Friday, June 24, 2016

The "Maddux" 6/24/16

Hey baseball fans!

Last Sunday, Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels pitched the first "Maddux" of 2016! I know, when I read that he did that, I didn't know what a "Maddux" was either. After some research, I found that a "Maddux," named after the great Greg Maddux, happens when a pitcher pitches a complete game shutout while only throwing 99 pitches or less. The term was coined by journalist Jason Lukehart, who loved to watch the Atlanta Braves legendary pitcher play, in 1998, when he came across a game in which Maddux pitched a complete game shutout while using less than 100 pitches.

The the top five pitchers who have pitched a "Maddux" the most in the Maddux Era (1988-present) are as follows:
1. Greg Maddux   13
2. Zane Smith        7
3. Bob Tewksbury 6
t4. Tom Glavine     5
t4. Roy Halladay    5

To finish up this post on a new and cool statistic, here are five facts about pitchers pitching a "Maddux."

1. The active leaders in pitching a "Maddux" are Henderson Alvarez, Bartolo Colon, and James Shields, who each have four.

2. Obviously, walks are pretty detrimental when it comes to pitching a "Maddux," which explains why 57.7% of them (172 of 298) have been accomplished walk-less.

3. Roy Halladay pitched the only extra inning "Maddux" on September 6, 2003 against the Tigers. He went ten innings on 99 pitches that day and his Blue Jays won, 1-0.

4. Don Larsen's perfect game in Game Five of the 1956 World Series was a "Maddux," having only thrown 97 pitches that day in the Yankee win. In fact, there have been four other "Maddux" perfect games. Those were thrown by Dennis Martinez, Kenny Rogers, David Cone, and Philip Humber.

5. John Lieber holds the record for the fewest pitches pitched during a "Maddux" with 78. This amazing performance came on May 24, 2001 when he was pitching for the Cubs against the Reds. He held Cincinnati to just one hit all game.

Isn't this an interesting stat? I certainly think so. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Five of the Greatest-Hitting Pitchers Ever 6/14/16

Hey baseball fans!

Recently, NL pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta have been asking the MLB to include them in the Home Run Derby during the All Star festivities in mid-July. This got me thinking: who are some of the greatest hitting pitchers in baseball history? Well, here are five of those pitchers in no particular order.

Number One: Don Larsen
Why? Yeah, the guy who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956 with the Yankees wasn't that bad of a hitter. He batted .242 in 596 career at-bats with an astounding slugging percentage (for a pitcher) of .371.

Number Two: Carlos Zambrano
Why? Zambrano may have been mostly known for his fire on the mound, but he could hit with fire, too. His six home runs in 2006 tied a Cubs franchise record, first set by Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins in 1971. Big Z actually hit out 24 home runs during his rocky career, which ranks tied for seventh on the all-time list of most homers hit by a pitcher.

Number Four: Don Drysdale
Why? He's in the Hall of Fame for his pitching ability, but his 29 career home runs sit right atop Zambrano on the all-time list. He reached double-digit RBIs in five seasons, posting a high of 19 in 1965.

Number Two: Walter Johnson
Why? Johnson, one of the greatest pitching pitchers of all time, is also one of the best hitting pitchers of all time. His 23 homers and 255 RBIs can only be described as legendary. He batted a career-high .433 at the age of 36 in 1925 with 20 RBIs in only 97 at-bats. Wow!

Number Five: Wes Ferrell
Why? Wes Ferrell was such a great hitter that his position description on his Baseball Reference page reads, "Pitcher and Pinch Hitter." His 38 career home runs are tops among all pitchers in history and his .280 lifetime batting average is not too shabby as well.

Honorable Mention: Bartolo Colon
Why? Because it's Bartolo Colon.

If these pitchers along with other great-hitting pitchers participated in a Home Run Derby of their own, what do you think would happen? 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."

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Boy, Could That Fish Pitch! 6/4/16

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame pitchers pitch for a long time, on average. Usually, their careers last about 20 years, which is a sufficient amount of time to pick up as many accolades as possible. However, there are a couple of pitchers who have pitched for a lot less than 20 years and are still immortalized in Cooperstown, one of them being the great Catfish Hunter.

Jim Hunter, better known as Catfish for his love of catching catfish, was awesome. His career from 1965-1979 with the Kansas City/Oakland A's and New York Yankees may have been short for a Hall of Famer, but it featured so many accomplishments, it's hard to remember all of them. Hunter actually didn't start off too well, as he began his career with five straight seasons of a .500-or-less winning percentage. Nonetheless, he still made two All Star appearances in 1966 and 1967 as a member of the Athletics. In 1970, his numbers started to look good, posting an 18-14 record and getting another All Star appearance. From that season on, he was unstoppable.

From 1971-1975, he never won less than 21 games in a season and his highest ERA during the 5-year span was 3.34. He even led the league in ERA in 1974 with a 2.49 ERA. That season, Hunter won 25 games and the AL Cy Young Award. After the 1974 season, Hunter became one of the first must-have pitchers in the free agent era. He ended up signing with the Yankees and played for them for five seasons. His first season with the Yanks saw his last year of 20 or more wins, but he still led the league with 23 of them. He would continue to dominate on the mound until his retirement in 1979. He finished his career with a record of 224-166 with a 3.26 ERA.

Hunter's playoff performances were also pretty solid. He appeared in six World Series, three with the A's and three with the Yankees, and posted a record of 5-3 with a 3.29 ERA. His best World Series was in 1974. After saving Game One, he started Game Three and put up a masterful performance. Hunter went 7 1/3 innings, allowed only one earned run, and struck out four in an eventual 3-2 A's win over the Dodgers. Because of his great pitching and the juggernaut teams he played with, he won five World Series championships during his career. Oh, and I haven't even gotten to his best career accomplishment: his perfect game! Hunter started for the A's on May 8, 1968 at home against the Twins. That day, he didn't allow a single runner to reach first base and struck out 11 batters. He was just 22 years old when he pitched the perfecto, making him the youngest pitcher even to throw a perfect game in the World Series era.

Hunter, deservedly so, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987 and has his #27 retired by the A's. I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Baseball as Good Medicine 5/27/16

Hey baseball fans!

Last month, I was asked to speak at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC where the theme was Yankees v. Red Sox and how baseball is good medicine. All the proceeds from the event went to the Made Visible Foundation charity.  There were six speakers (no poems were required) and, guess what?? I actually won!! It was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again.

Here's a link to the video of the event highlights. Check it out.

And tune in again soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, May 27, 2016

DiMaggio's Streak Will Never Fall! 5/27/16

Hey baseball fans!

Jackie Bradley Jr. of the Boston Red Sox just had his hitting streak stopped at 29 games last night against the Rockies. With this streak stopped, let's take a look back at some historic hitting streaks since Joe DiMaggio's record-setting 56 consecutive games with at least one base hit.

Pete Rose came very close to breaking Willie Keeler's NL record for consecutive games with a hit, but only tied the record at 44 games in 1978. Rose had a chance to extend the streak against the Braves on August 1, but he went 0-4 with a strikeout in a 16-4 Atlanta drubbing of Rose's Reds.

Paul Molitor had a decent 39-game hitting streak going in 1987, but it came to an end on August 26, 1987 in interesting fashion. Molitor led off for the Milwaukee Brewers on that day against the Indians at home, but didn't have a hit through nine innings. However, the game remained tied at zero and went into extras. Molitor had a chance to be up in the bottom of the tenth, but pinch hitter Rick Manning hit a walk-off single to give the Brew Crew the win over Cleveland with Molitor warming up on deck. Brewers fans were very angry that Molitor couldn't extend his streak, but the Brewers star's 39-game hitting streak is the longest since Rose's 44-game hitting streak.

There are four players who have had 34-game hitting streaks in their careers, but the only one I want to mention is Dom DiMaggio's. If the last name doesn't sound familiar, Dom was Joe's brother and was an All Star for the Red Sox (ironically). Dom DiMaggio's hitting streak of 34 games could've been elongated, but Joe had to step in to preserve his record. On August 9, 1949, the Yankees and their DiMaggio rolled into Boston to face the Red Sox and their DiMaggio at Fenway Park. Dom had a good chance to continue his streak, but Joe robbed him of a hit with a spectacular catch in center field.

Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak will probably never be broken, but if there is one player who is currently playing in the MLB who has a chance at doing it, I'd say it's Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Who do you think could get a hit in 57 straight games? 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."

Friday, May 20, 2016

A BwM Book Review: "50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball" by Rocco Constantino 5/20/16

Hey baseball fans!

As you can probably tell from my posts, I love lists, which is why I was so excited when I was asked to read and review the book, "50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball" by Rocco Constantino. Constantino is an NCAA athletics administrator at Bloomfield College and baseball historian, but he also does some freelance writing and this book shows how good of a writer and journalist he really is.

"50 Moments That Defined Major League Baseball" is a book that does exactly as advertised: tells the reader 50 moments in baseball history that were so iconic, that they changed the way America's pastime is perceived and played. The book includes all of the regulars, like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron and their respective milestones, but it also includes some pretty obscure names and moments that the average young baseball fan probably wouldn't know, like Dave Stieb's numerous attempts at pitching a perfect game or Mark "The Bird" Fidrych's quirks that made him a national superstar on the mound. But no matter what the topic is, Constantino does a great job at narrating the scene, telling the reader why the moment is so captivating and why it has altered baseball's future. One of my favorite chapters in the book is about Mike Schmidt's 500th home run because Constantino eloquently captures what Schmidt, who is my favorite player in baseball history, meant to the city of Philadelphia, the city in which the Hall of Fame third baseman played his entire career, and how he saved the Phillies' franchise.

One of the ways that Constantino conveys his messages about each moment is via interviews. The book has a lot of them and each contribute to the telling of any of the 50 stories in their own unique ways. Some of the interviews are with a subject's teammate or rival or even an umpire that witnessed the story firsthand. The perspectives that the reader is given while reading the book are both fun to read and interesting. The reader gets a better view on the magnitude of the event, which I enjoyed a lot.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about baseball, wants to relive past memories of the game, or anything in between. The 50 stories are great on their own and collectively they show why America has loved baseball for over a century. Thanks for reading this book review. If you'd like to pick up the book on Amazon, click here. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The 20-Strikeout Performances 5/12/16

Hey baseball fans!

Yesterday, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals struck out 20 Detroit Tigers in a 3-2 Nationals win, tying the record for the most single-game strikeouts in baseball history! But who is he tied with and how many people? Well, in this post, I will explore the answer to that question.

Roger Clemens twice struck out 20 batters in a game. The first year was 1986, the year he made his first All Star Game and won his first of a record seven Cy Young Awards. On April 29, 1986, Clemens started at Fenway Park against the Seattle Mariners, a team that would finish the '86 campaign with the second-worst record in the major: 67-95. Clemens mowed through the Mariners' lineup with ease, striking out each starting player at least once. Seattle left fielder Phil Bradley actually struck out a team-high four times that day. The Red Sox ended up winning the game, 3-1, and Clemens got his fourth win out of the 24 eventual wins he would collect in 1986.

Fast forward to September 18, 1996, where Clemens would again strike out 20 batters, this time against the Detroit Tigers, who, in 1996, posted one of the worst win-loss records in baseball history at 53-109. Once again, Clemens struck out each member of the Tigers' starting lineup at least once, with the strikeout leader being shortstop Travis Fryman with four strikeouts on the night. The win marked Clemens's tenth win on the season and the 78th win for the Sox.

Before Scherzer, the last 20-strikeout performance in a game was by Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs against the Houston Astros on May 6, 1998. Unlike Clemens's 20-strikeout games, Wood struck out every single batter who appeared for the Astros at least once, pinch hitters and all. Actually, had Wood not given up a single to Ricky Gutierrez in the top of the third, he would've pitched a perfect game. The Cubs ended up winning the ballgame (obviously) by a final score of 2-0, as Wood picked up his third win of the young season.

I almost forgot to mention: Randy Johnson collected 20 strikeouts against the Reds on May 8, 2001 while pitching for the Diamondbacks, but he actually let up an earned run and the game went to extras tied at one. The D-Backs eventually won the game, but Johnson didn't get to win. So yes, he did reach the 20-strikeout milestone, but he didn't get the "W."

Some performances, huh? Seriously, congratulations to Max Scherzer for join such a exclusive club! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."