Friday, June 27, 2014

The Duke (or El Duque) of New York, Not the Duke of York 6/27/14

Hey baseball fans!

The 1998 Yankees are considered one of the best teams of all time, winning 114 games and, eventually, the World Series. They had a great offense, but they also had excellent starting pitching. Guys like Andy Pettitte, David Wells, Hideki Irabu, and David Cone propelled the Yankees to a season for the ages. However, besides the pitchers I just mentioned, there was one more guy on that starting rotation that was probably the most exciting to watch: Orlando Hernández.

1998 was Hernández’s first year in the majors, as he signed with the Yankees mid-season after coming over to the United States from Cuba at the age of 32. He went 12-4 with an ERA of 3.13. He placed fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting and from ’98 on, “El Duque” had a very respectable career. But before his American career, he played in Cuba. The Cuban national team, with the help of Orlando, placed first in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, as well as eight other international baseball competitions.

From 1998-2002, 2004-2007 with the Yanks, Mets, Diamondbacks, and White Sox, Hernández won 90 games and had an ERA of 4.13. Known for his interesting pitching motion, “El Duque” won four World Series during his playing days, three with the Yankees from 1998-2000 and one with the White Sox in 2005. In the postseason in 15 series, Orlando went 9-3 with a 2.55 ERA, which would explain why he won four rings. Overall, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez had a very good career and all Yankees fans love him. He was "muy bueno!"

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

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Chicken Man Sure Could Hit 6/22/14

Hey baseball fans!

One of my favorite things about baseball is the quirky superstitions that some players had. Click here to read my post of some of the greatest baseball superstitions of all time. One of my favorites on that list is Wade Boggs' tradition of eating a plate of fried chicken before every game. I decided that today I would analyze the career of the Chicken Man himself, Wade Boggs.

Boggs played from 1982-1999 with the Red Sox, Yankees, and Devil Rays. His uncanny ability to almost always get good wood on the ball was heralded since he was a rookie. The third baseman batted .328 lifetime and led the league in batting average for five years, four of those batting titles being consecutive. He also had seven consecutive seasons with 200+ hits. Of course, he is alsot known for his 3,010 career base hits. In fact, he became the first member of the 3,000th hit club to have his 3,000th hit be a home run (and the second man was none other than Derek Jeter). The twelve-time All Star also won the Silver Slugger Award eight times and the Gold Glove Award twice.

Due to his many amazing accomplishments, Boggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Coolest Gerbil That Wasn't a Pet: Don Zimmer 6/20/14

Hey baseball fans!

Recently, former baseball player, manager, and coach, Don Zimmer, passed away. Considering I have never talked about him, here is just a quick biography on Zimmer.

So, Donald William "The Gerbil" Zimmer (he was called that because he resembled a gerbil) played in the MLB from 1954-1965 with the Brooklyn/LA Dodgers, the second Washington Senators, the Cubs, the Mets, and the Reds, but he also played in Japan in 1966 with the Toei Flyers, the current Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Zimmer made one All Star Game during his playing career with the Cubs in 1961, a year in which he hit 13 home runs and batted .252. He was part of two World Series-winning teams during his playing days: the 1955 and 1959 Dodgers. Fun fact about Zimmer: he was the first man ever to try on a Mets uniform, a feat he accomplished in 1962.

After his days of running the bases and playing the field, Zimmer became a manager and then a coach. He was a manager or a coach for 42 years from 1971 until his tragic death this year. The Gerbil managed/coached the Padres, Red Sox, Cubs, Rangers, Expos, Yankees, Giants, Rockies, and Rays. He helped the Yankees win four World Series (1996, 1998-2000) as a bench coach and was on the Tampa Bay Rays staff when they went to the 2008 World Series. As manager of the Red Sox, he almost made it to the 1978 ALCS, but the Yankees beat the Sox thanks in part to Bucky Dent's three-run homer in the one-game playoff to decide the winner of the AL East. However, he was the manager of the Cubs when they went to the 1989 NLCS, but they sadly lost to the Giants. He went to the playoffs with other teams during his coaching career, including the 1975 Red Sox, 1984 Cubs, and the 1995 Rockies.

Don was a really great coach, player, and manager, but he was also a good motivator and person. He will be deeply missed. Thanks so much for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

An Interview with Washington, D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss 6/15/14

Hey baseball fans!

I have an interview for you today! It's with Washington, D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss! I know what you're thinking: what in the world is a Shadow Senator? Well, the District of Columbia is not a state, but the residents of Washington, D.C. want it to gain Statehood. So, Shadow Senators (of which there are just two in the whole country) help spread the word that D.C. wants full Federal recognition, self-determination and eventually to be recognized as a state. Although they are called Shadow Senators, they do not have a seat in the U.S. Senate, but they may have a seat there someday.

Senator Strauss has been a Democratic Shadow Senator from the District of Columbia since 1997. His alma mater is American University, graduating with a bachelor's degree and a Juris Doctorate. He was born in Brooklyn, NY and is a very big baseball fan, which would explain why I asked him to do this interview. With that, here is the interview with D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss:

Matt: What made you want to run for the position of Shadow Senator in the District of Columbia, and what exactly do you do?
Senator Strauss: I wanted to run for US Senator from D.C. to help my community get Statehood. Now that D.C. is well represented in the National League (meaning the Washington Nationals of the MLB's NL East), it is time we were represented in the National Legislature. As D.C.'s elected Senator, I represent the District of Columbia at proceedings of the United States Senate, as well as advocate for Statehood around the nation.

Matt: Who is your favorite baseball batter/pitcher of all time?
Senator Strauss: That's hard. Babe Ruth? He did both.

Matt: What is your favorite baseball team? What is your favorite moment in that team's history?
Senator Strauss: Well, I like the Nationals of course. Opening Day when they first got to D.C.

Matt: What's your favorite ballpark food?
Senator Strauss: A Hebrew National Dog topped with Ben's Chili Bowl's famous chili.

Matt: Do you ever talk about baseball with your fellow Shadow Senator?
Senator Strauss: Sometimes. Senator Brown (Shadow Senator Michael Brown) is also a fan.

Matt: What do you hope to do after your term as Shadow Senator ends?
Senator Strauss: Watch more baseball games of course.

Matt: When you think of baseball, what immediately pops into your head?
Senator Strauss: Summertime...

Matt: You grew up in Brooklyn after the Dodgers left town. Do you like the Dodgers or any NY team?
Senator Strauss: I am still a big Yankee fan. I grew up watching them, and I proudly wear a real 1996 World Series ring given out by George Steinbrenner himself (see pic below).

Thanks to Shadow Senator Paul Strauss for answering my questions, and the best of luck on getting D.C. admitted as the 51st state. Also, thanks for reading this interview and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Robin Roberts: I'm Talking About the Pitcher, Not the Newscaster 6/14/14

Hey baseball fans!

The Philadelphia Phillies are in last place in the NL East right now, but they don't have too much to sob about: they have a couple of great stars like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. This theme of playing badly, but having great players on the roster has been very recurring for the Phillies since their creation. A great example of a guy who played for really bad Phillies teams was Robin Roberts (the pitcher, not the Robin Roberts on Good Morning America).

Robin Evan Roberts played for the Phillies, Orioles, Astros, and Cubs from 1948-1966. He was the ace of the Phillies staff for 14 of those years and was a fan favorite on the mound in the City of Brotherly Love. Roberts won 286 games during his Hall of Fame career, with a lifetime ERA of 3.41. The seven-time All Star led Philadelphia to its first World Series in 35 years in 1950, after going 20-11 during the regular season. He flourished for the next several years, winning 20 or more games from 1950-1955. He even led the league in wins from 1952-1955. From 1950-1956, Robin led the National League in games started in a season six times, complete games in a season five times, innings pitched in a season five times, and strikeouts in a season twice. No wonder he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. But he never won a Cy Young Award, because that award wasn't given out in the MLB until 1956.

Although the Phillies didn't do too well during the '50s and early '60s, at least they had Robin Roberts on their roster. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Review: Rally Caps, Rain Delays and Racing Sausages by Eric Kabakoff 6/11/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently read the book "Rally Caps, Rain Delays and Racing Sausages: A Baseball Fan's Quest to See the Game from a Seat in Every Ballpark" by Eric Kabakoff and I wanted to share my thoughts with you about it. (Note: I will be referring to the book as RCRD&RCABFQTSTGFASIEB for short.)

So Kabakoff is a huge baseball fan and he decided to go to every single stadium in the MLB and write about his experience. This would seem like it should be a pretty short book, but there is so much awesome detail. Among other things, Kabakoff wanted to show the reader that each team has its own unique fan base and that he got to know those fan bases very well when he went to each ballpark. I loved reading about his adventures at each stadium, as it told the story of not only his life, but also how baseball has evolved over the past few decades.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I've been to several stadiums myself (ten, to be exact) and now I know exactly how the other stadiums are going to be, just by reading this book. RCRD&RCABFQTSTGFASIEB was a great read and it told the story of Major League Baseball in perfect fashion. I would definitely recommend getting it.

Well, I hope you go get this book by Eric Kabakoff because it really is excellent. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Trip to Rogers Centre, Home of the Toronto Blue Jays 6/9/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently went on a vacation with my family to the city of Toronto, Canada. Yes, we went to the CN Tower and Niagara Falls, but my favorite part of the trip was getting to see the Blue Jays play at Rogers Centre against the Cardinals. If you want to see the vlog that I recorded at the stadium, just click here.

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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

An Interview with 1988 World Series Champ, Tim Leary 6/8/14

Hey baseball fans!

I have another interview for you today! It's with former pitcher and member of the 1988 World Series-winning Dodgers, Tim Leary. Leary played for the Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Mariners, Brewers, Rangers, and Reds in a 13-year career from 1981, 1983-1994. He won 78 games and lost 105. Leary's best year was in 1988 with Los Angeles, going 17-11 with an ERA of 2.91. Not only did he win the Silver Slugger Award that year for pitchers but he also won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. In the '88 World Series against the Athletics, Tim appeared in two games as a reliever, pitching six and two-thirds innings with a minuscule ERA of 1.35.

Now that you know a little bit about him, here's the interview with former pitcher Timothy James Leary.

Matt: What sports did you play as a kid?
Tim: I played football, basketball, baseball and golf as a kid.

Matt: Who's your favorite pitcher and hitter in baseball history?
Tim: My favorite pitcher when growing up was Nolan Ryan, favorite hitter was Pete Rose.

Matt: You played in the 1978 Baseball World Cup. What was the biggest highlight during those games?
Tim: The highlight of the '78 World Cup was facing Team Cuba. They were like a Major League All Star Team. We lost 5 to 3 on an error!

Matt: You are a member of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame, as is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (see pic below). Have you ever challenged him to a game of basketball?
Tim: Never faced Abdul Jabbar. Just very proud to be in the Hall of Fame along with him and Jackie Robinson and so many others.

Matt: When you were with the Dodgers and Orel Hershiser (see pic below) pitched 59 consecutive scoreless innings, did players try to predict how long the streak would last? Were there any weird superstitions during the streak?
Tim: No predictions that I knew of. And Brian Holton had many quirky superstitions, but Orel just had routines!

Matt: You won a Silver Slugger Award at the pitching position in 1988. Did you ever ask your manager in future games if you could pinch hit on non-pitching days?
Tim: I got to pinch hit in the bottom of the 11th inning with two outs and the bases loaded as I was the best hitting pitcher on the team. I batted .300 in my 1st 100 major league at bats! But, we had no more regular players left. And in the pro's, you don't "ask" to pinch hit!

Matt: What do you do now in your spare time?
Tim: I coach amateur baseball now. Mostly private pitching lessons. And I do some Dodger alumni functions.

Matt: When Kirk Gibson came up to bat with a runner on against Dennis Eckersley in the bottom of the ninth of Game One of the 1988 World Series, did you think he was going to hit the homer (see pic below) that changed the outcome of the Series?
Tim: I thought he might get a hit or a homer, as I had seen him come through in the clutch many times.

Thanks to Tim for answering my questions. Thanks for reading this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, June 6, 2014

NJBM: Hideo Nomo 6/6/14

Hey baseball fans!

I just put up my latest post in the Kids' Hot Korner section of New Jersey Baseball Magazine. This one is about Hideo Nomo, one of the greatest Japanese ballplayers in MLB history. If you want to read more about the man who changed many careers of Japanese baseball players forever, just click here.

I hope you enjoy the post. Check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

An Interview with Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall 6/3/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently had the chance to interview President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Derrick Hall! Derrick was a really nice guy and I want to show you what answers he gave in response to my questions. But before I get to that, let me tell you a little bit about Derrick.

Derrick graduated college from Arizona State University with a bachelor's degree in broadcasting and journalism and received a master's degree from Ohio State University in sports administration. He has been the Dback's President since 2006 and CEO since 2009.  Hall has helped Arizona to two division titles (2007 and 2011). The 2011 NL West division title was a 29-game turnaround from the previous year, with new manager Kirk Gibson winning NL Manager of the Year and new General Manager Kevin Towers coming in third in the voting for Executive of the Year. Both men were hired by Derrick before the 2011 campaign. Not only has Hall made significant improvements to Chase Field, home of the Dbacks, but he has also influenced the Diamondbacks franchise to be a lot more charitable. Overall, things have been looking up for Arizona since Hall became the President and CEO.

Well, that's just a little bit about Mr. Derrick Hall. Now, let's get to the interview.

Matt: What sports did you play/watch as a kid?
Derrick: I played baseball, basketball and tennis as a kid and watched the Dodgers all the time on TV during the '70s.

Matt: What made you decide to hire Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers as manager and GM prior to the 2011 season?
Derrick: Well, Towers was selected because of his experience in the game of baseball and Kirk had three months as interim manager during the 2010 season and Towers wanted him as manager. So, Kevin informed me of his decision and I hired Kirk.

Matt: What's your favorite ballpark food?
Derrick: I'm a traditionalist, so just peanuts and pretzels.

Matt: Would you consider installing a slide to Chase Field's pool? If so, what would you name it?
Derrick: I would definitely consider it. I would want it to be full of twists and turns like a snake, so maybe  "The Snake Charmer."

Matt: Besides Luis Gonzalez's walk-off single in Game Seven of the 2001 World Series, what is the greatest moment in Diamondbacks' history?
Derrick: I would say Randy Johnson's perfect game in Atlanta in 2004. It was a very good game to watch and I was amazed how he was able to do it.

Matt: If you had the chance, which Hall of Famer would you add the the Arizona Diamondbacks' roster?
Derrick: Probably Sandy Koufax because a team is only as good as its starting pitching.

Well, that's the interview. Thanks to Derrick Hall for answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed this interview and thanks for reading it. Check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."