This past week I saw the highlight recap show of the 1945 World Series on the MLB Network. For those that don’t remember or didn’t know, 1945 was the last year in which the Cubs played in the World Series. Ummm, that’s a long time. Let’s put it this way; every other team in the majors has been to the World Series at least once since 1979 except the Seattle Mariners (established in 1977) and the Washington Nationals/Expos (established 1969), both of whom have yet to make to the final game of the season.
The Cubs played the American League Champion Detroit Tigers in 1945, it was their 5th World Series in 16 years and a rematch of the 1935 series that saw the Tigers beat the Cubs 4 games to 2.
I don’t want to go through all the details of the ’45 series, but there are a few things that I wanted to mention.
First of all of course is the fact that the favorite Cubs (98-56) lost the series to the Tigers (88-65) despite having the home field advantage. It was the Cubs seventh straight loss in the series as they had previously lost in 1910, ’18, ’29, ’32, ’35 and ’38.
The Championship itself went 7 games. The Cubs won games 1, 3 and 6; while the Tigers won games 2, 4, 5 and 7.
The different thing about this series was the schedule. Yes, the Cubs had home field advantage, but baseball was using their wartime scheduling. Games 1, 2, and 3 were played in Detroit while Chicago hosted the remaining 4 games.
Baseball went to the 2-3-2 schedule it still uses today in 1924, however, in 1943 it was determined that a 3-4 schedule should be used to save on travel and expenses during the war. That first year the St Louis Cardinals (105-49) had home field advantage over the NY Yankees (98-56). But in order to get the advantage of playing 4 games at home including a possible game 7, the Cards had to play the first 3 games in Yankee Stadium in New York. The Bombers won two of three and then went to St Louis and won the series in five after winning games 4&5.
In 1944 the schedule remained the same, 3-4. But this time no travel was required because the series pit the NL Champion St Louis Cardinals against the AL Champion St Louis Browns. In fact, there wasn’t even a change in venue. Both teams shared Sportsman Park III from 1921 through 1952. The only thing that changed was the designation of which team was the visitor and which team was home.
Which again brings us to 1945. Detroit hosted games 1 through 3 and things were looking good for the Cubs as they were able to take 2 of the 3 games before heading back to Chicago. Unfortunately, Detroit was able to win three games in Wrigley Field, including of course game 7, and they took the series 4 games to 3.
1945 was the last season that baseball used the 3-4 wartime format because thankfully WWII had ended late in the summer of ’45.
Obviously, I can’t mention the 1945 World Series without also referencing the Curse of the Billy Goat. Before game 4, Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis who had brought his goat to the game was denied admission by Cubs officials. The legend/reality has been blurred a little over time, but basically Sianis declared that the Cubs would never win a World Series again……………………………..and they haven’t.
This is a Part I piece. I’m working on a project that involves the 1945 World Series and you can expect to see a few more post about the series as well as a related subject that I hope will be far more interesting but that I don’t want to divulge just yet, mainly because I don’t know how well it will work out.
I just found our next third baseman. I just hope he can hit as well as he can catch.
I read a note this morning that said Jorge Posada was going to announce his retirement from the Yankees and baseball tomorrow. Posada played his entire 17 year career with the Yankees and he was a key component on their 5 World Series championships since 1996.
I also read that he is probably a lock for the Hall of Fame. Maybe not first ballot, but he will definitely get in. Let’s take a look at his credentials.
– Power: 8th on the all-time catcher list for home runs……… Check
– Clutch: 11th on the catcher list for RBI’s…………Check
– Recognition: 5 time All-Star and 5 time Silver Slugger Award winner…….Check
– He was a part of 5 World Series winners………Check
– And of course, he was a Yankee………Check
But wait, is he really a shoe-in?
– He has only hit above .287 once in his career, and under .250 eight times.
– Of his five All-Star games, he was only named a starter twice. Not that the fans always pick the best player, but it does give you an overall feeling of what people thought of him.
– He’s never won a Gold Glove. I mean, if you’re not gonna win a Gold Glove as a catcher, than you better dominate on offense if you plan on making it into the Hall; and Posada didn’t.
– Yes he has 5 WS rings, but I think players like Jeter, Rivera, Martinez, Clemens, Petitte, and Williams can lay more claim as to being the key cog in the machine.
Let’s look at a few comparables.
—————————- G H HR RBI Avg
Player A: 1988 1782 324 1070 .252
Player B: 1829 1664 275 1065 .273
Player C: 1503 1527 260 864 .287
One player is Lance Parrish, one is Javy Lopez and one is Jorge Posada. Both Parrish and Lopez received less than 5% of the vote and were dropped off the HOF ballot after just one appearance. And without me telling you which player is which (Parrish-A, Posada-B, Lopez-C); I bet that you had a hard time picking out Posada.
So I say Posada was a good player, and he deserves the moment in the sun that he is going to get tomorrow when he retires, but when you start to hear things like “great player”, “best catcher of his era”, and “HOF lock”; think twice.
Tuition at Harvard was $1,520.00
Gas was $0.28/gallon.
The first K-Mart opened.
John Glenn was the first American to Orbit earth.
The Beatles released their first recording, “Love Me Do”
The National U.S. Debt topped $300 Billion for the first time.
ABC broadcast its first series in color, The Jetsons.
Ernie Banks hit his 300th HR and Mickey Mantle hit his 400th.
OAK GM Billy Beane was born.
I was born in the middle 1960’s, which doesn’t make me old, but as I peruse around the MLB Blog world I have a feeling it makes me one of the older participants on this format.
I mention all of these things to lend some perspective and admit a little jealousy about the news item I am about to post.
Yesterday, 49 year old Jamie Moyer (Born Nov. 1962) was signed to a minor league contract with a spring training invite by the Colorado Rockies. Moyer last pitched in 2010 with the Phillies. He missed all of last season after he had Tommy John surgery.
Moyer has won 267 games over his career that started with the Cubs in 1986.
He has started 628 games which is 14th most of any post-1901 pitcher.
And one last fact; over parts of 8 different seasons in the minor leagues, Moyer won 54 games. Adding that to his major league win total gives him 321 career professional victories. That’s pretty darn good.
Good Luck in 2012 Jamie!!!
Yesterday the Detroit Tigers announced that their star DH/Catcher, Victor Martinez, will probably be lost for the entire 2012 season after tearing his left ACL last week during a winter workout. The doctors will reexamine Martinez next week, but it is expected that he will have to have surgery.
Martinez joined the Tigers last year after 7 years with Cleveland and 2 with Boston. Despite missing some time with a groin injury, Martinez still had a great year, driving in 103 runs and hitting .330
Victor Martinez also provided protection for Miguel Cabrera in the lineup for a team that won the AL Central by 15 games. Even with Martinez out, Detroit will still be the favorite to win the division again in 2012, but they will have to replace that huge hole in the lineup if they hope to dominate as they did last year.
Several names have already been floated out there as potential replacements. They include in-house candidates like Clete Thomas and Jack Hannahan; or free-agents like Johnny Damon and Carlos Pena.
Another possible move would be to trade for a player. There were rumors last month that the Cubs and the Tigers were talking about a trade involving Matt Garza. If I was Jed Hoyer, I would use that already established report to call the Tigers up and see if they have any interest in Alfonso Soriano.
Despite the ire that Soriano has drawn from Cubs fans the past couple of seasons, mostly due to his contract and lack of defense, he can still hit for power (24 HR’s in 2010, 26 in 2011). However, it has become increasingly evident that Soriano is becoming more and more of a DH type player. 2011 Cubs manager Mike Quade would send in a defensive replacement for Soriano almost every time the Cubs had a late inning lead.
The problem of course is Soriano’s monster contract. The Cubs still owe Alfonso $54M over the next three years. That’s an M for Million. There is no way Detroit is taking on that kind of money. The Cubs would have to eat a huge portion like they did with Miami in the Zambrano deal. Is it worth it to the Cubs to pay $40M NOT to have Soriano play for them????
Trading Soriano would also free up the Cubs to play either Brett Jackson or Dave Sappelt.
Honestly, if I’m the Tigers. I either ask the Cubs for Soriano and Garza and cash; or I go out and sign Carlos Pena for 1 year $14M.
According to published rumors today, the Cubs and Kerry Wood are close to a deal that would bring Kerry back again for at least the 2012 season. Last year Wood returned to the Cubs after two seasons spent with the Indians and the Yankees.
Wood has had his ups and downs with the Cubs; from the history making 20 strike-out performance during his rookie year, to losing game 7 of the 2003 NLCS, and through all the arm injuries. But no matter what has happened, Wood has always been a fan favorite and he has always returned the love to Chicago and its fans.
Kerry and his wife have also done a lot of charity work in Chicago through their Wood Family Foundation. They have an event scheduled for tomorrow January 13th. You can check out some of the details HERE. It could be an extra nice event if Kerry were able to announce that he is signing a contract with the Cubs for 2012.
I also want to see the Cubs sign Wood for another reason. Ya know all the vendors outside the park that sell different hats and jerseys and t-shirts. Well one of the more popular t-shirts has been one version or another that says…..
We Got Wood
Which is fine, but now that the Cubs have also acquired Travis Wood from the Reds, the vendors need to update their shirts. I have a couple of ideas.
Now with twice the Wood
We get Wood twice a day
Our Wood goes both ways (Kerry is Righty, Travis is Lefty)
…………..Maybe I should let the professionals handle the slogans.
This post is about fantasy baseball.
I wanted to get that out of the way right from the start. I know that among baseball fans, the topic of fantasy baseball can be just as dividing as the DH, inter-league play, and ketchup on hotdogs.
I love playing fantasy baseball and have been in one league or another for over 20 years. The past 5 years I have been participating in a high stakes event, The National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC).
Each March baseball fans from around the country gather into several regional locations to take part in one large Main Event. It’s a contest comprised of some of the best fantasy players in the country with the season ending winner taking home the national trophy…… and oh yeah, $100,000.
Last years Main Event winner, Lindy Hinkelman, won the contest for the second time in three years. He received quite a bit of publicity back in October. Here is just one of the many stories posted by the NY Times and other publications about his win.
But the NFBC doesn’t just have high stake events, they also run what they call satellite and slow draft leagues which start at much lower price points. And believe it or not, some of those leagues have already started. In fact the first league started just one week after the last pitch of the 2011 regular season.
I started my first league last week. It’s a 15-team mixed league 5×5 draft. The draft takes place online and each participant gets up to 8 hours to make a pick. We are currently in round 14 after 8 days.
I had the first pick in round 1. I thought I would post the entire first round to give people an idea of how the 2012 fantasy baseball season is starting to shape up.
Pick 1: Albert Pujols - This was my pick. Albert has been the overall number 1 fantasy player for a decade. Yes he is getting older, yes he is changing teams and leagues. But no one has been more consistent, and until the day he actually stops producing huge numbers, he is number 1.
Pick 2: Matt Kemp- Kemp is just 27 years old. He was one HR short of a 40/40 season. The only thing that kept him out of the number slot is the lack of consistency and his position, OF.
Pick 3: Miguel Cabrera- Another first baseman that is rock solid for a 35+HR/ .320+ BA season.
Pick 4: Adrian Gonzalez- Getting a premium first baseman is a must, and so the fourth pick in the draft is the 3rd first baseman to go. As expected last year, power dropped a little in BOS but the average went up.
Pick 5: Jacoby Ellsbury- Last year went 30/30 and probably would have won the MVP award if not for Boston’s September collapse.
Pick 6: Jose Bautista- Qualifies at the very thin 3B position. 97 HR’s the last two years and even bumped his average up to .302
Pick 7: Joey Votto- Another quality 1B goes off the boards.
Pick 8: Troy Tulowitzki- The best hitting SS in the game. Has yet to put up back-to-back 500+ at-bat seasons.
Pick 9: Dustin Pedroia- Solid second baseman, SB’s moved back up last year, went ahead of Cano in this draft, but usually is 2nd second baseman taken.
Pick 10: Justin Verlander- First pitcher taken off the board. Verlander was all-everything last year. Can he repeat?
Pick 11: Carlos Gonzalez- A wrist injury hurt his power late last year. A full season of AB’s, good power, good speed, and Coors Field make this guy an easy 1st rounder.
Pick 12: Robinson Cano- He has returned first round value two years in a row. I see no reason that will change this year.
Pick 13: Clayton Kershaw- Last years NL Cy Young Award winner. Kershaw is young, pitches in a great pitchers park, strikes hitters out, and he is still improving.
Pick 14: Curtis Granderson- Last year he went 41HR/119RBI/25SB/136Runs, the only thing keeping Granderson out of the top 3 this year is his .262 average.
Pick 15: Roy Halladay- He’s really good. He absolutely dominates your ERA and WHiP categories with a consistent 230+ innings each year, he pitches for a winning team and best of all he’s Really Really Good.
So there you have it, an early look at Fantasy Baseball’s first round players.
Now that Ryan Braun has won his appeal against MLB, he is a top 4 player without doubt. Go ahead and put him down for a minimum 25/25 season.
As expected, the BBWAA elected just one player to be enshrined into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Congrats to Barry Larkin. He was a deserving candidate and I’m happy to see him get the required number of votes. Larkin and Ron Santo, elected posthumously by the veterans committee, will be enshrined this coming July.
Jack Morris received the second highest vote total. 66.7% of the voters thought that he was worthy of the HOF. It was the largest percentage he has every received in his 13 years on the ballot, but short of the 75% needed for election.
Jeff Bagwell and Lee Smith were next with 56% and 50.6% respectively. It represented an increase in vote totals for both players.
If there is any good news for Morris, Bagwell, and Smith; it’s that every player except one (Gil Hodges) that has ever topped the 50% mark has eventually made it into the Hall.
It was disappointing to see Tim Raines (48.7%), Alan Trammel (36.8%), and Edgar Martinez (36.5%) garner such little support; especially Raines, a guy that should be in already.
And as has been the case the past few years, the writers said no to the PED’s crowd with Mark McGwire (19.8%) and Rafael Palmeiro (11.0%) falling far short.
Next year’s ballot should be very interesting with first time nominees Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, and Curt Shilling. But that’s a discussion for another time, so…..
Congrats to 2012 HOFers Barry Larkin and Ron Santo
You can read my HOF ballot predictions HERE.
Here is the last of my three part series on the 2012 HOF candidates.
Alan Trammell: This one is really hard for me, for every stat that I look at that tells me he should be in the HOF, I can find another that says he was very good, but not great. His career OPS+ is 110, that’s 14th among all shortstops. Cal Ripkin is at 112 and Robin Yount is at 115, so Trammell compares well; but then again Jim Fergosi is at 113 and he is not a HOFer. His lifetime WAR (wins above replacement) is 66.9, every other HOF eligible SS above 50 is in the Hall. However, over his 20 years he made just 6 All-Star games and only 2 as a starter. Trammell is the ultimate borderline HOF player, for this year (his 11th on the ballot), he is a No.
Mark McGwire / Rafael Palmeiro / Jeff Bagwell: I grouped them all together, yet they are 3 distinct different cases.
McGwire has admitted to steroid use. The only reason he gets consideration for the HOF is his 583 HR’s. Despite his claim that PED’s didn’t help him hit HR’s, it did. He is a No.
Rafael Palmeiro tested positive for steroids. He gets consideration for the Hall because of his 569 HR’s. But he also had 3000+ hits. There are only three others on the 3000/500 list (Aaron, Mays, Murray). This one is really, really hard for me. This year he is a No. Let’s see what happens next year when Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa join the ballot.
Jeff Bagwell has the numbers, no question about it. Yet last year on a weak ballot he only received 46% of the vote. Why? It’s because of the suspicion of PED’s. He’s never failed a test that we know of, he’s never admitted to anything; his only true crime seems to be getting muscular and being very very good. Without further evidence to the contrary, I say he is a Yes. But if he doesn’t get in (and he won’t), I will not be sad.
The Hall of Fame announcement is this afternoon. I expect the writers to disappoint as usual and only vote in one player for induction, Barry Larkin.
Time for a couple of more HOF candidates and my opinion of them.
Edgar Martinez: Like the position of relief pitcher before them, the Designated Hitter is a role on the major league roster that HOF voters have had a hard time quantifying. It’s the very idea that the position is “hitter only” that tends to skew the voters perspective. But think about, over the 30+ year history of the DH, how many great DH’s have there been. 3? 4? There is Paul Molitor, Frank Thomas, David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez. Maybe you can name a few more that had a couple of good seasons, but not sustained careers at the DH. In fact the only “DH” in the Hall (Molitor), played more than half his games in the field. Look, I could go through all the analytics that proves Martinez is HOF worthy (and they do prove it), but I want to leave you with one last thought. The MLB Award issued after each season to the best DH is called “The Edgar Martinez Award”.
Tim Raines: He if had played in any other era, he would be considered the best leadoff man of his time. Unfortunately for Raines, he played in the same era as the greatest leadoff hitter of all-time, Ricky Henderson. The main criticism against Raines seems to be that he was just a compiler of stats. But just look at these numbers
Player A: 2502 Gms /170 HR / 980 RBI / 808 SB/ .385 OBP / .425 SLG
Player B: 2616 Gms/149 HR / 900 RBI / 938 SB/ .343 OBP / .410 SLG
Player A is Tim “Rock” Raines and Player B is Lou Brock. Raines should be in.
Don Mattingly: For a four year stretch from 1984 through 1987, Don Mattingly was one of, if not the best player in the game. He also is probably the best defensive first baseman in AL history. He was “Donnie Baseball”. While some may not give that much thought, this guy lived and breathed baseball and was the face of the Yankees. If we are gonna hold against some guy the fact that he was an a-hole on the field (Albert Belle) when voting for a player, we should then credit a player for being the epitome of what we want to see in terms of leadership and sportsmanship. Put it all together and Don Mattingly was a very very good player, but I hate to say, not a HOF player. Sorry Don, no bronze bust for you.