Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The National League's Babe Ruth 12/30/14

Hey baseball fans!

Unlike a lot of people, I tend to root for many underrated players in baseball history. I'm sure not a lot of people say that their favorite player ever is Mike Schmidt and I'm also sure not a lot of people say that one of their favorite current MLB players is Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Now, although the person I am about to blog about wasn't on my top five most underrated hall of famers in baseball history, he is one of the most underrated ballplayers ever and one of my personal favorites. Ladies and gentleman, Mel Ott!

Melvin Thomas Ott played his entire 22-year career with the New York Giants from 1926-1947 and was one of the most feared sluggers in the National League. Master Melvin, as he was nicknamed, was loved by Giants fans and for good reason. The eleven-time All Star hit 25 or more home runs in 14 seasons and led the league in out-of-the-parkers six times. But how does a five feet nine, 170 pound man hit so many home runs? Simple: he was a lefty pull hitter who, with his unique batting stance (see pic below), took advantage of the right field wall at the Polo Grounds, which was a mere 257 feet from home plate. Ott hit 323 of his then-NL record 511 homers at the Polo Grounds. By the way, he became the first National Leaguer ever to hit 500+ homers and his 511 career dingers currently stand at 24 on the all-time list.

Besides his incredible power, Ott was an excellent hitter and run producer. He drove in 100+ runs in 10 seasons (seven of them consecutive) and finished his career with 1,708 runs batted in. He batted .304 lifetime and collected 2,876 career base hits. However, despite these incredible statistics, the stat that jumps out at me is his 1,859 runs scored, which is 14th on the all-time runs scored list!

Although he only won a single World Series with the Giants, Mel Ott made the most of the 1933 five-game Fall Classic versus the Washington Senators: two home runs, four RBIs, a .389 batting average, and a slugging percentage of .722. No wonder he was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1951 with 87.2% of the vote: his hitting was off the charts!

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Baseball Events that Happened on Christmas 12/25/14

Hey baseball fans!

Happy Holidays! I hope you all enjoy your winter breaks, if you have one. In honor of the holidays, I'm going to talk about some interesting events in baseball history that occurred on December 25th.

Event Number One: Three Hall of Famers' birthdays
Explanation: This is actually a combination of a few events, but on Christmas Day 1856, 1927, and 1958, Hall of Famers Pud Galvin, Nellie Fox, and Rickey Henderson, respectively, were born. It's pretty funny how they all were famous for different things; Galvin was one of the best pitchers of his time and won over 300 games, Fox was one of the best defenders of his era and was the first American League second baseman to receive the award, and Henderson has the all-time record for both career steals and runs scored.

Event Number Two: Former New York Yankee Billy Martin dies in a car crash
Explanation: On December 25, 1989, longtime Yankees player and manager Billy Martin passed away in a car crash at the end of his driveway in the middle of an ice storm. Martin played in the MLB from 1950-1961 and managed in the MLB in several stints from 1969-1988. The All Star won a total of six World Series during his career. His number one is retired by the Yankees and he has a plaque in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium.

Event Number Three: Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui becomes the highest-paid player in Japanese baseball history
Explanation: Hideki Matsui agreed to a one-year, $4.7 million contract with the Yomiuri Giants on Christmas Day of 2001. His $4.7 million contract surpassed Ichiro Suzuki's $4 million agreement with the Orix Blue Wave in 2000 as the biggest contract in Japanese baseball history. In 2002, the only year of his contract with the Giants, Matsui had one of his best years ever, batting .334 with 50 home runs and 107 RBIs, winning the league's MVP. His Giants also went on to win the 2002 Japan Series (the Japanese equivalent of the World Series) in a four-game sweep of the Saitama Seibu Lions. Godzilla signed with the New York Yankees the next season and eventually helped them win a World Series in 2009.

I hope you enjoyed my list of some of baseball's most interesting moments that occurred on Christmas. Thanks for reading this post and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Top Five Favorite Ballplayers Who Never Won an MVP Award 12/20/14

Hey baseball fans!

The player with the most MVP Awards ever is Barry Bonds with seven, but even some of the all-time greats never won an MVP Award. So, today I'm counting down my top five favorite baseball players in baseball history who never won an MVP. Note: I have one rule for this list: they had to have started their careers after 1931 (when the award was first given out), so someone like Cy Young will not be on the list.

Number Five: Gary Carter, Catcher
Years Played: 1974-1992
Why? Carter went to eleven All Star Games and even won a World Series with the Mets. The Kid's best MVP-worthy year was 1980, when he hit 29 homers and drove in 101 RBIs. Who won the 1980 NL MVP? Mike Schmidt.

Number Four: Kirby Puckett
Years Played: 1984-1995
Why? The well-liked, roly poly Puckett won two World Series with the Minnesota Twins and collected over 2,000 hits in just twelve years in the MLB. However, he never put up eye-popping stats, but instead did a little bit of everything, which is probably why he never won the AL MVP.

Number Three: Ralph Kiner
Years Played: 1946-1955
Why? Kiner led the league in homers in seven consecutive seasons and went to six consecutive All Star Games. One problem: the team that he won all those home run titles with, the Pittsburgh Pirates, did not win a single pennant while he was there and, usually, the player who wins the MVP plays on one of the best teams or the best team in baseball.

Number Two: Eddie Murray
Years Played: 1977-1997
Why? Steady Eddie was very consistent throughout his career and is only one of four hitters with 500+ home runs and 3,000+ hits. However, just like Puckett, Murray always did a little bit of everything and never had huge stats. In fact, he never had over 35 homers in a season and never had more than 200 hits in a season. 

Number One: Derek Jeter
Years Played: 1995-2014
Why? One of my favorite hitters to ever play the game, Jeter retired as the player with the sixth-most amount of hits in baseball history. He batted .310 lifetime and also scored 1,923 runs. So why did he never win the MVP Award? I think it's for two reasons. One, on the pennant-winning teams that he played with on the Yankees, it was always a group effort; he wasn't the only one with monstrous stats. Two, contact hitters don't usually win the MVP Award and Jeter hit over 20 home runs in just 3 seasons.

Do you agree with my list? Write your thoughts down in the comments section. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Rally Monkey: IT'S RALLY TIME!!! 12/14/14

Hey baseball fans!

Happy Monkey Day! Look it up, it's real. In honor of this "widely-celebrated" day, I'm going to talk about the rally monkey, the unofficial mascot of the LA Angels.

The rally monkey debuted on June 6, 2000 in Los Angeles' Edison International Field of Anaheim. LA was trailing the San Francisco Giants 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning, when two video board operators, Dean Fraulino and Jaysen Humes, hatched a comical yet helpful idea. On the scoreboard, the two put a clip from the 1994 movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective of a monkey jumping up and down. On the scoreboard, it read "RALLY MONKEY!!!" in huge letters. The Angels proceeded to score two more runs and thus, won the game.

Since then, the rally monkey, a white-haired capuchin monkey who is trained by the Angels organization, has been the staple for all Angels comebacks. In Game Six of the 2002 World Series (coincidentally against the Giants), LA trailed 5-0 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but then, the rally monkey appeared on the scoreboard. Immediately, Edison International Field of Anaheim turned into a frenzy! The stadium was electric, the monkey was bouncing, and the Angels scored six unanswered runs that won them the game (here's the video link). The Angels went on to win the Series the very next day, but they would not have that championship, the franchise's only one, without the rally monkey.

Today, the rally monkey appears on the scoreboard every time the Angels are losing by a relatively close margin at home in the late innings. On the jumbotron, the monkey jumps around to the House of Pain song, "Jump Around," and even sometimes holds up a sign that says "RALLY TIME!"

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to not only buy as many pieces of rally monkey merchandise as you can if you are an Angels fan, but also to check back here on Baseball with Matt very soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

An Interview with Sports Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. James Andrews! 12/10/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently had the chance to speak over the phone with acclaimed sports orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews! The interview is posted on my YouTube channel, but before I give you the link, here is a quick bio on Dr. Andrews.

Andrews grew up in rural Louisiana. He attended Louisiana State University and Tulane Medical School to complete his residency. He is known for his treatments on knee, shoulder and elbow-related injuries, and he has treated many famous athletes in a variety of sports. Dr. Andrews is a founding partner and medical director at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, Florida. He has written numerous books on orthopaedics, his most recent one being "Any Given Monday," a book about sports injuries and how athletes in any sport can prevent them. Previously, Dr. Andrews was part of the Sports Medicine Committee for the United States Olympic Committee and is currently the Tampa Bay Rays' Orthopaedic Medical Director.

Now that you know a little bit about him, please click here to listen to my interview with Dr. James Andrews. You can also learn more about Dr. Andrews here and the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine here. Anyway, thanks for listening to the interview and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Big Unit to Washington State: Smart Move by the Expos? 12/7/14

Hey baseball fans!

In the spirit of Hall of Fame voting season almost arriving, let's talk about yet another lopsided trade that affected both teams involved very much. I'm talking about the Big Unit going from the Expos to the Mariners.

Trade: Randy Johnson, Brian Holman, and Gene Harris of the Expos for Mark Langston and Mike Campbell of the Mariners
When? 1989
Who was Who? Johnson, Holman, and Harris were all rookie or sophomore pitchers for Montreal who didn't have much experience. Mark Langston had just come off a 15-11 pitching season for Seattle in 1988 and Mike Campbell was a young pitcher in his third year in the league who had just come off a 6-10 1988 season for the Mariners.
Immediate Impact: The pitchers traded to Seattle went a combined 16-23 and the Mariners won just 73 games, finishing the 1989 season 26 games back of the first place Athletics in the AL West. The Expos, meanwhile finished at a respectable 81-81 record. Campbell didn't pitch a single game for them, but Langston strung together a decent 12-9 record with a 2.39 ERA.
What Happened Next? Brain Holman, Gene Harris, and Mike Campbell were all retired by 1996. Mark Langston continued pitching in the MLB until 1999. He finished his career with a record of 179-158, but Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson would go on to have one of the best careers for a lefty pitcher in baseball history. The five-time Cy Young Award winner won 303 games with an ERA of 3.29 in his 22-year career. He won the 2001 World Series co-MVP (along with Curt Schilling) with the Diamondbacks and struck out 4,875 batters, second on the all-time list for career strikeouts.
Who Won? The Mariners, but only because of Johnson.

The Winners:

Would you have gone through with this trade if you knew how good Randy Johnson was going to be? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Andersen-Bagwell Trade: Who Got the Best Deal? 12/4/14

Hey baseball fans!

Big moves are being made all across baseball! Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are heading to Boston, while the Jays just signed Russell Martin and traded for Josh Donaldson. However, I'm not going to talk about those transactions. Instead, let's discuss one of the the most lopsided trades in baseball history.

Trade: Jeff Bagwell of the Red Sox for Larry Andersen of the Astros
When? 1990
What Happened? Andersen was a decent right-handed veteran relief pitcher for the Houston Astros. Bagwell was a star on the rise in Boston who was drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 1989 draft. The Red Sox needed a relief pitcher down the stretch, so they got Larry in exchange for Jeff.
Immediate Impact: Andersen would go on to pitch for the Sox for one month down the stretch in 1990, recording a 1.35 ERA in 15 games. The Sox won the AL East on the last day of the season, but got swept in the ALCS by the Athletics. Meanwhile, Bagwell was playing in the minors and didn't move up into the Major Leagues until 1991.
What Happened Next: Andersen actually left the Red Sox after the 1990 season due to free agency and was signed by the Padres. He played two years in San Diego, then two more years with the Phillies before retiring in 1994. He actually recorded some nice stats in his last five years of his career with the Red Sox, Padres, and Phils, but it was nothing compared to what Jeff Bagwell did for the Astros. He hit over 400 home runs and drove in 1,529 RBIs in his should-be Hall of Fame career from 1991 to 2005. The 1994 MVP batted .297 lifetime and the first baseman's number five has been retired by the Astros organization.
Who Won? The Astros, hands down.

The Winner 

I  hope you liked this new kind of post. Thanks for reading it. Do you agree that the Astros came up on top? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."