Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 is the Year of the Pitcher, Part Two

In 1968 Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Yaztremski won the American League batting title with a whopping .301 batting average, and two Cy Young winners, the St. Louis Cardinals Bob Gibson, and the Detroit Tigers Denny McLain, abused big league batters all season long with Gibson winning  22 games, posting  a 1.12 era, and McLain winning 31 games, posting  a era of 1.96.

The next year, 1969, MLB raised the pitchers mound, and never again has a big league pitcher approached McLain's 31 wins, or the minuscule era of 1.12...however, as baseball fans clearly know, records are made to be broken, and as we approach Memorial Day, big league hurler are on their way to making this baseball season the Year of the Pitcher 2.

Tonight at Land Shark Stadium in Miami, Florida, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay faced 27 Florida Marlins batters, not allowing a single one of those 27 batters to reach first base safely, completing the 20th Perfect Game in MLB History, and the second in the major leagues in less than three weeks, as the Phillies defeated the Marlins 1-0.

If big league hitters are smart, they will start taking extra batting practice immediately, because it's pretty clear big league pitchers are taking the game over.

It all started on April 17th in Turner Field in Atlanta when Colorado Rockies right hander Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history, defeating the Braves 4-0, followed by the Oakland A's Dallas Braden's perfect game on May 9th in the Oakland Coliseum against the Tampa Bay Rays. 

It was the second time in ten months that the Rays had sent 27 hitters up to bat in a game without anyone getting on base...they were on the losing end of Chicago White Sox lefty Mark Buhrle's perfect game last July 23rd.

The 2010 season isn't even two months old, and already we've seen a no-hitter and two perfect games, imagine what we're ahead for in June and July...Jimenez has 9 wins, and his era is smaller than a gnat, at 0.88.

There has been a lot of discussion about the fallout from the steroid era of baseball, and from what's happened so far this year, all the negative publicity of that "era" is being quickly left in the dust, replaced by a "e..r...a" of dropping big league era's.

Saturday Singles

Memorial Day weekend is a time when we American's remember all the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country, and the current members of our US Armed Forces serving overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world...Thank You, and God Bless.

We remember how fortunate we are, and baseball has always been a big part of the American dream...

The American Flag and baseball are synonymous with our National Pastime... The Stars and Stripes, Old Glory... 

...and this memory of Rick Monday from April 1976... 

Every time I see this it takes me back to my teenage years. I was 16 years old, and I saw this  happen live on TV... Rick Monday will forever be remembered for rescuing that American Flag.

Baseball History 1922 the U.S. Supreme Court rules that baseball is a sport, not a business, and therefore, not subject to U.S. Anti-Trust laws.

Memorial Day is traditionally the first mark of a teams chance at winning their division...then July 4th, and then Labor more sign that baseball is truly America's game...backyard family barbecues, trips to the beach...

...for me, it was taking the ole transistor radio...listening to the late Ernie Harwell broadcast games for my Detroit Tigers, while my Dad would cook corn on the cob, hamburgers and hot dogs...and playing a game of catch with my Uncle Bob.

Enjoy the holiday weekend of baseball, and be safe in your travels.

MEMORIAL DAY National TV Schedule...

WGN-TV... 1pm...Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB Network... 4pm...Colorado Rockies @ San Francisco Giants
                              7pm...Arizona Diamondbacks @ Los Angeles Dodgers

You can also watch MLB games on line @, or check your local team TV schedule...Happy Memorial day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Tools of Ignorance

No position on the baseball diamond is more important to the success of a big league team than that of the catcher. Every pitch, every play in every game, the catcher must be aware, from backing up first base on a grounder to second base, to a double into the gap that might score a runner from first, the baseball backstop is the most integral part of  baseball teams winning, or losing a game, winning, or losing a pennant, or winning, or losing the World Series.

This week on The Bleacher report(, there was an article on the Top 10 catchers in baseball their list...
10.Buck Ewing(19thCentutyCatcher)... 9.Bill Dickey(NY Yankees)...8.Carlton "Pudge" Fisk(Boston/ChiSox)...7.Gary Carter(Montreal/NY Mets)...6.Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez(Texas/Detroit)...5.Mickey Cochrane(Phil.A's/Detroit)...4.Roy Campanella(Brooklyn)...3.Yogi Berra(NY Yankees/Mets)...2.Mike Piazza(LA Dodgers/NY Mets)...and #1...Johhny Bench(Cincinnati).

I really thought the article was well done, but everyone has their own judgment when it comes to baseball lists, so, with all due respect to the list above, here's my personal list of the Top 10 Big League catchers of All-Time...

#1...Johnny Bench(1967-83)
#2...Roy Campanella(1948-57)                            
#3...Bill Dickey(1928-46)                                          
#4...Mickey Cochrane(1925-37)
#5... Pudge Rodriguez(1991-present)
#6...Yogi Berra(1946-65)
#7...Pudge Fisk((1969-73)
#8...Mike Piazza(1992-2007)
#10...Rick Ferrell(1929-47)

A few thoughts on catchers...first, no list is perfect, all baseball fans will have their own thoughts, criteria, etc. For me, I think a lot of catchers lists start and end with offense, and that, to me, is wrong. The number one thing a catcher is responsible for is defense, and not just his play, but the defensive play of the entire team.

Yes, offensive numbers are an important part of baseball, and catchers have certainly been a large part of baseball's past with the lumber...

All-Time HR's by Catchers

#1...Mike Piazza...396
#2...Pudge Fisk...351
                                                      #3...Johnny Bench...327
                                                      #4...Yogi Berra...305
                                                      #5...Lance Parrish...299
                                                             Pudge Rodriguez...299

So, for myself, Johnny Bench is the beast catcher in baseball history, when you factor in the offensive, and defensive stats, with Campanella, Pudge Rodriguez, Berra, and Dickey all right there with the Bench.

Bench and Rodriguez have the best throwing arms I've ever seen, there were none better.

What's your Top 10, who's your favorite catcher...let's here from you, the fans.



Thursday, May 27, 2010

My favorite players from all 30 Big League teams...Vol. #3...New York Yankees

This is the third in a series of my favorite player from every MLB team.
Vol. #1...Baltimore Orioles...3rd Baseman Brooks Robinson (HOF)
Vol. #2...Boston Red Sox...OF Fred Lynn

Today...New York Yankees...SS Derek Jeter..."The Kalamazoo Kid."

Twenty years from now, a young baseball fan will ask his or her dad what a baseball player is, and that dad will tell the youngster about Mr. Baseball, Derek Jeter.

Derek Jeter was born in New Jersey, and at age 4 his father moved the family to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Jeter became a star baseball player, earning numerous honors, including the 1992 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, and set his sights on going to the University of Michigan to play baseball for the Wolverines. Instead, Jeter was drafted 6th overall in the 1992 player draft by the Yankees, becoming the face of baseball's most famous franchise.

I am a homer, a guy who roots for his home town teams, and its athletes.

 I am a Tigers, Lions, Red Wing, and Piston fan, I bleed Maize & Blue for the University of Michigan, and I cheer on athletes from my hometown, Kalamazoo, Michigan...and I make no excuses for it, and since the day he put on the hallowed Yankee pinstripes, Derek Jeter has been my favorite Yankee.

 He grew up in my hometown of Kalamazoo, and he attended the same High School that my Mother, and my Uncles attended back in the 1950's, Kalamazoo Central, and, of course, he was a Wolverine at heart.

Derek Jeter is Mr. Baseball, pure and simple.

Every aspect of Jeter's play on the field has been nothing short of professional, magnificent, thrilling baseball fans with exciting defensive plays and big hits in big games. For 16 magical years Jeter has led by example, weather it's going into the hole at shortstop, and throwing out the runner with his patented jump and throw...

...diving into the stands...

....or hitting Game Winning home Runs....

...Derek Jeter has been, and is, everything positive in the negative world of baseball's steroid/performance enhancing drug era.

  Derek Jeter is a ball player, he epitomizes the big league players of old, like DiMaggio, Gehringer, Mays, Aaron, Kaline, and of honor on the baseball diamond, and in the clubhouse.

Jeter's #2 will one day join the hallowed retired numbers of Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, joining #1-Billy Martin, #3-Babe Ruth, #4-Lou Gehrig, #5-Joe DiMaggio, #7-Mickey Mantle, #8-Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, and #9-Roger Maris...completing the use of all single digit Yankee uniform numbers forever...along with his Manager Joe Torre, who will no doubt have his uniform #6 retired by the Yankees at some point.

I love the humbleness of Jeter, the way he handles himself, the way he presents himself, the way he took on becoming just the 11th Captain of the storied Yankees franchise, the way he talks to the media..."no excuses"... the way he thanks his boss..."Mr. Steinbrenner", as he always referred to the Yankees owner.

Derek Jeter, the kid from Kalamazoo, grew up loving the Yankees. He would visit his grandparents in New Jersey, and they would take him to Yankee Stadium, where he would cheer on Dave Winfield, and dreaming of one day donning the Yankee pinstripes.

How many kids grow up dreaming to play in the big leagues for their favorite team, and then having that team draft you...and then allowing you to put on that uniform, living the dream,  playing for the Yankees, becoming Rookie of the Year, winning World Series, becoming an All-Star shortsop.

For all the greatness that is Derek Jeter on the field, he also gives back, establishing the Turn 2 Foundation, where young people are helped to "Turn 2" by reversing their troubles through baseball.


If you love the game of baseball, you have to love, well, OK, maybe not the Red Sox fans, but you have to love Derek Jeter...Mr. Baseball.

Derek Jeter...Mr. November...Captain clutch...(stats of 5/26/10)
                                                                      .316 lifetime hitter
                                                                       229 Home Runs
                                                                       1,096 RBI's
                                                                       2,803 hits...#1 All-Time Yankee record.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Fastballs...14th Year of Inter-League Play

Remember all the uproar from baseball purists who were distraught over the announcement that Major League Baseball would begin inter-league play in 1997?

Talk of sacred baseball records of players like Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio, Aaron, and Williams, players who only played games against teams in their own leagues until the World Series was played was debated furiously by baseball fans of all ages. You either loved the idea of the Mets and Yankees playing in an old school subway series, or you thought it appalling.

There were plenty of old school fans simply didn't want baseball to go the way of football, who's teams play a rotating schedule of regular season games, facing teams from both the AFC and the NFC,or basketball, and hockey, who's teams play one another every year.

Well baseball fans gave a raising, thunderous applause to baseball and inter-league play fourteen years ago, as over 7 million fans went through big league turnstiles that summer of 1997, and in 13 years of inter-league baseball, over 160,000 million baseball fans have watched games between the American and National league games, including a record 8.9 million fans in 2008.

As a Detroit Tiger fan I thought the idea of inter-league play was great, after all, why should  I have to sit through another Tigers-Rangers, or Tigers-Mariners series, bring on the Braves, the Cardinals, the Cubs, the Mets, the Dodgers.

Give me the Tigers traveling to Busch Stadium, site of their great comeback victory over the Cardinals to win the 1968 World Series, or the pure baseball fan excitement of watching the historical National League teams come and play at famed Tiger Stadium, where only the Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and Padres had entered, during world Series play.

The Tigers were not very good in the mid 1990's when inter-league games began, in fact, they were in the midst of 13 straight losing seasons, from 1993-2005, but since 1997, the Tigers actually play well in inter-league play, bringing a 123-106 record as they travel this weekend to visit Chavez Ravine and the L.A. Dodgers.

As Tiger fans, and fans of all American League teams will proudly tell you, the Junior Circuit has the edge in victories over the Senior Circuit in inter-league play, winning 9 of the 13 years the two leagues have squared off, including the past six years, with the A.L. winning 1,673 games to the N.L.'s 1,534 wins. Only one A.L. team has won fewer than 100 games, the Baltimore Orioles, who have 99 victories since 1997. On the N.L. side, nine teams have fewer than 100 wins during the annual get together, with the Pirates, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Rockies, Dodgers, Phillies, and Padres all under 100 wins.

The team with the most inter-league wins.?
The World Champion New York Yankees, who have won 133 games, followed by the Minnesota Twins at 132. The Florida Marlins have won the most games for the N.L., winning 120 games against the A.L.

The team with the fewest wins.?
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who are 71-110 in inter-league play.

So sit back and enjoy this first weekend of the A.L. and N.L. battling it out, and if your in a big league city, please, attend a game, you never know what will happen...just ask David Cone, who threw a perfect game against the Montreal Expos at Yankee Stadium on July 18th, 1999, on Don Larsen Day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Yes, I've got a Mowhawk .!

My friends and family members will tell you that there's no way they ever thought I would get a Mowhawk haircut, not me, it's not in my nature, and they would be correct, however, as Bob Dylan once said, the times, they are a changing.

So, why then, would I do it.?

It's real simple, because I wanted to.

Now, I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to get a Mowhawk, although one day I would like to just shave my head. No, what happened was simple, I decided to join  a group of guys who are changing things up in their lives, have some fun at work, and so they got together and got  Mowhawks.

When I first saw the pictures I said, what's going on, that looks crazy, is that really Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avilla sporting a Mowhawk. A Mohawk, on a Detroit Tiger, ball players from Detroit just don't do those things, not in the Motor City. 

 This team is not like Tiger teams of the past, and so when a few pitchers on the Tigers, lead by reliever Joel Zumaya and Phil Coke, egged on by Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon, decided they were going to have some fun and get Mowhawks. It then spread throughout the Tigers bullpen, and as of Thursday's shot out of the New York Yankees, 10, or more Tiger players have decided a Mowhawk was just the right look for them to.

Now that's what I call team unity, so, being a Tiger fan since the age of seven, I really had no choice. This is my team, they are my players, I am a fan, and so I told my wife I wanedt to support my team, I want a Mowhawk.

As for myself, I really didn't know what her reaction would be. Earlier in the week I suggested that I would like to grow my goatee out, like this guy I saw, who's goatee was a good three inches long. That idea was quickly nixed, and so I thought she would probably not go for the new look, but, and this is why I love her so..."OK, that would be great."

And with that, my wife got out the clippers, and there you have it...I have a Mowhawk...just like the guys who wear the Old English "D."

Now, what I thought I would do was take this Mohawk idea and run with it, and so I will be sending a check to the Tigers for one of their charities, a check for $11.00...that's right, $11.00...because that's the number of my Tiger hero Bill Freehan.

My hope is that one or more of the players will find out about my donation, albeit a small one, and decide to match my donation...maybe by matching their jersey numbers...and adding a few zeros to them, for a great Tiger cause in the Detroit community.

So, here I go, Mowhawk in tack, rooting on my Tigers, and hoping some young Tiger fan will be helped out along the way.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Braves to honor Tom Galvine, retire his #47

Even though 300 game winnerTom Glavine didn't qualify for this year's US Open, not all the news was bad for Glavine, as the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, and 1995 World Series MVP found out that he will have his #47 retired by the Atlanta Braves, joining a legendary list of players...Hank Aaron #44, Eddie Matthews #41, Warren Spahn #21, Dale Murphy #3,  and Phil Niekro #35, and Greg Maddux #31.

 Glavine won 244 big league games for the Braves from 1988-2002, 2008. In between Glavine pitched for the New York Mets, were he won his 300th game on August 5th, 2007 against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Besides retiring his jersey, the Braves will also welcome Glavine into the Braves Hall of Fame. The ceremonies will take place before the Braves play the San Francisco Giants on April 6th.

Today Glavine is a special assistant with Atlanta, and does work for the Braves on radio and TV.

My favorite Boston Red Sox... Fred Lynn

This is the second in a series of articles that will cover my favorite All-Time players from every Major League team, including long ago teams, and the Negro Leagues.

Today...My favorite Boston Red Sox.

In 1975 a young, brash rookie outfielder came up to the Red Sox, bringing a lethal bat, a golden glove, and clutch play that propelled the BoSox to the American League pennant, and the best World Series in my lifetime.

 His name was Fred Lynn, who captured not only the hearts of Red Sox faithful but baseball fans across the country, including this teenage fan in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Although I followed baseball every day, I really didn't know much about Lynn until he came to Tiger Stadium in June of '75.

On that June day, I saw Lynn personally beat the Tigers, blasting three homers, knocking in 10 runs, and piling up 16 total bases.

I was devastated that my Tigers were beaten, but I instantly became a fan of Fred.

 He played with reckless abandon, chasing down fly balls, running into every outfield wall in the American League, including hurling himself into Boston's Green Monster nearly every seemed like you saw the #19 on the back of his uniform more than you saw the Red Sox on the front.

 Lynn abused his body so much with his relentless play...diving for balls, slamming into those outfield walls across the American League, sliding hard into a base to break up a play, charging hard into home plate to score that important run.

 Following the '75 season, Fred Lynn became the first player to win both the Rookie of the Year Award, and the Most Valuable Player Award in the same season.

 Fred Lynn played for the Red Sox for only six years, being traded by Boston to the California Angeles after the 1980 season, where he continued his outstanding play, including hitting at least 20 homers for six straight years.

In the 1983 All-Star Game in Comiskey Park in Chicago, Fred became the only player to ever hit a grand slam home run, connecting of the San Francisco Giants Atlee Hammaker in the third inning, and being named the game MVP.

Fred Lynn made his way to my Detroit Tigers in 1988, playing in 27 games, hitting .252 in 90 at bats, and in 1989 Fred played in 117 games for the Tigers, hitting .241, with 46 RBI's.

Fred Lynn finished his career with a lifetime average of .283, with 306 home runs, and 1, 111 RBI's.

Fred Lynn...9 time American League All Star
                   4 time Gold Glove Award Winner
                   1975 MLB Rookie of the Year
                   1975 MLB Most Valuable Player
                   1982 American League  Championship MVP (first ever on a losing team)
                   1983 MLB All-Star Game MVP
                   Member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
                   Member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame

A fitting tribute to Ernie as Tigers down Yankees

How do you honor a man who meant so much to so many people. How can anyone give more of themselves than that man gave of himself.? The answer, is, of course, that you can't, all you can do is show your love, your respect.
That's exactly what 35,000 plus fans, friends, and family of long time Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell did on Monday night, they gathered at Comerica Park in downtown Detroit, packing the ballpark and watching as Ernie's Tigers gave their respect to the late play by play man with a 5-4 win over the visiting defending World Series Champion New York Yankees.

A man revered across the country, from his home state of Georgia, to his final resting place in Michigan, would've been proud of these Tigers, from rookie outfielder Brennan Boesch, who drove in three runs, to Johnny Damon, who homered..."and it's long gooone!", against his ex-teammates, to Magglio Ordonez, who made a sliding, game saving catch on a line drive by Derek Jeter to end a Yankee rally in the 8th inning.

This night was for Tigers fans everywhere, from the top of the UP, all the way back to the Motor City. Tigers fans had a special relationship with Ernie. He taught us baseball, he talked to us as if we were the only ones he was talking he was our Dad, or our Uncle. Ernie meant more to the fans in the state of Michigan than can ever be written here, he was just that special, men like Ernie come along once in a generation, if your lucky...and boy were we ever lucky, lucky enough to, even though we may have never meant him,  we could still call Ernie Harwell as our friend.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Perfection is Rare

How many of us can say that we've accomplished something "perfect" in our lives.?
That question is probably impossible to answer. In sports, you can bowl a "perfect" game by rolling a 300 game, all strikes, and in big league baseball, perfection can only be achieved on the rare occasion that a pitcher throws a "perfect" game...not one batter reaches base successfully...he didn't allow a batter a hit, he didn't walk any batters, he didn't hit any batters, no batter reached base in any other words, the pitcher was perfect in every way, 27 batters went up to bat, and 27 batters went back to the dugout without success. A perfect game doesn't happen very often, there have only been 21 thrown since 1880, but that is why baseball is special, why you never know what will happen when you go to a big league game.
Yesterday in Oakland a little over 12,000 fans went through the turnstiles to watch the A's play baseball's best team, the Tampa Bay Rays. Little did they know what would happen when A's pitcher, and California native, Dallas Braden took the mound in the first inning yesterday.

Braden grew up in Stockton, California. If you want to call Stockton, the area code is 209...that's the section...209, that was the designated area where Braden's friends and family gathered on Sunday in the Oakland Coliseum to see him pitch, and on Mother's Day, a day that Major League Baseball celebrates moms everywhere by putting pink ribbons on every uniform, and by having players use special pink bats in honor of their mothers. Dallas Braden found another way to honor his mother.

Braden's Mom passed away when he was a senior in high school, in 2001, but his beloved grandmother, Peggy Lindsay was there, and she gave her grandson a big hug as she came on the field after Braden threw just the 19th perfect game in Major League Baseball history, beating the Tampa Rays, 4-0. It came 40 years and one day since the last A's perfect game, pitched by the late Jim "Catfish" Hunter on May 8, 1968 against the Minnesota Twins.

The rarity that is the perfect game is that in only 1 in 11,000 big league games does it occur, and no pitcher has ever thrown more than one. Only 12 big league clubs have had pitchers throw a perfect game, and just 13 teams had had a perfect game throw against them.

The perfect game is celebrated by the winning team, and it's fans, but what about the team that had the gem thrown against them...they were "imperfect." Dallas Braden confounded the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, just as the Chicago White Sox Mark Buehrle did against the Rays last July. The Rays have some pretty good hitters...B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Pat Burrell...but in the span of less that ten months, the Rays have been as bad as it gets, twice failing to get a batter to first base.
The Rays are the only team in big league baseball history to have a perfect game thrown against them in back to back years, and only the second team have a perfect game thrown against them before someone threw one against another team. The Los Angeles Dodgers had a perfect gem thrown against them by the Reds Tom Browning on September 16th, 1988, and then again on July 28th, 1991 by the Expos Dennis Martinez...there were no perfect games thrown by any other team in between those two games.

Ah, Perfection...Cy Young threw the first modern day perfecto, against the Philadelphia A's on May 5, 1904, one of his Major League record 511 wins...the months of May and September have had the most perfect games pitched, six apiece...the New York Yankees have had the most perfect games pitched by a team, three,  by Don Larsen, who pitched the only post season perfect game, against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1956 World Series, by David Wells, who defeated the Minnesota Twins on May 17, 1998, and by David Cone, who's perfect game against the Montreal Expos is the only Inter-League perfect game, or no-hitter, and Cone's perfect game was also on Yogi Berra Day, and Don Larsen, Mr. World Series Perfection, threw out the first pitch to Berra, the catcher who caught his perfect game....the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers have had the most perfect games thrown against them, three times. The Larsen WS game, and against Browning and Martinez...the Twins and Rays are the only other clubs to have more than one perfect game against them...and then there's the case of big league short stop Alfredo Griffin. He has the distinction of playing, and batting without reaching base, in a perfect game for the losing team three times, in 1981 as a Blue Jay against the Indians Len Barker, and on the two Dodger teams, 1988 against Browning, and in 1991 against Martinez.
When a pitcher tosses a perfect game he also throws a no-hitter in the process, and that will oncee again get the A's Braden thrown into the spotlight his next start, as he attempts to do something that only one pitcher in big league history has ever done...throw back to back no-hitters...the Cincinnati Reds Johnny Van Der Meer, who blanked the Boston Bees 3-0 on June 11th, and then no-hitting the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, 6-0 just four days later.

Braden, and the Colorado Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez, who no-hit the Atlanta Braves on April 17th, will be looking to join Vandermeer, the Yankees Allie Reynolds in 1951, the Detroit Tigers Virgil Trucks in 1952, and Nolan Ryan of the California Angels in 1973, as the only pitchers to throw two no-hitters in the same big league season.

Friday, May 7, 2010

We remember Robin Roberts,Mr. Phillie

Robin Roberts, the hard throwing right handed pitcher for the 1950 National League Champion Whiz Kid Philadelphia Phillies passed away on Thursday at the age of 83.

A graduate of Michigan State University, were he was a star basketball player for the Spartans, Roberts was simply the best hurler in the National League between 1950, and 1955. He led the N.L. in wins in 1952-53-54-55, led the N.L. in innings pitched in 1951-52-53-54-55, and in complete games in 1952-53-54-55-56, once throwing 28 complete games between the '52-'53 seasons. Roberts won 286 big league games, struck put 2,357 batters, and finished with an ERA of 3.41. The strong right hander threw 305 complete games, 5 more than the total of every Phillies pitcher from  1985 to the present day.
. Roberts one problem during his big league career was the long ball...he gave up a record 505 HR's, a record that may be broken by current Phillies left hander Jamie Moyer, who has served up 498 gopher balls.

Roberts continued to follow the Phillies closely after his retirement, and the team will wear a special patch on their jerseys the rest of the season in honor of Roberts.

Roberts had his #36 retired by the Phillies in 1962, and in 1976 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Say Hey, Happy 79th Birthday to Willie Mays

Growing up as a young baseball fan, they were the numbers everyone knew...755, 714, and 660.

We all knew the numbers, those majestic home run totals of baseball lore, 755 home runs,...Hank Aaron, 714 home runs, Babe Ruth, and 660 home runs...the Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays.

660, The Say Hey Kid, Willie Mays, arguably the best all around player in the history of big league's celebrates his 79th birthday today, and so here's a look at the career of the man who made the basket catch a household name.

Willie Mays was born in Westfield, Alabama on May 6, 1931.

Willie began his professional career in 1947 with the Chattanooga Choo Choo's, and in 1948 began playing in the Negro National League with the Birmingham Black Barons.

Willie made his Major League debut with the New York Giants on May 25th, 1951, started his career 0-12, then hit a HR in his 13th at bat of future Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn.

Willie was the Giants on deck hitter when teammate Bobby Thompson hit his famous "Shot Heard 'Round the World" as the Giants defeated the Dodgers in the 1951 N.L. three game playoffs, 2 games to one.

Who can ever forget the Say Hey Kid's most famous play, "The Catch", off the bat of the Cleveland Indians Vic Wertz in 1954...

Willie Mays...
1951 N.L. Rookie of the Year
Member of the 1951 World Series Champion New York Giants
N.L. MVP, in 1954, and 1965.
1963, 1968 All Star Game MVP
24 Time All-Star Selection
12 Time Gold Glove award Winner
The First Player in the 30/30 Club, with 38 Home Runs, and 40 Stolen Bases in 1956.

Willie Mays had a .302 lifetime batting average, drove in 3,283 runs, and, of course, hit 660 HR's during his 23 years in the big leagues.
Willie Mays was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1979.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Jax Suns Duo win SL Honors

Suns fans, the Suns continued their great start to the 2010 season as two Suns players collected SL honors this week. Get to the park before these guys are playing in the big leagues.

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Two Suns players earned Southern League Player of the Week honors for the week of April 26-May 2. Mike Stanton was Hitter of the Week, while Alex Sanabia was named Pitcher of the Week. With 13 home runs and 29 RBI, Mike Stanton is having a phenomenal season at the plate. He leads the league not only in home runs and RBI, but he also has the highest slugging percentage at .884 as well as the most runs and the highest on base percentage, at 26 and .504, respectively. During the week of April 26-May 2, Stanton slugged six home runs and batted in 13 runs against Carolina and Mississippi combined, including a three-homer, seven RBI day on April 26 to back up his two-homer game on April 25. On the week, Stanton batted .476 with an incredible 1.476 slugging percentage. The Sunland, CA, native was selected to play in the 2009 Futures Game and is the Marlins #1 prospect. During his two starts this past week, Alex Sanabia struck out 14 batters over 13 innings, allowing only eight hits and two walks to go 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA. Sanabia has recorded 30 strikeouts across the 31 innings he's pitched in 2010, and for the season, Sanabia is currently third in the league with a 1.15 ERA. The right-hander was born in San Diego, California and was drafted by the Marlins organization in 2006. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Goodbye Ernie

A long time ago, back in the days when people actually listened to baseball games on the radio, the Detroit Tigers were playing against, well, someone, the A's, or the Angels, when a pitch was fouled off into the crowd at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers announcer described the foul ball like this..."and a fine catch by a young man from Battle Creek." I was a young baseball fan, a Tigers fan, and I was perplexed. "How does Ernie know the one who caught the foul ball..", I asked my Uncle.  My Uncle looked at me, and simply said "Son, Ernie knows everyone.",

That kid from Battle Creek, just like the kid from Port Huron, the one from Ishpeming, the one from Saginaw, the kid from Warren, and even myself, a kid from Kalamazoo, we all lost a part of us today, part of that kid still inside us. Today we lost Ernie Harwell.

Ernie Harwell, the legendary voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years, died today, succumbing to bile duct cancer at the age of 92.

What do you say about a man like Ernie Harwell, a man who lived his life to the fullest, who lived his boyhood dream of covering big league baseball. Even though he wanted to be a sports writer, Ernie never went a day without thanking God that he became a radio man, a job that kept him in the game of baseball for 55 years.
55 years. 55 years of covering Hall of Fame players like Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Willie Mays of the New York Giants, Brooks Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles, and Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers.
55 years of painting the pictures of green outfield grass, towering grandstands, blazing fastballs, 5-4-3 double plays, and a batter looking at a called strike three.."and he stood there like a house by the side of the road."

Baseball has gone through many changes over the last few decades, things like five man rotations, the use of the Designated Hitter, the prominence of the closer, astro turf...both coming, and going, the Steroid Era. But the one change that I really miss is the love affair with baseball and the radio. Yes, I know you can still pick up a game on the internet, but today's game has lost that special relationship that we had as kids, when the only way to find out how the Tigers were doing was to get the old transistor radio, and tune in Paul Carey, Ray Lane, and Ernie Harwell.
They made baseball special. They made a kid listening to the radio think that he was talking directly to him or her, that he was talking to just you, and you alone. Men like Ernie Harwell made a young boy like me a fan for life, of not just the players on the field, but of the men in the booth. They were part of our family.

Today we mourn the loss of a beloved man, but we also celebrate his life, and the lives of every young boy and girl that caught all those foul balls in Tiger Stadium.

Thanks Ernie.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Recap

If the month of April is any indication,  the rest of the big league baseball season should be one to remember. From Atlanta Braves rookie Jason Heyward's six home runs, to Ubaldo Jimenez pitching the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history, the 2010 MLB season is off to a fantastic start.

Team of the month...Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays are big league best 17-6, including a streak of 7 straight wins on the road.
Offensively the Rays are lead by third baseman Evan Longoria, who leads the team in hitting, at .341, in home runs with 5, and in runs scored with 22. Speedy Rays outfielder Carl Crawford has 7 stolen bases, and first baseman Carlos Pena has 22 runs batted in.
Even with all that offense, the Rays best player has been pitcher Matt Garza. The Rays right hander has team highs in wins, with 5, ERA, at 2.06, and in innings pitched with 35. The Rays lead the American League in pitching with a ERA of 3.13.

Player of the month...Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
The second baseman of the World Champion Yankees hit a big league best .400 in April, lead in OPS, at 1.201, was second in slugging percentage, at .765, was second in hits, with 34, and second in total bases with 65.

Pitcher of the Month...Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies.
If a 5-0 record, with an ERA of 0.79, and a WHIP of 1.05 wasn't enough to make Jimenez my pitcher of the month, Jimenez added a no hitter, the first ever in Rockies history, on April 17th in Atlanta, and now owns the Rockies record  with 22 1/3 consecutive innings of scoreless baseball. Opponents are hitting a measly 1.86 against Jimenez, and lefties are hitting just 1.33.

Rookie of the month...Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers. Jackson finished April with a five hit night against the Anaheim Angels, giving him a rookie best .364 batting average, and Jackson's 36 hits, 49 total bases, and .422 on base percentage topped all rookies. Jackson was also second among all rookies with 6 doubles.
On April 23rd Jackson was hitting .300, then the Tigers rookie center fielder collected 16 hits, raising his average to .364, and at the same time raised his on base percentage from .364 to .422.

Rookie Pitcher of the Month...Brian Matusz, Baltimore Orioles. There wasn't much to be excited about if you were a Bird Fan in April, as the O's had the big leagues worst record, at 5-18, but 2 of those five wins went to Matusz, who has struck out 29 batters in 30.2 innings pitched, walking only 10.

So, as we enter May, baseball is in full swing, go out to a ball park near you and have fun watching the great game of baseball.