I think I would like to jump off a cliff and take a chance that another dude in a parachute will dock on my back and use me like a magic carpet. No, I am not speaking in code. This is what two daredevils actually did:
Baseball used to be a traditional game until Bud Selig took over. Then interleague games and all sorts of nonsense destroyed the game. Ok, maybe I am being dramatic, but instant replay is the latest in the assaults of modernity on the otherwise pristine national pasttime.
Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher period! He is now 19-3 after dominating close division rival SanFran last night over 8 innings. This article breaks it down for us more scientifically. (hat tip to co-blogger Jason MacLean for sending me this article and for being such a big Kershaw fan).
Seven balls, not four, earn a walk and foul balls -- "unfair balls" to these history buffs in cleats -- don't count as strikes. Old-time batters, called "strikers," can spend a lot of time at the plate facing down the "hurler" on the mound. The teams -- led by "captains," not managers -- feature a "first keeper" at first base.
An umpire is "Sir," and arguing with him is frowned upon. When small-town squads faced off in the late 19th century, the umpire usually was a well-respected figure in town, like the mayor or a judge, said Ed Rovera, the umpire Sunday.
Intrigued? Watch the game below for a taste of history:
Game 6 of the 1977 World Series is considered one of the greatest games in World Series history, mostly because of the heroics of Mr. October himself Reggie Jackson. The good folks at MLB classics have uploaded the game to Youtube (see below), and if you have a few hours, I would commend the game to anyone who has not watched it already. Most of us have watched Jackson's three home runs in the highlight reels, but the game itself is really worth watching.
The game should also be noted for a variety of other aspects:
1. The ceremonial pitch is thrown out by the Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio!
2. The starting pitching is decent, though no future Hall of Famers- Mike Torrez for the Yankees versus Burt Hooton for the Dodgers. Nonetheless, Torrez pitched a complete game and got the job done (as he did in game 3). That is what is neat. Around 1.53, you see Billy Martin coming out to check on him, but he leaves him in. No sense of panic as would set in today.
When you watch the game, listen to the commentary regarding how many days rest the pitchers got back then (as compared to today's pitchers). Despite my comment about the HoF, their numbers were solid. Good win-loss and ERA numbers overall. They were classic workhorses who carried their teams. And they were paid dirt compared to today. Watch for salaries being flashed or mentioned throughout the game.
3. I was struck by how many knuckleballers the dodgers used in this critical game, but of course, back in the day, knuckleballers were far more common then. Both Burt Hooton, starter, and the reliever Charlie Hough were knucklers in this game. Interestingly, Charlie Hough went to have a decent career (surpassing both Torrez and Hooton in terms of wins-losses) of 216-216 with an ERA of 3.75 and over 2,362Ks! He also pitched the first pitch for the expansion team Florida Marlins, Elias Sosa, the Dodger's middle reliever also had a decent career.
4. The starting lineup for the batters is, in contrast, quite the lineup! Not only are many of these players HoFers, but many go on to great careers as managers and coaches. On both sides, the managers were the legendary Billy Martin and Tommy LaSorda. For the Yankees, the lineup was: Mickey Rivers CF, Willie Randolph 2B, Thurman Munson C, Reggie Jackson RF, Chris Chambliss 1B, Graig Nettles 3B, Lou Piniella LF, and Bucky Dent SS. WOW!
For the Dodgers: Davey Lopes 2B, Bill Russell SS, Reggie Smith RF, Ron Cey 3B, Steve Garvey 1B, Dusty Baker LF, Rick Monday CF, and Steve Yeager C.
So, watch as the fans are just sitting on the wall waiting to jump onto the field. Also hear for firecrackers going off in the outfield, which prompts Reggie Jackson to get a batting helmet. Then watch as he runs back to the dugout body checking a few of the fans on the field along the way. For that matter, watch for debris to constantly make it onto the field throughout the game.
6. Ok, now to Reggie Jackson! He walked at the bottom of the 2nd (around min. 21 in the clip). Then in the bottom of the 4th, he comes on and homers off Hooton on the first pitch (around min. 45.30). Then in the bottom of the 5th, he homers again on the first pitch against the reliever Sosa (around min. 1:06.30). Finally, in the bottom of the 8th, again on the first pitch, he homers off Hough (around min. 1:37.45)
7. Jackson set many records that night in the Series, thereby becoming the MVP.
The article notes that "[d]uring his 27-year Hall of Fame career, Nolan Ryan recorded 324 wins, seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts. A new biography by Rob Goldman, Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher, includes never-before-told anecdotes and personal recollections."
The incident the article discusses what is now one of baseball's most famous bench-clearing brawls, which got started when Ryan drilled now White-Sox manager Robin Ventura. Ventura, 20 years younger than Ryan, decided that he could charge the mound and take on a middle-aged man whose best days physically and pitchingly were behind him. But Ventura would be just plain old wrong. Indeed, for most of us baseball fans, what transpired next would forever define Ventura and Ryan. Ryan got Ventura in a headlock and proceeded to pound the *&^% out of his face! Indeed, had the rest of teams not jumped in there, poor Ventura might not have had a career to speak off. The article disucsses what led up to that day and how it forever defined Nolan Ryan.
The actual event is below (watch out for Bo Jackson who features in the story):
I recently finished reading Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru’s excellent League of Denial, which tells the story of how the NFL has dealt with the concern that playing pro-football caused brain injuries that likely resulted in the deaths, some by suicide, of a number of retired NFL players. (Spoiler alert: the NFL dealt with it much like Big Tobacco dealt with the link between smoking and lung cancer, including co-opting academic researchers with big research grants). On January 14, Judge Anita Brody denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of a consolidated lawsuit brought by former players and their families.
Although the NFL continues to claim that a causal link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) hasn’t been proven, notwithstanding that 25of 26 brains of deceased football players examined showed evidence of CTE, the League has taken steps to educate players about the dangers of concussion injuries and to reduce the number of players returning to the field after a possible concussion.
While these steps are important, changing the culture of football will take more than hanging a poster in the locker room. Football players are tough and, as League of Denial describes, toughness will sometimes be the difference between being naturally talented and playing football for a living. More generally, playing through pain and injury, sacrificing one’s body and (occasionally) soul for the greater glory of the team, is a large part of the appeal for sports fans. Kirk Gibson hitting a walk-off home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series with injuries to both legs. Kerri Strug completing a vault with a broken ankle in the 1996 Olympics, securing gold for the US Women’s team. But there is a certain egoism at work here too. The idea that your team can’t win without you. There may be times when this is true, as in Strug’s case. Could the Red Sox have won the World Series without David Ortiz? Maybe not. But did keeping Hanley Ramirez in the line-up with a fractured rib really improve the Dodger’s chances against the Cardinals in the National League Championship? Doubtful. So, yes, playing through injury is part and parcel of competing in elite sports. But playing through any injury in any game is not. There must be a sense of when the risk of permanent injury is too great an individual price to pay and it's time to let your teammates do the job. Being an athlete is risky, certainly more risky than being a law professor, and that’s ok. But that doesn’t mean that sports’ governing bodies, both professional and amateur, don’t have a social and moral responsibility to minimize those risks within the parameters of the game. But they can’t do it without fans also shifting their own attitudes that athletes are ‘soft’ if they don’t play through it.
But for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to be left off is an outrage. Clemens was even tried twice! And he was acquitted. End of story. Sadly, it is going to be while if they ever get in. But there is no way the Mad Dog Professor and Glavine get in and the Rocket stays out.
Maddux had 355 wins with 3.16 ERA and 3371 Strikeouts (in addition to 4 Cy Youngs in a row etc.) He had at least 15 wins for 17 straight seasons. He undoubtedly was one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
Glavine, on the other hand, has 305 wins with a 3.54 ERA and 2607 Strikeouts. Two Cy Youngs and a five time 20 game winner.
The Rocket - 354 wins with 3.12 ERA and 4672 Strikeouts. Seven Cy Youngs and Six 20 win seasons.
That should be the end of the discussion for Clemens. Plus he is a pitcher. There is a lot more to pitching that just muscle strength. Randy Johnson proves that.
I could do the same numbers between Bonds and Thomas, but you get the point.
“It pays to cheat, at least in Jhonny Peralta's case” was Fox Sports’ Senior MLB Writer Ken Rosenthal’s opinion, after Peralta signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the St Louis Cardinals. Earlier this year, Peralta, as a Detroit Tiger, was one of thirteen players who took a 50 game suspension for using banned performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). A-Rod was the only player who refused to take the deal. That saga is ongoing.
Rosenthal’s headline implies that Peralta is being rewarded for cheating. But by accepting the suspension, Peralta admitted to using PEDs, so the Cards can’t claim they were tricked or deceived – they clearly think Peralta will be a valuable player without PEDs. And, as Rosenthal acknowledges, Peralta has served his suspension, paying his debt to MLB and its fans, and is entitled to move on. It is interesting to note that most Tigers fans agreed and didn’t seek to punish Peralta when he returned to the Tigers for the post-season. Rosenthal’s concern, shared by others, is that a 50 game suspension will not be enough to deter future PED use if the sting of a suspension is not going to hurt a player’s value going forward.
But why the concern about deterring future PED use? The answer can’t be that it’s cheating – it’s cheating because it’s currently against the rules. The question this baseball fan has been asking herself since the Biogenesis scandal broke is what is the principle behind banning PEDs? I don’t think it can be some vague notion about the purity of the game. Baseball is a multi-billion dollar industry; this is not “raw talent” alone that we’re watching. And that’s okay – it’s not called The Show for nothing. The only principle that seems at all sound is a principle of player safety. But then the question becomes whether a ban is the best way to respect this principle. In a 2004 article, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Savulescu, Foddy & Clayton argue in favour of testing for health of professional and Olympic athletes, rather than for PEDs. Perhaps if MLB players understood that their health, not their stats, was the priority, they wouldn’t have the same incentive to take PEDs in the first place.