Friday, April 21, 2017

A Jackie Robinson Day Experience 4/21/17

Hey baseball fans!

A couple of weeks ago, I planned a trip to the Bronx with my girlfriend, Meredith, to see a Yankees game. Looking at the dates available, we concluded that the best day to go was April 15th, so we bought tickets for that Yankees game where they would host the Cardinals. I didn't think anything of the day's significance until I turned on the television the morning of the game and remembered it was Jackie Robinson Day.

Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated every year on April 15th all across the MLB to honor Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier on that date in 1947. On that day, Robinson didn't do much at the plate for the Dodgers at Ebbets Field, but he did a lot for the game of baseball. Without him and the perseverance he exuded during his playing days, so many of the MLB's best would've been unable to play America's pastime at the professional level. Prior to that day in 2017, I had never experienced a special day on the MLB calendar, days that include Mothers' Day or Memorial Day. It was awe-inspiring to see all of the players on each side don Robinson's now-retired number 42 to pay homage to the trailblazer.

There were two really cool things I noticed as the game unfolded. First of all, because the Cardinals were the away team, they batted first, and the first batter in their lineup was Dexter Fowler. Just last October, Fowler became the first African-American to bat for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, because the last World Series the Cubs made took place two year prior to Robinson's historic day. I thought that was a very appropriate and classy lineup idea by Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny, whether he knew what he was doing or not. Second, that game featured the most possible combined World Series rings between two teams, the Yankees with the most at 27 and the Cards with the second-most at 11. But despite this, these two historically legendary franchises took part in a tradition shared by teams that haven't even been to the World Series: honoring a true baseball star in Jackie Robinson.

Thank you, Jackie, for all that you've done for the game. Also, the Yankees won that day and extended their winning streak to six games, so that's good. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Celebrate Good World Series, Come On! 4/13/17

Hey baseball fans!

2017 is a big year in baseball, not only for yet another season of America's pastime, but there are also plenty of World Series anniversaries to be celebrated, so let's take a look at all the World Series winners who won during a year where the last digit was seven.

1907: Cubs
The double-play combination of Tinkers to Evers to Chance coupled with the sheer dominance of Mordecai Brown on the mound led to a 107-win Cubs team that won the World Series over the Tigers in an easy sweep.

1917: White Sox
This would end up being the last year the Sox would win a championship for 88 years. Based on record, the 1917 ChiSox were the best team in franchise history, posting the only 100-win season ever on the South Side. Most people were paying attention to World War I, but Eddie Collins and the rest of Chicago made sure the White Sox would be prevalent in the papers in October with a six-game victory over the Giants

1927, 1937, 1947, 1957: All Yankees
Basically Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle terrorized the American League for almost five decades, while winning some Fall Classics in the middle. Probably the most important of them all was '27, when Ruth and Gehrig helped the "Murderers' Row" Yankees get into the conversation of best team ever.

1967: Cardinals
Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA during the regular season as he and the rest of the St. Louis Cardinals stopped the Red Sox's historic World Series search in a dramatic seven-game series. Not even Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski could stop the torrid pitching of Gibson, who won his second World Series MVP.

1977: Yankees
Reggie Jackson may have caused many problems in the clubhouse throughout the season, but he eventually helped the Yankees avenge their '76 World Series loss to the Reds in a six-game series victory against the Dodgers. This is the World Series where Jackson famously cracked four homers on four consecutive swings.

1987: Twins
The first World Series where the home team won every game, the 1987 World Series saw the true power of loud, domed stadiums, as the Metrodome really helped out the Twins' bats and made the Cardinals extremely frightened for their lives.

1997: Marlins
It was a dramatic World Series that ended in a walk-off single in extra innings and it will forever be remembered as one of the most juxtaposed World Series ever in terms of climate. Miami and Cleveland in October: you can't really have a greater difference in weather than that.

2007: Red Sox
Just three years after they broke the Curse of the Bambino, Terry Francona and company decided to taste victory one more time, sweeping the Rockies in the Fall Classic for the franchise's seventh championship.

To all who are celebrating significant World Series anniversaries this year, congratulations! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Five Predictions for the 2017 MLB Season 4/5/17

Hey baseball fans!

The season has already started and boy has it already been exciting!! I can't wait to see how the 2017 MLB season will end, so instead, I'm going to try to predict what will happen. Here are five of my predictions for the 2017 MLB campaign:

Prediction #1: Andrew McCutchen makes the All Star Game, but is traded at the deadline
I'm sure Cutch's 2016 year was just a fluke and he'll be back to his old self by the Midsummer Classic. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the Pirates move on with their semi-rebuilding phase and ship McCutchen off for prospects. It's been talked about for at least several months now and I can see it happening before July 31.

Prediction #2: Chris Sale wins the AL Cy Young Award
He's arguably the best pitcher in the American League on the league's best offense. He'll get a ton of run support and should win at least 20 games.

Prediction #3: Nolan Arenado cracks 50+ homers
Arenado is one of the brightest young talents in baseball and plays in a home ballpark where home runs are pretty common. The Rockies' third baseman is bound to have an unbelievable season, which might even include an MVP Award, if Colorado can pull itself together at least a little bit.

Prediction #4: Cubs repeat as NL Central champions
I'm not going to say just yet that the Cubbies are going to win the 2017 World Series, but their team is solid and will definitely feed off of pretty subpar competition within the NL Central. I mean, seriously, the Cardinals are the only other good team in that division. As long as the Cubs don't somehow screw things up, they'll be at the top of the NL Central come October.

Prediction #5: The Yankees and Astros get the AL Wild Card spots... again
It's all about the youth movement right now in baseball and the Yanks and 'Stros are showing off their young talent in the form of future wins. Gary Sanchez and Jose Altuve will carry these teams to the playoffs with around 86 wins apiece.

Do you agree with my predictions? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"The Catch" 3/28/17

Hey baseball fans!

I've never devoted an entire post to Willie Mays's famous catch in the 1954 World Series, which is pure blasphemy. So, here ya go.

It was Game One of the 1954 World Series. The Giants and Indians were tied at two entering the top of the eighth in the Polo Grounds in New York City. The young 1954 MVP Willie Mays was playing in center field and Sal Maglie was pitching for the Giants. Maglie quickly allowed Larry Doby and Al Rosen to reach base, which brought first baseman Vic Wertz up to the plate for Cleveland. Wertz was never that much of a power hitter and he wasn't even that big of a guy. But with two on and no one out, anything could happen, especially because Maglie was just taken out of the game and replaced with Don Liddle.

On a 2-2 count, Wertz swung at the Liddle pitch and smacked it on a fly to straightaway center field. The Polo Grounds, at the time, was gigantic, so Wertz would have had to hit the ball a good 500 feet to hit a home run. Nonetheless, Larry Doby who was on second base thought the ball was hit far enough over Willie Mays's head in center field for extra bases, so he started trotting to third from second. Mays, on the other hand, had other plans. He immediately started running after the fly ball. He must've ran over 150 feet before making an over-the-shoulder, no-look, game-saving catch for the Giants.

But that's only half the story. As soon as he made this miraculous catch, he spun around to throw the ball and even fell over because of his momentum going towards the center field wall. Unbelievably, the throw couldn't have been better, preventing Rosen from advancing to second from first and only allowing Doby to reach third base after retreating back to second so he could tag up. The catch not only swung the game in the Giants' favor, but the Series as well, as the Giants would go on to sweep the Indians for the franchise's fifth title.

What a catch! Truly one of the best you'll ever see. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Some Should-Be Nicknames for Hall of Famers 3/19/17

Hey baseball fans!

Some Hall of Famers really need some nicknames! That's what makes them, well, them! Here are some Hall of Famers that could use a solid sobriquet:

Kirby Puckett: Holy Moly Roly Poly
Why? Despite his plump appearance, he actually had some incredible speed, which helped him win five Gold Gloves in the outfield and steal as many as 21 bases in a season. He also just had a glowing personality. This nickname parodies Charles Barkley's nickname, "The Round Mound of Rebound."

Pie Traynor: The Sweet One
Why? The best third baseman of his era sure deserves a nickname that signifies that. Even though "Pie" is already a nickname by itself, I feel like this nickname really makes this kinda unknown HoFer stand out a little more. And yes, I did take inspiration from "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky.

Warren Spahn: Rain Man
Why? Spahn is part of the famous saying, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain." Sain is Johnny Sain, who was a great pitcher along with Spahn on the Braves' pitching staff in the late '40s and '50s. Spahn is known as a "thinking man's pitcher" because he always tried to outwit the batter he was facing. So he was a thinker, much like Dustin Hoffman was in the movie, "Rain Man."

Stan Coveleski: The Soakin' From Shamokin
Why? Coveleski was born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania and had a great pitching career with mainly the Indians back in the 1910s and 1920s. He was known for his spitball, which he was allowed to use despite it being banned in 1920, because he had thrown the special pitch before the ban.

Bobby Cox: The Atlanta Arsonist
Why? Cox, as great a manager as he was with the Braves, was ejected the most times ever in a managerial career in baseball history at 158. He was a pretty fiery guy, after all.

Any more Hall of Famers who deserve some nicknames? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Top Five All Time Favorite Same-Team Hitter/Pitcher Duels 3/12/17

Hey baseball fans!

Some of baseball's franchises are just filled to the brim with legends, but which hitter and pitcher who played for the same team, but in different eras, would be a great at-bat to watch? Here are my top five same-team hitter/pitcher duels that would be awesome to see:

Number Five: Nap Lajoie vs. Bob Feller
Why? The face of the Indians franchise in the dawn of the American League against the face of the Indians franchise in the middle of the century. It's the marquee matchup for all Cleveland sports fans because they were both amazing at what they did and their numbers show that.
Who'd Win? Feller. Nap wouldn't be used to Feller's heat.

Number Four: Willie Mays vs. Christy Mathewson
Why? The crazy, do-it-all hitter going up against the calm, soft-spoken icon. This is probably the most interesting of the matchups, because of the conflicting personalities between the two and how both influenced the game so much.
Who'd Win? Mays. He could hit anything, probably even Mathewson's notorious screwball.

Number Three: Harmon Killebrew vs. Walter Johnson
Why? Power versus power. Pure brawn versus pure brawn. When I think of this matchup, I think of a battle of absolute strength.
Who'd Win? I'm going to give it to Johnson. He's just too dominant of a pitcher.

Number Two: Hank Aaron vs. Greg Maddux
Why? Both were the best players at their respective positions during their playing days and played for some star-studded teams. They're high on the ranking of the "Best Player of All Time" debate, so this at-bat would be a doozy.
Who'd Win? Hammerin' Hank. He faced a lot of Hall of Famers during his time and destroyed basically every one of them. I could see him doing somewhat the same thing to Maddux, despite his 350+ career wins.

Number One: Babe Ruth vs. Mariano Rivera
Why? Simple: best hitter in baseball history squaring off against the game's best reliever.
Who'd Win? Don't faint, but I'm going to say Rivera, because of the cutter. Ruth never saw a pitch like that back in his day and Mo is famous for throwing it. Three cutters and Ruth would be back to eating hot dogs in the dugout.

Honorable Mention: Cy Young vs. Manny Ramirez
Why? I think this one would be just kind of wacky.
Who'd Win? Who cares?

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Five Tips for Fantasy-Drafting the MLB 3/4/17

Hey baseball fans!

Spring Training games have started and I couldn't be more excited! But I'm sure some teams are looking at their rosters and saying that they have no chance at even finishing above .500. Wouldn't it be great if there could be a league-wide fantasy draft to completely scramble the rosters so the teams would be more even? Well, let's imagine that there is for a second. With that in mind, here would be my strategies for fantasy drafting a whole league:

Tip #1: Alternate between picking pitchers and hitters
If you focus on just picking the best pitchers, there will be no great hitters left in the later rounds. Be mindful of which player is worth it to draft during any given round.

Tip #2: Go for the youngsters, but make sure to add a veteran presence
Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, and Clayton Kershaw are definitely good options, but establishing a championship attitude is crucial for any sporting franchise. So while those guys are great, also pick some players who have been on baseball's biggest stage before, like Albert Pujols or Cole Hamels.

Tip #3: Take advantage of positions that typically go unnoticed
Don't jump at the opportunity to take relievers or middle infielders in the earlier rounds because most good ones will definitely still be there later. Robinson Cano could be your "steal" when, in reality, he should be picked almost immediately.

Tip #4: Pitching wins championships
There are plenty of great hitters, but not many great pitchers. So as much as you want to balance the amount of pitchers and hitters you take, be very watchful of the All Star pitchers that fall off the board because they'll go quicker than you might anticipate.

Tip #5: Team chemistry is key
Of course, all of these players are still human beings. Taking teammates in packages will keep the team's clubhouse and bats light.

This is how I would go about redrafting the MLB. So, how would you? Write down your strategies in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."