A few days taken for a family emergency… but nothing too exciting had been missed, in Red Sox Nation anyway.
The Patriots won 23-20 over the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game: The Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5. It will be the team’s fifth Super Bowl appearance in Bill Belichick’s tenure as coach (2000-present) and is the Patriots’ seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick become the first starting quarterback/head coach combination to advance to five Super Bowls. For Brady, he ties his boyhood idol, Joe Montana, with his 16th career postseason win as a starting quarterback.
Just a ‘Classic’ game. At one point, Brady’s emotions showed as he was jawing with Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis after the quarterback scored on fourth down goal-line drive in the fourth quarter, a play in which he took a big hit from Lewis. The Ravens had a chance to win with 22 seconds left when Lee Evans dropped a touchdown pass. Then, after cornerback Sterling Moore deflected a pass on third down, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal wide left that would have tied the game. A breath-taking ending.
The Red Sox signed free agent outfielder Cody Ross to a one-year deal worth about $3 million: Boston had maintained an interest in Ross throughout the signing season, but pounced after his asking price dropped significantly (initially, he was seeking a three-year deal) and after left fielder Carl Crawford underwent surgery last week to address an arthritic condition in his left wrist. The signing followed the Sox’ trading of infielder Marco Scutaro and his $6 million salary to the Rockies, which freed up the money they privately said they needed to have before making additional upgrades. Even before Crawford’s injury, the Sox had maintained a healthy interest in Ross, who has hit left-handed pitchers well, with a career .912 OPS, even though his 2011 season could be considered a slight disappointment. Ross, 31, is a .261 career hitter with 100 homers in eight seasons with Detroit, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati, Florida and San Francisco.
Right-hander Scott Atchison was designated for assignment to create space for Ross on the team’s 40-man roster.
The Sox are still interested in adding another starter to the mix at the right price. Roy Oswalt remains their No. 1 target, though a team source acknowledged fears that Oswalt would prefer to pitch for either the Rangers or Cardinals (the free-agent turned down an offer from Detroit). If they do not succeed in signing Oswalt, to whom they have made an offer (supposedly for $5 Million), a team source said Wednesday night, they most likely will shift their focus to trying to swing a deal with the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Gavin Floyd, with free agent pitcher Edwin Jackson a long-shot option at this stage.
The Sox also are thin at shortstop after dealing Scutaro, with veterans Nick Punto and Mike Aviles and rookie Jose Iglesias their only options at this time. The Sox have indicated they do not want to rush the 22-year-old Iglesias, who has fewer than 700 professional at-bats, and with neither Punto and Aviles the answer on an everyday basis, the Sox are expected to seek more help there. Punto is the better glove of the two, Aviles a better bat. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much shortstop help available. Even the soon-to-be 45-year-olds have signed, Omar Vizquel coming to terms Monday with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Clay Mortensen, received from Colorado in the Scutaro trade, will compete for a spot in the bullpen, but more likely will open the season in Pawtucket. Don’t look now, but the Sox have the makings of a potentially strong bullpen, especially if Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller can click from the left side. If the Sox succeed in acquiring another starting pitcher and elect to return Alfredo Aceves to the pen, on paper they look strong with Andrew Bailey closing and Mark Melancon sharing setup. If Bobby Jenks can be healthy and Matt Albers proves he just ran out of gas last season, the Sox pen has a chance to be strong and deep. If.. If.. If…
With Jorge Posada announcing his retirement Tuesday after 17 seasons with the Yankees, it would appear to be a matter of time before we hear similar announcements from Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek. Wakefield’s agent, Barry Meister, said the 45-year-old knuckleballer just returned from a vacation in Mexico, and that he hasn’t had substantive conversations with him in about 10 days. He acknowledged that while there have been inquiries from other teams, there’s nothing in the works. As Bobby Valentine noted the other day, it’s inconceivable that Wakefield would accept a minor-league offer from the Red Sox. Varitek turns 40 just after Opening Day and got married in the offseason. No word from the player or his agents on Varitek’s plans, but the signing of Kelly Shoppach virtually closed the door on a return to Boston, and while Varitek last spring expressed a desire to play for as long as he can, he may have reached the endgame.
Tim Thomas Skipped the White House: Boston Bruins president Cam Neely admitted Tuesday that he would have liked goaltender and Stanley Cup MVP Tim Thomas to be with the team when they visited the White House on Monday, but that Thomas “felt very strongly about not going” so the team respected his wishes. He said the team didn’t make the event mandatory because “we didn’t think it would be an issue.” Neely said he doesn’t expect the controversy to adversely affect the Bruins’ chemistry, pointing out with a laugh that not a lot of political discourse occurs in an NHL locker room.
Thomas explained Monday night in a Facebook page posting that he skipped the White House event due his disappointment in the federal government. His post read:
“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.
This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.
Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.
This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT”
Later Monday night, Neely released this Bruins statement:
“As an organization we were honored by President Obama’s invitation to the White House. It was a great day and a perfect way to cap our team’s achievement from last season. It was a day that none of us will soon forget. We are disappointed that Tim chose not to join us, and his views certainly do not reflect those of the Jacobs family or the Bruins organization. This will be the last public comment from the Bruins organization on this subject.”
Of course, Timmy ‘The Tank’ is not alone. Theo Epstein, who had made a campaign appearance on behalf of John Kerry, was not on the stage when President Bush honored the team in 2005, choosing to sit in the front row of the audience next to Stacy Lucchino, wife of the Sox CEO. The reason, he said, was because he wanted attention focused on those most deserving. Epstein was with the group of players who subsequently visited wounded vets at the Walter Reed Medical Center. Bush was still in office when the Sox won again in 2007. Epstein did not attend the ’08 ceremony, citing “family reasons,” and his absence barely registered. It was overshadowed by the no-show by Manny Ramirez, whose absence from the stage was noted by the President himself.
And then of course… there’s this:
Prince Fielder stood with a smile and recalled his earliest memories of old Tiger Stadium, when he would hang out at the ballpark where his father hit so many massive home runs. “For me, it was always Sparky saying I was going to pinch hit—and I really believed him,” Fielder said, referring to former manager Sparky Anderson. “I’m just glad I get to come back.” The Tigers introduced Fielder on Thursday after finalizing a $214 million, nine-year contract with the free agent first baseman, who is expected to hit a lot more home runs than his dad. Detroit plays at Comerica Park now, and times have changed. Jim Leyland manages the Tigers, not Sparky Anderson.
Fielder was born in 1984, the last time Detroit won the World Series. After luring him back to Michigan with the fourth-largest deal in baseball history, the Tigers are hoping Fielder will help usher in a new championship era for the Motor City. “This is awesome, it’s kind of a dream come true. I’m excited.” Detroit began seriously pursuing Fielder after designated hitter Victor Martinez tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during offseason conditioning. Now the Tigers have three of baseball’s biggest stars—Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander—all in their primes. Detroit won the AL Central by 15 games last year but lost to Texas in the AL championship series.
It will be up to manager Jim Leyland to figure out where to play all of his powerful hitters. He said Thursday the Tigers will move Miguel Cabrera from first base to third to make room for Fielder. He also listed a possible batting order, with Cabrera hitting third and Fielder fourth. It’s a lineup based on power, not speed. That much is clear. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski indicated he’s satisfied with his roster heading into spring training, although it’s hard to rule out any more moves after the Tigers shockingly emerged with Fielder. The pitching rotation is anchored by Verlander, who won the Cy Young Award and MVP last year, but Detroit’s fifth starter spot is still uncertain. Dombrowski said the Tigers could bring in some non-roster invitees to compete for that job. “I think positional player-wise, we’re pretty well set,” he said.
Fielder’s father Cecil became a big league star when he returned to the majors from Japan and hit 51 home runs with Detroit in 1990. Cecil played with the Tigers into the 1996 season, and young Prince made a name for himself with his prodigious power displays during batting practice at Tiger Stadium.
One of my fondest Red Sox memories as a kid is actually of my aunt ‘Dibbie’ as it was she who introduced me to and nurtured me through this vast, complex and often bitter-sweet heartbreak we call Red Sox Nation. Cold rainy games in the early ’80′s through bright humid matinees in the ’90′s she’d make an effort to take me to Fenway. Dwight Evans was her favorite player in those days. She originally grew up a Braves fan, riding the elevated train (when Boston’s T had one) with her dad before his early passing and following the exploits of ’The Kid’ from Beantown’s ’other’ team before falling in love, as one does, with the Scarlett Hose. It was because of Dibbie that when I attended The Ted Williams Baseball Camp in Lakeville for its final summer as a little kid (my mom scored an awesome gig as camp nurse) I actually knew the legend of ‘Number 9′ and could properly worship him when he arrived. (Being the only child of a staff member there, I ate breakfast with Ted every morning of the several days he spent there.)
It was during the late 1980′s heyday of the Oakland Dynasty that I saw her true Red White and Blue Sox. A warm, sunny afternoon later in the season spent in the leftish-centerfield stands. Dave Stewart versus ‘The Rocket’. Rickey Henderson (future Sox) in Center, (former Sox) Dave Henderson in Left, which of course prompted the usual “Hey Dave, you couldn’t remember your name or number without Rickey…” jokes since Dave wore 42 and Rickey 24. Sox were down, every member of the A’s seemingly having a Hal of Fame Day and each time Dewey came to the plate my aunt cheered, loudly, and as she saw it, appropriately. Of course, a Bleacher Creature disagreed. He’s too old, too broken down and just too everything… receiving an “Oh Shuttup…” in response. This carries on until about the eighth, a couple of men on… Evans steps in. Dib kicks up her cheering… ‘C’mon Dewey! Bleacher Creature, a few more beers in him, tries to out sqwak her. Here’s my sixty something year old aunt, a lifelong manager, volunteer and helper of others whom many always mistook for some form of nun, turning. “When he hits this homer..!”
Crack! Into the net (No Monstah Seats yet).
And what did this calm, saintly woman do? Jump up and down, turn and point to this drunken Creature, “Stick that in your ass!” And as everyone high-fived and congratulated her on her choice of perfectly timed hero, all was right with the world. the Sox went on to lose, as they usually did when she took me, but Dewey, for a moment anyway saved the world.
Within a few short seasons Dwight had packed for a single season tour in Baltimore and retired. Sure, there were stars on the Red Sox still, but none that interested her. Bruce Hurst was gone, Roger Clemens a d!ck and Wade Boggs just wasn’t it for her. But, Ellis Burks had begun filling some of the void after his arrival following the 1986 season and took over full-time, co-starring with Evans until his departure. Unfortunately, Burks would only last a few seasons longer for her Sox.
Selected by the Sox in the 1st round (20th pick) of the 1983 Major League Baseball Draft, Burks made his debut in the 1987 season as a regular center fielder at age 22, showing excellent range, a sure glove and a strong arm while becoming the third player in the Red Sox history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in one season. The only problem for Burks while with the Red Sox was that he was injury-prone. He had shoulder surgery in 1989, and it was the first of many setbacks for him as later Burks suffered from bad knees and back spasms. During the 1990 season he hit two home runs in the same inning of a game, to become the second player in Red Sox history to achieve the feat. After six fairly good seasons in Boston, and despite his injuries, he ended up leaving as a free agent and signing a one year deal with the Chicago White Sox in January 1993.
Burks surpassed all expectations around him by turning in a solid, injury-free season, filling the Pale Hose urgent need for a quality right fielder. He was one of the club’s better performers in the playoffs, batting .304. A free agent at the end of the season, he signed a lucrative five-year contract with the Colorado Rockies.
Ellis enjoyed his best season in 1996 . He led all National League hitters in runs (142), slugging (.639), total bases (392) and extra-base hits (93); was second in hits (211) and 2B’s(45), and fifth in HR’s (40) and RBI (128). His .344 was also second in the batting title race (behind Tony Gwynn’s .353). Burks finished third in the NL MVP voting. He also stole 32 bases that season, marking only the second time ever that two players from the same team collected at least 30 home runs and 30 steals, as Colorado outfielder Dante Bichette (future Red Sox) accomplished the same feat that year. He was part of the formidable Blake Street Bombers that included the likes of Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, and Vinny Castilla. This was the heart of the Rockies’ lineup that was second in the National League in home runs by team in 1994 and then led the National League in home runs from 1995 to 1997. He still remains in the top ten in many offensive categories for the Rockies.
In 2000, having been traded to the San Francisco Giants in mid-season 1998, Burks batted fifth behind Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, compiling significant numbers of .344, 24, 96, in only 122 games and 393 at-bats. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians in the off-season and in his new role as a DH for the Indians, Burks provided consistent production in the middle-of-the-lineup, hitting .280, 28, 74 in 2001, and .301, 32, 91 in 2002. He sprained his wrist in spring training of 2003 and kept playing in 55 games until the muscles in his right hand affected his ability to swing the bat. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair nerve damage in his right elbow.
The Indians didn’t pick up their 2004 contract option or offer him salary arbitration, and he returned to the Red Sox in 2004. Used in limited duty, he retired at the end of that magical season with the 2004 World Series Ring for the team that he began his career with.
A two-time All-Star (1990, 1996) winning two Silver Sluggers (1990, 1996) and a Gold Glove (1990) in an 18-year career, Burks was a .291 hitter with 352 home runs, 1206 RBI, 1253 runs, 2107 hits, 402 doubles, 63 triples, and 181 stolen bases in 2000 games.
Needless to say, that was just icing on the already incredible cake for Dib.
To think, the waning days of the Hot Stove are upon us. The Sox haven’t made any earth-shaking moves with but a single remarkable transaction to show this off-season. That, and who’d have thought both Prince Fielder and Roy Oswalt would still be on the market..?
Speaking of that single remarkable (or even better, marketable) transaction: Josh Reddick is in town for the annual Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner, where he’s being honored as the Red Sox Rookie of the Year. (Yeah, really.) The Red Sox traded the former prospect, along with two minor leaguers, to the Oakland Athletics in December in exchange for closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney. Reddick was surprised when he was told of the transaction. “Shock. I had a feeling I was going to get traded at the winter meetings, but once it didn’t happen, I was at ease with it and didn’t worry about it a whole lot.” Reddick spoke with A’s GM Billy Beane and manager Bob Melvin on the day of the trade and the outfielder was given the impression that he should prepare to start every day. “Obviously, that was good news to hear, especially when that was a question mark with the Sox. Once the shock kicked in, I realized, once I talked to Billy Beane and Bob Melvin, that it was going to be a good opportunity to play every day.”
In parts of three seasons with the Red Sox, Reddick combined for a .248 average with 10 homers and 37 RBIs in 143 games.
While questions remain in regards to the Red Sox’s starting rotation, general manager Ben Cherington said he is confident that both Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz will be healthy and productive once spring training begins. “They’ve both had really good offseasons, Our new pitching coach [Bob McClure] has been in touch with both, as has the medical staff. It’s been a really good offseason for both and we don’t expect any issues with either of them going into camp. We know they’re both motivated to have a good year.”
Beckett, Buchholz and Jon Lester make up the top three of the rotation, but there are still questions on the back-end. Right-handers Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves will come to spring training as starters, along with Felix Doubront, Vincente Padilla, Aaron Cook and Carlos Silva. “We feel really good about the front of the rotation. We feel like we have a collection of guys that can win jobs and help us in spots,” said Cherington. “We feel confident both Bard and Aceves are capable of doing it, but that’s not to say they will definitely be in the rotation. But they’re both capable and will come to spring training as starters.” Cherington said there could be other options as well.. “We’ll keep our eyes open as we get closer to spring training, or even in spring training, if there are ways to strengthen the rotation.”
The Scarlett Hose have not had an arbitration hearing with a player since 2002, but it appears this could be the year under their new general manager. “We wouldn’t rule out a hearing,” Cherington said Thursday. “We had more cases this year than we’ve had in a while. We were able to settle five of those and we have four remaining and we’ll continue dialogue to see if there’s a settlement with any of those four.” The Red Sox have four players who are arbitration eligible, including David Ortiz, Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard and Andrew Bailey. Of course, Ortiz is the biggest name. The DH accepted arbitration last month and rejected the team’s two-year, $18 million offer. The sides exchanged offer sheets this week and are $4 million apart, with Ortiz asking for $16.5 million and the Sox offering $12.65 million.
While Cherington downplayed the need for adding another outfielder in the wake of Carl Crawford’s wrist surgery Tuesday, the Red Sox can be expected to continue their search for outfield help before the Feb. 19 opening of spring training. The Sox have Jacoby Ellsbury in center field and recently added the left-handed hitting Ryan Sweeney, who was an above average defender in Oakland and was expected to get first crack at the majority of playing time in right field. The team also has Darnell McDonald to play against left-handers; Ryan Kalish, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder; and Mike Aviles, an infielder who has been playing outfield in the Puerto Rican winter league.
The best available free agent remaining on the market would appear to be Cody Ross, who was paid $6.3 million by the Giants last season. Of course, the Sox could also look for help via trade.
Yes, that really was Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio serving as a coach on the Oakland A’s bench.
And for as many folks who either never realized it, or forgot, it was a duty that ‘Joltin’ Joe’, the ‘Yankee Clipper’, never performed in New York.
In 1967 Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley hired the Hall of Famer as the team’s vice-president. DiMaggio would also serve as a coach for the newly transplanted Oakland Athletics. DiMaggio needed two more years of baseball service to qualify for the league’s maximum pension allowance.
So, while there was a monetary reason (as there was usually was in Joe’s motivation) for Joe D.’s service to the relocating Bay Area A’s, he also stated a few times over his life that he wasn’t asked by the Yankees to take any type of official personnel position.
And if you didn’t know about Joe, than you may have not known or just forgotten about another Hall of Famer, forever linked to his single team, who was never asked to take an official personnel position… that’s right, Ted Williams.
When Ted retired from the game in 1960, many thought he was headed for a lifetime of fishing. Williams helped new Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski in hitting and adapting to life as the left-field superstar in Boston. Though he mostly (sometime’s to Carl’s frustration) talked and taught about hitting. That was the case for a few years until new Washington Senators owner Bob Short came calling.
Short. who outbid a group headed by Bob Hope, then named himself general manager and wanted, no needed Ted to manage his struggling Senators. Ted wasn’t interested. Short tried again. Teddy said no again. Short brought in AL President and former Red Sox manager Joe Cronin for help. Joe called Ted in Florida and told him, “baseball needs you.” How could Ted say no to his former manager and a salary of $1.25 million over five years?
On April 7, 1969 Ted Williams managed his first game as the skipper of the Senators. Although Williams had never coached or managed at any level of baseball, he seemed to light a spark under the once-moribund Senators. Williams kept them in contention for most of the season, finishing above .500 for the first time in franchise history; their 86–76 record would be its only winning season in Washington. As you would expect from the greatest hitter of all time, Ted’s immediate impact on the Senators came with the hitters. In that first season the team’s batting average went up by 25 points. Attendance soared and he was chosen “Manager of the Year” after that season. Unfortunately the following years did not go as well. 1970 brought pitching problems to Washington and the Senators were below .500 once again at 70 – 92. Year three of Teddy’s regime was even worse with the club making bad trades and finishing the season with a record of 63 – 96. The honeymoon was over and Bob Short wanted out of Washington. He petitioned and won approval to move the team to Arlington, Texas. Ted spent one year in Texas with the Rangers, hated it and resigned at the end of the 1972 season.
Like many great players, Williams became impatient with ordinary athletes’ abilities and attitudes, particularly those of pitchers, whom he admitted he never respected.
I find it interesting how Hall of Fame players can be treated or handled by their teams following their playing days. Is it ego? Is it a control factor? Are irritable prima-donna’s on the field just as bad on the end of the bench? Or do God’s just not make good managers? Sure, you want guys like Ted and Joe or Babe Ruth as spring training instructors, guest-roaming organizational coaches and so on… but take a look at Ryne Sandberg. A Hall of Famer for the Cubs, he made it expressly clear his intention to manage in the majors… and manage the Cubs. While accumulating great minor league numbers, credentials and championships, Chicago let him walk. If anything, Ted’s tenure as Washington/Texas manager (like Wayne Gretky’s in Phoenix) goes to show that a manager’s HOF credentials aren’t always as important as the talent they have to direct on the field.
… by the Eagles is one of my favorite songs (and one of the best songs in American songwriting history) and what I felt would be a fairly good transition into the troublesome world of the Oakland Athletics.
The A’s, or the Montreal Expos West Coast, just finished one of the semi-annual fire sales. Chances are, should they still be in Oakland in two to three years, they’ll be holding another one. Don’t get me wrong, these sales are great for baseball. It gives other teams a chance to trade prospects for what are usually great young arms and keep one of baseball’s historic (yes, historic) and once proud franchises in the basement.
Lets take a brief look at the past…
The history of the Athletics Major League Baseball franchise spans the period from 1901 to the present day, having begun in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City in 1955 and then to its current home in Oakland, California in 1968.
The “Athletics” name originates from the late 19th century “athletic clubs”, specifically the Philadelphia Athletics baseball club. They are most prominently nicknamed “the A’s”, in reference to the Gothic script “A”, a trademark of the team and the old Athletics of Philadelphia. This has gained very prominent use, and in some circles is used more frequently than the full “Athletics” name. They are also known as “the White Elephants” or simply “the Elephants”, in reference to then New York Giants manager John McGraw calling the team a “white elephant”. This was embraced by the team, who then made a white elephant the team’s mascot, and often incorporated it into the logo or sleeve patches. The typical Philadelphia uniform had only a script “A” on the left front, and likewise the cap usually had the same “A” on it. In the early days of the American League, the standings listed the club as “Athletic” rather than “Philadelphia”, in keeping with the old tradition. Eventually, the city name came to be used for the team, as with the other major league clubs. After buying the team in 1960, owner Charles O. Finley introduced new road uniforms with “Kansas City” printed on them, as well as an interlocking “KC” on the cap. Also while in Kansas City, Finley changed the team’s colors from their traditional red, white and blue to what he termed “Kelly Green, Wedding Gown White and Fort Knox Gold.” It was also here that he began experimenting with dramatic uniforms to match these bright colors, such as gold sleeveless tops with green undershirts and gold pants. Upon moving to Oakland, the “A” cap emblem was restored, although in 1970 an “apostrophe-s” was added to the cap and uniform emblem to reflect the fact that Finley was in the process of officially changing the team’s name to the “A’s.” The innovative uniforms only increased after the team’s move to Oakland, which also came at the time of the introduction of polyester pullover uniforms. During the team’s 1970s heyday, management often referred to the team as The Swingin’ A’s, referencing both their prodigious power and to connect the team with the growing disco culture. During their dynasty years in the 1970s, the A’s had dozens of uniform combinations with jerseys and pants in all three team colors, and in fact did not wear the traditional gray on the road, instead wearing green or gold, which helped to contribute to their nickname of “The Swingin’ A’s.” After the team’s sale to the Haas family, the team changed its primary color to a more subdued forest green and began a move back to more traditional uniforms. New owner Walter Haas restored the official name to “Athletics” in 1981, but retained the nickname “A’s” for marketing purposes.
The A’s are the only MLB team to wear white cleats, both at home and on the road, another tradition dating back to the Finley ownership.
One of the American League’s eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniaia, in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics. The team had some prominent success in Philadelphia, winning three of four World Series from 1910 to 1914 (the “First Dynasty”) and two in a row in 1929 and 1930 (the “Second Dynasty”). The team’s owner and manager for its first 50 years was Connie Mack, and its Hall-of-Fame players included Chief Bender, Frank “Home Run” Baker, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove. After two decades of decline, however, the team left Philadelphia for Kansas City in 1955 and became the Kansas City Athletics.
After 13 mostly uneventful seasons in the Midwest, the team moved to Oakland in 1968. There a “Third Dynasty” soon emerged, with three World Championships in a row from 1972 to 1974 led by players including Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, and colorful owner Charlie O. Finley. Finally, a “Fourth Dynasty” won three consecutive pennants and the 1989 World Series behind the ‘Bash Brothers’ of Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley.
Since the mid 2000s the A’s have been in talks with Oakland and other Northern California cities about building a new baseball-only stadium. The planned stadium, Cisco Field, was originally intended to be built in Fremont, California (a location that has since been abandoned), and there were talks about it remaining in Oakland, and current talks about building it in San Jose.
As of February 26, 2009 the city of San Jose was expected to open negotiations with the team. Although parcels of land south of Diridon Station are being acquired by the city as a stadium site, the San Francisco Giants’ claim on Santa Clara County as part of their home territory would have to be dealt with before any agreement could be made. By August 2010, San Jose was “aggressively wooing” A’s owner Lew Wolff. Wolff referred to San Jose as the team’s “best option”, but Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said he would wait on a report on whether the team could move to the area because of the Giants conflict. In September 2010, 75 Silicon Valley CEOs drafted and signed a letter to Bud Selig urging a timely approval of the move to San Jose. In May 2011 San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed sent a letter to Bud Selig asking the commissioner for a timetable of when he might decide whether the A’s can pursue this new ballpark, but Selig did not respond. Selig addressed the San Jose issue via an online town hall forum held in July, saying, “Well, the latest is, I have a small committee who has really assessed that whole situation, Oakland, San Francisco, and it is complex. You talk about complex situations; they have done a terrific job. I know there are some people who think it’s taken too long and I understand that. I’m willing to accept that. But you make decisions like this; I’ve always said, you’d better be careful. Better to get it done right than to get it done fast. But we’ll make a decision that’s based on logic and reason at the proper time.”
Well, the proper time is most likely sooner rather than later.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who was recently extended through 2014, has placed the A’s and their pursuit of a new stadium and a move to San Jose on the front burner. The special committee Selig put together to examine the dilemma has delivered a “comprehensive” report but has yet to be presented to all 30 owners. Still, Selig says they’re “proceeding at a rather quick pace” and seemed to agree to the suggested analogy that if the stadium issue were a baserunner, he’d be on third base. A’s owner Lew Wolff said he’s “delighted” to hear that Selig is prioritizing the situation and that MLB is moving toward a decision.
The Giants could fight back by supporting an anti-ballpark campaign in San Jose, where a special ballot referendum (partially financed by MLB) would need to pass, or perhaps even by persuading one of their sponsors to sue MLB (the Giants cannot sue MLB themselves). There’s also nothing preventing the Giants from filing a lawsuit against the city of San Jose itself.
The Giants’ territorial claim can be overturned by a 75 percent vote from MLB owners.
So, let’s look at it positively. Selig cleans up the whole mess, makes the Giants happy and San Jose constructs a stadium. Yay! The A’s (who currently have the worst stadium deal in most any major sport) will finally have a much-needed revenue stream to go with all those first round draft picks.
My suggestion… The California Athletics. Using the original and updated San Jose Sharks logos and looking at one-time Bruins Captain and #1 draft pick over-all Joe Thornton, we get some useful uniform and cap ideas. The new version of the Sharks jersey uses Deep Pacific teal, black, burnt orange and white. The Miami Marlins have, except for probably a throwback jersey or two, abandoned the teal shade as their primary color and it could easily transition west. The burnt orange could be amended to a more golden hue, and kept as a background color, mix well with the darker hues of teal, black and finally white. Taking cues from the Athletics’ past, they can create a great ‘new’ yet totally retro jersey color scheme for their jerseys and caps. Something that recalls the history of the Philadelphia Athletics while easily reminding you of the Oakland A’s. I’d imagine the only team with much of a complaint would be the Royals (The Royals of Kansas City who take their color cues from their predecessor Athletics), but even then, too bad. Look at how many teams utilize the ever familiar red, while and blue… The Red Sox, Braves, Cardinals, Angels and Nationals. After all, Baltimore and San Fransisco are practically twins (because when John McGraw left Baltimore for New York and the Giants, he took the familiar colors with him), yet easily separated.
The A’s are a proud and deserving franchise who, if the transition is done right, would definitely thrive in a new venue. Think of it like an expansion franchise designed to contend pretty quickly.
The NFL post-season officially began this evening, and the Patriots started off with a lil’ bit of gusto.
A surgically precise nuclear strike may be the effective description.
After a week of Tebowing in Tebowmania the clock struck midnight on Denver’s Cinderella story as their wunderkind anti-quarterback fall down go boom. Not that Tim Tebow played a completely inept game and certainly not that he was completely to blame, but Tom Brady came out looking like a first ballot Hall of Famer with something to prove.
Looking to win their first playoff game since the ‘magical’ run of 2007 versus San Diego, Brady threw for a touchdown to Wes Welker on the opening drive, setting up an NFL record five passing TD’s in the first half for the Pats who would score six passing TD’s over-all in a 45 to 10 rout.
As CBS’ Dan Marino said during the game’s halftime show, “The only way the Denver Broncos have a chance of coming back is if Brady goes and plays for the Broncos.”
The 6 passing touchdowns ties an NFL playoff record (The last quarterback to throw six touchdowns in a postseason game was San Francisco’s Steve Young in Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers) while Rob Gronkowski’s 3 TD receptions ties a record for the same playoff feat. Brady, with Gronkowski, Hernandez, Welker and Branch set team highs for playoff performances. The Defense played easily their most outstanding game of the entire season. It was a loud and very obvious statement not only to Denver but to the rest of the remaining playoff teams.
In other news:
In my first effort to mention new Sox manager Bobby V., here are some slightly interesting tidbits courtesy of ESPNBoston.com.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn’t sound overly impressed Saturday when assessing the Yankees’ quick-strike addition of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to their rotation. “They’re probably an upgrade from (Bartolo) Colon and (Freddy) Garcia. Probably. I don’t know. It seems it.” Valentine told the Providence Journal at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston. “Pineda, when I saw him the first half, he looked unhittable. Second half, he looked OK, (The Mariners) saw a lot of him and they traded him. Kuroda is a good pitcher — a year older than he was last year, pitching in the American League and not the National League, pitching in not a great pitcher’s ballpark (Yankee Stadium) from a great pitcher’s ballpark (Dodger Stadium).”
Valentine did make a couple of valid points there: Pineda had a 3.03 ERA and eight wins before the All-Star break and a 5.12 ERA and just one win after it; and Kiroda has a career 3-8 record and 4.33 ERA against American League opponents. One thing Valentine couldn’t argue was the Yankees’ rotation certainly got a lot deeper.
Also, Valentine did not confirm reports that the Red Sox had extended a spring training invite to catcher Jason Varitek, but he did mention Saturday he didn’t forsee a situation where either Varitek or veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield returned to the team without a role defined for them. “I couldn’t imagine having Wake come in and compete for a job, I can’t imagine that. Even ’Tek, for that matter. It’s not something I can imagine.” He called Varitek’s long-tenured situation with the club “unique” and said it “should be handled in a unique way.”
Varitek has not yet officially signalled his intention to retire.
Pedro Martinez had a message for the Red Sox on Friday night: They should not cut ties with Jason Varitek. Not now. Not ever. You have to keep him in Boston. He was our head, our captain. He should retire as a member of the Red Sox, and never leave.” Martinez said at a charity dinner in his honor at the Liberty Hotel. With former Sox general manager Dan Duquette in the audience, Martinez joked about resuming pitching in the big leagues for the Baltimore Orioles, where Duquette has landed as GM. Relating a story he said he’d never shared before, Duquette described how he and Martinez’s agent, Bob Gilhooly, came to terms on a new contract for Martinez at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. They made the deal, Duquette said, under pressure from members of the Secret Service, who with their search dogs were impatiently waiting for them to exit their suite so they could prepare it for a soon-to-be arriving guest — President Clinton. They got the deal done, Duquette said, thanks to a Secret Service agent who said he was from Maine. “I don’t know who this guy is,” the agent said to his superior, gesturing at Duquette, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, “but he’s trying to sign Pedro Martinez. The President of the United States can wait.”
Martinez expressed his unending affection for Boston and called winning the 2004 World Series and the parade that followed the highlight of his career.
For days, even weeks, the talk around most of the Hot Stove has been about how quiet the Red Sox and more notably, the Empire 150 miles to the Southwest had been. Well, the ‘Bombers have broken their silence.
This from Bryan Hoch / MLB.com:
NEW YORK — The Yankees may have solved the lingering questions of their starting rotation in just one night, nearing completion on deals that will fit right-handers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda for pinstripes in 2012.
In Pineda’s case, the price proved to be a steep one, as New York agreed to part with power-hitting catcher Jesus Montero, shipping their top prospect to the Mariners in a four-player trade.
Though the teams have not made an official announcement, a source confirmed that Seattle is set to send Pineda and Minor League pitcher Jose Campos to the Yankees for Montero and 24-year-old right-hander Hector Noesi.
It was the type of tantalizing arm that the Yankees were willing to dig deep for, despite the fact that they think highly of Montero, 22, who is generally regarded as one of baseball’s premier right-handed power prospects.
Shortly after news of the Seattle trade became public, the YES Network reported that the Yankees also completed a one-year, $10 million deal with Kuroda. Kuroda, 36, was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 starts for Los Angeles last season and has a career record of 41-46 in 115 big league games since 2008.
Pineda and Kuroda figure to slot behind ace CC Sabathia, bolstering a rotation that the Yankees had spoken openly about wanting to upgrade before pitchers and catchers report in approximately five weeks.
Quick, silent and like a brick through plate-glass. The Yankees as usual.
So do the Sox make a play for Joe Saunders? Should they look to the Cubs and try to swing Matt Garza as part of a package to include the compensation for Theo? Will Daniel Bard be the answer in the #5 spot, nevermind the #4 hole? Can Bobby V. really go into camp with the idea of converting Bard and placing the man who carried the rotation AND the bullpen at certain points, Alfredo Aceves, at the back-end? Is Wakefield a viable option one more time? For much of the off-season, the ‘Bombers were in the same boat with questions in the back end of the rotation and like the Sox had been fairly quiet. Now they’ve put themselves back on the map… sure, if Lester can lead Beckett and Bucholtz like the majority of last year, we’re in relatively good shape. However, Lester needs to shake off the implosion of 9/11 and Clay will need to get past the worry of a back injury (ask Bobby Jenks). Beckett I have less fear of. Josh should have a fuse lit and burning away towards a few sticks of TNT worth of proving himself to his manager, the fans and more so, his teammates. Beckett is a cocky, proud and temperamental guy in the mold of Roger Clemens and he’ll be out to prove it.
In recent days, the Yanks had been linked to Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza, but Scott Boras’ client remains a free agent and Garza is still a trading blue-chip in Chicago. One might expect, if the Sox have a move to make, it may fall after next week. Wednesday is the signing deadline for Yu Darvish and the Rangers and is expected to make or break the final days in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. This will loosen up the remaining free agent market, especially for pitchers and 1B as teams will start evaluating the left overs, the holes and what they really need going into camp.
One thing is for sure. Things just got more interesting.
And according to NBC, many folks are missing it… the Boston Bruins are 25-4-1 in their last 30 games.
Oh, sorry. The defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins are 25-4-1 in their last 30 games.
Many folks in the sporting world may not be up to date on that information. Why? Because hockey is the retarded little brother of the sporting world. At least that’s what we’re led to believe. The NFL (who had a prolonged work stoppage in the off-season) is the #2 sport in the US… maybe #1-B depending on who you ask, and appears on five networks, three of them national over the air, one national basic cable and one premium. The NBA is the 3rd place winner in the US, however they’ve taken a hit due to their very publicly drawn-out labor-stoppage and show of penultimate greed in the negotiations. They have also been promoted to most boring. Parity in the NBA is a thing of the past as several teams now sport ‘Trios’ of super-friends and have deteriorated to the point where owners are fighting amognst themselves and the league. Imagine a league composed of twenty or so Oakland A’s or Montreal Expos teams, a few Angels and Dodgers then four or five Yankees teams. Yawn. The NBA is shown on four networks, one National over the air (part-time), two national basic cable networks and one premium. The NHL, up until the first of the year, was on every now and then.
Several years ago (after the NHL’s last work stoppage), ESPN (ABC) decided not to renew their broadcast rights and an upstart network known as Versus picked them up. Versus, for all their hunting, fishing, alternative sport hype, did a good job of trying to showcase a game or so a week. NBC then bought Versus and brought the NHL back to a major national network, on Saturday afternoon… joy. However, if you tuned in, you usually saw Pittsburgh versus Washington… or the Penguins versus someone… or the Capitals versus someone. To open the season, the Bruins appeared on both Versus and the NHL network several times and lost pretty much all of them. “The Stanley Cup Hangover” was to blame. Back to formula, Pittsburgh and Washington. But, now that Versus has become the NBC Sports network, the NHL is in full glory. NHL themed shows, up to four games a week and mention of life outside Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit or Philly (Of course, oce Sid the Kid retuns ad Ovie gets back to form, that will change).
And in that time, the defending champs have gone ‘all-world’. After a horrid start, the B’s have come together, both emotionally and on the ice, and played the game that took them to the dance. No finesse. No pass for the sake of passing. Just hit whoever stands before you and shoot. Get it towards the middle. Score. During a ten game winning streak, the Bruins outscored their opponents by like a factor of five. But try to find NHL updates on ESPN or some other sports network. You had a better chance of finding out what new and improved waste of time LeBron and Kobe had come up with during the lockout. The reversal of fortune for the Colts gets far more coverage than the reversal of fortune for the Habs (Montreal being the NHL’s NY Yankees).
Now, should you actually find an outlet other than the NHL network to give you some insight on the comings and goings of the Cup champs, you may find out some interesting tidbits. This year’s version of the Bruins is a younger squad on pace to outperform last years squad. Patrice Bergeron (26), Milan Lucic (23), Nathan Horton (26), Rich Peverley (29), David Krejci (25) and the wonderfully troublesome Brad Marchand (23) are all under thirty and developing well while Tyler Seguin, at just 19 years of age, will be heading to his first All-Star game. Tim Thomas, the All-Star Vezina winning Conn-Smythe touting goaltender leads the team at 37 years old. Zdeno Chara, one of the best conditioned athletes in the league (and tallest at 6foot 9) is 34 years old and looks like a Ray Bourque in waiting. With a great mix of young talent (Tukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille, Benoit Poulliot, Gregory Campbell) and solid veterans (Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton, Joe Corvo) this version of the Boston Bruins appears set to be a legitimate contender to repeat for the Stanley Cup Championship in 2012 and a perennial contender for several years to come.
By mixing their youth with the veteran approach of the ‘Big Bad Bruins’, this team could help make up for the short-comings of those early 1970′s teams who had an abundance of on-ice talent to win at will but let their youth and exuberance dictate the carefree off-ice personalities which squandered their short window of opportunity. Their rough and tumble yet very successful style of play is constantly in question. Vancouver (the 2011 Western Conference Champions a.k.a Stanley Cup losers) accuses the B’s of playing stupid while penultimate rival Montreal respects the Bruins play as rough yet styled and respectable. Sounds about right either way.
Stay tuned… if you’re watching.
Well, Congrats to Barry Larkin, the singular inductee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for 2012.
Now comes the hard part. The 2013 Ballot will be flooded in worthy, clouded and questionable candidates. Of the first year candidates hitting the ballot for 2012, only Bernie Williams, @ 9.6%, earned enough votes (above 5%) to remain on the ballot for next year. Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell made fairly significant increases in their percentage numbers, however a few of those numbers will look to drop as ’hold-overs’ tend to dip when big name newbies hit the ballot. Those names will include;
- Barry Bonds: OF Pittsburgh, San Fransisco
- Roger Clemens: RHSP Boston (A), Toronto, New York (A), Houston
- Mike Piazza: C/DH Los Angeles (N), Florida, New York (N), San Diego, Oakland
- Curt Schilling: RHSP Baltimore, Houston, Philadelphia (N), Arizona, Boston (A)
- Kenny Lofton: CF/OF Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago (A), San Fransisco, Chicago (N), Pittsburgh, New York (A), Philadelphia (N), Los Angeles (N), Texas
- David Wells: LHSP Toronto, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, New York (A), Chicago (A), San Diego, Boston (A), Los Angeles (N)
- Sammy Sosa: OF/DH Texas, Chicago (A), Chicago (N), Baltimore
- Craig Biggio: C/2B/OF Houston
Now, looking at the list, one doesn’t see a first ballot inductee (as opposed to the 2013 ballot and Greg Maddux’ 1st year of eligibility). Both Bonds and Clemens carry the statistics of greatness but are deeply embroiled in the PED issue due to various and on-going reasons. Piazza, arguably one of the greatest offensive catchers in the game, played in the Steroid Era and, like Bagwell, will have to endure. Craig Biggio and Kenny Lofton were big-name stars but are on the bubble at best. Sammy Sosa, like McGwire and Palmeiro, will probably earn enough votes to stay on the ballot as voters continue to judge the Steroid Era for its’ fact and fiction. David Wells, well who knows. He’ll probably survive to the next ballot but with Schilling taking some votes away and Jack Morris still on it, who can say for sure?
So let’s take a look at what appears to be the next great debate; Curt Schilling versus Jack Morris.
Some say that Curt cannot get into the Hall if Jack Morris is excluded and vice-versa. Others believe that a few of their average to just above average regular seasons give way to their post-season efforts, while experts contend that the HOF isn’t based wholly on post-season theatrics. As Brian Kenney of Clubhouse Confidential put it, “Many people mistake Jack Morris for being the post-season pitcher Curt Schilling actually was.” So, let’s see where this takes us.
- Luis Tiant (19) Jack Morris (18) Curt Schilling (20) David Wells (21)
- Wins/Losses(%): 229/172 (.571) 254/186 (.577) 216/146 (.597) 239/157 (.604)
- ERA: 3.30 3.90 3.46 4.13
- ERA+: 115 105 128 108
- Strikeouts: 2416 2478 3116 2201
- K/BB: 2.19 1.78 4.38 3.06
- WAR: 60.1 39.3 69.7 50.7
Well, those are the basics. Wells is eliminated on ERA alone. At 3.90, Morris has the highest ERA of any legitimate Hall of Fame candidate and if elected, would have the highest ERA for a starter. Wells played for some great teams and Championship teams to accumulate that winning percentage, including some great personal accolades and 3 All-Star appearances, but he’s out.
Now let’s take a look at the post-season stats in the three-horse race.
- Luis Tiant (3 Series) Jack Morris (7 Series) Curt Schilling (12 Series)
- Wins/Losses (%): 3/0 (1.000) 7/4 (.636) 11/2 (.846)
- ERA: 2.86 3.80 2.23
- Innings Pitched 34.2 92.1 133.1
- Strikeouts: 20 64 120
- K/BB: 1.82 2.00 4.80
Tiant broke through in 1968, after he altered his delivery so that he turned away from the home plate during his motion, in effect creating a hesitation pitch. According to Tiant, the new motion was a response to a drop in his velocity due to an arm injury. Twisting and turning his body into unthinkable positions, Tiant would spend more time looking at second base than he did the plate as he prepared to throw. In that season, he led the league in ERA (1.60), shutouts (9, including 4 consecutive!), hits per nine innings (a still-standing franchise record 5.30, which broke Herb Score’s 5.85 in 1956 and would be a Major-League record low until Nolan Ryan gave up 5.26 hits/9 innings in 1972), strikeouts per nine innings (9.22, more than a batter an inning), while finishing with a 21–9 mark. Beside this, opposing hitters batted just .168 off Tiant, a major league record, and on July 3 he struck out 19 Minnesota Twins in a ten-inning game, setting an American League record for games of that length. His 1.60 ERA was the lowest in the American League since Walter Johnson’s 1.49 mark during the dead-ball era in 1919, and second lowest in 1968 only to Bob Gibson’s 1.12—the lowest ever during the Live Ball Era.
Known as El Tiante at Fenway Park, in 1972 Tiant regained his old form with a 15–6 record and led the league with a 1.91 ERA on his way to winning the Comeback Player of the Year award. He would win 20 games in 1973 and 22 in 1974. Though hampered by back problems in 1975, he won 18 games for the American League Champion Red Sox and then excelled for Boston in the postseason. In the playoffs he defeated the three-time defending World Champion Oakland Athletics in a 7–1 three-hitter complete game, then opened the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. His father and mother, having been allowed to visit from Cuba under a special visa, were in Fenway Park that game to watch their son defeat The Big Red Machine in a 6–0 five-hit shutout. All six Red Sox runs were scored in the seventh inning; Tiant led off that inning (the designated hitter was not yet in use in World Series play) with a base hit off Don Gullett and eventually scored on Carl Yastrzemski’s single for the first of those six runs. Tiant won Game 4 as well (throwing 163 pitches in his second complete game in the series) and had a no-decision in Game 6, which has been called the greatest game ever played, after Carlton Fisk’s dramatic game-winning walk-off home run in the 12th inning.
In his 19-season career, Tiant compiled a 229–172 record with 2416 strikeouts, a 3.30 ERA, 187 complete games, and 49 shutouts in 3,486.1 innings. Tiant is one of five pitchers to have pitched four or more consecutive shutouts in the 50-year expansion era, with Don Drysdale (six, 1968), Bob Gibson (five, 1968), Orel Hershiser (five, 1988) and Gaylord Perry (four, 1970) being the others. He was inducted to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.
- 4 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA, leading the league twice.
- 5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Wins.
- 7 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Shutouts, leading the league 3 times.
- 8 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Strikeouts.
3 All-Star Games. 4 time 20 game winner. 3 times appearing on the American League Cy Young balloting, twice finishing in the top five. 4 times appearing on the AL Most Valuable Player ballot, twice finishing in the top ten.
Jack Morris played in 18 big league seasons between 1977 and 1994, mainly for the Detroit Tigers, and won 254 games throughout his career. Armed with a fastball, slider, devastating splitter and a fierce competitive spirit, Morris played on three World Championship teams (1984 Tigers, 1991 Twins, and 1992 Blue Jays). While he gave up the most hits, earned runs and home runs of any pitcher in the 1980s, he also started the most games, pitched the most innings and was the winningest pitcher of the decade. On April 7, 1984 Morris no-hit the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park. In 1986, Morris racked up 21 wins, but was overshadowed by eventual Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens of the Boston Red Sox. Despite a sub par season in 1989 when he won only 6 games, he still finished as the winningest major league pitcher of the 1980s, with 162 wins during the decade.
In 1991, Morris signed a one-year contract with his hometown Minnesota Twins. He enjoyed another great season, posting 18 wins as Minnesota faced the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Morris started for the Twins three times, with his final outing being Game 7. In a postseason performance for the ages, the 36-year-old hurler, known throughout his career as a clutch “big game” pitcher, lived up to his billing by throwing 10 innings of shutout baseball against the Braves as the Twins won the World title on a 10th inning single by Gene Larkin that scored Dan Gladden. Morris was named the World Series MVP for his fantastic performance. Following the 1991 season, Morris spurned the Minnesota Twins, his hometown team, and signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. He earned 21 wins for the second time in his career (and the first ever 20-win season for a Blue Jays pitcher), though he rode the wave of superior run support from his offense, given his 4.04 ERA that year. The Blue Jays reached the 1992 World Series against the Braves and despite a sub par World Series performance, he won a third championship ring as Toronto beat Atlanta in six games. He won a fourth in 1993, as the Blue Jays repeated as World Champions with a victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in six games. Morris did not pitch in the postseason, however.
- 5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA.
- 8 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Strikeouts.
- 8 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Shutouts, leading the league in 1986.
- 10 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Complete Games, leading the league in 1990.
- 12 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Wins, leading the league twice.
5 All Star Games. 3 Time 20 game winner. Appearing on the AL Cy Young ballot 7 times, 5 time finishing in the top five. Morris appeared 5 times on the AL Most Valuable Player ballot, twice finishing in the top 15. 4 Time World Series Champion including the 1991 World Series MVP award.
During the Phillies’ pennant run in 1993, Schilling went 16–7 with a 4.02 ERA and 186 strikeouts. Schilling led the Phillies to an upset against the two-time defending National League champion Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. Although he received no decisions during his two appearances in the six-game series, Schilling’s 1.69 ERA and 19 strikeouts (including the first 5 Braves hitters of Game 1, an NLCS record) were enough to earn him the 1993 NLCS Most Valuable Player Award. After losing Game 1 of the WS to the Toronto Blue Jays, he pitched brilliantly in his next start. With the Phillies facing elimination the day after losing a bizarre 15–14 contest at home in Veterans Stadium, Schilling pitched a five-hit shutout that the Phillies won, 2–0. Schilling was named to the NL All-Star team in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and started the 1999 game.
With Arizona, he went 22–6 with a 2.98 ERA in 2001, leading the majors in wins and innings pitched. He also went 4–0 with a 1.12 ERA in the playoffs. In the 2001 World Series, the Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in seven games. Schilling shared the 2001 World Series MVP Award with teammate Randy Johnson. He and Johnson also shared Sports Illustrated magazine’s 2001 “Sportsmen of the Year” award. During the World Series Schilling received two other honors, as he was presented that year’s Roberto Clemente and Branch Rickey Awards, the first Arizona Diamondback so honored for either award. In 2002, he went 23–7 with a 3.23 ERA. He struck out 316 batters while walking 33 in 259.1 innings. On April 7, 2002, Schilling threw a one-hit shutout striking out 17 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Both years he finished second in the Cy Young Award voting to Johnson.
On September 16, 2004, Schilling won his 20th game of 2004 for the Red Sox, becoming the fifth Boston pitcher to win 20 or more games in his first season with the team, and the first since Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in 1978. Schilling ended his regular season with a 21–6 record. On October 19, 2004, Schilling won Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. Notably, he won this game playing on an injured ankle—the same injuries that contributed to his disastrous outing in Game 1 of the ALCS. These injuries were so acute that by the end of his performance that day his white sock was soaked with blood, which is now referred to as “the bloody sock”. Schilling was once again runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2004, this time to Minnesota Twins hurler Johan Santana. Later, the entire Red Sox team was named Sports Illustrated’s 2004 Sportsmen of the Year, making Schilling only the second person to have won or shared that award twice. For the 2006 season, Schilling was said to be healthy. He began the season 4–0 with a 1.61 ERA. He finished the year with a 15–7 record and 198 strikeouts, with a respectable 3.97 ERA. On May 27, he earned his 200th career win, the 104th major league pitcher to accomplish the feat. On August 30, Schilling collected his 3,000th strikeout. On June 7, 2007, Schilling came within one out of his first career no-hitter. Schilling gave up a two-out single to Oakland’s Shannon Stewart, who lined a 95-mph fastball to right field for the A’s only hit. He earned his third win of the 2007 playoffs in Game 2 of the 2007 World Series leaving after 5 1/3 innings, striking out four while allowing only four hits. With this win, he became only the second pitcher over the age of 40 to start and win a World Series game (Kenny Rogers became the first just one year prior). As Schilling departed in the 6th inning, fans at Fenway Park gave Schilling a standing ovation.
Schilling has the highest ratio of strikeouts to walks of any pitcher with at least 3,000 strikeouts, and is one of four pitchers to reach the 3,000-K milestone before reaching 1,000 career walks. The other three who accomplished this feat are Fergie Jenkins, Greg Maddux, and former Boston Red Sox ace and teammate Pedro Martínez.
- 1 time finished in the top 10 in the AL in Wins, leading the league in 2004.
- 2 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Strikeouts.
- 4 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Wins, leading the league in 2001.
- 7 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Strikeouts, leading the league twice.
- 8 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in ERA (1 time in the American League).
- 10 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Complete Games, leading the league 4 times.
- 10 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Shutouts (1 time in the American League).
6 All Star Games. 2 time 20 game winner. Schilling appeared on a total of 4 Cy Young Award Ballots (3 National/ 1 American) finishing second 3 times. He appeared on the Most Valuable Player ballot 4 times (3 National / 1 American) finishing in the top 10 twice. 3 time World Series Champion including a 1993 NLCS MVP award and 2001 World Series MVP award. A Roberto Clemente Award/Branch Rickey Award/Babe Ruth Award winner in 2001.
At the end of the day, it becomes a two-horse race, my sentimental favorite Mr. Tiant dropping off. But as we have seen, there are questions, answers and some of the numbers are deceiving. Yes, Morris has some great numbers but has negatives to go along with them. For all the experts who tout Jack’s big game post-season prowess, Curt buries him. Sure, Morris has four WS titles, but pitched below average in one and didn’t even pitch in another. The big 1991 performance against the Braves? The Bloody Sock game in 2004. Looking past Morris’ wins and the fact he has more losses, Schilling sports a higher win percentage. Who played for more perennial contenders? Who played for better run producers? And on and on…..
The questions will wage on, but the timetable is fairly limited, adding more fuel to the fire. This year marked Morris’ 13th on the ballot, leaving two more attempts. In two years, this could be a battle for the ‘Golden Age’ Committee or Veterans committee or whatever the guys who keep deserving but still breathing players out of the hall, therefore keeping their divided annual shares in tact, call themselves.
Well, having taken a look at the career of Dwight Evans, a player whom I believe should be ‘on the bubble’ for Hall of Fame consideration but fell off the ballot, I decided to look at for a few others. But not just Red Sox. Sure, Evans may be a slightly biased pick on my part, but the numbers back it up. How about a player who, somehow, spanned the limit of his 15 years ballot eligibility before finally being removed. ‘Mr. Clean’ Steve Garvey.
Garvey played his entire 19 year career in the National League West for two teams; the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969–82) and the San Diego Padres (1983–87).
- Games played: 2’332
- Hits: 2’599
- Average: .294
- RBI: 1’308
- HR: 272
- Runs: 1’143
- Base on Balls: 479
- OPS: .775
Steve was part of the most enduring infield in baseball history, alongside third baseman Ron Cey, shortstop Bill Russell and second baseman Davey Lopes, the four infielders stayed together as the Dodgers’ starters for eight and a half years. He set a National League record with 1207 consecutive games played, from September 3, 1975, to July 29, 1983. Ironically, Garvey tied the record in his first appearance back at Dodger Stadium in Padre gold. It is the fourth-longest such streak in Major League Baseball history.
In 1981, at a point in his career when it looked like he would one day rank among the game’s all-time greats, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.
In December 1982 Garvey signed with the Padres for $6.6 million over five years in what some felt was a “masterstroke” to General Manager Jack McKeon’s effort to rebuild the team. Though San Diego had vastly outbid the Dodgers, McKeon particularly noted Garvey’s value in providing a role model for younger players. Additionally, Garvey’s “box office appeal” helped San Diego increase its season ticket sales by 6,000 seats in Garvey’s first year. Sports Illustrated ranked the signing as the fifteenth best free agent signing ever as of 2008. Led by Garvey, winning his second National League Championship Series MVP award, the Padres won their first National League pennant over the Chicago Cubs in 1984.
- 2 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Runs Scored.
- 3 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in HR’s.
- 6 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Batting Average.
- 7 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Doubles.
- 7 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Runs Batted In.
- 10 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Hits, leading the League twice.
Garvey appeared on the NL MVP ballot 9 times with 5 times placing in the top 10. Beating out Lou Brock to win in 1974, he finished 2nd over-all in 1978 behind winner Dave Parker.
10 All-Star Games including 2 MVP Awards. 4 Gold Gloves. 2 National League Championship Series MVP Awards. The 1974 National League Most Valuable Player Award. 1981 World Series Champion. The 1981 Roberto Clemente Award.
His uniform Number 6 has been retired by the San Diego Padres.
For all his numbers, awards and credentials, Garvey may be yet another player who has been denied entrance to the hall for the personal choices he’s made. But while the ever-widening HOF issue of PED’s and the choices of players like Big Mac, Palmiero, Bonds, Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are complicated because the consequences of their actions directly impacted their performance on the field and constituted cheating, Garvey’s personal choices effected only himself and thusly dismantled his family life and reputation at the end of his career.
Longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once commented on ‘Mr. Clean’, “If he ever came to date my daughter, I’d lock the door and not let him out.” He may have meant it in another way. In the mid to late 1980s, Garvey, in the midst of what he later termed a “midlife disaster,” engaged in a series of simultaneous romantic relationships and fathering of children with multiple women that led to him being the subject of national ridicule which most likely diminished his credibility in the eyes of the world’s most perfect voters, the BBWAA. After all, players who were of less than honorable reputation off the field would never be allowed into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. Suspected murderers, members of the KKK, legendary carousers, alcoholics or adulterers would never get the prized bronze plaque… right Ty Cobb? Too extreme? Okay, we’ll ask Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Wade Boggs.
So is his omission from the Hall a punishment for his moral weakness or sarcastic revenge for his ‘Mr. Clean’ image being heartily tarnished? Which ever it may be, the Veteran’s Committee, to date, has apparently agreed.