The first official work stoppage in Major League baseball
took place at the beginning on the 1972 season. From April 1 to April 12th
the players union and the owners had been unable to come to an agreement over
pension funding and arbitration. The players went on strike and held up the
beginning of the season.
Fans in Texas had been waiting years for a Major League team
near Dallas, now they would have to wait just a little longer.
After two weeks of negotiations between the players and the
league, both sides came to an agreement. The owners would add an additional
$500,000 to the pension fund and give the players the right to salary arbitration.
In return, the players gave up 8 game checks for the ’72 season.
On Saturday April 15th, Lenny Randle stepped to
the plate against Andy Messersmith of the California Angels. He would be the
first batter in Texas Rangers history. He struck out.
The Rangers first hit was a seventh inning single by catcher
Hal King, he was forced out by a groundball double play from the next hitter,
The Rangers pitcher that day was Dick Bosman. Bosman and
Messersmith both pitched fine games and the game was scoreless heading into the
bottom of the ninth.
Bosman walked the first batter, Sandy Alomar. The next
hitter, Mickey Rivers, attempted a sacrifice; there was an error on the play
and the Angels had runners on first and second. Bosman then walked Leo Cardenas
to load the bases with no outs.
Paul Lindblad came on in relief of Dick Bosman to face Jim
Spencer. Lindblad threw a wild pitch, Alomar scored from third, and the Angels
won 1-0 on an unearned run.
Texas went 54-100.
And now, just 39 short years**
later, The Texas Rangers are going to their first World Series after beating
the New York Yankees last night to win the American League Pennant.
Congrats Texas Rangers and their fans
** As a Cubs fan, I can tell you
that 39 years is short
Mike Quade was named manager of the 2011 Chicago Cubs.
Honestly, I’m really surprised. I thought for sure it was
between Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi. But, I’m also happy. Quade did a good
job with the team the last seven weeks of the season and he was as deserving as
anyone else to take over next year.
One of the things I really liked about Quade was the way he
handled the players. He gave them some of the little things they asked for,
like posting each day’s lineup card six hours in advance of game time, but he
also treated everyone the same, both rookies and veterans were benched for not
making mandatory meetings on time.
Look, when it’s all said and done, winning a World Series will
be the final judge. Don Baylor didn’t do, Dusty Baker didn’t do it, Lou
Piniella didn’t do it, and neither has any other manager since Frank Chance in
If he wins, it will be a great hire. If not, join the list
I don’t know about you, but the one thing that is really
turning me off from watching game 3 between Texas and New York Monday night is
I know Pettitte has had a stellar post-season career.
I know we need drama.
But ever since some tv director called for a tight shot of
Andy Pettitte peering over his glove to get the sign from the catcher, we’ve
had to endure that shot 10 times an inning for the last 14 years.
I hope Pettitte gets knocked out of the game in the first
inning just so I don’t have to see it all night.
Pettitte Pic: NJ.com
A couple of days ago a friend of mine mentioned Moonlight
Graham and Field of Dreams.
We’ve all seen the movie, I love that movie. I watch it
every February just to get me in the baseball mood.
Many people don’t realize though that Graham was a real person
and not just a fictional character. Archibald Graham only played one game in
June of 1905, he didn’t get to bat and he never played again. He did go on to
be a doctor for nearly 45 years in Chisholm, MN from 1915 to 1959. He died
there in August 1965 and is buried in Rochester, Minnesota.
Graham is known of course from the depiction of him in the
movie based on the novel Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella. Kinsella had seen
Graham’s stat line in the Baseball Encyclopedia and included him in his story.
It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that I used to buy
the Baseball Encyclopedia every couple years myself. In fact I still have one
copy, if not more, in a box that has other baseball annuals and novels down in
my basement. Back then I would usually only look up guys that I was interested
in or on occasion I would just flip the pages blindly and point to a name. But
to “read” the Encyclopedia and come across a guy like Graham would have been an
Today the internet, and particularly sites like Baseball
Reference, has made books like Who’s Who or the Baseball Encyclopedia obsolete.
If I want to look up Graham, just type in his name and there he is. But the
real wonder is being able to do searches by identifying a certain stat or set
An example would be; listing the non-pitchers that have
played exactly one game in the majors without getting an at-bat. Along with
Moonlight Graham, 63 other men played one game without getting a plate
appearance. The earliest being Tom Maher for the 1902 Philadelphia Phillies and
the most recent Brian Esposito in 2007 for the Cardinals. Esposito is currently
in the Houston minor league system so he still has a chance to get his name off
How about catcher Jack Feller? He played one inning of one
game on Sept 13th, 1958 for the Detroit Tigers. He plays five years
in the minors, gets called up to Detroit, enters the game in the ninth, catches
HOFer Jim Bunning for one inning in a 13-2 Tiger win, and then never plays in
the big leagues again.
Here’s one that must have been really hard to live with. In
1953, 27 year old shortstop Frank Verdi makes his major league debut for the
New York Yankees against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. In the bottom of
the sixth Verdi enters the game as a defensive replacement for Phil Rizzuto
whom was pinch hit for in the top of the 6th. In the top of the
seventh the Yankees get a rally going, a couple of hits and walks and three
runs score when Verdi is scheduled to come to the plate with the bags loaded
and two outs. But before Frank can get to the plate, Yankee manager Casey
Stengel calls Verdi back and he is pinch hit for by Bill Renna. Renna
grounds-out, the rally is over, and Frank Verdi never plays another game in the
majors again. Ouch! The Yankees go on to
win the World Series 4 games to 2 over the Brooklyn Dodgers.
I’m not 100% positive, but I believe the above picture is of Frank Verdi as a manager with the Newark Bears in the early 2000′s
Frank Verdi died last month on July 9th at the
age of 84.
As I said, there are 64 different non-pitchers that played
in one game without getting a plate appearance and they have 64 different
stories, besides Moonlight Graham, you now know two more of those stories.
The “I didn’t know that” stat – There are 83 non pitchers
that have made one or more appearances in a major league game without getting
to the plate. The all-time leader actually played in 105 games without ever
getting to the plate. I’m sure a lot of you will remember this guy. Herb
Washington of the Oakland Athletics.
Last week I made my predictions for the divisional round of
the MLB playoffs. I was 4 for 4 naming the correct winner, but only 1 of 4 in
guessing the number of games to be played in each series.
So……. This time I’ll only predict the winner on each series.
In the NL I’m going to go with the Phillies. They just have
too much pitching for San Francisco to handle and plenty of offense. I can’t
see any reason why they won’t be going to their third consecutive World Series.
In the AL I’m going with Texas. I think it would be
interesting to see a WS rematch between NY and Philadelphia, but I just think
that the Rangers have a better all-around team and with home field advantage, they
will be playing in the World Series.
So there it is, you’re 2010 World Series matchup will be……
Texas vs Philadelphia
On Aug 22nd the Chicago Cubs lost 16-5 to the
Atlanta Braves. It was the same score against the same team that they lost to
on Opening Day. It was also the last game that Lou Piniella managed the Cubs.
Back in July Piniella announced that 2009 would be his last
with the Cubs. He cited the need to spend time with his family. Unfortunately, the
ill health of his mother forced Lou to take a couple days off in early August
and then step away for good on the 22nd.
In what I thought was a surprise move, the Cubs named Mike
Quade the interim manager over bench coach Alan Trammell. Trammell had filled
in for Piniella during his earlier absences and he had previous major league managerial
experience with the Detroit Tigers. However, Cubs GM Jim Hendry had already
ruled out Trammell as a candidate for the 2011 manager job.
So here is Quade, first time managing a big league club
going on the road for six games. The Cubs win his first three games and come
home from the trip 4-2. It’s a good start and it turns out to be representative
of the way the Cubs will finish out the season under Mike Quade.
From Aug 23rd until the end of the season, the
Cubs go 24-13. In fact, during that time span the Cubs have the best record in
the NL Central by 3 games and the second best record in the major leagues
overall, second only to Philadelphia.
The question now is, who will manage the Cubs in 2011?
In my mind, despite the excellent showing Mike Quade, there are only two candidates for this job, Ryne Sandberg and
Joe Girardi. Quade has been great, and I hope he gets a manager job
somewhere, but it won’t be with the Cubs.
Chicago owner Tom Ricketts has essentially said that he
expects the next Cubs manager to be a life-long hire. He means that it will be
someone that has a long connection to the Cubs organization and someone that he
expects to have sitting in the third base dugout for the next 20 years.
I personally believe he wants Girardi and will give Joe
every opportunity to take the job. But in order to do that he has to wait for
the Yankees to complete post-season play. Girardi’s contract with New York ends
after the season and he will be free to negotiate with any team he wants.
Would Girardi really want to leave the Yankees, especially
if they win another World Series? I don’t know. But he is a Chicago guy and
Ricketts is going to give him the chance.
If the answer is no, then Ryne Sandberg is the man. Let’s
face it, Sandberg has said he wants the job, he has earned his stripes over the
past four seasons in the minors, and the fans love him.
But if Ryne was the number one choice for Ricketts and Hendry, he’d already
have the job.
I actually would be happy with either guy. And I really like
the idea of one manager for the next 20 years. Of
course, they still gotta win.
Geo Soto: 17HR, .280avg
Aramis Ramirez: 25HR
Alfonso Soriano: 24HR
Marlon Bryd: .293avg
Starlin Castro: 300avg w/500 plate appearances
Tyler Colvin: 20HR
Ryan Dempster: 15W, 3.85era w 215inn
Carlos Marmol: 38sv, 138K
I’m fairly certain that if you would have given me those
numbers before the season started, I would have taken them and I would have
said that the Cubs would win the NL Central. Instead, those numbers are just
the small dots of light on the dark night canvas that was the 2010 season.
Despite high hopes for the season, the Cubs lost on Opening
Day and were never really in the chase for the division. In fact, they were
never even over .500 at any point during the year. The only time they reached
level water was on April 26th after beating the Washington Nationals
4-3 in 10 innings. They were 10-10, but they lost the next day and never saw
They finished the year at 75-87. You can look at the splits
a lot of different ways, but the two most telling in my mind are; they were
34-45 against their own division and 35-46 at home. If you can’t win at home
and can’t beat division rivals, you can’t expect to win titles.
The year was also filled with turmoil. From Carlos Zambrano’s
anger management problems, trades of fan favorites like Derrek Lee and Ted
Lilly, and the stepping down of manager Lou Piniella; the Cubs and their fans
never got in synch. By July 1st Chicago was 10 games out of first
and it was just the start of a longggggg summer.
To be continued………………… with “what to do next”
Before looking to the future of the Cubs, I think it’s best
to start with the past.
Let’s go back almost one year ago, Oct 30, 2009. Tom
Ricketts and his family are introduced as the new owners of the Chicago Cubs.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Cubs have an owner that fans could
actually see instead of just a brick building and a line of data from the stock
And like all new owners, general managers, managers,
players, batboys, and venders that join a new team, Tom Ricketts said what they
all say about plans for the team;
“No. 1 is, we’re going
to win a World Series”. In fact he had a good feeling
about 2010, “I’ll be honest, I think we have a team that can do it next
year,” Tom Ricketts said. “I’m not going to promise anything. I don’t
think that does us any good. The fact is, we have talent and this team next
season can go all the way to the finish line.”
Well…… They did make it to the finish line, it’s just that
they were 16 games behind the team that got there first, Cincinnati.
I don’t want to go thru every game, but I guess you can look
back at Opening Day and you’d get a good feeling of how this season went for
the 2010 Cubs.
The Cubs opened the season in Atlanta against the Braves.
With new owner Tom Ricketts in the stands, newly acquired Cubs CF Marlon Bryd
hit a three run homer in the top of the first inning. Things were looking great
for the 2010 season, until the bottom of the first that is.
Carlos Zambrano was making the start for Chicago. He walked
the first hitter, four of the next five batters he faced got singles and before
people could even get their seats warm, the score was 3-3 and top rookie
prospect Jason Heyward was coming to the plate. Heyward took the first two
pitches he saw, and then on 2-0 he hit a 476ft home run to right field in his
first ML at-bat. According to HitTracker.com,
it ended up being the fourth longest homer hit in 2010. Here is the video.
By the time it was all said and done, Zambrano only got four
outs, the Cubs had just five hits, and Atlanta had beaten Chicago 16-5. The Tom
Ricketts era was off to an auspices start.
To be continued …………………..
I haven’t checked in for a while. I’m just trying to step
back from the season for a couple days before I begin the post- mortem.
Actually, I’ve been waiting since Sunday night for Chicago
GM Jim Hendry to give me a call so that we can discuss the 2011 Cubs. But since
it doesn’t appear as if he is going to call, over the next couple of days I
will be posting my “If I were GM” thoughts.
In the meantime; even though the playoffs have already
started (and it’s always easier after they start), I will give you my picks for
Texas in 4
Yankees in 4
Philadelphia in 3
San Fran in 5