Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Phillies Only Bright Spot in the 1930s 2/26/14

Hey baseball fans!

Fun fact: all of the players who won the batting Triple Crown in the 20th century have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, before I knew this fun fact, there was one person who won the Triple Crown who I had never heard of. I researched this player and it turns out that he had a pretty good career and is in fact in Cooperstown. So today, I want to tell you all a little bit about this "mystery player". Without further delay, here's Chuck Klein!

Chuck was a powerful hitter who played from 1928-1944 with the Phillies, Cubs, and Pirates. He led the National League in homers four times, in hits twice, and in RBIs twice. Klein batted .320 during his career and smacked out 300 homers on the dot. The 1980 inductee into the Hall was also an excellent right fielder. With these skills, he was able to represent the NL out in right field in the first two All Star Games (1933 and 1934). Like I mentioned previously, Chuck won the Triple Crown. He won it in 1933, when he batted .368, hit out 28 dingers, and drove in 120 runs. The 1932 NL MVP became the first NL ballplayer to hit out four home runs in a game in the 1900s on July 10, 1936 while playing for the Phillies against the Pirates at Pittsburgh.

Chuck may not have been the most prominent retired right fielder, but he sure did have an excellent career, which would explain why he is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Best Tigers Team There Was 2/22/14

Hey baseball fans!

Yesterday, it was my birthday! In honor of my birthday last year, I blogged about Alan Trammell, the only player born on my birthday who I think should be in the Hall of Fame. In honor of my birthday this year, I'm going to talk about the team that Trammell played for that won the 1984 World Series.

The 1984 Detroit Tigers won an astounding 104 games during the season and won the AL East by a whopping 15 games over the second place Toronto Blue Jays. The team had some amazing players. Pitcher Jack Morris, the pitcher with the most wins in the 1980s, went 19-11 with a 3.60 ERA. Detroit right fielder Kirk Gibson hit 27 homers and also stole 29 bases. My birthday buddy, Trammell, batted .314, 25 points higher than the next Tiger. However, perhaps the best player on the team was reliever Willie Hernandez. The Cy Young Award winner appeared in 80 games, saved 31 of them, finished 68 of them, and had an ERA of 1.92. All of the players I just listed were All Stars (except for Gibson) in 1984, as well as catcher Lance Parrish, who led the team in home runs and RBIs, second baseman Lou Whitaker, who had 206 hits, and center fielder Chet Lemon, who was known as one of the best defenders of the time. They were also managed by Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson. No wonder they were so good.

The 1984 American League Championship Series was a sweep, with the Tigers winning all three games over the Kansas City Royals. The World Series would basically be as anti-climatic, but with and extra kick of "sorry Padres" at the end. Entering the bottom of the eighth of Game Five at Tigers Stadium, Detroit had a one run lead over the San Diego Padres, leading the Fall Classic 3-1. With two men on and one out, Dick Williams elected to walk Kirk Gibson. Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage said otherwise. Bad move, Richard. Gibson proceeded to hit a three-run home run which essentially clinched the Series (see his reaction below). Hernandez finished off the Pads in the ninth and the Tigers won their fourth World Series in franchise history.

The best part about the 1984 World Series? My birthday buddy won World Series MVP, hitting two homers in the Series and driving in six runs! Anyway, thanks for reading this post. Let me know in the comments if you have a Hall of Fame birthday buddy or someone born on your birthday that you think should be in Cooperstown. I hope you enjoyed this post and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

2014 MLB Predictions 2/19/14

Hey baseball fans!

Officially, all 30 teams in the MLB have pitchers and catchers in either Florida or Arizona for Spring Training. This can only mean one thing: the 2014 MLB season is just around the corner! Because of this, I made a video that I posted on my YouTube channel of me giving five of my predictions for the upcoming baseball campaign. If you want to check it out, just click here.

Thanks for watching the video. If you enjoyed it, like the video, share it, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Check back here on Baseball with Matt in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

ML"what would"B: Colin, Tom, Peyton, and Russell in the MLB? Part Two 2/16/14

Hey baseball fans!

I just put up another ML"what would"B post on More Than a Fan. In every ML"what would"B alternative history post, I discuss what would have happened if a famous event in baseball history had gone differently than it did in reality. For my latest post, I wrote the second part of my two-part series on what would have happened if all four NFL QBs in this year's championship games went the way of America's pastime instead of America's game. If you want to know the answer, just click here.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An Interview about the Cooperstown Concert with Music Producer Loren Harriet 2/11/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently had the honor of interviewing Loren Harriet, a producer of music and concerts for over two decades. Harriet has produced music for guys like former Yankee star Bernie Williams, current baseball pitcher Bronson Arroyo, horror writer Stephen King, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants, Tom Kenny, and so many more people. He also has served as an executive producer and a marketing consultant for some music projects. The reason I interviewed him was because he is producing the 75th Anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Concert!

As it states in the concert title, the Hall is coming up on its 75th anniversary. So, Loren and others have organized a huge concert for August 2, 2014 that commemorates the Hall's 75 years in Cooperstown. The concert will include some of music's top singers, as well as celebrities from all kinds of media, including baseball. I personally think that it will be an awesome show. If you are interested in going, check out the Cooperstown Concert website by clicking here. I'll be in attendance, so I hope to see you there.

And now, without further delay, here is the interview with music and concert producer Loren Harriet!

Matt: What is your favorite baseball-related song?
Loren: Good question. It's hard to choose but I would say John Fogerty's Centerfield.

Matt: How did you get involved with the Cooperstown Concert?
Loren: I received a phone call from Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson when I was working with the Red Sox and he wanted to see if I wanted to do something involving the Hall's 75th anniversary. I suggested to have the concert and he loved the idea so I got involved right away.

Matt: What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
Loren: I grew up in New England and went to Boston University so I was a Red Sox fan.

Matt: Who is your favorite Hall of Fame hitter and pitcher?
Loren: My favorite pitcher is probably Sandy Koufax and my favorite hitter was Ted Williams because my dad was a Ted Williams fan. I also like Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson because they were such great people.

Matt: If you could get any performer in world history to perform at the concert, who would it be and why?
Loren: I think Jimi Hendrix would be a good fit. He was a military veteran and a baseball fan and I think he would be awesome at the concert. Also, the Cooperstown Concert isn't that far from Woodstock.

Well, that's the interview. Thanks to producer Loren Harriet for taking the time to answer my questions. Hope to see you all at the Cooperstown Concert. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Man Who Could Lead a Team and an Army 2/8/14

Hey baseball fans!

A couple of days ago, it was Babe Ruth's birthday! However, considering I've blogged about him a number of times, today I will be telling you about one of his fellow Hall of Fame teammates. It's not Lou Gehrig or Tony Lazzeri. It's the Kentucky Colonel, Earle Combs!

The Pebworth, Kentucky native played with just the Yankees in his career from 1924-1935 and helped them win three of their first four World Series championships. The man who batted .325 lifetime was very excellent in the outfield, leading the AL in putouts twice. Combs was also a speedster and led the American League in triples three times. Coincidentally, his best year was in 1927, when the Murderers' Row Yankees demolished the AL en route to a World Series crown. In that year, Earle hit .356 with 231 hits and 23 triples. He averaged almost 100 runs scored a season and also hit over .300 in ten seasons. Although injuries cut his career short, the Kentucky Colonel was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1970 via the Veterans Committee.

Even though he's one of the lesser known Hall of Famers who played for the Yankees, Earle Combs proved that his career is definitely not negligible. Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Frigid Nickname Doesn't Necessarily Equal "Cool" Results 2/5/14

Hey baseball fans!

Considering I am living in the middle of a snow-covered New Jersey, and today is a snow day, I want to talk about a very famous ballplayer in baseball history who had the nickname "Snow".

Fred "Snow" Snodgrass is not the best player of his time, but he is certainly remembered by all Giants fans. His career spanned from 1908-1916 with the New York Giants and Boston Braves. He hit for a .275 lifetime batting average with 852 hits. His one good year came in 1910, when he hit .321 with 127 hits. However, since the 1912 World Series, a lot of baseball fans know who he was. Here's why:

It was the bottom of the tenth at Fenway Park in Game Eight ( it was a nine-game Series back then) of the 1912 World Series: Giants vs. Red Sox. With the Giants up 2-1 in the game, pinch-hitter Clyde Engle leads off the frame for Boston with an easy fly ball to Snodgrass in centerfield. However, despite how easy it would have been for Snodgrass to catch the ball, Fred dropped it instead! (Maybe he dropped the ball because it looked like a snowball? Now I might understand his nickname!) This allowed Engle to reach second and eventually score later in the inning. With the game tied 2-2, the Red Sox ended the Series when Larry Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to right, which allowed Steve Yerkes to score from third. The Giants lost their second consecutive World Series, all because of a muffed fly ball by Snow.

Although Snodgrass's error is one of the most infamous errors in baseball history, everybody makes mistakes, including ballplayers. "Snodgrass's Muff" (as it came to be called) is just one of the many examples of how we are all just human. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

P. S. Happy 80th birthday today to Hank Aaron!

Monday, February 3, 2014

An Interview with the Commissioner of the Israel Football League 2/3/14

Hey baseball fans!

I have an interesting interview for you today that I just couldn't resist doing. It is with the Commissioner of the Israel Football League, Betzalel Friedman! I know what some of you are thinking: they have American football in Israel? The answer is yes. So, before I get to the interview with the IFL's commish, let me tell you a little bit about Mr. Friedman and the Israel Football League.

Betzalel Friedman, who actually grew up in Indiana, has been involved with the IFL since 2009 when he played wide receiver for the Judean Rebels. He was head coach for the next two seasons and won the Coach of the Year Award in 2010-2011. He also serves as an infantry company commander in the Israeli army reserves, after serving as a platoon commander and operations officer in the paratroopers.

The IFL (see logo below) was founded in 2005 by Israelis who wished to play American tackle football. The  league officially started in 2007 and the first Israel Bowl was held in 2008 at Kraft Stadium in Israel's capital, Jerusalem, where the Jerusalem Lions beat the Haifa Underdogs. The reason that the stadium in Jerusalem is called Kraft Stadium is because the the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, sponsors the Israel Football League, along with his family. Today, there are eleven teams in the IFL (including some cool-named teams like the Black Swarm, the Hammers and the Northern Stars), compared to the original four in '07. American football in Israel is gaining popularity and in the next ten years, the IFL hopes to be as popular as soccer and basketball.  Starting in 2016, the best Israeli players and some Americans will even start competing in the European Federation of American Football, where 31 different countries compete!!

So now that you know a bit about the Israel Football League, here is the interview with the Commissioner of the IFL: Betzalel Friedman.

Matt: What sports did you play/watch as a kid?
Betzalel: I played soccer in a league, I took Tae-Kwon-Do for three years and played a lot of pickup basketball and touch football.

Matt: Which player of the IFL would be best at playing baseball?
Betzalel: I'm not so sure, as they're quite different sports.

Matt: When you were a kid, who was your favorite football player?
Betzalel: I grew up as a Colts fan, so it was Jim Harbaugh and then Peyton Manning.

Matt: Which current baseball player would be best at playing in the IFL and for which team?
Betzalel: Maybe Ian Kinsler. He has the Jewish connection and, given his defensive prowess, speed and power, he could make a great safety or linebacker. A lot of teams could use a hard-hitter like him.

Matt: How has football grown in Israel since the IFL's creation?
Betzalel: It's grow immensely. We have over 600 men and boys playing tackle football and another 1,200 or so men, women and children playing flag football. So that's almost 2K in a country with 8M residents!

Matt: What is the most popular NFL team in Israel?
Betzalel: Football wouldn't have come to Israel without Bob Kraft, so we have Patriot fans. We have a lot of New Yorkers so we get Giants and Jets fans. And a lot of Israelis just pick a team based on the first game that they ever saw or a team that their own team shares a name or colors with, such as the Ravens.

Well, that's the interview. Thanks to Commissioner Betzalel Friedman for taking the time to answer my questions. Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."