Thursday, August 28, 2014

No One Can Survive Walking the Plank 8/28/14

Hey baseball fans!

I'm currently on vacation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! I was supposed to stop off at Gettysburg, PA for a reennactment of the Battle of Gettysburg that took place during the American Civil War, but the reennactment got cancelled. So, in order to fill that void, I'm going to be talking about a Hall of Famer who was born in Gettysburg: Eddie Plank!

During his pitching career from 1901-1917, Plank played for the Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Browns of the American League and the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League. Although Gettysburg Eddie (which he was nicknamed because of his hometown) never led the league in wins or earned run average (but he did have a career ERA of 2.35), he was still a very dominant pitcher. That says a lot considering he pitched in the same era as Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. Plank, who possessed one of the best curveballs the game has ever seen, won 326 games during his career, which is third on the all-time list for lefties, only behind Warren Spahn and Steve Carlton, but his career shutouts (69) and complete games (410) lead all lefties who ever pitched in the Majors. Plank and his amazing sidearm pitching helped the A's win six pennants in the newly-formed American League. All of these accolades helped him get inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.

Here's a fun fact about Eddie: during the offseason, he would go work at the Gettysburg National Military Park as a tour guide at the battlefield! How interesting! Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

LAD vs. SF: Which Team is Truly Better? 8/26/14

Hey baseball fans!

Other than the Yankees and Red Sox, there is one other big rivalry in Major League Baseball: the Dodgers and the Giants. With that being said, it's time to find out which of these two NL West teams is better! How will I judge this contest, you ask? The categories will be the same as my last "Which Team Is Better" post, which compared the Red Sox to the Yanks, except for the "Head-to-Head Playoff Matchups" category because the two teams have never faced off against each other in October. So, without further delay, which former New York team is more supreme? Let's find out.

Category One: Overall Winning Percentage
The New York Giants (present-day San Francisco Giants) have been competing in the National League since 1883, while the Brooklyn Dodgers (present-day LA Dodgers) have been playing in the senior circuit since 1884, so both teams have played about the same amount of games. The Giants, in 20,166 games played, have won 10,756 of them, for a total winning percentage of .533. The Dodgers have played in 20,083 games and have won 10,465 of them, for a total winning percentage of .521. The Giants are the first ones on the board in this contest and now lead 1-0.

Category Two: Head-to-Head Overall Record
LA and San Francisco have faced off against each other in the regular season in a total of 2,404 games. In those games, there have been 17 ties, 1,179 Dodger wins, and 1,208 Giants wins. The Giants are pulling away in the contest and now lead 2-0. One more point and they win this contest.

Category Three: Hall of Famers
Like I mentioned in the BOS vs. NYY post, this category is very important because it's necessary to see which team has brought up the most stars who are now forever cemented in Cooperstown. There are 14 Hall of Famers who represent the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, including Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, and Roy Campanella. On the other hand, there are 23 Hall of Famers who represent the New York/San Francisco Giants, including stars like Willie Mays and Christy Mathewson. There are more Giants HoFers than Dodgers HoFers, which means that the Giants win the contest, 3-0, and are therefore better than the Dodgers.

Don't feel sad, Dodger fans. Facts are facts and you really can't argue with them. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post. Which team do you think is better? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Toddfather 8/21/14

Hey baseball fans!

The Colorado Rockies are a fairly new franchise when it comes to MLB teams, having only started competing during the regular season in 1993. With that being said, there is only one ballplayer who played a mile above sea level who has had his number retired by the Rockies: Todd Helton! In fact, his number was retired by Colorado only several days ago, which is why I want to talk about him for this post.

The Toddfather, as he was nicknamed, played with the Rockies for his entire career from 1997-2013. The five-time All Star first baseman is known as a very good all-around player; he could field excellently and he could also hit for average and power. He batted .316 for his career, hit 369 homers, drove in 1,406 runs, and collected 2,519 base hits. The homers, RBIs, and hits are all Rockies' all time highs.

The four-time Silver Slugger and three-time Gold Glove winner had his best season in 2000, when he led the league in batting average (.372), RBIs (147), hits (216), on-base percentage (.463), and slugging percentage (.698). Although Colorado didn't make the playoffs that year, Todd helped the Rockies get to the postseason twice, in 2007 and 2009. In 2007, the Rockies even got to the World Series!

Here's a fun fact about Todd Helton: he went to the same college, University of Tennessee, at the same time as NFL star, Peyton Manning. They were both QBs for the Volunteers and had Todd not suffered an injury, he might have been an NFL star instead of Manning. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. Congratulations to Todd Helton on his number being retired by the Colorado Rockies. I hope you enjoyed this post and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

BOS vs. NYY: Which Team is Truly Better? 8/16/14

Hey baseball fans!

Right after the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series, many people came up to me, saying that the Sox were better than the New York Yankees. My response was usually that of course they were better because they just won the World Series. But I followed up that statement with the following one: "But when Boston wins their 28th championship, then they will really be better than the Yankees." Although that's pretty mean, it's a logical statement. However, that got me thinking: which team really is better: the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees? So, in this post, I will finally be answering this age-old question the only way I know how: historical facts! And yes, the Yankees do have the most World Series wins out of any MLB team with 27, but I'm judging this contest on different criteria.

Category One: Overall Winning Percentage
The Red Sox have been around since 1901 and the Yankees have been around since 1903, so they have played relatively the same amount of games (of course, there are always tiebreakers and rain outs and stuff like that). With that being said, out of 17,742 games played in the franchise's history, the Red Sox have won 9,130 of them. Their overall winning percentage is .515. The Yankees have played in 17,454 games and have won 9,890 of them for a total winning percentage of .567. After one category of judging, the score in the contest is 1-0, New York.

Category Two: Head-to-Head Overall Record
There have been 2,138 meetings between the two storied franchises, but which team has won more of these head-to-head games? Well, the Red Sox have won 972 of them, there have been 14 ties, and the Yankees have won the remaining 1,152 games. The Yankees are building their lead in the contest, with the score 2-0 after two categories.

Category Three: Hall of Famers
Although this category seems a bit obscure and not needed, I think it's very necessary to see which team has brought up the most stars who now reside in Cooperstown. There are 12 ballplayers in the Hall of Fame who were inducted in as Red Sox, including stars like Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. On the other hand, there are 22 Yankees Hall of Famers, including Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Babe Ruth. (Yes, Ruth did go in as a Yankee and not as a member of the Red Sox.) With the contest now at 3-0, New York, the Yankees only need to win one more category to win the whole contest.
Category Four: Head-to-Head Playoff Matchups
Boston and New York have squared off in the postseason in 19 games in three playoff series. The first series was the 1999 ALCS, in which the Yankees beat the Red Sox 4-1 and eventually won the World Series against a former Boston team, the Atlanta Braves. In the 2003 ALCS, it took seven games and a dramatic walk-off homer by Aaron Boone in Game Seven for the Yankees to send the Red Sox home. In the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox came back from a three games to none deficit and won the series, four games to three. The '04 Sox eventually won their first World Series since having sold Babe Ruth to...the Yankees! However, despite this dramatic win for the Sox, the Yankees won two out of the three playoff series that the two teams have participated in, which means only one thing: the Yankees win the contest, 4-0, proving once and for all that they are better than the Red Sox.

I'm sorry Red Sox fans, but facts are facts and you really can't argue with them. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. Do you agree with it? Write your opinions in the comment section below. I hope you enjoyed this post and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

His Homer in the Gloamin' was a Hall of Fame Omen 8/13/14

Hey baseball fans!

We are more than two thirds of the way through the 2014 MLB season and, sadly, it looks as if the Chicago Cubs will not be making the postseason. However, in order to alleviate the wounds of Cubs fans, I want to talk about one of the fan favorites that played in Chicago. He was one of the best catchers of all time and one of the first catchers ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, Gabby Hartnett.

Hartnett played with the Cubs and Giants from 1922-1941. In his 20 years in Major League Baseball, the man nicknamed "Old Tomato Face" was one of the best hitters of his generation, hitting for a .297 batting average with 236 homers and 1,179 RBIs. He was the first catcher in the MLB to hit 20 or more home runs in a season, which he did in 1925 (he hit 24). Besides his prolific hitting, Gabby was an excellent fielding catcher. He caught 100 or more games in twelve seasons and led the NL in putouts four times. The six-time All Star placed in the top 20 for MVP voting ten times, winning the award in 1935. Hartnett always hit better in clutch situations and his home run for the Cubs at the end of the 1938 season that ultimately helped them win the NL pennant does nothing but prove my point. The "Homer in the Gloamin'" (as it was nicknamed because Gabby hit the home run in almost complete darkness) was not only his finest moment, but it was also one of the most iconic moments in Chicago sports history, cementing Old Tomato Face's name in Cubs' history forever.

The Cubs may not be the best team now, but at least they have a storied history of great ballplayers who loved the game of baseball, one of those players being Gabby Hartnett. Anyway, thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

An Interview with Former MLB Pitcher, Jim Abbott 8/9/14

Hey baseball fans!

I recently got the chance to interview former MLB pitcher, Jim Abbott! Some of you might know him from his no-hitter with the Yankees, while some might know him from his playing days with the Angels, White Sox, and Brewers. Nonetheless, I'm still going to tell you a little bit about him before I get to the interview.

Jim Abbott pitched in the majors from 1989-1999 with the aforementioned teams, despite being born without a right hand. Because of this, his pitching style was a little bit different than others but, ultimately, he was a great pitcher. During his collegiate pitching career at the University of Michigan from 1985-1988, Abbott led the Wolverines to two Big Ten championships. In 1987, he became the first baseball player ever to win the James E. Sullivan Award as the best nonprofessional athlete in the United States. He even helped the USA get the gold medal in baseball in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. That same year, he was drafted by the Angels as the eighth overall pick in the MLB Draft and didn't pitch a single game in the minors.

During his MLB career, he went 87-108 with an ERA of 4.25. His best season was with California in 1991, when he placed third in the AL Cy Young Award voting and won 18 games. Abbott’s crowning achievement was a no-hitter with the Yankees against the Indians on September 4th, 1993; he didn't allow a single Indian to reach second base. After his MLB career came to a close, he was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and is currently a motivational speaker.

Now, here is the interview with former star pitcher, Jim Abbott!

Matt: You were born without a right hand. How did you learn to play baseball? Did the game come naturally to you?
Jim: I just learned to play a little differently. I could always throw the ball pretty well and I worked pretty hard at learning how to play the game. But I didn't consider it work as a kid, since I just loved playing baseball. I had some natural talent, but the key for me was practicing learning how to pitch.

Matt: Why didn't you sign with the Blue Jays when they picked you in the 1985 MLB Draft and instead went to the University of Michigan?
Jim: I wasn't ready for professional baseball and it was my dream to play for the University of Michigan. I figured if I could go to school and get some classes in, I could be a better prospect than I was before.

Matt: Did you expect that you would win the 1987 James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States?
Jim: I really didn't expect it at all. I didn't even expect to be invited to the award ceremony.

Matt: Did you feel that you were going to pitch well on the day you no-hit the Indians?
Jim: The no-hitter came somewhat out of the blue. I didn't have a great start the start before and I didn't go into the game too confident, but I think that added some focus for me.

Matt: When you were elected into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, what emotions did you experience when this news was announced?
Jim: It was a very big honor. To be inducted into the same class as some of the great college baseball players of all time, it meant a lot and was very special.

Matt: You are currently a motivational speaker, but do you ever want to return to the major leagues as a coach, trainer, or maybe even an owner?
Jim: I don't think I can ever be an owner, but I do miss the game sometimes. However, I really enjoy what I'm doing now and I like inspiring people.

Matt: Do you have any advice for kids with a handicap that want to play sports?
Jim: My advice is that you go and do something that you are really driven to do. I loved to play baseball and, because I loved it, I practiced it. Some of us have limitations, but if you are passionate about something and if you have the drive, then you can accomplish it.

Thanks to Jim for answering my questions. It really means a lot. And thanks to Nikki Warner at the MLBPAA for making the connection. Anyway, thanks so much for reading this interview. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Camp Experience at the BBIESBC (You'll understand what this stands for soon) 8/7/14

Hey baseball fans!

From Monday, July 28th until Friday, August 1st, I attended the Bruce Beck & Ian Eagle Sports Broadcasting Camp, a camp that is hosted in the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center in Little Falls, NJ by versatile and experienced sports newscasters, Bruce Beck and Ian Eagle. The camp teaches students 13 and older about the art of sports broadcasting. It was probably one of the best weeks of my life and I want to share my experiences with you.

From Monday until Friday, the fun didn't stop. Beck and Eagle did crack some jokes, but they were also there to be serious and help all 61 kids in my class improve their broadcasting and reporting skills. We did a bunch of exercises, including reading off a teleprompter, doing a fake radio sports talk show, and interviewing fellow students and presenting our information to the rest of the class. We had many guest speakers come in as well, about two per day, and each guest had very interesting advice for their specific job, whether they were a former player who is now an analyst, a field reporter, or a writer for a magazine/newspaper. It was so interesting to hear each guest's story and I really enjoyed it.

One of the campers there that I became friends with is Sam Neidermann, the author of the sports blog, Sports On Fire. It's a really good blog and I suggest you check it out. Click here to visit the site.

Another great thing about the camp was that we took some field trips. On Wednesday, all 61 of us got to go to MetLife Stadium, where we viewed the football field from the press box and broadcast booth, and SNY Studios, where we got to see a day in the lives of Mets analysts. But undoubtedly the best field trip of all was on Friday, when we got to see a baseball game between the Somerset Patriots and the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League. Why was it so special, you ask? We got to broadcast the game into our own recorders! I had a blast announcing, although I made a lot of mistakes. We even met the Patriots' manager emeritus, Sparky Lyle.

However, I would have made many more mistakes if I hadn't gone to the BBIESBC. It was truly an awesome week. If you, your kid, or your grandkid wants to learn about how to broadcast, then this camp is right for them. In its category, it is one of the most prestigious camps in the entire United States, and most of the graduates of the BBIESBC have jobs in broadcasting for many different studios. Check out the camp's website, if you want more information.

Thanks for reading about my experience at the BBIESBC. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Big Hurt's Great Career 8/4/14

Hey baseball fans!

Four former members of the Atlanta Braves' organization were inducted into the Hall of Fame last weekend. However, there were also two representatives of the White Sox franchise who were enshrined in Cooperstown: Tony La Russa and Frank Thomas. Considering La Russa was more famous on his A's and Cardinals teams, today I want to talk about the Big Hurt.

Frank Edward Thomas played at either first base or as the DH from 1990-2008 with the ChiSox, A's, and Toronto Blue Jays. Known as the Big Hurt because of his menacing home run power and his huge size, Thomas was one of the key factors in helping the team get to the 2005 World Series (although he did not play in the actual World Series vs. Houston due to an injury). The five-time All Star smacked 521 career home runs, tied for 18th on the all time list, along with 1,704 runs batted in, putting him at the number 22 on that all time list. Thomas won the AL MVP in back-to-back years in 1993 and 1994. In the strike-shortened '94 season, he hit .353 with 38 dingers and 101 RBIs. Those are numbers that some players couldn't best even if they played in a standard 162-game season! Oh, did I mention that Thomas also hit for a lifetime batting average of .301?

Although he is retired, Frank Thomas will always be remembered because of his prolific slugging and his recent enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. 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, August 1, 2014

Talkin' Trades 2K14 8/1/14

Hey baseball fans!

I'm going to talk about something that I rarely bring up on Baseball with Matt: current baseball! Yes, today I think it is very important to talk about the trading that has been shaking up Major League Baseball. In this post, I will be talking about the three biggest trades that were recently made (in no particular order).

Who? OF Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A's for P Jon Lester and OF Jonny Gomes of the Boston Red Sox
My Thoughts: Wow!! This trade really shocked me. I did not think that one, the A's wanted Lester and two, that the A's were willing to give up perhaps their best hitter for him. Let me tell you what I think of this trade; overall, I think it's very fair. Obviously, Billy Beane and his Oakland A's are now going to trust their pitching a lot more. Expect Oakland to be winning very close games in the future, games with the final scores like 3-2, 2-1, or even 1-0. But let's not forget about Jonny Gomes. With an OBP that is 95 points better than his batting average, he is truly a quintessential Billy Beane ballplayer. He will definitely be able to get on base, but will he be able to step up his hitting game?

Now, in my opinion, the Sox got the better end of this deal just because of how good Yoenis Cespedes is. He has been part of the last two Home Run Derbies, winning both of them in spectacular fashion. His power will hopefully be just right for a struggling Red Sox team and could possibly surge them to a division title. I'm very excited to see if Cespedes can adapt to Fenway and the Bostonian crowd.

Who? John Lackey and P Corey Littrell of the Red Sox for 1B Allen Craig and P Joe Kelly of the St. Louis Cardinals
My Thoughts: So, now both Johns are out of Boston. As I mentioned before, Lester is in Oakland, something I didn't expect, but Lackey going to St. Louis is another move that I did not see coming. I expected the veteran pitcher to go to Los Angeles and play ball in Dodger blue, but I guess now he will be playing in Cardinal red. However, I think that he will be a good fit with the Cards, as they are in the middle of a tough NL Central and they want to make a push for the playoffs. Litrell is a minor league pitcher, so he will not have immediate success in the Bigs, but there is a great chance that he will provide success for the Cardinals in the future.

Allen Craig has been struggling this season, after an excellent 2013 campaign, and Joe Kelly is also not having the best season. Because of these factors, I think the Red Sox got the worse deal in this case, but who knows? Maybe Craig and Kelly will rise to stardom in New England? We will just have to wait and see.

Who? David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays to the Tigers, SS Nick Franklin, P Drew Smyly, and SS Willy Adames to the Rays, and CF Austin Jackson to the Mariners
My Thoughts: Good job, Tigers. In my opinion, Price was the best pitcher who was speculated to be traded before the trade deadline, so congratulations to Detroit for picking him up. Price was such a good pitcher for the Rays, and he will probably bring that pitching prowess over to the Motor City. As for Tampa Bay and Seattle, they did fine in this trade. To replace David Price, the Rays got Drew Smyly, a decent pitcher who played for the Tigers and the Mariners got Austin Jackson, a decent outfielder who is just experiencing some bumps in the road. Overall, this trade was good for everyone, but mostly for the Tigers.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on some of the big trades that went on right before the trade deadline and thanks for reading them. Don't worry: more historical content is coming soon, so check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."