Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gorgeous George Got the Job Done 4/29/14

Hey baseball fans!

Probably the most famous streak in baseball history is Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in the summer of 1941. But did you know that there are a couple other Hall of Famers' hitting streaks that almost top DiMaggio's? Wee Willie Keeler had a 44-game hitting streak and coming in at a close fifth is George Sisler, who had a 41-game hitting streak in 1922.

"Gorgeous" George Sisler played for the St. Louis Browns, Boston Braves and Washington Senators from 1915-1930 (excluding 1923). During his career, the man Ty Cobb called the nearest thing to a perfect ballplayer batted over .300 13 times for an amazing lifetime batting average of .340. Sisler won just two batting titles, 1920 and 1922, but batted over .400 in each of them (.407 and .420, respectively). During his .420 season in 1922, he snagged his lone MVP award. He also led the league in stolen bases four times, totaling 375 stolen bases for his career.

Just like Ty Cobb and many other contact hitters of his time, George Sisler collected a shocking amount of career RBIs, 1,178 to be specific, even though he only had 102 career home runs. He also led the league in triples and base hits twice each. Lastly, the 1939 Hall of Fame inductee is known as one of the most intelligent ballplayers of his time, receiving a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Wow, what a double whammy: an engineer and a Hall of Famer. 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, April 26, 2014

Some Big News on the Baseball History Front 4/26/14

Hey baseball fans!

As you all know, I love blogging about baseball history, no matter what the subject. I started blogging back in April 2012 and yesterday I actually put up my 250th career post!!  Thank you all for continuing to read and support my work.

Well, a lot of you have asked me, what else have I been up to lately? Besides school, I've been working on the side on a manuscript for a baseball history introduction book. The book is meant for anyone, whether you're a kid or an adult, who doesn't know much about baseball history, and wants a fun, easy-to-read overview with lots of cool pictures. I wrote the manuscript last year and I want to officially announce that yesterday I entered into a book publishing contract with Summer Game Books, a baseball book publisher, to publish my book and I'm super-excited!!

My book's name will probably be: "Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History." There are, as you may have already guessed from the title, 26 chapters in the book, one for each letter of the alphabet. The book will take you on an alphabetical adventure through the history of America’s national pastime, baseball.  You will learn about the most important who’s, what’s, why’s, when’s and where’s, including the best players, the most iconic parks and teams, and the greatest moments. 

We are targeting this fall, around World Series time, for the book's release. Originally, it will likely come out in electronic format, and then hard copy versions should follow.  

Also, since I write my stuff for the purpose of educating people about baseball history, I'm donating my proceeds from the book to four charities connected to baseball and its history: the ALS Association, the Turn Two Foundation, the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. 

Keep reading my blog, or follow me on Twitter (@BaseballwMatt) for more announcements. And, as always, check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, April 25, 2014

An Interview with Rockies Coach, Jerry Weinstein 4/25/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently had the chance to interview Colorado Rockies coach Jerry Weinstein! But before I get to the interview, let me tell you a little bit about him.

After graduating from UCLA in 1969 with a master's degree in physical education, Weinstein moved on to coaching baseball. For 23 seasons, he coached the Sacramento City College baseball team. His record with the Panthers was 831-208-12, equaling to a .791 winning percentage! In 2000, he served two years as the director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Later on in his career, Jerry became the manager of the Rockies Class-A affiliate, the Modesto Nuts, and managed them to five straight winning seasons from 2007-2011. He joined the Major League Colorado Rockies' coaching staff in 2012 and was the Catching Coach for the Rockies in 2013. He actually happens to be an expert on catching, as he has written a book about catching behind the plate.

I hope you learned a little bit about Mr. Jerry Weinstein because you are about to learn a lot more about him. Here's the interview!

Matt: What sports did you play/watch as a kid?
Coach Weinstein: Baseball & football.

Matt: Besides the talent level, what's the difference between coaching at the major league level and minor league level?
Coach Weinstein: Major League: It's about the scoreboard. Minors: It's about development.

Matt: As a catching coach, what rule did you want your catchers to remember the most?
Coach Weinstein: Third strike in the dirt that is caught is not a legal catch. The runner must be tagged with two outs or first base unoccupied.

Matt: What's your favorite moment as a member of the Colorado Rockies coaching staff so far?
Coach Weinstein: Todd Helton's last game.

Matt: Does your coaching style switch depending on if you're coaching major leaguers versus minor leaguers?
Coach Weinstein: Same style. No changes.

Matt: You coached the US Olympic Baseball Team in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. Would you like to see baseball at the Olympics again? Why or why not?
Coach Weinstein: Olympics aren't feasible because Major League players are still playing. I do like the World Baseball Classic.

Matt: Who do you think are the top 5 best defensive catchers in MLB history?
Coach Weinstein: Johnny BenchIvan Rodriguez,  Steve YeagerJonathan Lucroy, and Yadier Molina (see pic below).

Matt: Outside of baseball, what are some of your hobbies?
Coach Weinstein: Reading & working out.

Matt: Can you tell us a little about your book, "The Complete Handbook of Coaching Catchers?"
Coach Weinstein: Check out this website: coachingcatchers.com 

Matt: Is there any special prep needed when you get ready to catch a 95+ mph fastball for the first time?
Coach Weinstein: Catch off the machine at high velocity.

Matt: Who do you think was the most difficult pitcher in MLB history to catch and why?
Coach Weinstein: Charlie Hough because of his knuckleball.

Well, that was the interview. Thanks to Jerry for answering my question. Anyway, 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."

Monday, April 21, 2014

France Has Bonaparte, Hollywood Has Dynamite, and Baseball Has Lajoie 4/21/14

Hey baseball fans!

All Hall of Famers have amazing statistics. But sometimes, a Hall of Famer is so great, that the team that he mainly played for was renamed after him. The only example of this in baseball history is the Cleveland Indians, who were called the Cleveland Naps from 1903-1914 because of none other than baseball Hall of Famer, Nap Lajoie.

Napoleon Lajoie  (pronounced La-jo-way) played from 1896-1916 for the Indians, Phillies and Athletics. The star second baseman was known back in the day for his heavenly fielding and his extreme power at the plate. Although the 1937 Hall of Fame inductee only hit 82 career home runs, he led the league in doubles five times and is seventh all time in that category, as well as finishing his career 33rd on the all time triples list with 163. However, people from today's times look at him as a hitting machine, with which I can totally agree. He collected 3,243 base hits and batted over .300 in 16 seasons. In fact, in the 1901 season while playing for the newly-formed Athletics, Lajoie hit .426, a World Series era AL record for a single-season batting champion! A .338 lifetime hitter, Napoleon was also an RBI machine, collecting 1,599 RBIs and also scoring 1,504 runs. Lastly, as I mentioned before, from 1903-1916, the Indians were named the Cleveland Naps because of Napoleon being named the captain of the team. Once he was named captain, a newspaper contest was held to decide a new name for the Midwestern baseball team, and the Naps was the name picked.

Lajoie, despite his hard-to-pronounce last name, managed to get a team named after him! How cool is that? 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, April 16, 2014

Book Review of 1967 Red Sox: The Impossible Dream Season 4/16/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently had the honor of reading the book, “1967 Red Sox: The Impossible Dream Season” by Raymond Sinibaldi. The book talks about the Red Sox winning the 1967 pennant after a long and hard season, with four teams in contention for the pennant by the season’s final week. But the Red Sox were able to capture the pennant and the book describes all they key players, teams, stadiums, and other Red Sox moments of the season.

The book overall is a very easy read, because it’s virtually an adult picture book, and even a Bostonian child can read it if he or she wants to get to know the Red Sox and the team’s history. The pictures in the book perfectly capture the hardships for the Sox during the ’67 season and even demonstrate other tough times that the Red Sox went through during their 86-year World Series crown drought. An important thing to note is that the book does not just include pictures. It has many paragraphs, each containing interesting information.

Sinibaldi does a great job describing the final weeks of the '67 season without missing any important points that need to be mentioned. Also, the pictures that were chosen were magnificent, and the book as a whole is very good. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a little about the history of the Red Sox, especially that exciting 1967 season (even though the Sox did lose the ’67 Series to the Cardinals in seven games). However, even if you know a lot about this topic, you should still go pick up the book.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this book review and I hope you pick up “1967 Red Sox: The Impossible Dream Season.” Thanks for reading this post and check back in a few days for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ML"what would"B: What if the ’81 Strike Never Happened? 4/15/14

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 write about what would have happened had the 1981 baseball strike never happened. 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."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What's in a (Stadium's) Name? 4/12/14

Hey baseball fans!

Have you ever noticed that some of the names of the baseball stadiums of today's times are named after companies? Well, back in the old days, stadiums were named after other things. With that, here are a few famous baseball stadiums from the 1900s with interesting names.

Stadium Name: The Polo Grounds
Teams That Played There: New York Giants and New York Mets
Reason for the Name: When it was built in 1876, the stadium was meant for the sport of polo. The stadium was officially named Brush Stadium in 1911 but it was referred to as "the polo grounds" in the newspapers, so the name was changed in 1920.

Stadium Name: Ebbets Field
Team That Played There: Brooklyn Dodgers
Reason for the Name: In 1908, Dodgers owner Charlie Ebbets bought the land that Ebbets Field stood on for more than 40 years. The park is named after Mr. Ebbets. But before construction started, the site that Charlie purchased was called Pigtown, because it was simply a garbage dump filled with pigs. However, once construction started in 1912, Pigtown became pig-less because of the baseball cathedral that was Ebbets Field.

Stadium Name: Fenway Park
Team That Plays There: Boston Red Sox
Reason for the Name: Fenway Park is located in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. But the real question is what does Fenway mean? Well, before the area became populated with people, the neighborhood was covered with marshland. Another word for a marshland is a fen.

Stadium Name: Wrigley Field
Team That Plays There: Chicago Cubs
Reason for the Name: Similar to Ebbets Field and Charlie Ebbets, William Wrigley Jr. was the owner of the Cubs when Cubs Park was renamed Wrigley Field in 1926. However, from 1914 to 1920, the park was called Weeghman Park. This is because the stadium was originally for the Federal League's Chicago Whales. The Federal League was a baseball league that didn't last past the 1920s. One of the founders of the Federal League was Charles Weeghman, so the stadium was named after him for a short period of time.

Well, those are some famous baseball stadiums and the reasons for their names. I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading it. Check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ten Facts About Matt Nadel 4/9/14

Hey baseball fans!

So, I've realized that in the past that I have never really told you a lot about my personal life. That changes today! Here are ten facts about myself, Matt Nadel, that I think you would find interesting.

Number Ten: I live next to a professional golf course
I live in Springfield, New Jersey. Probably the only famous thing in Springfield is the Baltusrol Golf Course, which will be hosting the 2016 PGA Championship. If you go down my street for about 100 feet, you can see the golf course through a fence!

Number Nine: My favorite NFL team is the Giants, I love the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and LA Clippers, and I'll sometimes root for the Devils
Living in New Jersey, I like New Jersey sports teams. My dad was a big Giants fan growing up, so that's how I got to be a Giants fan. The Nets are the local NBA team, but I loved Chris Paul on the New Orleans Hornets and became a Clippers fan when he started throwing alley-oops to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. I'm not a big hockey fan, but I look at the NHL standings occasionally, just to see how the Devils are doing, but I don't follow the Devils religiously.

Number Eight: My mom's dad is a botanist
Well, he's not really a certified botanist, but he was given the title of "master gardener" by the master gardener organization. Anyway, my grandpa volunteers as a docent at the New York Botanical Garden. He loves teaching me about different kinds of plants, like the orchid, one of his favorite flowers.

Number Seven: Half of my family speaks fluent Spanish
My dad's dad grew up in Cuba and my dad's mom was born in Uruguay and lived there until she was in her late teens. Naturally, they taught my dad and uncle how to speak Spanish at a young age and the four of them sometimes have conversations in Spanish. I'm starting to speak more Spanish myself because I just started learning it in school.

Number Six: I'm pretty good at geography
I won the Geography Bee in my school when I was in eighth grade and I can recite a song that states almost every country in the world (it was written in the '80s, so not every country is up-to-date).

Number Five: I enjoy a lot of coffee-related things
I'm not addicted to coffee in any way, but I realized that coffee or coffee-flavored things regularly appear somewhere on my side of the table when I eat breakfast. I sometimes drink an iced latte from Dunkin Donuts or milk with just a splash of coffee inside of it. Also, because I'm not a big fan of vanilla yogurt, sometimes for breakfast, I eat coffee yogurt. However, I've never tried coffee-flavored ice cream.

Number Four: I mainly blog about baseball, but I also play baseball
Although I'm riding the bench as a freshman, I am part of my high school's baseball team. However, because of my baseball knowledge, I always provide a quick historical fact for anyone to enjoy while sitting on the bench with my teammates when it's our turn to bat.

Number Three: I'm a huge fan of CBS TV programs
I sometimes watched How I Met Your Mother when it was still making new episodes, I think Melissa McCarthy is hilarious on Mike and Molly, and Two and a Half Men always brings me a smile whenever I watch it. However, I am a HUGE Big Bang Theory fan. I've watched almost every episode and I even have a shirt with Jim Parsons saying "Bazinga." For all you non-Big Bang Theory-watchers, "Bazinga" is Sheldon Cooper's (played by Jim Parsons) catchphrase.

Number Two: I play a lot of video games
Being a teenager, video games take up a lot of my time during the weekends. I have a total of four systems, a Wii, an XBOX 360, a PS3, and a PS4, and whenever a friend comes over, all we do is play on the consoles. I have mostly sports video games and my favorite is the "Madden" franchise, the NFL video game. However, they are all really fun to play.

Number One: I love YouTube!
I am constantly on YouTube when I'm not doing homework, watching TV, or playing video games. I watch it when I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep. I watch all kinds of videos, like sketches, vlogs, or video game commentaries. YouTube has such a wide variety of videos that there has to be something good to watch at any time. That's why I'm addicted to it.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this different kind of post. Thanks for reading it and check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Little Louie Packed a Big Punch 4/6/14

Hey baseball fans!

Did you know that there is only one Hall of Famer born in the South American country of Venezuela? This shortstop enshrined in Cooperstown played for the White Sox, Orioles, and Red Sox from 1956-1973 and was elected into the Hall in 1984. His name is Luis Aparicio.

22 years after he was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Luis Aparicio immediately began revolutionizing the position of shortstop with excellent fielding and baserunning at the speed of light. He won the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year Award with the White Sox and led the league in stolen bases with 21, the first of nine consecutive times he would accomplish such a feat. He ended his career with 506 stolen bases. The 13-time All Star also won nine Gold Glove Awards at short, the third most Gold Gloves awarded to any player at shortstop in baseball history (only behind Ozzie Smith, who won 13, and Omar Vizquel, who won 11). Even though I haven't mentioned his hitting yet, Luis hit the ball pretty well, collecting 2,677 hits. He also was driven in by his teammates 1,335 times. Lastly, Luis' nickname, "Little Louie" was given to him because he was only five feet nine inches tall. However, he was able to glide across the field like he was six feet ten inches tall.

Aparicio was very important to the shortstop position because he finally made people realize how important the position is to a baseball franchise. Had he never played, the shortstop position may not be as appreciated. 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, April 4, 2014

My Top Five Favorite Baseball Players in History 4/4/14

Hey baseball fans!

I've written lists about who should be on baseball's Mt. Rushmore, who I think are the most underrated Hall of Famers of all time, my favorite uniforms, and more. But today's list is going to be possibly my most important list in Baseball with Matt history. It is time for you to know... my all-time favorite baseball players in baseball history! Yes, I have already done my all-time dream team, but this list isn't going to include a ballplayer from each position. It will not be a list of the players who I would want on the field in any given clutch situation. This list is all about my top five favorite baseball players in baseball history. So, I hope you enjoy this list and can agree with me on how great these ballplayers really were.

Number Five: Derek Jeter
Why? Jeter is not only the only current ballplayer on this list, he is the only Yankee on this list (which was a little surprising to my dad, considering I'm a huge Yankees fan). Jeter has been a hits machine since his rookie year of 1996 and has over 3,000+ hits. He is one of two baseball players to have his 3,000th hit be a home run (along with Wade Boggs) and is currently tenth on the all-time hits list at 3,316. Also, probably the most important reason that he is number five on this list, he led the Yankees to five World Series championships. Why isn't Jeter number one on this list? He's still playing. He will likely move up once he gets elected into the Hall of Fame.

Number Four: Jim Palmer
Why? Even before I interviewed this Hall of Fame Orioles pitcher, the eight-time twenty-game winner was one of my favorite pitchers of all time. The three-time Cy Young Award winner baffled AL batters for 19 years from 1965-1984. In fact, he never gave up a grand slam in his entire pitching career! Palmer may have also been known for eating pancakes before each game, but his real claim to fame is having an astounding career ERA: 2.86!

Number Three: Rod Carew
Why? Who wouldn't like an 18-time All Star Panamanian Jew? But seriously, this Hall of Fame second baseman lit up the Twin Cities and the City of Angels for two decades, batted .328 lifetime, and is currently 23rd on the all-time hits list at 3,053. Even if he never did win a World Series, his amazing hitting will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere, but especially me.

Number Two: Warren Spahn
Why? Perhaps the best lefty pitcher of all time, Spahn dazzled NL hitting in the '40s, '50s, and '60s with mainly the Braves and totaled 363 career wins, sixth on the all time wins list. Along with an amazing 3.09 career ERA, the 17-time All Star pitched for 21 years in the Bigs and retired at the age of 44! No wonder the best lefty in the MLB is awarded the Warren Spahn Award each year!

Number One: Mike Schmidt
Why? This shouldn't come as a complete surprise to some of you considering I've told a lot of people that Mike is my favorite baseball player. But to all of you who didn't know this, here is why I love Schmidty: 548 career homers, 1,595 career runs driven in, eight home run titles, 13 seasons with 30+ homers, three-time NL MVP, 12-time All Star, six-time Sliver Slugger at third base, and 10 Gold Gloves at the hot corner, and four homers in a single game on April 17, 1976. Oh, and did I mention that he led the Phillies to their first ever World Series title in 1980, a World Series in which he won the MVP? Just look at all these accolades! And who could forget the great mustache?

Well, those are my top five favorite ballplayers in baseball history. Who are yours? I hope you enjoyed reading. Check back in a few days for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."