needs some ability to succeed in today's environment. Gorgeous George was extremely popular as a heel for a time, but he was a limited attraction and today the novelty would be gone. I don't think he would be a top draw today. Let's see how my 64 stands up against the actual draft. I will divide this into four sections.
1. Wrestlers both in my top 64 and the draft top 64.
2. Wrestlers in my top 64 who just missed (first 100 picks).
3. Whiffs, Guys in my top 64 who went beyond the 100th pick.
4. Undrafted wrestlers.
I did not rank my list, so it is simply a list of 64 wrestlers/teams.
1. Wrestlers both in my top 64 and the draft top 64.
Since there is a consensus, there should be no need to comment on these names individually.
1. Bret Hart
2. Hulk Hogan
3. The Rock
4. Ric Flair
5. Steve Austin
6. Randy Savage
7. Andre the Giant
8. Shawn Michaels
10. John Cena
11. Triple H
13. The Undertaker
14. Brock Lesnar
15. Mick Foley
16. Kurt Angle
17. Roddy Piper
18. Bill Goldberg
20. Terry Funk
21. Eddie Guerrero
22. Chris Jericho
23. Ricky Steamboat
27. Steiner Brothers
30. Harley Race
31. Ultimate Warrior
33. Kerry Von Erich
34. Dusty Rhodes
35. Curt Hennig
38. The Road Warriors
40. Superstar Billy Graham
44. Bruno Sammartino
45. Jake Roberts
50. Stan Hansen
51. The Great Muta
52. Jack Brisco
54. Bruiser Brody
56. Terry Gordy/Miracle Violence Connection (I had him as part of the Freebirds)
61. Barry Windham
64. Magnum T.A.
2. Wrestlers in my top 64 who just missed (first 100 picks).
65. Jimmy Snuka
67. Rey Mysterio
68. Sid Vicious (as a member of the Skyscrapers)
69. The Big Show
70. Jerry Lawler
72. Sgt. Slaughter
89. Lex Luger
Great picks here, a few main eventers, a couple of solid workers (Sgt. Slaughter is underrated). Chalk this up to slight differences of opinion, perhaps some crowding with posters preferring Japanese workers.
3. Whiffs, Guys in my top 64 who went beyond the 100th pick.
Now we get to the portion where drafters are simply missing the boat on great talent, underrating guys who could carry a promotion, or make a significant contribution. Kudos to those who took the bait and made a wise choice on a late round pick.
101. Junkyard Dog - For a time, one of the most popular wrestlers in the country.
102. Nikita Koloff
104. Nick Bockwinkel - A wrestler with Bockwinkel's cockiness and interview style would no doubt make a top heel today. I could easily see him paired up against John Cena.
110. Trish Stratus - Possibly the greatest female wrestler in U.S. history, incredibly beautiful. Capable of filling a variety of roles.
117. Sabu - Unique style, still unmatched in wrestling. A genuine sensation in the 1990s, unwillingness to work at times hurt his potential.
128. Dory Funk Jr. - Interesting to think what he would do nowadays. Playing the grizzled veteran along with his backstage teaching skills, he'd be an asset to any organization.
131. Lou Thesz - Could he make it today? I think his wrestling skill could carry him, particularly as a stooging heel.
137. The Sheik - The most feared, savage heel of all time.
161. David Von Erich - Future NWA champion until his untimely death. David is a "what if" story, so I can't blame people for overlooking him.
176. Buddy Rogers - Top heel of his era, huge television star. Think Randy Orton cockiness combined with Ric Flair's charisma. Drew the biggest wrestling crowd in the United States in 1961. 38,000+ at Comiskey Park to see him win the NWA title, a mark unsurpassed until 1984.
4. Undrafted wrestlers.
Seven mostly old-school wrestlers who could benefit any promotion.
Mil Mascaras - One of the most popular latino wrestlers in history, used dazzling aerial manuevers in his prime.
Fred Blassie - Before managing, was a blond, vicious heel with incredible talking ability.
Billy Robinson - A great performer from Britain. Had less backstage warts than the Dynamite Kid. His mat work is good even by today's standards.
Jim Londos - Who? The greatest gate attraction of the pre-1950s era. At 190 lbs., handsome and tanned, would make a great babyface champion for a light heavyweight division.
Bobo Brazil - Popular black wrestler who re-defined racial boundaries. 6'6".
Gene Kiniski - Largely unknown NWA champion. Good worker and talent, around 6'4". His size would make him credible and his heel work would carry him from there.
Ernie Ladd - A former NFL star, legitimately huge with great heel mannerisms.
Johnny Valentine - Greg's father worked the same style, but better.
I rented this game recently off Netflix. I thought I had pegged the Gibson walk-off, but this game certainly did not disappoint. A 2-1 victory highlighted by Mark McGwire's walk-off home run in the ninth. A few thoughts:
-It surprises me somewhat that you rarely hear about this homer from McGwire, even during his playing days. You would think a player known for his home run exploits would have this one highlighted.
-McGwire's home run game came three days after Gibson won game one with his own home run. This was the first time two batters hit walk-off home runs in the same series. The only other series to earn this distinction was the 2004 NLCS.
-I will never, ever complain about too many pickoff throws again. Bob Welch threw over eight times after Steve Sax reached base to leadoff the game. The eighth inning was interminable, with the Athletics obsessed with neutralizing Lasorda's running attack.
-Despite the throw overs, the constant threat of hit and runs, steals, etc. make this game very interesting. Broadcaster Vin Scully does an outstanding job of giving the relevant situation, letting the viewer know the potential strategy given the statistics and results of the season. Fox should watch Scully and NBC work games and take notes.
I'm blatantly ripping off a concept from Bored. The best player from each pick in the draft. The MLB June draft has run from 1965 to the present.
1. Alex Rodriguez, SS
2. Reggie Jackson, OF
3. Robin Yount, SS
4. Dave Winfield, OF or Barry Larkin, SS
5. Dwight Gooden, RHP
6. Barry Bonds, OF
7. Frank Thomas, 1B
8. Todd Helton, 1B
9. Barry Zito, LHP
10. Mark McGwire, 3B
Not one #1 overall pick has yet made the Hall, though Junior Griffey and A-Rod certainly will. Having no player better than Zito at #9 is a surprise, ditto for Doc Gooden at #5.
11. Greg Luzinski, 1B
12. Billy Wagner, LHP or Nomar Garciaparra, SS
13. Manny Ramirez, OF
14. Derrek Lee, 1B
15. Chase Utley, 2B
16. Lance Parrish, IF
17. Roy Halladay, RHP
18. Willie Wilson, OF
19. Roger Clemens, RHP
20. Mike Mussina, RHP
21. Rick Sutcliffe, RHP
22. Craig Biggio, C
23. Jason Kendall, C
24. Rondell White, OF
25. Chuck Knoblauch, 2B
26. Alan Trammell, SS
27. Vida Blue, LHP
28. Lee Smith, RHP
29. George Brett, SS
30. Mike Schmidt, SS
Where are the Hall of Famers? Currently, 19 members of the Hall of Fame began their careers out of the amateur draft. Only six of them (Jackson, Yount, Winfield, Puckett, Fisk, Molitor) were chosen in the first ten picks of the draft. Five of them were not picked in the top 100, and Ryne Sandberg was the 511th pick in his draft. Nolan Ryan was the 226th pick, Goose Goosage was chosen 204th.
Another year of baseball is finally here. Who cares if it is too cold to reasonably enjoy the game?
April 1, Lehigh Valley @ Reading (exhibition)
A cold front threatened this game. While every place in eastern PA got drenched, the rain somehow avoided Reading entirely. We were treated to a 66 degree gametime temperature, fantastic conditions. This game pit the Phillies' top two minor league affiliates against each other to benefit Baseballtown charities. I can not stress enough how terrific a place First Energy Stadium is. The staff puts together a tremendous gameday experience, prices are good, concessions are reasonable. Plus, you can see Jason Donald take a wizz in the dugout!
Lehigh Valley won 6-2.
April 3-5, Lehigh Valley @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
The first official games for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Less said about the games, the better. As much as Reading puts into their gameday experience, Scranton does the opposite. No promotions, no excitement, barely any information for the fans. And that nice weather? Gone. Saturday was particularly fun. Afternoon game, bound to be a bit warm, right? 41 f'n degrees. And my dumb ass brought a short sleeve shirt. Put on a brave face though. Considered a sweater at the gift shop, but if someone bet me I couldn't make it through the game for $38, I'd take the bet.
Next week: Three games at Scranton, against the Louisville Bats.
I'm establishing a rule for myself. 15 overs and unders. Let's see where that leads.
Baltimore Orioles 66.0 66.0 UNDER
Florida Marlins 69.0 69.0 UNDER
Pittsburgh Pirates 70.0 70.0 OVER
Kansas City Royals 71.0 71.0 OVER
Washington Nationals 72.0 72.0 OVER
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 73.0 73.0 OVER
San Francisco Giants 73.0 73.0 UNDER
Oakland Athletics 74.0 74.0 OVER
Texas Rangers 75.5 75.5 OVER
Minnesota Twins 75.5 75.5 OVER
Houston Astros 76.0 76.0 OVER
Chicago White Sox 77.0 77.0 UNDER
Cincinnati Reds 79.0 79.0 OVER
St. Louis Cardinals 80.0 80.0 UNDER
Colorado Rockies 83.0 83.0 UNDER
San Diego Padres 84.5 84.5 OVER
Seattle Mariners 85.0 85.0 UNDER
Milwaukee Brewers 85.0 85.0 UNDER
Toronto Blue Jays 85.5 85.5 UNDER
Arizona Diamondbacks 86.0 86.0 OVER
Los Angeles Dodgers 86.5 86.5 OVER
Philadelphia Phillies 86.5 86.5 OVER
Atlanta Braves 87.0 87.0 UNDER
Chicago Cubs 89.0 89.0 UNDER
Cleveland Indians 89.5 89.5 OVER
Los Angeles Angels 92.5 92.5 UNDER
Detroit Tigers 93.0 93.0 UNDER
New York Yankees 93.5 93.5 UNDER
New York Mets 94.0 94.0 UNDER
Boston Red Sox 94.5 94.5 OVER
I noticed that I tended to go the over on mostly sub-.500 teams and under on mostly over-.500 teams. As a whole, I think most teams are ranked fairly on this list. For example, the Cubs are listed above the Brewers. I took the under on the Cubs and over on the Brewers. I still think the Cubs are favorites, I just think the win margin will end up 88-86.
I will be happy to answer questions about individual teams. The Astros replaced three awful players in their lineup (Ausmus, Biggio and Everett) with J.R. Towles, Kaz Matsui and Miguel Tejada. Their rotation sucks, but it sucked last year too, no loss. And it's a weak division.
The Pirates will no doubt finish below .500, but 92 losses? Not a sure thing in the NL Central. The Pirates are an odd team in that they are bad, but they lack truly bad players. They just do not have a truly standout player on their team. (Unless Jason Bay rebounds.)
I don't usually blog about politics, but I feel the urge. Pennsylvania runs their primaries quite late in the season, around late April. Consequently, we have little say in the Presidential primaries. Political ads have begun popping up, but I have yet to see a plethora of spots for presidential hopefuls. Some of the local politicians have started in earnest. Two candidates air ads on local television for the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania's tenth district (More on the district later). Here is one hopeful, Dan Meuser!
A blogger for the Morning Call refers to Meuser as robo-candidate! Indeed, Meuser has that stereotypical conservative politician look about him. His commercial targets illegal immigrants, a popular hot-button issue when you have nothing else to offer. Here is what amuses me. The commercial refers to his ideas as "the Meuser Plan." I can just imagine him showing up for Congress the first day, when the House of Representatives tell Mr. Freshman Politician what he can do with his plan. Newbs do not exactly carry a lot of pull around Congress.
(As an aside, part of this glorious plan is to make English the official language. Personally, I have taken to crossing out all the latin words on my currency. You need to start somewhere.)
Chris Hackett also runs ads, his campaign promises to fight wasteful spending. There's a fresh idea. It bothers me mostly that campaigns involve such blatant pandering and empty promises, but I guess that is how the public reacts.
I mentioned the tenth district, and here is where this all fits in. This seat is currently held by a democrat. It was Republican from 1961-2005. The first candidate became Governor after one term, the second has a stretch of highway named after him. The third, Don Sherwood, was caught in a love scandal and was defeated in the last election. This seat is easily winnable for the Republicans, so no wonder they are eager to fight Chris Carney.
It's not my district, so I don't need to put much thought into it. We have our own long term Congressman (Paul Kanjorski-D) who is going to be opposed by Mayor Lou Barletta of Hazleton (he of the illegal immigrant crackdown). Democrats have won 24 of the last 25 elections there, so Barletta has an uphill battle.
Forty years ago, Bob Gibson set a near-record by posting a 1.12 ERA over a full season. Of course Gibson benefitted from favorable pitching conditions, but his mark is still third all time even taking the deadball era into account.
What amazes me most about the season is not the ERA, but the fact that Gibson lost nine games in the process. Without exaggeration, I can find 200 pitchers who had more impressive single season records. I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at those losses. Retrosheet.org has game logs of course, but thanks to Baseball Reference's Play Index we can create a quick list.
There are ten games on this list. Nine of Gibson's losses, and a tenth game the Cardinals lost after Gibson left the game. For the record, Gibson had three no-decisions in 1968, the Cardinals went 2-1 in those games. In one loss, Gibson surrendered six runs, three of them earned. He allowed just six hits in a complete game, two walks, and 15 strikeouts. All six runs scored in the final three innings.
Three times Gibson lost 1-0 games. In one game he pitched a dual shutout with the Phillies' Woodie Fryman before losing in the tenth. Don Drysdale beat him 2-0, the other run coming off a reliever in the ninth (Gibson left for a pinch-hitter). In the third, the Giants' Gaylord Perry countered with a no-hitter. In those four three-run outings, Gibson pitched eight innings in all four. Two were complete games, the other two saw Gibson lifted for pinch hitters with his team trailing.
Here are Gibson's wins for that season.
Those two at the bottom are Gibson's no decisions that the Cardinals won. Two things stand out about the wins. One, Gibson pitched 9 or more full innings EVERY SINGLE TIME he won a game. Second, Gibson won a game while allowing more than one run just twice. Talk about earning your victories.
Many teams struggled to score runs in 1968. The Cardinals finished fourth out of ten teams despite a team containing Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, Roger Maris, Curt Flood and Tim McCarver. Just three players (Brock, Flood and Dal Maxvill) posted OBPs above .310.
By any measure Gibson was a dominant force that year. If he had the hitting the SF Giants for example enjoyed that season, he would have gone 30-3. As it was though, it's a remarkable season in spite of the nine losses.