After beating the Texas Rangers on Sept. 3, the Boston Red Sox were 84-54. Although half a game behind the Yankees in the American League East, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card and roughly a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fast forward one excruciating month to a dead heat with Tampa coming into tonight's bitter imbroglio. Boston struggles ahead of laughingstock Baltimore by a single run until a rain delay clears the field, leaving them in the surreal position of rooting for the hated Yankees playing down in Florida. They can only watch from the sidelines as the rival Rays, tied with Boston in the pennant race but down 7-0 against New York, roar back to life with six runs in the eighth inning and a tie run on the final pitch at the bottom of the ninth. And then, after blowing two different strikes that would have salvaged the game, Boston loses to Baltimore, completing what is arguably the worst late-breaking collapse in the history of major league baseball.
If you are an East Coast baseball fan, there are two reasons to stay up past your bed time: 1) Your local nine are on a West Coast road swing 2) To indulge in one of the true joys of baseball: Listening to Vin Scully call a baseball game. In the October edition of GQ, Scully looks back on some of his most memorable calls, in a career that started in 1950 when the Dodgers called Brooklyn home. If reading Scully's recollections isn't enough for you, The website includes audio of the calls in question. [more inside]
Who was the worst defender in the history of baseball? A commenter in a baseball-fever thread compiles a list of the bottom 100 career dWAR figures of all time -- in other words, the 100 players who cost their teams the most wins with the glove. (Joe Posnanski on the WAR metric, for those unfamiliar with it.) The list is an interesting mix of players whose bats allowed them to stay in the game for years despite terrible glovework (Bernie Williams, Manny Ramirez, Dave Winfield) and players who were so bad in the field that they managed to rack up a lot of negative dWAR in shorter careers (Chris Gomez, Dean Palmer.) Toby "Stone Fingers" Harrah is #14 with a -10.9 dWAR. Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart just misses at -6.1. Some active players have a chance to finish high on the list: Ty Wigginton is only 33 and has already bumbled away enough balls in 2011 to "improve" his ranking from 24th to 15th. Worst of all time? No, it's not the Captain -- Derek Jeter is #2 on the all time list with -13.4 dWAR. Can you guess the "winner"?
Behold! The worst at-bat in the history of Major League Baseball! Or is it actually the greatest at-bat in the history of Major League Baseball? Sunday afternoon, [San Francisco] Giants reliever Santiago Casilla batted against [Florida] Marlins reliever Jose Ceda, and they were both really terrible. (via SportsFilter)
Ralph Branca's story now manages to combine baseball, tragedy, genealogy, Judaism and the Nazis
Fun While It Lasted is a blog that details the histories of long-dead sports franchises, including the Hawaii Leis/Sea-Port Cascades/Seattle Cascades, the Portland Lumberjax, the Columbus Minks, the Denver Comets, and the Phoenix Fire -- a professional soccer team that never actually played a game. [more inside]
Nineteen innings. Nearly seven hours of play. The "Worst call in the history of baseball" ends Pirates/Braves game. [more inside]
The Grandy Man: the story of Yankees All-Star Curtis Granderson's bond with the family of Brian Bluhm, a Detroit Tigers fan and blogger, gunned down in the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. [more inside]
More recently, Wilson has drawn fan and media attention for his thick, black beard and eccentric behavior. There's a relatively strange baseball player called Brian Wilson. [more inside]
SI has written an oral history about the making of the movie "Major League". Charlie Sheen was also interviewed for this piece.
Even if you calculate that on average away teams only ever had a 10 per cent chance of beating one of Mourinho’s sides (for some, like Gijón, it might be a lot less, but for others, like Sporting Lisbon, AC Milan, Manchester United or Barcelona, it would be a lot more), the odds against going unbeaten for 150 matches are more than seven million to one. The London Review Of Books on the home advantage in sports.
Who holds the longest home sell-out streak in professional sports? The Red Sox have the longest streak in major league baseball, just under 700 games (and counting.) The Washington Redskins have sold out 348 straight home games, a streak dating back to 1968. But the longest streak belongs to the Portland Trail Blazers, who sold out 814 straight home dates between 1977 and 1995. Yesterday, they were joined by the Dayton Dragons of the Class A Midwest League, whose victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods marked their 814th straight sellout. The Dragons, despite playing in an economically troubled mid-sized city, have sold out every home game the team has ever played, drawing over 8,000 fans a game, better than most AAA clubs. Dragons manager Delino DeShields was last seen on MetaFilter as a hitting coach in the independent Pioneer League. General manager Gary Mayse explains how the Dragons have found success in hard economic times.
The Amarillo Sox are an American Association (independent) baseball team in the panhandle of Texas. They recently commissioned a new mascot costume. The results were unsatisfactory.
70 games in 75 days in the Northwoods League. Andrew Barna, a varsity baseball player at Davidson College during the school year, is spending the summer playing first base for the Madison Mallards. The Mallards are currently a half game back of the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League, a summer developmental league where NCAA athletes play for room, board, the adulation of devoted Upper Midwest fans, and the slim hope of making it to the bigs. (Northwoods alums in the majors include Ian Kinsler (Mallards), Ben Zobrist (Wisconsin Woodchucks), and Juan Pierre (Manitowoc Skunks.) Barna's blog offers a look inside the real life of very-minor-league baseball: The best way to sleep on the team bus. Getting caught picking your nose on the field. Welcome back Jumpy Garcia. Signing your first breast.
This next pitching stance is only attempted by the bravest of souls... SLYT - It starts a little slow, but hang in there until the 3:05 mark.
The Peoria Chiefs, the Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, are hosting a 2011 Lebron Championship Ring giveaway at their ballpark tomorrow night.
Dressed to the Nines: A History of the Baseball Uniform. Explore the different parts of the uniform, or browse a timeline. Features a fully searchable Uniform Database. Thanks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Reload the front page for two fresh quotes.
Last night, in a 7-6 loss to the Florida Marlins, the San Francisco Giants suffered what could potentially be a devastating loss when their prized catcher, 24-year old Buster Posey, in an attempt to block the plate and prevent a run from scoring, injured his leg in a gruesome collision (somewhat graphic mlb.com video). Following the game, his agent is questioning MLB rules surrounding home plate collisions. Analysts across the game are (ESPN Insider, subscription required) also wondering...is it time for a change? Some historical context on collisions at home plate. It's also just recently been reported that Posey has broken his leg and torn ligaments, which is a shame for such a promising and exciting player.
Before his death, Mickey Mantle spoke to Sports Illustrated about the effect that alcoholism had on his life and career. [more inside]
Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a funny, insightful blog that covers everything from politics to film to sports and mystery novels.
Clemson Baseball vs. Davidson Rain Delay Antics Moose hunting? Curling? Bowling? How this university's baseball team entertained during a rain delay. (SLYTHilarity)
"The Killer," Harmon Killebrew, a slugger for the Minnesota Twins (formerly Washington Senators) has died today at 74. [more inside]
Bartolo Colon, now of the New York Yankees, underwent a controversial stem-cell treatment in the Dominican Republic to regain his old form.
Bill Gallo, longtime NY Daily News Sports Cartoonist, is dead at age 88. If you grew up in the NYC area anytime from the the 50s until this April, you've probably seen one of Gallo's cartoons in the Daily News. Although he covered all sports and their fans, blue collar sports like boxing and baseball were his real love. Gallo was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY as part of the Class of 2001 and some of his work hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. [more inside]
"Value-added modeling is promoted because it has the right pedigree -- because it is based on "sophisticated mathematics." As a consequence, mathematics that ought to be used to illuminate ends up being used to intimidate." John Ewing, president of Math for America and former executive director of the American Mathematical Society, criticizes the "value-added modeling" approach used as a proxy for teacher quality, most famously in a Los Angeles Times story that called out low-scoring teachers by name. A Brookings Institution paper says value-added modeling is flawed but the best measure we have of teacher value, arguing that the metric's wide fluctuations from year to year are no worse than those of batting averages in baseball. (Though the weakness of that correlation is mostly a BABIP issue.) Can we assign a numerical value to teacher quality? If so, how?
"My NY Mets sketchbook. I create an entry after each Mets game or commentary on the crazy stuff going on around the team."
Whiskerino is no more, Goatee Groundhog Day has come and gone and Moustache May is still a few weeks off. Whose fecund, feral, facial hair can sustain us in the meantime? None other than Brian Wilson, closing pitcher of the San Francisco Giants, and his virtual beard. Touch it!
The recently retired Manny Ramirez was one of the most inscrutable players in recent history. Ben McGrath of the New Yorker attempted to figure out Ramirez's motivations in this 2007 piece.
Archived Baseball photos from 1917-1956 Today, the Boston Public Library will publish on the Internet the first 100 of a trove of nearly 3,000 rarely seen baseball photographs taken by Leslie Jones, who worked for the Boston Herald and the Boston Traveler from 1917 to 1956. Moments preserved by the shutter and squirreled away in his Dorchester basement, where he kept tens of thousands of images. The Boston Globe has a selection published here. The first batch of snapshots was released to coincide with today’s Opening Day at Fenway Park. Library staff plan to upload several dozen more images each week until all 2,881 photos are online. The project is part of a broader initiative by the library to give the public unfettered access to Jones’s entire archive of tens of thousands of images. He photographed car wrecks and ice-crusted fishing trawlers; shot luminaries like Albert Einstein and Amelia Earhart; and the people of Boston.
Talkin' Baseball: Cali, Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, The Simpsons softball. [more inside]
Chicago Cubs outfielder Fernando Perez has published his poems in Poetry and The Southern Review. He studied creative writing at Columbia, just like James Franco. He is into Robert Creeley. He has a twitter feed. His career batting average is .234 but he's hitting only .161 in the Cactus League and might not make the big league club. Spring Training is the cruelest month.
Every Hall of Famer is a blog where Summer Anne Burton is drawing pictures of all 295 members of the baseball Hall of Fame. She started in January and plans to finish by the end of the year. Here's an interview with her about the project. The drawings include telling bits of information and cool quotes. It's a fun way to learn about baseball history. Here are three of my favorites so far: Charles Radbourne, Dan Brouthers and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
What Baseball Team Should I Root For? (image) Now you can establish a lasting emotional bond through the magic of pure logic.
Harvey Dorfman, author of The Mental ABCs of Pitching and The Mental Game of Baseball, died on February 28th. A sports psychologist, Dorfman counseled hundreds of baseball players, mentoring some of the best players in the modern era. Mike Pelfrey called Dorfman after nearly every start. Roy Halladay, before he was "Doc," went to see the Dorfman and continues to give his book on pitching to all young pitchers. A 2009 profile of "Dr. Baseball" explained how Dorfman worked, "One week I’m Hamlet, the next week I'm Bozo. You come to me with a certain disposition; I better know who to play…. I am neither an asshole nor a saint, in totality. I am whatever is required at the moment."
Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider, also known as "The Silver Fox," has passed away at the age of 84. Snider played for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for the bulk of his career, in which he hit 40 or more home runs in 5 consecutive seasons and hit the last home run in Ebbets Field. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980, Snider was the least-known of the famed trio of New York center fielders from the 1950s, but enjoyed a resurgence in popularity after his induction and the release of "Willie, Mickey, & the Duke" in 1981. Mickey Mantle died in 1995, but Willie Mays is still going strong.
Wake Forest University's slogan for their baseball team in 2011 is 'What are you willing to sacrifice to help make this team better?' "Head coach Tom Walter's intent was to have his players thinking about sacrifice bunts, moving runners over, and giving up personal glory to help the Demon Deacons improve as a team. But what Walter chose to sacrifice is greater than simply hanging in on a curve ball and taking one for the team. Walter gave up a kidney." [more inside]
Sabermetrician in Exile. Voros McCracken's radical idea -- that pitchers have very little ability to induce batters to hit into outs, and succeed mostly insofar as they can strike out a lot of hitters and give up few home runs and walks -- has changed the way baseball teams are constructed. (Heard of BABIP? That's him.) Every major league team has employees who rely on McCracken's insights. McCracken, struggling to make his rent in suburban Phoenix, isn't one of them.
Donnie Moore was the California Angels' relief ace in 1986. After he gave up a home run that began the Angels' collapse in the ALCS, Moore's life and psyche steadily deteriorated, until he committed suicide in 1989. Steve Hofstetter wrote about Moore and the divergent paths taken by other athletes in similar situations.
The Baseball Club is a game by MetaFilter favorite Taro Ito, best known for Dice Wars. In The Baseball Club you take control of a high school baseball team and attemp to lead them to victory in The World Baseball Tournament. You keep each player for three seasons and train them in batting practice. Warning: Absurdly addictive.
In 1972, with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning in the last game the Washington Senators played before moving to Texas, the crowd flooded onto the field, ruining a thrilling late-game comeback over the Yankees. In 1974, the Cleveland Indians tripled attendance by offering Ten Cent Beer Night, but ended up wielding bats against their own fans to protect the visiting Rangers. In 1979, the plan to blow up disco records on the field between the two games of a double-header in Chicago led to riots and fires. And Rusty Torres was on the field all three times.
The Baseball Prospectus' Wezen-Ball blog solves a riddle in Ferris Bueller's Day Off at Wrigley Field, explaining exactly which Cubs game Ferris and his friends attended during that fateful day off.
Wins-above-replacement, or WAR, is a Sabermetric term of art for baseball player comparison. Fangraphs, one of the go-to sites for baseball nerdlingers, now offers a way to make WAR grids, an amazingly easily comprehended visual display comparing players based on WAR, sortable by team, position and season, with a default topline of player age. [more inside]
ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark presents his Strange But True hitting feats of 2010. Only in baseball's...umm...unique scoring system could someone get caught stealing 3B, and then safely steal 3B on the next pitch. Warning: both links contain auto playing video with ads at the top.
Jonah Keri looks at the unconventional methods being used by the Texas Rangers to improve the durability and effectiveness of their pitching staff.
Who was Eddie Klep? Everybody knows about the black man who integrated the major leagues in 1947, but hardly anyone knows about the white man who integrated the Negro Leagues the year before. Eddie Klep was no role model, but he deserves to be remembered, and Chuck Brodsky (who's written a bunch of baseball songs) did his part with the "Ballad of Eddie Klepp" (YouTube, lyrics). The name actually has just one p; Brodsky regrets the error (which is also made in this short piece, with lively quotes from Klep's wife). (Thanks, Ken!)
"In order to renew my Fangraphs membership, every six months, Dave Cameron flies out to meet me in an unmarked parking garage in Washington DC, where I swear a blood oath by candlelight on a stack of Necronomicons never to write anything complimentary about Derek Jeter’s mobility or range. Cameron’s post about Jeter yesterday was faithful to our sworn mission. The awful secret of Derek Jeter’s fifth Gold Glove requires a little background in a few of the more esoteric domains of human knowledge. This may be the most important blog post I ever write; if it is the last, dear readers, only you will know the truth." Sure, FanGraphs appears to be a geeky site for baseball stat-heads who live in their mothers’ basements, crunch numbers whilst sipping Diet Dr. Pepper, and invent silly acronyms instead of dating girls. But FanGraphs bloggers quite firmly embrace their own nerdiness – even going so far as to create NERD, the stat, which rates the “watchability” of a team. Furthermore, they so often blend humor, politics, literature, and philosophy into their writings that to shun the site is to deprive yourself of fascinating, scrumptious nuggets of surprisingly accessible, occasionally math-heavy, and nearly always well-written baseball geekery. Would you like to know if better players have more Twitter followers? Wondered, Is The DH Dying? Derek Jeter cheated... so what? How about a lengthy meditation on baseball and the science of happiness? [more inside]
Dave Niehaus, the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Mariners, has passed away at the age of 75. [more inside]