Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Freehan's Five Gold Gloves

As most of you know my favorite big league baseball player, ever, of all time, is Bill Freehan, catcher for the Detroit Tigers, from 1961, '63-76.

Before I started this blog I created Freehan's Five Gold Gloves.

The blog was started so I could write about baseball, Freehan, and the Tigers.

Sometime after that  I found Blogger, and decided to create this blog, John's Big League Baseball Blog.

John'a Big League Baseball Blog is mostly a general baseball blog, because I found so many blogs about the Tigers, it seemed better to write about the sport in general, it's history, players, teams, etc.

Freehan's Five Gold Gloves is so named because Freehan won FIVE CONSECUTIVE  Gold Glove Awards, from 1965-1969.

I'm going to begin to write about Freehan more and more on FFGG, posts such as a Freehan stat of the day, baseball card of the day, some articles, and news on my favorite player.

How many lifetime home runs did Bill Freehan hit in his 15 year career with the Tigers?

Find out over at FFGG and check out the site.

Thank You, and Play Ball!

BBA Managers of the Year

In a recent post I revealed my picks for the Baseball Bloggers Association awards for the 2012 big league baseball season.

My selections can be found in this post.

The first winner announced is the Connie Mack Award, for the Manager of the Year in both the American and National Leagues.

Davey Johnson, the skipper of the Washington Nationals, is the National League recipient of the BBA Mack Award.

Johnson guided the Nats to their 1st ever N.L. East Division Title, and the club's 1st ever playoff berth since the team moved from Montreal, in 2005.

In the A.L., Bob Melvin, the manager of the Oakland Athletics, Connie Mack's old team (via Philadelphia, Kansas City and then Oakland), is the Mack Award winner.

The A's played light's out baseball after the All-Star break, beating out the 2 time defending A.L. Champion Texas Rangers for the A.L. West Division Title.

Just like Connie Mack, both managers also played in the big leagues.

Johnson most notably starred as a 2nd baseman for Earl Weaver's Oriole's in the late 1960s- early 1970's, but is also known as one of three Atlanta Braves who belted 40+ home runs in 1973.

Johnson, playing 2nd base, clubbed 43 home runs that year.

First baseman Darrell Evans hit 41 homers, and Hammerin' Hank Aaron hit 40.

Melvin made it to the big league with the Detroit Tigers in 1985, but I seem to always remember him as a catcher for the San Francisco Giants, in the late 1980's.

Congratulations to both Mack winners, Johnson, and Melvin, as well as all the managers who were nominated by the 232 members of the BBA.

Connie Mack was one of baseball's best managers, serving as the manager of the old Philadelphia Athletics, for 50 years.

Mack started as player/manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1884.

In 1901 Mack became manager of the Athletics in the new upstart American League, a job he held until the end of the 1950 season.

Staring in 1902, through 1914, Mack's A's were a dominating  American League club, winning 6 A.L. Pennants, including 3 World Series Titles, in 1910, 1911, and 1913.

The Athletics also won the World Series in 1929, and 1930.

Mack was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The World Series, TV, and Me.

The World Series starts tonight, Game 1, the Detroit Tigers at the San Francisco Giants.

For me it will be my 44th consecutive year watching baseball's grandest stage, the Fall Classic.

I got off to a terrific start watching the World Series on TV, as in 1968, my Detroit Tigers, led by Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Al Kaline, Jim Northrup, Bill Freehan, and Willie Horton, beat the St. Louis Cardinals, in 7 games.

The Tigers came back from a 3-1 deficit, winning the final 2 games at old Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The final out?

The Cards catcher, Tim McCarver, poped out to my hero, Tigers catcher, Bill Freehan, who caught the foul pop, turned around, and jumped into the waiting arms of World Series MVP Mickey Lolich.

Yes, that Tim McCarver is the same Tim McCarver that will be in the booth tonight for FOX Sports.

As a baseball fan I've always made it a priority to watch the World Series, no matter the teams, no matter the circumstances.

In my 4 years in the US Navy, 1985-89, I still managed to watch every series.

The most memorable?

While cruising off the East Coast of Jacksonville, a bunch of us sat in the Mess Decks, watching Game 6 of the 1986 Series, as the Mets Gary Carter, down to his, and the New York Mets last strike vs. the Boston Red Sox, singled to left field  in the bottom of the 9th, starting an unbelievable comeback the led the Mets to an eventual win.

The next night the Mets, down 3-0 to Boston, came back, again, to win the team's 2nd WS.

I've been to one WS game, in 1992, between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium.

I was rooting for the Braves, of course, because, after all, I still hadn't forgiven the Twins for beating the Tigers in the 1987 ALCS.

To this day, I still don't like the Twins.

When the Tigers aren't involved, I tend to root for American League teams, but not always.

I couldn't root for the 1972-74 Oaklnad A's.

They beat the Tigers in the American League Championship Series that year, 3 games to 2, so I had to root for the Cincinnati Reds, of course.

I liked the Reds, in part, because my Grandmother Sharp also liked the Reds, especially Johnny Bench.

Just 2 year earlier, in 1970, the Reds played the Baltimore Orioles.

I wanted the Reds to win, that is, until a beautiful young nurse, my nurse, said I should root for the Orioles, the American League team, because, she said, the Tigers played n the A.L.

Brooks Robinson gained one more fan that year, as from my hospital bed, I watched every single game of the 1970 WS, rooting for the Birds, because I was a 10 year old boy with a crush on a nurse.

The A's beat the Reds, and then beat the Mets in '73, and the Dodgers in '74.

In 1975, I saw, in my opinion, the best WS played in my lifetime.

The Reds defeated the Red Sox, in 7 games.

The series was back and forth, full of amazing plays, weather delays, and game winning heroics.

Game 6, played in Boston's famed Fenway Park, was the class of the series.

Carlton Fisk, the BoSox catcher, hit a game winning HR off the left field foul pole, sending the series to Game 7.

Pete Rose, the Reds 3rd Baseman, has always said it's the single greatest game he's ever played in.

The Reds won Game 7, repeated as champs in '76, and cemented themselves as the National League Team of the `70s, the "Big Red Machine."

The World Series began in 1903, two years after the American League started playing baseball opposite of the National League, which began playing in 1876.

That 1st World Series was the start of something huge, as the young Junior Circuit defeated the established NL, with the then Boston Pilgrims (later the Red Sox), beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, behind a guy named Cy Young.

For me, watching the World Series is part of being a baseball fan, something you just have to watch.

Great teams, great players, playing in front of a national TV audience, in a best of 7, to the winner goes the trophy, is as good as it gets in sports.

The best that baseball has to offer, the Fall Classic, has always been special to me.

From Bill Freehan blocking home plate against Lou Brock in '68, the Miracle Mets in '69, the Amazing A's, the Big Red Machine, the "We Are Family" Pirtaes, and the Lasorda Dodgers, baseball has given me great memories as a fan.

From the days of the great Curt Gowdey, Joe Garagiola, and Tony Kubek, to the present day of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, watching the World Series on TV has been a yearly must see for me.

Tonight's game will come on TV at 8 pm, Eastern Time, and end sometime around midnight, a far cry from the day games that we watched as kids, until 1971, when the first World Series night game, between the Pirates and Baltimore Orioles, was played.

To me, the money of TV, and the late night games that sometimes last past midnight, has caused baseball problems it may never overcome.

Young fans simply cannot, or aren't allowed, to stay up and watch TV past 9 or 10 pm at night.

I think baseball should, in it's next TV deal, require any network to include 2 day World Series games, so children who are baseball fans, or those who may become fans, could watch the games.

That's the problem for baseball.

It's about the kids, boys and girls, who might like playing baseball, but may have just a few chances to watch baseball games, and, because of late night post season games, never get to see World Series games.

So, it's time for another big league baseball World Series, baseball's finest hour.

I hope you enjoy the series...unless your a Giants fan.

Play Ball!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Detroit Tigers are going to the World Series!

For the 11th time in their 111 years of playing big league baseball in Detroit, the Tigers, the team I've loved for 45 years, are going to the World Series.

The Tigers won their 11th American League Pennant tonight, sweeping the New York Yankees, pounding the Pinstripes, 8-1.

From the days of Charlie Bennett and Bennett Park, Ty Cobb, Wahoo Sam Crawford,Ty Cobb, and Navin Field, the Tigers have always made their mark in American League history.

The Tigers went to three consecutive World Series, 1907-08-09, the 1st big league team to do so.

Over 42,000 fans waited out a one day rain delay to watch the Tigers add one more memorable moment to their lives.

The Tigers have been my favorite baseball team since I learned about baseball in the mid 1960's, and I couldn't be prouder of my team, a bunch of guys who never quit during the 2012 regular season.

The Tigers will face either the Giants, or the Cardinals, in the World Series, starting next Wednesday.

In 1934 & 1935 the Tigers went to back to back World Series, winning the the City of Detroit's 1st ever World Series Title, in '35, beating the Chicago Cubs.

Those great Tigers teams were known as the "G-Men," of Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, and Goose Goslin.

The Tigers are having a year for all fans to celebrate in 2012.

The Tigers signed free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.

Miguel Cabrera won the American League Triple Crown, leading the A.L. in HRs, RBI, and batting average.

The Cabrera Triple Crown was the 1st Triple Crown in the big leagues since 1967.

The Tigers won their second straight American League Central Division Championship.

Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were #1 & #2 in strikeouts this year in the A.L.

The Tigers are going to the World Series, the team's second trip to the Fall Classic under GM Dave Dombrowski and Manager Jim Leyland.

Over 3 Million fans went to Tigers games this year at Comerica Park.

The Tigers went to the World Series in 1940, and in 1945, behind a big HR from Hank Greenberg, beat the Cubs for the club's 2nd WS Championship.

In this day and age fans want instant wins, instant gratification.

Some fans just don't understand how hard it is to win baseball games, how hard these guys work.

Justin Verlander, the Tigers ACE pitcher, works hard, as does Cabrera, Fielder, Avila, Jackson, and yes, Jim Leyland, who has done a terrific job in his 7 years as manager of the Tigers.

The Tigers won their 3rd World Series in 1968, their 4th in 1984.

Those were great Tigers teams, and this pennant winning ball club belongs right there with other Tigers WS teams.

Tigers fans should take a deep breath, take a good look at what they have in a baseball team that plays hard every day, and made it back to the World Series,

In 2006 Leyland led the Tigers, a team who lost 119 games in 2003, to a 95 win season, an A.L. Pennant, and a World Series appearance.

The Detroit Tigers are the 2012 American League Champions.

Play Ball!

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Annual Baseball Blogger Alliance Awards Ballot

It's that time of the year again baseball fans, time to submit my annual ballot for the best of the best, the best managers, rookies, pitchers, and sluggers, for the 2012 big league baseball season.

This ballot contains my annual selections as a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, a group of terrific baseball fans across the country, who write about their love of our National Pastime.

First, I'll give a list of my selections, then I'll have a few words on the selection of my pick for the 2012 American League Most Valuable Player Award, and my views on baseball in general, in relation to my selection.

So, here they are, my picks for the best of baseball, 2012.

Connie Mack Award( Manager of the Year)

American League... 1st place...Bob Melvin, Oakland A's
                           2nd place...Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles
                           3rd place...Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers

National League... 1st place...Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
                           2nd place...Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants
                           3rd place... Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals.

Willie Mays Award( Rookie of the Year)

American League... 1.Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2. Yoenis Cespedes. Oakland A's 3. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

National League... 1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals 2. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds, 3. Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks.

Goose Gossage( Top Relief Pitcher)

American League... 1. Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles 2. Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays 3. Grant Balfour, Oakland A's.

National League... 1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves 2. Joel Hanrahan, Pittsburgh Pirates 3. Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals

Walter Johnson Award( Best Pitcher)

American League... 1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers 2. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees 3. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays.

National League... 1. R.A. Dickey, New York Mets 2. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals 3. Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants.

Stan Musial Award( Most Valuable Player)

American League... 1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers 2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees.

National League... 1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants 2. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals 3. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates.

OK, those are my picks for the best of baseball in 2012.

Now, on to the raging debate across the baseball world, the argument of who should be the American League MVP.

The fact that this is a debate, is, simply put, ridiculous.

Professional baseball began in 1869, when a select team of fantastic ball players, called the Cincinatti Red Stockings, became the very first team to pay their players for playing baseball.

In 1876, the National League began playing baseball, and in 1901, the American League joined the fun.

In 136 years, since the start of the NL, only fourteen players have led either the NL, or the AL, in the three most important offensive numbers in baseball.

Batting Average, Home Runs, and Runs Batted In are the premier offensive numbers of baseball.

Baseball's hallowed Triple Crown, leading the league in all three offensive categories, places a ball player in rare company, an elite level in the grandest sport.

What Miguel Cabrera accomplished this season in the A. L., winning the Triple Crown, is all the information any fan, media member, or sandlot ball player needs to know.

The best player in baseball, period, in 2012, was the man who, after the Detroit Tigers signed free agent 1B Prince Fielder before the season, selflessly agreed to move form first to third base.

That man was Miguel Cabrera.

Mike Trout, my selection as the Rookie of the Year in the A.L., had a fantastic season, energizing the Angels team upon his arrival, setting rookie records along the way.

Trout was a great player in 2012.

However, he wasn't great enough.

Cabrera led the American League in the following offensive stats in 2012...

Batting Average .330
Home Runs 44
RBI 139
Slugging % .606

Cabrera was also 2nd in hits, with 205, trailing only the Yankees Derek Jeter, scored 109 runs, second only to Trout, smacked 40 doubles, and even stole 4 bases.

This debate, between Cabrera and Trout has, for the most part, been created by a group of supposed baseball fans who have created silly, ridiculous numbers like WAR, BABIP, and OPS.

Oh, by the way, Cabrera led all of baseball in OPS, .999.

The movement of these new stats, is, in my opinion, hurting baseball.


Simply put, they mean nothing, in the long run, when you're watching baseball.

In baseball, you throw the ball, hit the ball, and catch the ball.

I don't need made up stats to tell me who the best player are.

There isn't a better player playing baseball in 2012 that are better than Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, or Ted Williams.

Hank Aaaron hit 755 legitimate home runs, and I didn't need to know his OPS when I watched him, or Willie Mays, play baseball.

These silly stats are amazing to me.


This stat, Wins Above Replacement, is suppose to show you a players value is he replaced another player.


Here's what I know.

If someone other than Miguel Carera played 3rd base for the Detroit Tigers this year, not only would the Tigers not be in the playoffs, they'd have a losing record.

Another of these new stats is BABIP.

Batting Average of Balls In Play?

Say what?

Quiz...what's someone's batting average if he never puts the ball in play?

A... ZERO  B... ZERO C... ZERO D... ZERO E... All of the above ZEROS.

Why all the negative remarks about the new stats?

Because the people trying to make a statement for Trout can't measure up the traditional stats and make Trout the MVP.

The baseball media, and a lot of baseball bloggers, have fallen in love with the sabremetricians, trying to analyze baseball for something other than what it is.

Baseball's numbers are what separate the sport form the others, and WAR, OPS, and WHIP are simply stats made up by people who most likely don't watch a lot of baseball, or are simply trying to come up with some wild stat to make a name for themselves.

Ty Cobb won 12 batting titles, and to this date, his .366 lifetime batting average is still the best in baseball history.

In 2012, Miguel Cabrera hit more home runs, drove in more runs, and had a higher batting average than any other player in the American League.

That's why he's the American League Most Valuable Player.

Play Ball!



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

One At Bat

Baseball has had it's problems the past decade or so, but last night's Mets-Marlins game in Miami is proof once again that the game we' be loved since our days as kids playing catch still holds a special place in our hearts.

The story of Adam Greenberg and his quest to make a childhood dream come true took center stage in the heat of pennant race baseball, even if the teams involved in the game were finishing up diss appointing seasons.

As a rookie with the Cubs in 2005, Greenberg saw just one pitch on the game, a pitch that hit Adam flush on the head, ending his big league baseball dreams.

Seven years of bouncing around spring training and the minors never diminished Greenberg's hope of   one more at bat, one more chance at baseball, one more chance to be a big leaguer, to flip the pages of the Baseball Encyclopedia, stopping at Greenberg, Adam, and pointing to the name, as his son, or daughter looks on with a big smile.

We were all cheering on Adam, hoping for the sound of ball on bat.

That sound never came, as Greenberg struck out against the Mets R. A. Dickey.

Greenberg took his cuts thought, going down swinging, as hard as he could, just in case he hit the ball.

Baseball produces moments like Adam Greenberg's as a salute to every little kid who's ever wanted to be Ty Cobb, or Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, or Cal Ripken.

Or maybe, just maybe, they are dreaming of being Adam Greenberg.