Friday, January 31, 2014

My Opinion On Pete Rose 1/31/14

Hey baseball fans!

Today I want to talk about a very controversial subject in baseball history: Pete Rose. Rose is the all-time career leader in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, and most notably, hits. However, he is banned from the Hall of Fame. Why?

Well in baseball, it is illegal to gamble on games. During his career, Charlie Hustle bet on his teams to win ballgames. He was officially banned by the BBWAA in 1991 and, as of now, is not allowed to be elected into the Hall. However, this decision has been argued over between many baseball fans and many of them think that he should be allowed in Cooperstown. I, however, am on the fence in agreeing with the BBWAA's decision and here's why.

Yes, it is illegal in baseball to bet on games, but it's not like he was betting against his team. At least he didn't throw the games he played in like the Black Sox in 1919. However, because he gambled for his team to win, one can say that he was trying hard to win games for the money, not for the love of baseball. A true Hall of Famer plays for the love of America's pastime. In Rose's case, it seems he was playing for the money rather than because he loved managing and running the basepaths and sliding headfirst into bases.

Another very important thing to note about Charlie Hustle is the team he played/managed for when he placed the bets. When he bet on games as player/manager of the Reds from 1985-1987, his teams were expected to do well and they finished in second place in all three years, with him wagering at least $2,000-$10,000 a day. He probably won more money than he lost because of how well his squads did. This brings up the question of whether or not Pete would have been banned if he had managed a bad team, like the Indians (no offense to Clevelanders) and bet on them to win? The answer to most members of the BBWAA is still probably a resounding yes, but think about this for a second: what if because he managed a team not expected to win, he managed extra hard to make sure they won (so he wouldn't lose money on the bets)? Would he still be banned for losing money? In my opinion, I think he still would have been banned, because he broke an MLB rule. Even if you are one of the most famous people in baseball, no rules will be bent in your favor.

So what do you think? Should Pete Rose stay banned from the Hall of Fame up in Cooperstown? What would have happened if he had managed a bad team? Leave your answers to any of the questions I asked in this post in the comment section below. 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."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

An Interview with the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum 1/26/14

Hey baseball fans!

I have an interview for you today! This interview is with the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri: Bob Kendrick! Kendrick has been involved with the Museum since 1993 and was officially named President in April 2011. Before we get to the interview, let me tell you a little bit about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (which, by the way, I visited a few years ago, and which I thought was awesome).

The NLBM was founded in 1990 by several former Negro League ballplayers, including Buck O'Neil, who is said to be the face of the Museum. It has been in the same location since 1997, a 10,000 square foot building that is five times the size of its previous location. The Museum shares the building with the American Jazz Museum. On April 11, 2013 in the Museum, the movie "42" was especially shown a day before its nationwide release, with Harrison Ford, one of the stars of the film, in attendance. The movie is about Baseball Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson, who played with the Negro Leagues' Kansas City Monarchs before he broke the color barrier in the MLB in 1947. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is privately funded and is dedicated to keeping the history of the Negro Leagues alive.

Now, without any further delay, here is the interview with the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kendrick.

Matt: What sports did you play/watch as a kid?
Bob: I’ve always been a big sports fan. I played sandlot baseball and high school basketball, but watched virtually every sport that came on television.

Matt: Why did you become interested in the Negro Leagues?
Bob: I began volunteering with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in 1993. That’s when I met Negro Leagues legend John “Buck” O’Neil (see pic below) for the first time. After volunteering for the Museum and meeting Buck, the Negro Leagues became a passion of mine.

Matt: What exhibits does the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum show?
Bob: The Museum traces the rise and subsequent fall of the Negro Leagues through an exhibit that features multi-media displays, interactive kiosks, artifacts, vintage baseball uniforms, photos and text panels. There are also a set of free-standing lockers in tribute to the 35 players and officials from the Negro Leagues who are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. The centerpiece of the Museum is the Field of Legends which is a miniature baseball diamond that features 10 life-size statues of Negro League greats who are cast in position as if they were playing a game. The statues represent the first group of Negro League players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Matt: Major League Baseball has some famous moments, like the Catch, the Shot Heard ‘Round the World, and the Called Shot. Are there any plays in the Negro Leagues’ history that are as famous as those?
Bob: Josh Gibson hitting a ball completely out of Yankee Stadium; Satchel Paige intentionally walking the bases loaded to face the legendary Josh Gibson in the 1942 Negro Leagues World Series and striking him out on three pitches after telling Gibson what he was going to throw him; Smokey Joe Williams striking out 27 in a game against the Kansas City Monarchs.

Matt: In your opinion, who is the greatest player to ever play in the history of the Negro Leagues?
Bob: Tough question because there were so many great players in the Negro Leagues who never got the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. When you look at great players like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Roy Campanella, we get an understanding of the talent that was in the Negro Leagues as they were all young stars in the Negro Leagues. For me, it comes down to three players: Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson (see pic below) and Martin Dihigo. Oscar Charleston is considered by many to be the best all-around baseball player of any color. Josh Gibson was arguably the greatest hitter the sport has seen and was an outstanding catcher. Martin Dihigo was the most versatile baseball player ever. Dihigo played all nine positions and played them well. If I had to select one player it would be Josh Gibson.

Matt: The Negro League teams had some pretty cool names. Which one is your favorite?
Bob: I need to start at home with the great Kansas City Monarchs (see logo below), Baltimore Elite (pronounced E-light) Giants, Cuban X Giants, Homestead Grays, and Indianapolis Clowns are a few of my favorites.

Matt: How can you and the rest of the Negro Leagues Museum increase the popularity of the Negro Leagues?
Bob: We’re making every effort to partner with Major League Baseball (MLB), MLB teams and players to help promote the history of the Negro Leagues to baseball fans. We have also been conducting interviews and going around the country to speak/lecture about the history of the Negro Leagues. Recently, we’ve begun emphasizing social media to try and make more fans aware of this great history.

Well, that's the interview. Shout out to Bob Kendrick for taking the time to answer my questions. Thanks for reading this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Jersey Baseball Magazine: Ted Williams 1/23/14

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 Ted Williams, possibly "the greatest hitter than ever lived." If you want to read more about the Splendid Splinter, just click here.

I hope you enjoy reading the article. Thanks for reading it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ML"what would"B: Colin, Tom, Peyton, and Russell in the MLB? 1/22/14

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 first part of the 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."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Baseball with Matt's First Ever Analysis of a Poem 1/19/14

Hey baseball fans!

I'm going to do something that I've never done before on Baseball with Matt: I'm going to analyze a poem! But don't worry; the poem is about baseball. This poem is probably my favorite, because it captures the description of a player's entire personality and career in only a few lines. I will first give you the poem to read. Then, below the poem, I will retype each line again and in between some of the lines, I will write my interpretation of those lines in bolded print. So, without further ado, here is To Satch by Samuel Allen.

Sometimes I feel like I will never stop
Just go on forever
Till one fine morning
I'm gonna reach up and grab me a handfulla stars
Swing out my long lean leg
And whip three hot strikes burnin down the heavens
And look over at God and say
How about that!

This poem is about Hall of Fame pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige. You'll understand why if you read the next paragraph.

Sometimes I feel like I will never stop
Just go on forever
Satchel Paige played his collective baseball career in parts of five decades. He played the last game of his career on September 25, 1965 with the Athletics at the age of 59!
Till one fine morning
This line is talking about his retirement and his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 via the Negro Leagues Committee. A lot of Negro Leaguers said that he was the best pitcher around, which is why he was voted into the Hall.
I'm gonna reach up and grab me a handfulla stars
Sadly, although his career basically lasted forever, Paige's life did not, as he passed away on June 8, 1982. Him grabbing a "handfulla stars" is symbolic for the Hall of Fame legend ascending to heaven.
Swing out my long lean leg
Satchel's pitching motion featured a high leg kick, kind of like Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn.
And whip three hot strikes burnin down the heavens
At the beginning of his career, Satchel threw flaming fastballs for most of the time, but after an arm injury in the late 1930s, Paige was forced to pitch more curveballs and changeups. By the end of his career, he was throwing almost ever pitch known to man, including the eephus pitch.
And look over at God and say
How about that!
In this line, it seems that Satchel is commenting on the fact that he can still pitch well and he can probably even pitch better than God. This is due to his cocky and enthusiastic personality that brought him many acquaintances and many enemies during his career. However, Satchel loved the game of baseball, so friends or foes didn't really matter to him, as long as he could keep on pitching.

(Left: Samuel Allen, Right: Satchel Paige)

Well, that's my interpretation of To Satch by Samuel Allen. Is this how you would interpret the poem? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for reading Baseball with Matt's first ever analysis of a poem, and if you have other baseball poems you'd like me to analyze, please leave me a comment. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Pine Tar Game 1/16/14

Hey baseball fans!

A while back, I got the chance to interview Graig Nettles, a Yankee great and a member of the 300 home runs club. What I did not mention in that post was something he did that helped create one of the oddest, most interesting, and controversial moments not just in the history of baseball, but the history of sports. Familiar to all Yankees and Royals fans to this very day, the Pine Tar Game.

The Pine Tar Game occurred in a game played between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees on July 24, 1983 in the Bronx. Entering the ninth inning, the Yankees were up 4-3 thanks in part to RBIs from Don Baylor and Steve Kemp. With two outs and a runner on, Hall of Famer George Brett of the Royals smacked a dramatic two-run home run off Yankees reliever and Hall of Famer, Goose Gossage, to give KC the lead. However, this was where Graig Nettles' sneaky gesture came into play.

Before the game, Graig informed Yankees manager, Billy Martin, that Brett was using too much pine tar on his bat, allowing him to hit for more power. Considering Brett was a contact hitter, Martin went out to the umpires as soon as George hit the homer. After checking Brett's bat and finding that there was too much pine tar on it, home plate umpire Tim McClelland pointed at the member of the 3,000 hits club and said possibly the two most famous words in baseball: "You're out!" Brett came screaming out of the dugout, thinking that he should be awarded the homer and had to be restrained by his teammates and the umps. Meanwhile, the Yankees had won the game, 4-3, or so everyone thought.

After the game, the president of the American League, Lee MacPhail, overruled the umpires and said that the homer counted. The game resumed in the bottom of the ninth with the Yanks down 5-4 on August 18. They lost the game by that same score, with Dan Quisenberry getting New York to go 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth in one of the wackiest baseball games ever played.

When I interviewed Goose Gossage and asked him about this incident, he said to me that "Brett isn't a bad guy." However, he did say that "I hated him when I played against him." Goose may be "acquaintances" with George, but the Hall of Fame Royal will never forget his signature moment. 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, January 13, 2014

Seattle Could Fly Before It Could Swim 1/13/14

Hey baseball fans!

The Seattle Mariners were created in 1977 and were placed in the AL West division and have remained there ever since. However, did you know that there was a team prior to the Mariners that played Major League Baseball in Seattle? Did you know that they only played there one season (1969) and then relocated to Milwaukee and became the Brewers? Yes, before there were the Mariners and the Brewers, there were the Seattle Pilots!

From the start, everyone knew the Pilots were going to be bad. In 1971, both the Pilots and Kansas City Royals were set to enter the AL. However, the Pilots were pushed ahead and were rushed into the six-team AL West by the start of the 1969 season. Also, Seattle had to pay the Pacific Coast League, a Minor League in the west, one million dollars to compensate for the loss of one of the best teams in PCL history. So right off the bat, you have a team hastily put together and a loss of money. Whoopdy-doo. The team was owned by Pacific Northwest Sports, Inc. and Seattle's new manager, Joe Schultz, was a coach on the NL pennant-winning Cardinals in 1968. The Pilots played in Sick's Stadium in Seattle and to no one's surprise, the 1969 Seattle Pilots played like they were sick. Nice job naming the stadium.

Actually, the season started off pretty well for the Pilots, winning their first game of the season and their home opener three days later. They played roughly .500 ball up until the All Star break and were once only six games back of first place. However, the rest of the season did not go too well for the Pacific Northwesterners, as they ended up finishing with the second-worse record in the AL at 64-98, 33 games in back of the AL West-winning Twins. However, the team did have two All Stars, Don Mincher and Mike Hegan.

After a mixture of bankruptcy and just a bad season, the Pilots were sold to Bud Selig. The deal became official during Game One of the 1969 World Series, when Seattle was sold to Bud for $10.8 million dollars. They went on to become the Milwaukee Brewers. Seattle fans may have wept for the next several years, but the Mariners soon came to Pike Place Market, giving Seattle another team to cheer for in the MLB.

I feel pretty bad for Seattle baseball fans in 1969, only getting a team for a single year. However, the team went on to be very successful, so it's bittersweet. 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."

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Predecessors to Mariano Rivera 1/10/14

Hey baseball fans!

Sadly (for Yankee fans) Mariano Rivera has finally called it quits after playing 19 seasons in the Bronx. In honor of him, I want to talk about other great relievers in Yankee history.

Johnny Murphy
Murphy was one of the first relievers in the live ball era and he did a pretty good job at his job. Nicknamed the Fireman for being able to put out the opposition's fire, Murphy led the AL in saves four times and games finished once. He only totaled 107 career saves, but all Yankee fans from the 1930s and 1940s remember him.

Luis Arroyo
I recently watched a documentary on the greatest teams in baseball history and the 1961 Yankees were in at number nine. It was noted in the documentary that their pitching was excellent. One of their excellent pitchers that year was Luis Arroyo, who had an AL-leading 29 saves, 54 games finished, and 65 game appearances. To top it all off, he also won 15 games with a 2.19 ERA! Now, the rest of Arroyo's career isn't so spectacular, but I wanted to highlight this excellent year of his.

Sparky Lyle
I'm sure a lot of you middle-aged New Yorkers have at least heard of this guy. He played in mainly the 1970s and saved 238 games in his career, leading the AL in this category twice. He also won the Cy Young Award in 1977 when, as a reliever, he won 13 games and finished a total of 60, while appearing in 72 games (the 72 games appeared in and 60 games finished both led the AL for that year). Another important stat to note is that Sparky's career ERA was 2.88, better than Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Kid Nichols, and Don Drysdale.

Well, those are some other good relievers in the Yankees past, but none of them were better than Mo. We'll miss you, Sandman. 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. Make sure to check out my new video that I posted on YouTube. It's me playing one of my favorite video games ever and I think it's pretty entertaining. Click right here to watch the video.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Nick News Appearance is Now on the Web!!!!! 1/6/14

Hey baseball fans!

As I mentioned in a prior post, I was recently on Nickelodeon's Nick News on an episode about Web Stars, and I now have a clip of the entire episode! If you want to check me out talking about how I first got started on Baseball with Matt and more, click here. If you just want to see me, click to the 11:14 mark. My appearance goes until the 14:25 mark. Thanks for watching the clip and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Coldest Game in World Series History 1/5/14

Hey baseball fans!

Because the baseball regular season is in the spring and summer, the playoffs and World Series are forced to be held during the fall. Due to this, some World Series games can get very cold, but what is the coldest World Series game in history? The answer? Game Four of the 1997 World Series between the Marlins and the Indians at Cleveland's Jacobs Field on October 22, 1997.

The 1997 World Series was a juxtaposition with respect to the weather. Four of the games were held in sunny, hot Miami, Florida, while the three others were held in freezing Cleveland, Ohio. Naturally, the games in Cleveland were going to be very cold, but no one expected a game where the official game time temperature was 38˚F (3.3˚C). Also, as the game progressed into the later innings, the media reported wind chill readings as low as 18°F! This game was recorded as the coldest game in Fall Classic history. However, Major League Baseball didn't record the weather for games until the 1970s, so colder World Series games could have occurred before weather data was recorded.

The game featured two rookie starting pitchers, Jaret Wright for the Indians and Tony Saunders for the Marlins. Wright picked up the win for Cleveland as the Indians won 10-3. Manny Ramirez homered in the first and Matt Williams hit one out in the bottom of the eighth. Including the homer, Williams reached base five times, going three for three with two walks on the night. The Game Four win for Cleveland evened up the Series at two games apiece, but the Marlins would go on to win their first World Series in seven games.

As you can see, World Series games and regular season games are a lot different when thinking about temperature (and importance). Thanks for reading this post, and a special shout out to my dad's friend, Mike Scully, for coming up with the idea for this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The AL Counterpart to Ralph Kiner 1/1/14

Hey baseball fans and happy new year!

When the name "Hank" is said in a conversation about baseball, many times the name is followed by the surname "Aaron." However, there is another Hank who played baseball and is enshrined in Cooperstown. This Hank could be compared to Ralph Kiner: both players had pretty short Hall of Fame careers and both were big time home run hitters. This Hank played with the Tigers and is considered one of the franchise's best players. Ladies and gentlemen, my grandpa's cousin's high school classmate and the only Hall of Famer celebrating his birthday today, New Years day: Hank Greenberg!

This other Hammerin' Hank played for the Tigers and Pirates from 1930, 1933-1941, 1945-1947. The gaps in his years of playing are as a result of military service and a stint in the minors. But despite losing a chunk of his career, Greenberg still managed to crush 331 dingers, averaging about 25 home runs a season, including a huge 58 in 1938. The two-time MVP, in 1935 and 1940, two years that his Tiger teams won the AL pennant, batted .313 in his career along with 1,276 RBIs. He drove in over 140 runs in four seasons (including a monster 183 in 1937). Hank won only one World Series ring in 1945 with Detroit, when he batted .304 with two homers and seven RBIs and is one of three players to win MVPs at multiple positions, at first base in '35 and in left field in '40.

Greenberg may have had a short career, but he certainly had a productive one, getting elected into the Hall in 1956, so happy birthday and happy new year to you, Hank. 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."

PS - Here's another couple of things to mention to you:

1) My buddy, Niko, at the Pepper: MLB Blog, just interviewed me.  If you'd like to read the interview, just click here, and please explore the blog. They put up 208 posts in 2013! That's a lot of baseball info.

2) I recently got introduced to some of the guys at the Digital Academy. They run a really cool web site that is definitely worth checking out. The site is a platform that helps bring pro level hitting and swing tips to kids, their families and coaches. You can even upload your own hitting video!!