Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkey Stearnes Should Not Be Eaten on Thanksgiving 11/28/13

Hey baseball fans!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have an amazing holiday. Anyway, I was looking at the nicknames for Hall of Famers and I found that one HoFer has the nickname (wouldn't you know it): Turkey. So, without further ado, here is a little bit about Norman Thomas "Turkey" Stearnes!

Norman acquired his unusual nickname at a young age because of his awkward running style, but still had a productive career that eventually ended with his Hall of Fame induction in 2000 via the Veterans Committee. He played with an abundance of Negro League teams from 1923-1940, but he most notably played for the Detroit Stars. Stearnes was one of the best sluggers in the Negro Leagues and had a lifetime .345 batting average. He led the Negro National League in homers six times and was said to have hit 183 career round-trippers. The five-time Negro League All Star was certainly one of the best and definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Considering it is Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of my viewers for reading my stuff over the past year and a half. Without all of you, I would definitely not be the same person. 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."

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Allegorical Name to Remember 11/25/13

Hey baseball fans!

There are only 24 pitchers with at least 300 career wins, but there are only two who have won exactly 300. However, I will not be talking about Lefty Grove. Instead, I will be talking about the other exactly 300-game winner: Early Wynn!

Just like his name states (and it is the name that was given to him by his parents), Early Wynn won a lot in the early days of baseball, going 300-244 from 1939-1963 with the Senators, White Sox, and Indians. Early has the record for most seasons played as an American League pitcher with 23. He was known to be very competitive on the mound and treated every game he played as a war. In his career, the belligerent Wynn had five 20-win seasons and 49 career shutouts, 21st on the all-time list. The seven-time All Star won the 1959 Cy Young Award at the age of 39, helping the White Sox win the AL pennant for their first World Series appearance since the Black Sox Scandal. Although the White Sox lost that Series to LA, Wynn was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

Did you know that Early Wynn was also a switch hitter at the plate and is one of the only pitchers ever to have hit a grand slam? That just proves that Wynn was one of the greats. 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.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pitchers Who Can Hit? WHAAAAAAATTTTTT? 11/20/13

Hey baseball fans!

Most pitchers in baseball history are meant for pitching (obviously). However, before the creation of the designated hitter rule in 1973, every single team in the MLB had to have a pitcher somewhere in the lineup. Even though every American League team has to have a DH in the lineup today, there are still pitchers who are in the lineups of National League teams as well as AL teams playing interleague games in NL ballparks. The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I want to share with you that some pitchers were actually able to hit. With that, let me tell you a couple of names and their stats.

Carlos Zambrano can really swing the bat, which isn't always a good thing, especially during his outbursts. However, he usually uses his skill for good. In his career, he has batted .242 with 22 home runs, the most home runs in a career by an active pitcher. When Yankee fans hear the name Don Larsen, it is music to their ears because of his perfect game in Game Five of the '56 Series, but he also could swing the bat, hitting .242 lifetime with 14 homers. In 1958, he hit four homers and 13 RBIs with a .306 batting average. 208-game winner Carl Mays hit a career best .343 in 1921 with the Yankees with 22 RBIs.

Now, don't think Hall of Fame pitchers couldn't also swing the bat. Red Ruffing leads all pitchers in hitting WAR with 13.7 with a whopping 36 career homers. Bob Gibson hit 24 career homers in St. Louis along with 144 RBIs. However Early Wynn did a little bit better when it came to RBIs, driving in 173 runs. Don Newcombe batted .271 lifetime with 238 hits, while Bob Lemon had 274 career hits. Warren Spahn hit 35 career dingers and Walter Johnson batted .433 in 107 plate appearances at the age of 37 in 1925!! It is the best single-season batting average for anyone with at least 107 plate appearances in a season.

So, as you can see, most pitchers back in the day weren't that bad at hitting. It's too bad that they were better known for their work on the mound than at the plate. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz".

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Interview with Shoeless Joe Jackson (Sort of) 11/17/13

Hey baseball fans!

I'm back with another interview! This time, it is with Shoeless Joe Jackson! I know what you are thinking: "How could you have gotten in touch with a ballplayer who died in 1951?" Well, my answer to you all is this: just like my Babe Ruth interview, a few days ago I sent in questions to Peter Alter, a historian at the Chicago History Museum in Chicago, Illinois. They're experts on Shoeless Joe. I asked him if he could answer my interview questions the way that Shoeless Joe would answer them if he were alive today using all his expressions and language, and the results couldn't have been better! But before we get to the interview with one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, let me tell you a little bit about him first.

Shoeless Joe Jackson played for the Philadelphia A's, Cleveland Naps and Chicago White Sox during his 13-year career from 1908-1920. Jackson got his nickname, Shoeless Joe, during an exhibition game in Greenville, South Carolina. Jackson had blisters on his feet because of new cleats and had to take them off when he played. During the game, a fan saw Jackson running to third with just his socks on his feet. The heckler shouted "You shoeless son of a gun, you!" From that day onward, the nickname Shoeless Joe stuck to him like glue and he was never able to live it down.

Shoeless Joe spent '08 and '09 with Connie Mack and the A's, but didn't play very much in the majors. He joined the Cleveland Naps at the end of the 1910 season after playing in the minors for most of the 1910 campaign. In 1911, his first full season, the left fielder hit .408, the sixth-highest single-season average since 1901. His average that year also set the record for batting average in a single season by a rookie. He was so good that year that the great Babe Ruth was said to have tried to copy Joe's hitting style. During the 1915 season, Jackson went to Chicago, where he consistently batted very well for the team and even helped bring them to multiple World Series, first in 1917, a win over the Giants, and then in 1919, where they faced the Reds. In the 1919 Series, he batted .375 with a record-tying 12 hits, but the Chi Sox lost the Series, five games to three.

Sadly, in 1920, Jackson and seven other players were accused of "throwing" the 1919 World Series for money. Although Jackson regretted accepting the $5,000, he was banned by Major League Baseball at the order of Commissioner Landis. He couldn't play again and he could never be elected into the Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, he is still one of the greatest players of all time, with the third highest career batting average at .356. In fact, in 1999, Jackson was a finalist for the All-Century Team and was voted the 12th best outfielder in baseball history by the fans.

Now that you know a little bit about Joe, let's get to the questions.

Matt: You batted .408 in 1911. If you had those same skills playing today, what do you think your batting average would be?
Shoeless Joe: I would hope my average would stay the same, but it’s hard to say. I hear they change the ball a lot now durin’ the game. In my day, we used the same ball ‘til the thing fell apart and it was hard to hit. Hurlers these days are pretty good too, they really can do all kinds of things.

Matt: In your opinion, what's more important: playing small ball or swinging for the fences?
Shoeless Joe: For me it's doin’ whatever the team needs to win. If we need a sacrifice, I’d give it to ‘em, same thing for a big hit. Though if my stats tell you anythin’ I’m a big fan of the long ball, helped make me some extra money when I played in the mill leagues.

Matt: Why was it so hard for you to stay in the majors with Connie Mack and the A's (see pic below)?
Shoeless Joe: Philadelphia was a big city; I got a bit nervous comin’ up there from my rural hometown in Greenville. It affected my playin’ a bit so I ended up movin’ to the minors for a while in New Orleans.

Matt: Did you like the nickname "Shoeless Joe" or did you find it insulting?
Shoeless Joe: I was never a big fan of the name. I felt like people were callin’ me dumb. It stuck though, and there wasn’t much I could do about it.

Matt: Who was the toughest pitcher you ever faced? If you played today, who would you like to hit against?
Shoeless Joe: Hod Eller is a pitcher that comes to mind, went against him in the ’19 Series. I may have hit a home run off of him, but it didn’t matter, he got two wins in the Series. Tough to say who I would want to hit against today, though I think it would be fun to go against these current Sox to see if they are as good as my old teammates.

Matt: Can you tell us your side of the story relating to the 1919 Black Sox scandal?
Shoeless Joe: I never said I would help with the fix, but I did take money cause they said they were gonna do it with or without me. My wife Katie got real upset with me about that. I played to win all those games though, and I regret acceptin’ that five grand.

Matt: Why did Sox owner Charles Comiskey (see pic below) refuse to meet with you before the 1919 Series when you tried to tell him about the fix?
Shoeless Joe: I was goin’ to see him a day or two before the Series started. By then there were actually a lot of rumors goin’ ‘round. I was goin’ to ask him to let me sit, but he didn’t want that, not if there was a chance of winnin’. So he wouldn’t hear me out at all.

Matt: If you had to do it all over again, how would you have handled the Black Sox scandal differently  (see newspaper headline below)?
Shoeless Joe: Maybe I would have gone to the boss a lot sooner I think, maybe would have tried to stop them. Hard to say really, I didn’t really have many choices in front of me.

Matt: Can you tell me something that most people don't know about you?
Shoeless Joe: I actually acted in vaudeville for a while. It was a lot of fun, and I wanted to keep doin’ that instead of playin’ ball. My wife threatened me with a divorce though so I went back to baseball instead.

Matt: Were you buddies with any players who remained close with you after the Black Sox scandal?
Shoeless Joe: I played ball with some of the guys in outlaw leagues for a bit, but I was never particularly close with anyone of ‘em. I just wanted to move on from the scandal mostly.

Matt: What should MLB be doing about getting fans more interested in baseball history?
Shoeless Joe: Best thing they could do is talk about it more. You don’t see much history talk these days. This is a great sport with a great past, more folks should get to hear it.

Well, that's the interview. A special thanks to Peter Alter of the Chicago History Museum for answering my questions as if he were the great Joe Jackson. Anyway, thanks for reading this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Virtual World of Duke Snider III Part 2 11/15/13

Hey baseball fans!

Today is a special day in Baseball with Matt's history: post number 200! So in honor of the amazing occasion, I decided to blog about Duke Snider III, my virtual and fictional player that I control in MLB 13 The Show for the Play Station 3. By the way, all the stats in this post are the true stats generated by me for Duke while playing the game. When I get to the end of the post, you will see why I chose this topic to blog about for post number 200.

The last time I talked about Snider III, Duke had just won the World Series MVP for the Boston Red Sox, who beat the Brew Crew in the 2021 World Series. In 2022, Duke hits .359 with 46 homers and 160 RBIs. The Sox made the playoffs, but lost in the Wild Card Round to the Astros. I know it seems weird but the Astros became really good in Duke's later years in the MLB. In 2023, Duke has one of his greatest years in terms of home runs, hitting a then career high 60, while also leading the league in slugging percentage. Along with those stats, Duke won the MVP, Hank Aaron Award, Silver Slugger Award, and Gold Glove Award, but the Sox missed the playoffs. Spoiler alert: Boston becomes very bad after this season (much to the chagrin of their owner at the time, renowned former lawyer Jack Rigney).

2024 was all the same for Duke, slapping out a new career high 62 dingers, while winning the same awards as he did the year prior. In other words, Duke basically becomes the modern-day Ernie Banks: great player, but his team did not do very well in general. When 2025 rolls around, Snider is fed up with the Sox having been bad for so long. Thankfully, it's the last year of his contract. Nonetheless, Snider has a typical season for him, 60 homers, a .376 batting average, 243 hits, and 190 RBIs, as well as all of the awards from the year 2023. However, like I mentioned in my spoiler alert, the Sox do not do well. So, Snider does not re-sign with them. Instead, he goes to the San Diego Padres, who won the 2025 World Series. With a new team, Snider basically has the best season ever for any hitter in baseball history: a .332 batting average, 161 runs scored, 221 hits, 12 triples, 59 homers, 14 stolen bases, an on-base percentage of .405, and a record 200 RBIs (see what I did there?). The Padres, meanwhile, win the NL Wild Card with 95 wins and go on to the World Series to face none other than.... the Boston Red Sox. Really? Anyway, the Padres sweep them en route to their second straight title. Snider is awarded the MVP, Hank Aaron Award, and the Silver Slugger Award, but his contract is up with the Pads. So, Snider sadly retires, leaving the Padres and the rest of baseball.

After 13 years in the MLB, Snider retires at age 38 and posts astronomical numbers for his career: a .337 career batting average, 2,356 hits, 644 home runs (sixth all time), 1,905 RBIs (tenth all time), .402 career OBP (third all time to Babe Ruth and Ted Williams), and a slugging percentage of .686 (second all time to the Babe). He was also tied with Joe DiMaggio on the all time games played list. Anyway, Snider III gets elected into the Hall of Fame and baseball historians could only wonder: what if he played longer? Nonetheless, he is still considered one of the greatest players of all time.

Well, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed post number 200 and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

ML"what would"B: What if Sandy Koufax Was Never Plagued With Arthritis? 11/12/13

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 about what would have happened if Sandy Koufax never had arthritis. If you want to know the answer, just click here.

I hope you enjoy my alternate universe of baseball. Thanks for reading about it and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Hitting Version of Sandy Koufax 11/11/13

Hey baseball fans!

There were many stars in baseball in the 1940s and '50s that came out of the Giants, Cardinals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers. But this post is about a very underrated Hall of Famer who played mainly on the Pirates. He had a very short career, but is considered one of the best to have ever played the game: Ralph Kiner!

Kiner only played 10 years in the MLB because of back issues, but those years with the Pirates, Cubs, and Indians were some of the most productive years this game has ever seen. The left fielder and third baseman hit 369 home runs during his career and led the NL in homers in his first seven seasons. Kiner also averaged more than 100 RBIs a season, finishing his career with 1,015 RBIs. The six-time All Star led the NL in slugging percentage three times, but he could also hit for average. A career .279 hitter, Ralph collected 1,451 career hits. Had he played another 10 years, he might have been the home run king, not Hank Aaron. In fact, Kiner could be compared to Sandy Koufax; both players had short and unbelievable careers cut short by physical ailments (Kiner had a bad back and Koufax had arthritis). Besides being compared with one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Ralph married tennis star Nancy Chaffee, the first unseeded woman ever to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open. Their kids must have been unbelievable athletes!

Well, as you can clearly see, Ralph clearly belongs in the Hall, which is where his plaque has resided since 1975. It's sad that he only played 10 years, but those 10 years were absolutely amazing. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Inductees 11/6/13

Hey baseball fans!

I recently realized that I never did a post about the 2013 National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum inductees. Now these inductees are not people who you probably recognize. Why? Well, for the first time since 1996, no one got into the Hall of Fame via the Baseball Writers' Association of America. However, three people were elected in via the Veterans' Committee, which is the committee that elects people into the HoF that never got in via the BBWAA. But the VC only elects people who they think are worthy to get into Cooperstown. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the 2013 Hall of Fame inductees.

Jacob Ruppert
Owner (and Congressman) Jacob Ruppert turned the New York Yankees from a laughingstock into the greatest franchise in baseball history. Over a few short years, he assembled an excellent group of people, including manager Miller Huggins and slugger Babe Ruth. The Bronx Bombers won 10 pennants and the first seven World Series championships in the Yankees' history during Ruppert’s tenure, which ended abruptly due to his death in 1939.

Deacon White
James Laurie White was one of the top hitters in the 1870s. He collected 2,067 hits in just 1,560 games and ended his career with a .312 lifetime batting average. He was considered one of the greatest catchers in the bare-handed era and even had a successful change to third base. In two decades of playing with nine franchises,  Deacon contributed to six teams that won it all.

Hank O'Day
The highly-heralded umpire was almost unable to be argued with, which was probably why he was so respected. He became a full time National League umpire in 1897 and had the privilege of being the umpire behind the plate in the first ever World Series in 1903. He umpired in nine more Fall Classics and was never afraid of making a bad call against the home team at their home stadium.

Well, although the names don't seem that prominent, they aren't in the Hall of Fame for nothing. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Mad Dash 11/3/13

Hey baseball fans!

As most of you probably know, the Boston Red Sox just won the World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games. However, did you know that the Sox and Cards have squared off before in the World Series? Out of the 13 times the Sox have been to the Fall Classic, four of those times have been against St. Louis. However, for this post, I want to focus on the first encounter between these two teams in 1946, but, to be more specific, I want to focus on a play in the eighth inning of Game Seven of the '46 Fall Classic: Enos Slaughter's Mad Dash.

The 1946 Series was all tied up at three games apiece entering Game Seven. Entering the bottom of the eighth, the score was all tied at three in St. Louis' Sportman's Park. Sox center fielder Dom DiMaggio tore a hamstring after driving in two runs in the top of the eighth and was replaced by Leon Culberson in center. The inning started with a single by future Cardinals Hall of Fame right fielder Enos "Country" Slaughter. With a 2-1 count on outfielder Harry Walker, the Cards called for a hit and run. Slaughter ran on the pitch and Walker laced a single into (where else) center field. Culberson fielded the ball and threw to shortstop Johnny Pesky. For some reason, when he received the ball, Pesky froze for a moment, not realizing that Slaughter was racing home because he ignored the sign of third base coach Mike Gonz├ílez to stop at third. Because of a weak and rushed throw by Pesky, Slaughter scored, making the score 4-3 Cardinals. St. Louis would go on to win the championship, their sixth Fall Classic victory.

But the question remains: why did Pesky pause before he threw the ball? Some claim that Pesky checked Walker at first base instead of firing home right away, while others argue that Pesky was so flabbergasted to see Slaughter going around third towards home that he had a mental lapse, which caused a delayed throw. Whatever the reason, the Sox kept the Curse of the Bambino alive, while all of Missouri rejoiced because of Enos "dashing madly" around the bases.

Well,  as you can see, the Sox and Cards have a very heated rivalry in the Fall Classic. Hopefully, the teams keep on going back to the World Series, therefore providing an exciting Series for all of the baseball fans across the globe. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a couple of days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."